Today was an UGLY day for me – mentally.
I think THIS is why I celebrate sunrises so much. This is an ugly day in Costa Rica. The kids and I call it the “white sky.” It is when there is no sun coming through the immense clouds. The clouds are so thick that everything is white. It also makes for an extreme coughing day . . . which we are learning is “normal” for the time of this season. They call it allergies. To clouds??
The kids woke up tired and craving to go back to bed. Me too. I am constantly tempted to just let them go back to bed after our morning scriptures but I am concerned that if I allow it, it could easily become a bad habit. But I wonder if sometimes going back to bed might be the only solution for days like today. So I tried it myself and I found myself in the worst of circumstances.
I had an UGLY day today. My emotions were like a raging tornado, threatening to destroy any truth it could get ahold of. I tried my best to withstand this tumult but it took my mind and heart and flipped them upside down and inside out. I finally had to sleep it off. As I awoke, I realized what I had gone through. I had prayed myself/cried myself to sleep, hoping that my last lingering ounce of faith would see me through this horrible internal disaster. I awoke feeling almost ashamed I had been part of something so nasty, so debilitating, so potentially destructive.
But then I realized that I HAD survived it and here I was, still alive, still holding on, and ABLE to go and do what I had been asked to do . . . which was go visit 2 sweet sisters tonight who live in THE MOST HUMBLE of circumstances and in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in our ward boundaries.
Before I left for our visit, I said a humble prayer of gratitude, thanking my Father in Heaven for seeing me through the horrible tornado and for helping me recover so I could now go and do what needed to be done. I felt the most immense peace wash over me, a feeling that He was there all along and was helping me . . . I just don’t understand how He does it. But I felt peace that He cares. He ALWAYS cares. It is me who lacks the perspective and knowledge, not Him.
After a quick dinner of Johnsonville Brats and the potato salad I had made the night before (something I wondered why I had done in advance but after the day I had, I now know WHY!) I dashed off to pick up my companion for the night – our Primary President Cynthia. She was AMAZING and the perfect partner for the night. Our visits were timely and well received, something that could easily have gone the opposite since they were unscheduled. We felt the Spirit with us and I left feeling that we had done the Lord’s work tonight.
That was when it hit me . . . the reason for the tornado. It was sent to STOP ME from doing THIS tonight.
I remembered those old time stories we were told as youth and newlyweds to never say out loud that you were going to the temple because you will be prevented from going. I remember that happening a few times to Paul and I, things coming up – trying to keep us from going (traffic, flat tires, lost items, late classes, etc.). But I never expected so much opposition . . . until I started to learn more about our prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. Boy did he face immense opposition when he was experiencing the most change for good in his life or in the lives of those he was serving. I suppose it happens to us too.
Now I am sitting here calm, feeling loved and appreciated for taking the time tonight to go and tell 2 VERY special mothers that THEY ARE LOVED, that THEY ARE SPECIAL and IMPORTANT to Heaven Father and that HE SEES THEM AND LOVES THEM VERY MUCH! These women needed pats on the back for all the hard work they do each day to just survive. They needed to know that they are seen and respected, that they can hold their heads up and not be ashamed of their circumstances. And that most importantly, they are loved and respected by me, their visiting teacher. If I can go visit them with my broken and immature Spanish, then I hope they will know that I love them for WHO they are and who they are each striving to become.
Ironically, as I was driving home, I saw myself in Esmerelda’s shoes, being talked to by someone like me. Would I listen? Was I listening? Yes. I had listened too. I heard that I am doing FAR BETTER than I realize. I am doing more to help the Lord than I can understand right now. The truth is in the admonition to NEVER GIVE UP – ENDURE TO THE END. We CAN do it. We are NOT set up for failure – like someone else loves to overwhelm our thoughts and feelings with – but WE ARE SET UP FOR THE ULTIMATE SUCCESS.
Serving in the church has been the greatest gift I could give to myself and thus my marriage and family. By serving others and allowing the Spirit to work through me, I am not only able to feel useful and helpful but I am in all actuality helping myself as well. I am allowing myself to be balanced, to gain perspective and to ultimately feel hope again. Thus calming any tornados, hurricanes or earthquakes that may come from time to time. Service is the GREATEST GIFT we can give to ourselves and others at the very same time.
I am SO THANKFUL that this day had been scheduled since Sunday and that I had the urge to make dinner for tonight last night, so that I could quickly eat and run after the day I had today. I believe just as we can monitor a storm, Heavenly Father can see a spiritual storm coming our way, so He begins to prepare us/warn us. He helped me by urging me to offer to drive the Primary President to visit a sister I visit teach and we had it scheduled for tonight. He also encouraged me to bake all my potatoes, even though I had no idea what to do with them, and it just so happened that 3 recipes I had planned for this week called for cooked potatoes.
Miracles STILL happen. You may not think these 2 things are miracles, but I do! They are the simplest and most important ways that the Lord blesses our daily lives. They are not coincidences but planned moments. They are created to help us be in the right place at the right time.
Other miracles that happened today: When GingerSnap got hurt, I had the oils to help her take care of it; GingerSnap made cookies – something both Paul and I needed during our talk; Paul and I were able to make some progress on some plans we were not sure how to make; the kids got their homeschooling done without needing my assistance; I didn’t have much to do today – thus allowing me to weather this storm today; Paul made dinner; the kids cleaned up the kitchen without being told to by me; the kids were in bed when I got home; I made it home with enough gas – thus not breaking down in a dangerous neighborhood at night for a white woman; I had time to blog my feelings while they are fresh and strong; I got through today with my testimony not weakened; I was able to tell the Primary President our concerns, thus helping her understand how to help my children better; I drove in dangerous neighborhoods but few people even noticed us – MIRACLE!; my brother Chris is offering to help my husband with things he needs; my friend Michelle offered invaluable advice on helping our home sell better; our faith in every footstep was increased tonight; ALL 3 kids played nicely together and had fun in the guest room playing; dinner got eaten and put away; Paul is healthy enough to serve – so am I.
I could go on and on but LOOK at all those MIRACLES! I could keep going but I don’t want to minimize this truth. Miracles are still occurring each day – we are the ones who need to look for them, because they are all around us.
“God be thanked for the matchless gift of His Divine Son” because He saw me through this storm today. He waited it out with me and He reminded me that I can cast away doubt and stand in Holy Places until further information comes. He helped me rely on the truth that I hold dear and He loved me through today. I am so grateful to be through this storm and that I did not do it alone.
Jesus lives and He loves us. This is my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.