Yesterday, my mom commented (through text), “Wow. You are on a journey…” That’s about the best way I can sum up my experiences lately. Are you ready for the next installment? This is part two of this multi-month adventure, so if you missed part one, check the previous blog post and it’ll catch you up to speed.
Surgery is scheduled- February 22nd. Less than a month away. As a quick review- I’m getting this uterus OUT. It’s getting evicted. I’m so done with it. Hallelujah! Until then….lots of slowing down and yet…its only kind of slowing down…I’ll fill you in, but first, I have to follow up my last post by telling you about my Savior being near.
Picture yourself flailing around in an ocean somewhere far from shore (though the shore is visible- it’s just quite a ways away). You’re getting a little worried you might drown because the water is choppy, deep, and cold, and your muscles will only hold out so long. Can you see it?
Ok so then here is the question. If the Savior is there in this mental picture, where is He? This is not “where do you want him to be,” but how close is He to you? Right now? (Hold that thought till I come back to it!)
I began studying about the Savior in earnest this past fall after two priesthood blessings that directed me to do so. I was instructed that I need to learn about how much He loves me and learn how to draw on His power, daily. I was surprised by this instruction. I thought I had been learning about him and was trying to implement the things I was learning about drawing on His power. But apparently there was a lot more that I needed to learn, and for whatever reason, I was now in a position to learn it. Perhaps it had something to do with the whole “slowing down” I was doing physically- that I had much more time and space to ponder than before. (As it turned out, YES, it did have a lot to do with slowing down!)
One day my husband Jon and I began to talk about how capable we are. Doesn’t that sound conceited! In this context, it wasn’t really a positive thing. We were talking about how much we can handle, and how we’ve been blessed with some really good genetics- bright, active minds and healthy (for the most part!) bodies. We have a lot to give and we know it. That is a good thing- unless we try to do this life thing all ourselves and forget to turn to the Savior. We were talking about how if we’re feeling like we’re drowning (with whatever responsibilities are on our plate right at the moment), both of us tend to just start swimming as hard and fast as we can, figuring that we’d better lose no time trying to get to shore. We can probably make it before we pass out or drown…
We were laughing about that, but it also raised a question: in this analogy, where do we picture the Savior? How far away is He? For some reason, I pictured Him on this far distant shore calling out “It’s gonna be ok! I got you!” as I splutter “Great, thanks for the support, but I’ve gotta start swimming with everything I’ve got in me or I’m gonna drown!” Now an important aside is that I fully believe that if I indeed was fully drowning, He’d be there in a second somehow; I don’t know how, I just know He’ll save me. He’s the Savior- that’s what He does. He has that kind of power. I’ve always believed that. But if I have one ounce of energy left, He’s on the shore still. Way off in the distance. The thought made me squirm. And I wondered, why do I picture him that far away?
Jon’s next question caught me off-guard: “What if Jesus Christ is right there in a lifeboat at our side? What if the whole time He’s inviting us into the boat and instead we’re swimming like a crazy person toward “Him” at the distant shoreline- figuring that’s our only option?” We laughed as we thought how ridiculous we’d look swimming like crazy with Him reaching out His arm right at our side. “Come,” He invites. “Come all ye that are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” The truth of that rang in my ears and as I went about my day. I couldn’t get it off my mind. Is it really that simple? How does that change things if he’s really right there? Is he really that close? Why have I been picturing Him so far away? I don’t expect Him to give me a free-ride through life- surely that’s not the purpose…I assume there will still be miles to swim and obstacles to deal with, but how does that change things if He’s really right there?
That evening I had my first opportunity to put this analogy to the test. I was feeling highly anxious about some of my symptoms and felt myself wanting to go into “high intensity swim” mode. You know the feeling- that I should research all over the internet what my symptoms mean and try to solve the physical problem so I can feel peace. Before going there though, the Holy Ghost whispered, “What if He’s really right there?” I found myself stopped in my tracks. I looked up at a picture of Jesus Christ that hangs on our wall and I just pondered for a few moments. I pictured myself reaching out my hand and taking His. And the truth of His closeness rushed over me again. “What if He’s really right there?” I thought. How does that change things? As I continued to ponder that week, I decided it makes ALL the difference. It means I can learn and try and swim WITHOUT THE DANGER OF DROWNING. I cannot drown with Him right there. It’s the way to find peace in the MIDDLE of whatever I’m experiencing.
A line from one of my favorite hymns was running through my mind often (the hymn is “How Gentle God’s Commands”): “I’ll drop my burdens at His feet and bear a song away.” Bear a song away. I WANT that buoyancy in the middle of the struggle. Drop my burdens- suddenly it felt so much more available with Him right close to me instead of at the distant shore (picture trying to throw a heavy suitcase to shore- ha!). I began to realize in a new way that dropping my burdens at his feet is the ONLY way to really find peace and buoyancy in my life.
Another line became important too (from Be Still My Soul): “Be Still.” Once again I found meaning in the analogy: I can only really find stillness if I know I’m not going to drown- not with Him right here. I can trust Him. I am safe with Him. I can be still. The moments of stillness and peace were feeling more frequent but people, I’m human. And the symptoms suck. And I am highly anxious a lot. So don’t go thinking I know how to do this perfectly, cause I don’t. But I could see clearly where I was headed, and it felt SO. GOOD.
That moment that I was highly anxious was the first of a strand of moments. It wasn’t all at once, but little by little I found I was changing. My faith in Jesus Christ was growing- faith that He was there for ME. I kept asking the question, “What is He right here for?” It almost felt startling at first, as if I was discovering that someone had been sitting right next to me and I hadn’t realized it.
With this new thought process I found myself feeling Jesus Christ’s love for me more than I had before. I have always known my Heavenly Father loves me- and I have felt that love and closeness often. One way I strengthen that relationship is by speaking with Him in prayer every night. Being a very verbal person, I find that closeness somewhat easy to experience. And I have had many experiences feeling communication through the scriptures- just what I need to know to get through a tough time, or direction, or truth.
Since I don’t specifically talk to my Savior in prayer, yet he’s there (as we close in the name of Jesus Christ), I guess I always figured that the closeness to Heavenly Father was kind of the same for my Savior. They work together, are one in purpose…etc…even though they are two distinct beings. But I guess I never thought much about how much my Savior loved me personally, and differently from my Heavenly Father- though it makes sense since a relationship with different people is always different! I have always known that Jesus Christ volunteered to be my Savior because he loves me. He suffered for my sins and imperfections and He died for me. But something was different these days- I was feeling His love and compassion in a way that I knew was only possible because He was nearer than I ever realized (it wasn’t Him that changed, it was me!).
As I began feeling Jesus Christ’s love more often, I kept revisiting the idea that there is power available to us through the atonement of Jesus Christ- but how do we access that power? Because of feeling him closer, and feeling His love, would I be able to draw on His power in a new way than I had learned to before?
The next question I began mulling over often was “What is His power for?” I knew that it wasn’t likely that He would use his power to just solve all my physical symptoms…though I was sure he COULD if He chose to. It just kind of felt like my path to experience. But if it’s not for that, then what is it for? Peace? Joy? Strength to endure? Yes, all of those and more…but for some reason a part of the answer kept feeling out of my reach. Somehow, perhaps through the words of the blessing, I knew that I would discover some important things as I continued to ask, seek, and knock. Little did I know that a lot of that learning would come in the form of music.
(To be continued…)