Monday, December 31, 2012

What I’ve Learned This Year


When Russ lost his job I had a plan. In fact, I had a big plan. The plan was that we were going to accept Heavenly Father’s will in this situation. We were going to have faith. And I, at least, was going to be very Neal Maxwell.

Here we are, fourteen months after the fact, and I can tell you that things did not go according to plan. It’s one thing to say we’re going to experience something in such and such a way, but I’ve learned that it’s entirely another thing to succeed in doing it that way.

Now we have been obedient to what we’ve felt was Heavenly Father’s will. Russ took the job in Oregon. Eventually (and not even too much later) I joined him here. We sold our wonderful house. (And lost a lot of money doing it.)

But oh, my heart has been far from Heavenly Father’s will. My heart has been broken, and if I had been Lot’s wife I would have been a pillar of salt a million times over. I expected to experience some grief, but I have been surprised at it’s intensity. (But why shouldn’t the death of our life in North Carolina with all of it’s happiness and memories bring intense grief?)

I have also been surprised by the anger I have experienced. Anger at God for having this plan for us. (Someone suggested that Jason might find his wife because we moved to Oregon. My answer? “He can find his own wife!”) Anger at people who got to live where they wanted to live. Anger at people who suggested that I should behave or feel differently. Anger at people who got to buy houses in cheaper places. I’ve had all sorts of anger.

It was interesting to see how people responded to my emotional state. Fortunately most people just kept their hands off, or gave me a hug and then kept their hands off. But there have been some people who were like “YOU HAD BETTER FIX THIS PROBLEM. Because YOU ARE GOING TO BE IN TROUBLE for feeling like this.”

I’ve long been a believer that you have to feel what you feel, and that to some degree, there is not a way to short cut through emotions. And that certainly was the case this year. I could have pretended all of those feelings weren’t there, but it would have been like putting a pretty cover over a raw and ugly wound. It wouldn’t have helped and it might have slowed down what healing was occurring.

At some point during the fall I was talking with an old friend and telling her how I was doing/feeling. She started telling me about an experience she had had of praying, and wanting to pray about her child, but feeling like it wasn’t ok to request more help from God because her child had already had so many chances. But she said that as soon as she brought this thought into her prayer she felt a total rebuke from God, and the feeling that He was telling her that He is a god of second chances. It was a powerful moment, and it lead me to wonder how God felt about me and my broken & angry heart.  I took a quiet moment later to open my heart up and ask my Heavenly Father if He was angry with me. What happened was very unexpected.


I felt

nothing but space.

Bigger than a football field, with me alone in the center of it, just filled with space and acceptance.

I could not even comprehend the enormity of the acceptance that I felt.

Not a patient cover hiding God’s impatient heart. Not a stop-watch clicking down the seconds and minutes and hours and days that I have spent angry about God’s plan. Nothing but peace and acceptance.

I felt palpable relief at the realization (again) that I can NEVER assume that I know how God feels about anything. 


Later I realized something interesting.  If I had succeeded in my goal to “be as Neal Maxwell as possible” during this last year, I probably would have looked back on the year with some amount of pride in my faithful accomplishment. Don’t get me wrong—I’m sure there would have been beautiful experiences that would have come from being truly able to embrace this new plan—things that I have missed out on. But it would have happened because I did it so right.

Instead I have learned something about humility. And I have learned so much more about a quality of Heavenly Father’s love that I could never have understood before. I have learned that while He is waiting for me, He is waiting with perfect peace, with acceptance, with love. That He gives me an immensity of space and acceptance that I almost cannot fathom.

What a thing to know…


  1. Love this. God's will has often not been 100% in sync with my own, and I've had to adjust several times in my life to align my will with his... but until these last six months (and last week and a half all over again) I've never felt like I had to turn SO far away from where I was headed. It's always been more of a side-step, I guess. And, oh, those complete turn arounds are so difficult. You give me hope and comfort that the Lord is patiently waiting for me to get comfortable on these new, unplanned paths...

  2. Cindy, this is Lindsay Larsen. I just found your blog and can not tell you how much this post touched my heart. I needed to read about second chances. You and your wonderful family made such an impression on me during our short time in Durham. I hope your family thrives in Oregon and that you find all the peace and love there that your family needs.