I believe that God puts us where we’re supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there. That is, IF we will let Him, God will put us where we need most to be.
There’s a storm swirling and circulating around each of us -it’s tailored and fit to our individual needs, but the steady and constant thing in each of our lives is that there IS a storm. I’m going to tell you about mine.
There’s a barrage of SHOULD swirling around me, threatening to throw me to the ground, choke me, chain me, and break me. The Storm is loud, so loud -deafening.
Your skin should look like the skin of an 8 year old, even though you’ve had three kids and are pushing 30.
Your house should be completely orderly -there’s no excuse for clutter or dust or acting like you live there.
Your car should be shiny.
Your clothes should resemble 2014 because CLOTHES are the very MARK of your worth.
Your eyelashes should look bigger.
Your waistline should BE smaller.
Your boobs -honey, there’s no excuse for irregularities in this day and age!
Your linens should be crisp.
Your children should match.
Your snacks should be free of anything cancer causing and this means EVERYTHING.
You should be at the store.
You should be practicing piano.
You should be cleaning.
You should be cleaning.
YOU SHOULD BE CLEANING.
You should be thawing meat for dinner.
You shouldn’t be EATING so much meat.
You should be going through clothes, putting aside what doesn’t fit and getting out winter clothing.
You should be shopping sales, buying spring clothes on clearance.
You should be clipping coupons.
You should be doing family history.
You should be doing visiting teaching.
You should answer your phone.
“What’s that? Oh, I totally forgot! I’m so sorry -I’ll be right there…”
Alicia, you SHOULD be picking YOUR SON UP FROM SCHOOL.
I’m reminded of my favorite apostle (am I allowed a favorite, Storm?) Peter who stepped out onto water:
In the middle of an ocean, in the middle of fog and lapping waters, Peter focused on the Savior and stepped out of the boat.
With his eyes LOCKED on the Savior, he performed a miracle -he walked on water! But we all know what happened next: he faltered. He took his eyes from his Lord and looked down and around and his head wanted to explode because
WALKING ON WATER and SHARKS and BENDING REALITY and SINKING and DROWNING
and Peter fell into the water.
The Lord watched Peter make the choice. He didn’t play Coach and coax him, “Hey, hey… eyes up here, Peter… don’t screw this up…”
He watched and let him make his own choice.
I have this same opportunity each and every day, and like Peter, Christ allows me to simply MAKE my choice. I can focus on my SHOULDS, and I can get a planner and a white board and a million different apps with a million different capabilities to do a million different things that SHOULD be done! or
I can just look at the Savior in amazement as I come to grips with the reality that HE IS WALKING ON WATER JUST TO BE WITH ME, and I can perform miracles.
I learned last week that the Savior’s miracle of walking on water reaches far, far beyond what I thought. On Monday, after feeling prompted and then having a close friend straight up SAY, “I really think you need to stay off the Internet,” I logged off.
I -are you ready for this? -read scriptures from the actual books and I -are you sitting down? -listened to my CDs (I literally had to dig for them and DUST them off). I spent the week off of social media and stayed off the Internet except when my work required me to be on.
When I logged back on Saturday, I sifted through 100 notifications to find that I hadn’t missed anything. But what I learned while logging off was FAR MORE important.
Each day, I tried to focus on my Savior. I waited on Him, “What next?” I would ask, sometimes picturing myself with a black apron around my waist and a pencil hovering over my sketch pad… another pencil holding my hair in a bun.
It was all very, “would you like fries with that?”
Sometimes it was dishes. Sometimes it was a nap. Sometimes it was reading a book.
Yes, I found that when I wasn’t on social media, I had a void to fill. I remembered that I used to LOVE reading -I was the kid with a flashlight under my blanket, finishing “Matilda” in one solid day of sneakery (reading under my desk when I should have been listening…) and somewhere between marriage and children, I’d just given up the whole idea of imagination.
Because I SHOULD be cleaning.
I picked up a book my grandmother gave me when I was in Junior High.
My algebra teacher saw it sitting on my desk and raised his eyebrow, “Egotistical?” he asked.
Boy, the comebacks I would have had if I’d known what that word meant…
In Junior High, the book read almost like fiction. Sure I knew people died in WWII. I knew there was pain and anguish and horror, but like cancer -those were the kinds of things that didn’t happen to me or anyone I knew or loved at all in My Happy Untouchable World of Teenhood and Rainbows and Boy Bands.
But now I know more about pain and I know more about things happening to you that weren’t ever supposed to, and I’m reading “Alicia: My Story” with new eyes.
Alicia might have died if she followed her Storm, but she followed her gut instead. She ran from a mass grave, watched her mother take a bullet for her, pulled her brother’s body from a hangman’s noose, saved lives, was pulled unconscious from a pile of dead bodies and nursed back to health after being fed water intentionally infected with typhoid. Broken ribs, broken teeth, broken heart, broken soul.
She came to be the ONLY surviving member of her entire family.
Time and time again, she was EXACTLY where she needed to be to hear the things she needed to hear and get the things she needed to get and see the things she needed to see.
Was it chance? Of course it wasn’t. It was God.
As my week went on and I felt God telling me to pick up my book or pick up my kids or pick up myself, I began noticing my storm less and less.
I began listening more and more to my gut.
Soon after, a bag showed up on my door step FULL of clothes for Alice. I needed them! I truly did! In fact, my storm had been stressing me to white board an organized plan to sell crafts to make money to buy clothes for Alice! using coupons! and apps! and online deals!
But my storm wasn’t my focus this last week -Christ was. And while performing the unfathomable miracle of desiring me to walk on water toward Him, HE managed that part of my storm.
This strengthened me, and I looked firmly at the Savior despite the head cold that made me feel like my neck was suddenly too weak to hold my 50 pound head up. That’s when four young girls came into my house and said, “We’re here to do whatever you need.”
My house was quickly cleaned and vacuumed -a book read to my son.
Boom. To do list checked.
The next day, my neighbor gave me food. I needed food, you know, because I have these people around me that keep eating it. And I knew Thanksgiving was coming, and I knew we needed a turkey because our freezer is dwindling on the meat side. I didn’t know how we’d afford it.
“By the way,” my neighbor said as she passed cabbage and potatoes into my arms, “Safeway is having sales and I need a lot of the stuff they’re selling. I’m going to spend $100 easily which means I’ll get a free turkey. But I hate turkey… can you use it?”
That evening as I walked from her house to mine with a frozen turkey in my hands, I looked up at the bright Northern Arizona sky (where the stars can be seen so clearly and beautifully) and I just said, “Thank you.”
God will let me choose. He will LET me clip coupons and download apps and CONTROL AND MANAGE ALL OF THE THINGS. I will keep my head *just* above water as a tread effectively and efficiently.
I can stay on top of the water. WALK on it.
WALK ON WATER in a house that looks less like a SHOULD and more like Alicia.
WALK ON WATER in clothes that look less like a SHOULD and more like Alicia.
WALK ON WATER with kids who look less like a mold and more like THEMSELVES.
WALK ON WATER with simplicity and peace and serenity, letting go of control and focusing on God, asking my gut and my God what my Next Right Thing should be.
What now, God?
And then DO it. Miracles are behind the swirling storm. Miracles.
But I can choose the storm, and I’m here to tell you that I DO. I DO CHOOSE that stupid storm sometimes.
But I’m also here to tell you that I’m finding the courage to tap into my true self and delve into a world full of simplicity, truth, peace, and a beautiful miraculous CALM.
This means I’ll be checking facebook maybe ONCE a day, right before bed and never on Sundays.
This means I’ll be reading more books.
This means I’ll be doing The Next Right Thing for now and always, letting the future sit in the hands of Him who stands before me.
What next, God?