Trust

The Bomb

I just read another mommy blog post that although long-winded had a great little tidbit of wisdom.  From all the places in the world for it to come from, I never expected it from Stephen Colbert. After digging for a bit, I found the GQ article where the wisdom orginially surfaced. It’s a gem. Go over and read if you have time. It might bring tears to your eyes.

If you don’t have the time, here is the Cliff Notes’ version. While at Northwestern University, Colbert was introduced to improv. Here are his words:

“I went, ‘I don’t know what this is, but I have to do it. I have to get up onstage and perform extemporaneously with other people.”

“Our first night professionally onstage, [our director said:] “You have to learn to love the bomb.”

Colbert spoke of how not just living with discomfort but embracing discomfort – really loving it – is essential to joy and success. He’s a deep dude:

“It took me a long time to really understand what that meant,” Colbert said. “It wasn’t ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time.’ It wasn’t ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”

He shared how his mother helped him to live with courage after they lost his father and two of his brothers in a plan crash.

“I was left alone a lot after Dad and the boys died…. And it was just me and Mom for a long time,” he said. “And by her example I am not bitter. By her example. She was not. Broken, yes. Bitter, no.” Maybe, he said, she had to be that for him. He has said this before—that even in those days of unremitting grief, she drew on her faith that the only way to not be swallowed by sorrow, to in fact recognize that our sorrow is inseparable from our joy, is to always understand our suffering, ourselves, in the light of eternity. What is this in the light of eternity? Imagine being a parent so filled with your own pain, and yet still being able to pass that on to your son.

“It was a very healthy reciprocal acceptance of suffering,” he said. “Which does not mean being defeated by suffering. Acceptance is not defeat. Acceptance is just awareness.” He smiled in anticipation of the callback: “ ‘You gotta learn to love the bomb,’ ” he said. “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was 10. That was quite an explosion. And I learned to love it. So that’s why. Maybe, I don’t know. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”

He went on to quote Tolkein. {Wow, he really knows how to get through to everyone: even the nerdiest, especially the nerdiest.}

” ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head…. It’s not the same thing as wanting it to have happened, but you can’t change everything about the world. You certainly can’t change things that have already happened.”

escape

I was in awe of how much Colbert’s message correlated with the post I started in my head yesterday based on the this sermon. Here are my favorite parts of it:

A vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day—as well as an awareness “of the multitude of his tender mercies” that we experience on a daily basis.

What will  it matter in the end if what we have suffered here are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation.

So maybe you are wondering how the two correlate. Let me see if I can make sense of this. I just learned that some people who I love and adore just received the awful devestating BOMB that the last of their IVF transfers was unsuccessful. Of course after a year of full commitment and a $20k investment, they are devestated. They are paralyzed with grief founded in lost dreams. More than anything they just want to be parents. I cry with them today. I don’t understand the intricacies of their trial, but I do understand their pain. I have known BOMBS in my own life. Bombs leave devestation and paralyzing questions and fear. But, like Colbert says, we have to learn to love the bombs. Maybe not today, but eventually. So, after we process, we get up and walk in the direction of acceptance and understanding. The escape is in the light at the end of the tunnel.

We let our faith guide us and comfort us. We walk with God and we let him turn it into beauty. Like Tolkein versed, we turn the punishment into a gift. Or, like Linda Reeves said, “A vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day.” He’s going to give us everything he has. It may not be right now, and it may seem like he’s withholding, but he is always blessing us. Always.

So, when all crapola hits the fan in the form of your greatest fear manifested. Just listen. God’s voice is on the other side of the bomb. It’s quiet, but it is saying, “I’m here.” When you are forty-two and live in a two bedroom condo and just wonder why when you work so hard God doesn’t give you as much as everyone else. Just be glad you don’t really live in a warzone. When you have to put an elderly parent in a home because you don’t have the capablity to care for him and you’re heartbroken. Embrace the explosion. When you are suffocating under the weight of depression that most others don’t understand. Know that the black ball of TNT was meant just for you. On the other side of the sphere, opposite the TNT, it had your name on it. In a nice pretty mongram with an escape clause in small letters the words were etched, “I understand. I’ll get you through this.”

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7 things I learned in marriage counseling.

Eighteen years we’ve been married. Time has dragged on forever on a lot of days, but just as many have flown by as fast as the family-pack is devoured by our hungry children on Taco Tuesdays. It’s been the best of times. It’s been the worst of times. As a wife, I gave myself an A+ for over a decade….I was oblivious to my own short-comings and blamed my man for most all things wrong in our family. When things started getting more complicated we started marriage counseling and my perfect oblivion was brought to a screeching stop. Those darn psychologists always have a magical way of making people see the truth. And my magical mirror is harsh!! It took the best of professionals (and multiple ones, at that) to help me see the many ways that I had failed and continue to fail in my marriage, but I’m the better for it.

stuck

I read a poignant article  the other day entitled “What Your Husband Really Wants” and it had my mind racing in and out of the many ways I’ve learned to give my husband what he wants. And just like kindergarten, everything I need to know I learned in marriage counseling.

Number 1 – He wants to be your hero. My husband wasn’t able to be my hero because my fierce independence and “I can do it myself” attitude never allowed him to be. Much of the time I would be running around the house like a tornado on its way to Oz all upset that once again he was sitting on the couch while I so desperately needed a break. How could he be so oblivious? Unbeknownst to me he was sitting on the couch because after many years of trial and error the genius of a man knew it was the safest place. He thought he was being my hero by getting out of my way when I really needed a hero to switch me places and take some of the responsibility off my spiraling shoulders. Well, in marriage counseling I’ve learned the hard way that if the queen wants a knight in shining armor, she has to let him be the king. If every time he tried to help, I bit his face off for something then he figured I would be happier if he was out of the way.

2 – He wants to be your lover. I feel like this is the area where I probably struggle the most. I don’t want to get into too much detail as I have to remember that this very post may be accessed by future employers and/or my mother-in-law. Let’s just say that it takes two to tango. I have learned that I am equally as bad at receiving as I am at giving undivided attention. Sure I can go through the motions and I have A LOT (ha!), but if my heart isn’t there then it is just as damaging to my husband as leaving him exiled on the couch. At one point our therapist gave us a “touching” exercise. We were to take 30 minutes each where the other would just touch us all over. We weren’t allowed to talk; we had to be naked. It totally wigged me out. It took this exercise for me to get in touch with a lot of real hang-ups I have….seventeen years later. My poor poor lover was constantly being rejected. This area is a real battle for me. I have learned that sex isn’t meant to be just physical but is best and healthiest when it’s emotional. It takes vulnerability to create true intimacy.

3- He wants to be your best friend. This is an area that has been our marriage’s saving grace. Since the very beginning my husband has been my best friend: I love being with him, I tell him everything, and he is the first person I call when I have good or bad news.  I also know that he considers me to be his best friend, but as is true with all of my friendships, I have a lot of room for improvement. I am a horrible listener which makes connection very one-sided. My impatience is not helpful to either side of the friendship and my quickness to problem-solve and rescue instead of just supporting is hugely problematic. Here, it boils down to trust…I can be a much better friend when I trust myself to be a good friend and I trust my best friend to take care of himself.

4 – He wants to understand you. For a lot of women this is a problem because they aren’t willing to share their deep desires. Like me, they also aren’t forthright with what they need. I, in my great need to be understood, over-share everything with a hidden agenda of control. I’ve been let-down (by my own hypersensitivity and others negligence) in my life so much that I feel like I have to now control everyone around me so they won’t hurt me. “I love daisies, but they can’t be orange. For my birthday, here is my list…make sure #2 is just the right size. No, we can’t go there to eat, you know I hate Indian food.” Trust me, we could do this all day. I guess what I have learned the most here is that being truly understood trumps any manipulated derivative that he could offer. I’ve had to let go of control and accept what others have to offer. What is more important: that he gets me the right kind of flowers or that he knows I’m having a crappy day? That I get what I want for my birthday or that he loves me enough to buy me a present? That we go where I want for dinner or that he wants to be with me on a date?

5 – He wants to protect you. It would be interesting to hear my husband’s opinion on this one, but I think he would probably correlate this to what I’ve already said about letting him being my hero. If I am all suited up in body armor of my own making and I think I can wield a sword better than he can then what is there for him to protect? I don’t need to be weak to be protected, but I do need to be humble enough to let him stand next to me on the enemy line. At the very least I need to not stand across from him with my gun pointed in his direction. That’s figurative not literal, in case you are wondering about how necessary marriage counseling is for us. A healthy relationship requires an “it’s me and you against the world” mentality.

6 – He wants to make you happy. There are two things I’ve learned about happiness. 1- No one else can make me happy. 2 – I can’t make anyone else happy. People can however work together with others for mutual happiness. The fact that my man goes to marriage counseling with me is the best way that he has shown me how important my happiness is to him. I have learned how to be happy without him. He has learned how to be happy without me. Therefore WE have learned how to be happy with each other.  My happiness increases as his happiness does and visa-versa. This makes me very happy.

7 – He wants to be himself. This is perhaps the trickiest of the seven. What should we do as human beings with inherent flaws especially when we are in a marriage? Is it really fair for my husband to be himself if being himself hurts me in some way? Is it fair for me to be overly critical (which I am) because that is just the way that I am?  Yes, we want to be ourselves, but, yes, we should also try to improve – especially for our spouse. I remember well the day we met with my psychiatrist who was discussing the behaviors associated with my bipolar disease and the management of such behaviors. LG asked, “How do I know the difference between Alice being bipolar and Alice just being Alice? I married her because I love some of these things about her – even if they are bipolar.” That, my friends was the most romantic thing I had ever heard. I think back on it often. He loves me for me, even if me is kind of screwed up. I try to give him the same benefit of the doubt although I think he is better at this than I am. I have found that I am always the best at letting him be himself when I put his needs above my own and he has learned that I am better at overlooking his weaknesses when he lets me know his awareness of them and how he is working at fixing them.

So, there you have it: my cliff’s note version of three years of marriage counseling. Yes, it has taken me three years to work my way up from a big fat F to a pretty solid C, if I do say so myself. I can honestly say that my marriage is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. It’s the worst because that mirror it forces me to look in is so very harsh! It’s the best because when I look in the mirror and start to cry at all the flaws that I see in myself, my man has always been there to love me through it. It’s my honor and privilege (when I succeed at it) to do the same for him.

Why? Because the amazing man that is my husband LeGrand makes me happy. He is my protector. He gets me. He is my best friend. He’s my lover. He’s my hero.

I feel a song coming on:

I belong with you. You belong with me. You’re my sweetheart. I love you LG.

On a Wing and a Prayer

While we were at the San Luis Rey Mission in Oceanside last week,
I accidentally captured this photo of a bird in flight.
Seconds before the shutter, the bird was sitting on the head of the Christus.

IMG_3674

We got home in the middle of last night from our family reunion/vacation. It was way more reunion than vacation. The phrase “on a wing and prayer” was forefront in my mind this morning as I reflected on our safe travels. Our car is fourteen years old and after putting in the necessary $600 in repairs and using up most of our short-term savings before we left, the check engine light still came on while we were in San Diego.  When we pulled out of our driveway last Wednesday, I had prayed for the miracle that whatever was to happen with this sad car, I would be able to handle it within our very limited budget. I told God that I would go without a car all together when we got home if it just meant that He would get us there to be with my parents as it was so important to them to have their whole family there. If a running car wasn’t in His plan for us, I asked Him to let me accept it with dignity.

When we arrived without any breakdowns my prayer was all gratitude. Then while in SanDiego when the car wouldn’t start, I prayed for more patience and an angel arrived at my moment of most frustration. We discovered that CA legislation wouldn’t allow Auto Zone to run the free computer diagnostic and that it would cost us $85 at a mechanic’s shop to do something that we are accustomed to doing free at home in Utah. We decided to chance it without figuring out what was going on. On our way home, we pulled over in the middle of nowhere in Southern Utah to look at the beautiful stars and we noticed the car smelling funny but kept going on a wing and a prayer. I was almost in shock when we pulled back into our driveway last night without ever seeing a mechanic.  I then prayed in gratitude again to the best mechanic of all who had watched over us. I fully expect that whenever I finally get unpacked and out from under the mounds of dirty laundry and go out to the car to get groceries that it won’t start at all, but it will be o.k. I know that God watched over us when it mattered most.

I don’t like living on a wing and a prayer. I like having control over everything. I prefer to live without limitations. On this latest trip, I would have preferred to have a new car or at the very least a rental car.  I would also prefer to be like the 12 other high-school friends I shared dinner with while in town: they each have one or two kids and a job. (I am not saying that they aren’t living faithful lives, as I am sure they are, it’s just that I am kind of jealous at the semblance of control they have) I would not prefer to live without two of my children but I would prefer the sense of control that comes with two incomes and a smaller family, but that is not what God wants for me.

God wants me to live on a wing and a prayer. I know this may sound irresponsible or even crazy, but God and I are in tune. I can’t deny it. I also can’t deny that the only way I made it to California was because of Him. In his great mercy, He didn’t just get me there, but He sent me an angel when I needed it, and even got me home too. I don’t deserve his grace. I honestly don’t even want to do it His way. But I am doing it His way (on a wing and a prayer) and I guess He counts that for something. Doing it His way is the best way. If I did it any other way, I wouldn’t have such a sure knowledge, like I do now, that He is there watching over me.

Read here for the origin of a wing and a prayer and enjoy the song.

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not,
neither do they reap,nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.
Are ye not much better than they? ~ Matthew 6:26

Lessons from the Trail: The Horse and the Pipeline

trust your guide

Last week I learned another lesson from the trail. Just like my last lesson, the experience lasted less than 30 seconds. Being out in God’s open air seems to heighten my spiritual sense. Everything seems to have symbolic meaning that points me towards my maker.

As I was passing this trail-head, (photo taken later) I noticed two horseback riders approaching this portion of tunnel.  The pipe pieces are found along the new Murdock Trail-heads as focal pieces of history. The trail is built atop of an old irrigation canal that has been piped and paved over and it’s fun to see the enormity of the pipeline underfoot.

Anyhow, the lead rider was trying his darnedest to lead his horse through the tunnel. The teeny tunnel is actually a shortcut to the bathrooms. If you don’t go through the tunnel, you have to follow the trail around the long way. The horse was having nothing to do with it. He kept violently swinging his head to the right as if to make his guide aware that he knew the better way.

But, he didn’t know the better way, he was just afraid to walk through the tunnel. He didn’t trust his guide.

I chuckled at the horse’s foolishness and marveled at the guide’s patience. As I drove off on my bike, never to know whether or not the horse would actually make it through the tunnel, I shook my head in shame a bit realizing that I do the same all too often. God tells me to go a certain direction and I can’t figure out how that direction can possibly be the best choice for me. I pridefully think that I can show God how to do it my way by violently throwing out my neck. I deny the real reason for my refusal: my fear. Yes, I’m a dumb stubborn mule and I often take the long way because I refuse to trust. Lucky for me, my guide has perfect patience.

Faith and Trust

trust
As I chatted with a friend in need yesterday, I was able to walk her through some of her abandonment issues. We are very much alike. She was at the end of her rope with the issues in her marriage and was ready to call it quits.

I asked her if she had received any answers from her prayers about what she should do. She easily spouted off two different thoughts that she had been having, but immediately dismissed them as answers from the past. “What I need is an answer for right now”, she lamented.

I questioned, “But, you thought about those two previous answers in the last few days, right?”

She answered, “Yes.”

I questioned, “And you don’t consider that an answer?”

She sheepishly admitted that maybe it was. She was just so caught up in protecting herself that she didn’t want to listen.

I get that. I get it intimately.

You see, her and I both have great faith, but what we lack is the ability to trust that God will work all things together for our good. We have abandonment issues therefore no one can be fully trusted, including God Almighty. We will push everyone away first so that they can’t be blamed later for letting us down. Our delicate little hearts don’t think they can handle any form of disappointment no matter how minor so we choose misery for ourselves without admitting it. When we look back on our lives, we can spout of thousands of ways we have been abandoned. Maybe millions if given enough time.

The problem in lacking that trust is that we create extreme distress in our lives. We can’t be happy in any moment (good or bad) because we can’t trust that 1- we are worthy of happiness and 2-there is anything better out there for us. We base our most important decisions from the lens of the darkest glasses.

“But, what if He is going to work it out?” I asked. “What if you are going to get the happy ending, would that change your decision today?”

The answer came without a whole of conviction, “Probably.” It hit me between the eyes. Probably? She couldn’t even commit to changing her thought patterns even with the greatest future scenario. In that moment I got my message from God. I can’t change my thought patterns either. But, what if I could? How would I change? If I could really 100% trust Him would I do things differently?

My answer was a resounding, “Yes.” And right at that moment yesterday I made the decision that if I can’t trust my loving Heavenly Father to give me the best that he has, I might as well pack up and head straight to hell because that is where I am stuck when I don’t trust. If I can trust, He can give me all that hath. First I have to believe it, and so today trusting is my focus. It is scary. Real scary.

And now I know why Proverbs 3:5-6 has always been one of my favorites:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Paths are plural and way too often I don’t take his paths because I can’t trust that they are better than mine. I’m a fool.

Here is a great message about faith and trust.