Sunday, May 14, 2017

Trusting God More...


I was on my way to primary when the bishop stopped me with the primary presidency.  He told me that I was being released and this was to be my last week for singing time.  They told me that I couldn't say anything to the kids and that I couldn't say goodbye or tell them I love them.  I was just to run singing time as if it were any other week.  I asked why I couldn't say goodbye or share my love.  They told me that I would just have to wait and see.  As the sadness of being released coupled with the confusion of the unusual situation, they became more urgent in their reassurance.  "It will be okay.  You will see. Trust us. Just wait...."

But I didn't get to see what was next because I jolted awake.  Tears were streaming down my face.  I glanced at the clock.  It was early.  I am not one to usually remember my dreams.  This one was so vivid.  As I mulled it over, I tried to brush it off.  "Maybe I am just worried about being out of town."  I had a wonderful sub lined up and primary would be starting in a few hours.  But that dream was so vivid!  I have only be the chorister for a year.  There is no way I will be released.  But it bothered me.  I finally texted the primary president, but tried to be "funny" about it. I told her about my nightmare. "Just in case I am released before you, let me say goodbye to the kids and that I love them."  haha....she laughed.  I tried to laugh...

But then a few weeks later I had another dream.  This one just as vivid as the first and with the same theme: I was released, crazy things happened, and I was told to just hold tight.  It will make sense. You will understand.  Trust us.

A few weeks ago in real life the bishop met with me. He cried just as much as I did as he told me that in real life I would be released.  He told me that even though I am needed in primary, I am needed somewhere else more. He extended a call to be the cub master.  I accepted, but told him I needed to work through this (I was confident I could).  With this double-whammy, I walked home. I did my best to hold my sobs until I got home and then just let myself ugly cry.  When I felt cried out, I got on my knees and offered a bitter cup prayer.  This is not about me.  It's about God, His purposes, and His personal plan to reach His children. I needed to find a way to work through my feelings and the obstacles that would keep me from serving where He needs me most at this time. It's not at all what I wanted and if it hadn't been for those dreams, it would have been entirely unexpected.

Although I have grown to love every opportunity I have had to serve, this calling as chorister has been my favorite calling I have ever had. The first few months were a bit rocky.  The chorister had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.  She had literally been there singing on Sunday, then by the next Sunday was gone.  I can't speak for all of the kids, but it seems collectively to have been difficult for them.  My own children struggled that she had been such a big part of their primary time every week and she was suddenly gone. Literally just gone.  After a few months of temporary subs, they called another sister.  She was only in for probably 2 months, then moved.  It was similar to the previous experience.  She was there one week, then gone the next.  Then after a few more months of subs, they called me.  I made sure to be there every week.  In the whole year, we only missed 3 Sundays. I didn't realize until a few months in the uniqueness of the opportunity I was given to be with these kids in this way.  Although the children have their teachers, no other calling gives the access to teach these children like chorister.  Every week, I get to teach ALL of the children ages 3-11.  Not even the primary presidency has that opportunity.  This calling came at a time when I wonder when (and at times even if) we will be blessed with more children.  I felt like I have been handed, on a silver platter, more children to love, teach, and encourage.  Over time I have come to love these children as if they were my own.  It has been a great privilege to teach them doctrines and principles and to do so through the medium of music. The Spirit has been so strong as we have sung together and talked together.  AND it has been so fun!  There is something about being with children that makes me feel so light-hearted.  This combination of children, teaching the gospel, and even getting my music kick...it has just been heavenly.  Truly it has been heavenly. After only one year I thought for sure this is where I would be for a while.  In my bitter cup prayer, I pleaded for help to let go.

I also prayed for help to go where God needs me now.  I haven't wanted to touch the scouting program with a 10-foot-pole.  It was on an overnight scouts trip when Mark was a boy that he had his first exposure for what later turned into addiction. I am not the only wife or mother with a similar story. That night opened a door to curiosity that spiraled downward. I know there is so much good that comes from the scouting program, but to me scouts has been a big, fat, loaded trigger. Being the mom of 3 boys, I have begged Mark for us to keep our boys out of the program.  I seriously felt like my heart would fly out of my chest as we got nearer and nearer to Gavin's 8th birthday last fall.  Mark talked me through it and we decided to have him participate in cub scouts.  I thought I had addressed what was there. By having this calling offered and my reaction to it, I knew there was still more. So I prayed in my bitter cup prayer to do what I needed to do to be able to move forward.

I thought that good cry and the prayer were enough and went about my week.  Fortunate for me we had an extra week because of Stake Conference.  I thought I was good to go. Then at the adult session two of "my" primary girls (now recently young women) sang songs that we worked on together in primary. And I completely lost it.  Shortly followed by a talk where the speaker brought in quite a bit about the scouting program. Mark kept his arm tightly around me as I sobbed. I just sat there feeling numb, tears streaming down my face. I didn't feel like I could do what is being asked of me. I knew I would do this.  I knew I could do this.  I just had no idea how I could do what God is asking me to do.  Then our Stake President got up and spoke about the temple and encouraged us powerfully to utilize it to find hope and healing.  Ah. I will go to the temple with my troubles in mind. Sunday the Stake Presidency introduced our new stake goal for the year: trusting God more.  Goodie!  I have a head-start on this one!

Through my prayers Monday, I realized I still had some forgiving to do that I had previously missed:

I forgave the boys who exposed my husband.

I forgave the leaders who, for whatever reason, were inattentive.

I forgave Mark's parents who didn't follow-up with Mark when they found out what had happened.  I know they were doing the best they knew how. But I still needed to forgive.

I forgave myself for making another crazy attempt to control...to prevent my boys from having similar experiences through what felt like the most "logical way" possible. ("If they don't go to scouts, we are 'guaranteed' to avoid this").

Later that week as I took my troubles to the temple, I was lead to a few scriptures. The first came from D&C 58 (A chapter that has been a balm to my troubled soul at another time when I have been asked to do what feels impossible). In verse 6, God spoke to me: "...for this cause I have sent you---that you might be obedient..."  Sometimes God asks us (or allows for) hard things to give us the chance to do it any way.  Even if we don't feel like we can or we want to. Sometimes we just have to trust. From Psalms I read this verse that has also been important at other key points of difficult times. Psalms 37:5 "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." I have committed myself to God to become like Him. When it hurts, it shows that I am still holding on to something else besides Him. I have committed myself to His ways and what He sees fit in this process of refinement and seeking to become more god-like. I need to take the next step and TRUST that this is simply an opportunity for Him to "bring [the needed refinement, and ultimately, my goal of becoming like Him] to pass." I have committed myself to be on His errand and I need to trust that He knows how His children can best be reached.  As I commit and trust, He can make miracles in the lives of individuals. The most tender moment of my temple time also came from Psalms. Psalms 34:4 "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." I thought of with hindsight how my past experiences have made complete sense---even those situations where I still have unanswered questions about the details. I can see God's hand in my life.  This verse felt like a future me, speaking in hindsight. Immediately I was reassured.  I have had enough experience with God to know that this is a true pattern as well.  I can seek Him. I know He hears me. I know He will deliver me from any and all of my fears. If I seek Him, I don't need to worry or be afraid any more.

Here are some things I have kept as a running list these past few weeks in my journal about trust. Since I have a year to work on this goal, this is a pretty rough list. I am eager to continue to learn more about trust.

*Maybe I will get to the point some day that I instantly have nothing to work through and absolutely nothing to fear. For now, I think it's okay to flinch or initially recoil. As long as I am aware.  It simply alerts me that there is something to work on.  As I "commit my way" to Him, He will seek after all the tender places of my heart & ask me to do things I may not feel ready, capable, or naturally drawn to. Even the fact that I KNOW HOW TO GET TO a point of trust is a major improvement!

*I need trust when I'm afraid or don't understand or hold some doubts. Otherwise I have a perfect knowledge.  This goes hand-in-hand with the above.  I NEED to trust, but it's okay if I need work through things to get to that point of being able to take actions steps in faith.  That is what trust does---it gives me the ability to do or say ANYTHING because I trust He knows and sees what I can't.

*I have had my relationship with Mark burned to the ground.  Trust was something that was fragile and took great patience and effort to regrow.  It's still regrowing. As much as we would like to think that others or even ourselves always have pure motives, we don't.  We aren't always trustworthy.  But God isn't like that!  When He parents, He is motivated by love.  Because He literally IS love.  Unlike any mortal I may struggle to trust, God is completely worthy of my trust.

*There are experiences and circumstances in my life that I don't have a choice about.  BUT I can make the decision to trust God as I weather through it.  Trust is a choice. Even then, God is patient as I give Him my trust, then take it back.

*I think the difference in what God wants from me is this: I step forward in trust, even if it means I have things to work through before I am fully there.  Because once that trust is fully secure, then I can take big steps forward and my faith propels me to action. If I take short cuts and try to side-step without trust, it won't be the same experience.  I will hold back.  I will stay paralyzed with fear.

*Mark shared this verse from his scripture study.  1 Nephi 2:12 “And thus Laman and Lemuel, … did murmur … because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” If I seek to know God's dealings with me, I will not murmur.  If I am murmuring, I need to dig deeper. I think there is a difference between murmuring/complaining and honestly seeking because I don't understand, yet want to.

I know I can trust God...I have enough experience with Him in the past. It is this trust that has grown as God has shown me again and again that I can trust Him through other life experiences that will be transmitted into this and other future opportunities to practice trust. "I know in whom I have trusted." (2 Nephi 4:19) and because of that, I know who I can trust with this change in my life today. He is waiting for my commitment and trust to bring wonderful things to pass.

May we seek God through our unexpected experiences that we may become better, not bitter.

Today was my last day in Primary for real life. Gavin gave a talk, so Mark came (and snuck some pictures from the back. He caught this one of us getting ready to sing to Senn for her b-day.) I DID get to say goodbye to my primary kids!  The primary president had them sing THIS beautiful song I have been teaching them for me.  It was an emotional experience for me to look into their innocent faces one last time and lock eyes with their wonderful teachers today, but I feel ready to move forward now.


THEREFORE WHAT?

Although this opportunity to trust more isn't dire or as heart-wrenching as other opportunities I have had in the past, the patterns are the same. I would invite you to consider on this in your own life and situation. One beautiful thing about the scriptures is that we can look to the example of others, especially when we are new to something.  What are the patterns?  What did the person or people do?  Then what happened?  When we seek to trust God it doesn't require that we have direct or general past experience of our own. We can grow our trust by reading about God and His dealings with his children, even if it isn't our own experience. I also know that God can speak to us through the scriptures. He knows just the right things we need to hear or know to be able to trust Him more.

What can I do if I am presented with the unexpected, the seemingly undesirable, the difficult?  What can I do to increase my trust?  (Note: trust doesn't come first.  We need to recognize we are being faced with something bigger than ourselves first, then grow our hope into faith in Christ and His ability to carry us to do it, THEN we can work on trust).  In your own way, in your own life, in the details of your own circumstances, turn to God.  Pray.  Seek Him.  Turn to the scriptures.  Turn to the words of modern prophets and apostles.  Seek Him however you need to. Be patient and wait.  Sometimes it doesn't come quickly.  But it will come.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell "Lessons from Laman & Lemuel"

Sister Cordon, "Trust in the Lord and Lean not"

Elder Scott, "Trust in the Lord"  This one had some really good point.  Listen to this: "To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love." 

THIS from lds.org (topics: trust) had some great insights about trust and as we learn about trust we can seek to be more trust worthy ourselves.

D&C 58

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