The World Burns

Photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash

I see you, with your lighted torch

With your angry eyes and your thirst for revenge

I see you with your victim facade

As you take power you have an excuse to grasp.

You oppress the innocent and let the guilty go free

I see you with your gilded halls and your empty soul

Your insatiable wants and needs swallow the world.

I see you with your corpses of anger that grow every day.

On the altar of revenge, there are never enough victims.

To slate the thirst. Hate. Anger. Revenge.

And the World Burns.

I see you with your cynical laugh as you delight in sorrow.

I see the insecurity behind your bravado, the emptiness behind your mocking smile.

I see you. I see the hatred in your face for anything that shows you the reality of what you are and the master you serve.

I see you, and I am not afraid of you. The fire of your hatred may consume the world, but the ashes will serve His purposes.

He will win. And your orange clown show will disappear from the world stage.

I see you, as the world burns.

Come Unto Him

Photo by Flavio Gasperini on Unsplash

It has been a hard day.  Watching Minneapolis burn on the news has added to the feeling that our country’s troubles are just beginning.  I have been thinking about racial issues for a long time now.  Living in Texas has opened my eyes to the reality of the need for tolerance, an appreciation for diversity, and the unique challenges of a highly specialized and interdependent society when it comes to race.

I want to see the Democratic Party as advocates for minorities and particularly African Americans, but that isn’t what I see.  If the Democratic Party truly wanted equality for African Americans, I think more progress would have been made by now.  In fact, I see the Democrats exploiting the African American voting block for their own purposes.  They expect their votes and Biden said as much in his latest gaffe when he said that “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” I plan to vote for Biden and the Democrats in the November election, assuming it happens.  I wish he hadn’t said what he did and I wish it didn’t reveal what is clear to me.  The Democrats exploit the racial divide.  They want African Americans to believe all non-Democrats are their enemy; that their party is the only place for them.  Unfortunately, Trump has done much to fuel African American suspicions about the Republican Party.  More than ever, the Democratic Party seems like the only option for people of color.  The big problem with this “white Republicans are the enemy” strategy is that although it helps the Democratic Party unite their caucus, it does little to help African Americans improve their situation.  Democrats give them false hope with promises they can never keep.  That false hope turns to cynicism and resentment when African Americans help elect Democrats who then cannot or will not deliver on their promises.  And yet, the Republican Party has never held much appeal for them.  With the rise of “compassionate conservatism” and the RNCs 2013 autopsy, there was hope that African Americans might have another party to choose from.  Now with the rise of Trumpism, there is little appeal for them and much to alienate them on the right.  

So, it is likely that little progress will be made for African Americans in this country.  The powerful in both parties are content with them where they are at.  The occasional outbreak of riots and the burning of a few buildings is unlikely to change anything permanently.  African American outrage will continue to simmer beneath the surface, fueled by the reality of their underprivileged position.  That outrage will burst into violence when the inevitable viral videos of police brutality against their most vulnerable members surface; a reminder that they have been mistreated and will continue to be mistreated.

And on the other side of this miserable coin, we have the police.  We don’t pay the average officer enough to support a family, then we demand that officers remain professional at all times even when confronted daily with the worst of our society.  Where do they put all the trauma and chaos?  What do they do when the compartment containing all the disrespect and pain bursts?  Who suffers?  The marginalized.  The weak.  The voiceless.  Those unfortunate members of our society who can be hurt by someone with a little authority and no one will care.  People like George Floyd; a black ex-convict trying to get his life together.  That officer knew the moment he got the call that George Floyd’s life didn’t matter.  He could take out his anger and hostility on him and people would look the other way.  How many other victims were there?  How many other times had this scene, or one like it, played out for this officer and he never had any consequences?  More times than I would like to imagine.

I’m not trying to defend what those officers did.  Just because it happens often, doesn’t make it any more acceptable. George Floyd’s right to life was taken by officers who were sworn to protect and defend him.  His life does matter! Those officers deserve the punishments that are coming to them.  But punishment alone isn’t going to fix it.  Punishment may help in some ways, but it will make it worse in other ways.  It may increase the resentment and anger of officers who feel misunderstood and unfairly judged.  It may encourage them to band together and defend one another against outsiders who don’t understand the difficulties they face.  Law Enforcement officers are vulnerable to Trump and his flattery of them.  He tells them they are justified in acting on their worst impulses.  He tells them that he alone understands their burdens and the anger they feel.  He will manipulate their emotions and their hostility to turn them against their superior officers and the elected officials of their cities.  When he calls for them to fight for him, will they follow his orders?  If they don’t sense that we the people care about them, will they fight for us, or for him?  

The ultimate solution to the larger problem is not punishment, it is empathy.  The solution is more listening and understanding.  The answer is self-reflection and personal responsibility.  The answer is the Savior.  We must stop listening to the most divisive voices among us.  We must start listening to Him who is Mighty to Save.  We can have compassion toward the African Americans.  We can stop the cycle of exploitation and seek real and permanent solutions to the challenges they face instead of empty promises.  We can provide and encourage mental health services for all of our police officers.  We can create a society where trauma is acknowledged and addressed within law enforcement and within the larger community.  We can better understand and appreciate the unique burdens our law enforcement officers carry and help them cope in more healthy ways.  We can empower them to be worthy of the honor their position demands.  Only then will both groups be able to build relationships of trust and cooperation.

But we Americans seem determined to destroy everything we have worked so hard to build.  We elected a horrible human being as our leader and our hearts, rather than reaching out to the Savior, are turning cold.  We have turned our hearts away from charity, forgiveness, and empathy.  Instead of turning the other cheek, we punch back ten times harder.  Instead of a soft answer turning away wrath, we shout more loudly and are heard less.  Instead of sound judgment and wisdom, we gorge on conspiracy theories and listen to liars with flattering words.

My heart breaks for my country and the suffering that surrounds us.  It is not too late for us to repent and change our path.  If we don’t, we are sure to destroy ourselves.  

Come Unto Jesus

Come unto Jesus, ye heavy laden,

Careworn and fainting, by sin oppressed.

He’ll safely guide you unto that haven

Where all who trust him may rest.

Come unto Jesus; He’ll ever heed you,

Though in the darkness you’ve gone astray.

His love will find you and gently lead you

From darkest night into day.

Come unto Jesus; He’ll surely hear you,

If you in meekness plead for his love.

Oh, know you not that angels are near you

From brightest mansions above?

Come unto Jesus from ev’ry nation,

From ev’ry land and isle of the sea.

Unto the high and lowly in station,

Ever he calls, “Come to me.”

My Worm Bin

I have started noticing a new feeling sprouting up inside of me. It isn’t compelled by moral coaxing or willed into being, it has just appeared in my heart. I am quite happy to see it again. It has been a while.

Today I am forty-one years old. It was 107 years ago today that my Grandma Eva was born, so happy birthday to her and to me. I am grateful. I’m grateful to be her granddaughter, I’m grateful for my life, I’m grateful for my parents and the childhood I had. I’m grateful for my experiences, good and bad, and they way they have shaped my life. I feel gratitude.

I took this picture last night before my date with Ben.

Today I sat in my backyard hammock with my ten year old son and we watched the blue jays dance around in the Crepe Myrtle trees. He’s a beautiful boy and I am so blessed. Today he made a special effort to do many nice things for me for my birthday. He got a special cube of ice that he had frozen into a sphere. He put it in a cup with some water and gave it to me while I was in the garden working.

I decided today that instead of hoping that my boys would read my mind and do things for me, I told them several ways they could show me today that they love me. I still had to clean up messes and break up fights, but I noticed when my boys and Ben did things to please me and I nurtured those feelings of gratitude until I felt like a warm fire was glowing inside.

I have a good life. It isn’t the life that I wish I had. It is the life God chose for me because I needed to experience the things I did to shape me into who I am. Once I became conscious of how broken I am and how broken my family is, I became very discouraged. All the narcissistic ideas I had constructed about my own superiority and my family’s superiority were in shambles and I felt so exposed and horrid. That consciousness is what I’ve been defending myself against for so long. The reality of my own fallen state is so humiliating and embarrassing! But after a while I’ve gotten used to looking at myself in the mirror and seeing reality looking back at me. It isn’t so hard to do anymore.

This spring Ben and I started a worm farm. The worms are doing pretty well and we were able to make our first batch of compost tea this weekend. Compost is a great metaphor for recovery. You start out with a whole load of crap. It’s stinky garbage that you would normally throw out with the trash; carrot peelings, rotten fruit, cantaloupe seeds, moldy bread, leftover baked potato, rotting leaves, shredded paper. You add some bedding material, add some worms, and a few months later you have worm poop.

The inexperienced gardener may not appreciate worm poop, or castings as they call them. The other day I opened up my worm bin and I saw that the cantaloupe seeds I had added a couple of days before had sprouted in the castings. I put some worm castings in my garden not knowing that there were marigold seeds in the soil. A week later I had hundreds of seedlings. Worm castings are the magic sauce of gardening. You can use them in your garden strait, or you can soak a cup in a five gallon bucket of water and aerate for 24 hours. The liquid fertilizer that results will transform your soil with beneficial microbes and nutrients. Put it on your plants and watch the magic happen!

In recovery you take all the crappy feelings you have and everything bad that’s ever happened to you. You look at it, you cut it into little pieces, you process it, and then you put it in the worm bin. You understand that it’s yucky, it’s stinky, and most people would put it far away from them and try to forget about it. But after a while, all that awful stinky stuff is digested by the worms and broken down into earthy, beautiful castings that you can use to reach your goals.

When the seeds of hope and gratitude start sprouting in your castings, you know you’re on the right track. The stink of anger and resentment fade and are replaced with the fragrant smell of flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables as you begin to harvest the fruits of your emotional processing.

And some people will never understand it. They look at mental health and worm bins with the same ignorant suspicion. That’s okay. Their choice to stay stuck doesn’t have to be yours. And you can still love them and you can still live with gratitude knowing that the potential for growing all the good things of life is within you.

So, I’m still sick, and the kids are still home from school, and I’m still estranged from my parents, but I’m full of hope for a bright and happy future. It will be a future that I choose, guided by the spirit that lives and grows inside me, nurtured by the fruits of my emotional health. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Doing Calculus

Image by 준원 서 from Pixabay

Last night I dreamed that I was at my brother’s house.  There were pieces of fabric everywhere and unfinished projects.  I tried to clean up, but the boys were playing and making messes.  It seemed like I could never get anywhere.  There was a complicated game that involved the T.V. and a game console, and a doll that could blow up balloons.  I was trying to help the kids to make it work, but then the balloon started falling apart.  I was trying to tell my mom about how you could buy regular balloons to replace the broken one.  It was clear she was uninterested in fixing the toy.  I became discouraged.  It seemed that all my efforts were unappreciated and worthless.  I told all my boys that it was time to leave.  I was going to pack up my things and go.  J.R. started coming too and I told him he didn’t need to come.  I had summoned him by mistake.

I want to write on my blog again, but what would I say?  I’m hurting so much and I can’t share that burden with anyone.  I want to write again, but it seems that all my words are worthless.  Everything I have written, everything I have shared, all my thoughts……I thought I was being inspired.  I thought I was doing something great and brave and good.  Now I just feel alone and sad.

I read my Book of Mormon last night.  I think I’ve been subconsciously avoiding my scriptures because I’m afraid of my own connection with God.  It is easier to stay away than to feel things and get inspiration I don’t have faith in anymore.  I wish I were certain, like my parents, of my course and my rightness.  They are always right.  I am always uncertain.  Except I know they aren’t right.

That’s the thing about being where I’m at right now.  I know they aren’t right.  I don’t know if I’m right or not, but I know that they aren’t.  It’s like doing a problem in calculus that takes pages of computations to figure it out.  The person next to you has written a few numbers at the top and tells you they got it right.  You know they didn’t.  They didn’t do any of the work.  They didn’t spend the time to do the calculations.  But you don’t know if the pages and pages of computations have gotten you the right answer anyway.  And with their criticism blaring my ears, it just confuses me and makes me more uncertain.  And then I feel stupid for trying so hard.  Is it worse to fail after pages and pages of computations, or fail with one line of numbers at the top of the page?  Doesn’t it come to the same thing?  The wrong answer?

And that’s what I see in myself.  I screw up with my children at every turn.  Nothing is working the way it should.  I parentify, I neglect, I shame, I do all the things I know I shouldn’t do, but I don’t know how to do it differently.  I want to have my parents back in my life again, but I don’t want their doubts and their fears back in my life.  I wish they knew how poisonous their criticism is to me.

But they won’t change.  They’ve been criticising me for so long.  It is the only parenting they know how to do.  They don’t know how to have faith in the basic goodness and rightness of their children.  They don’t believe they are good and right.  They think children have to be forced and controlled and  stuffed into the “good box” in order to be good.  They don’t want them to do what the Savior wants, they want them to do what they want.  And it isn’t the same thing.

And yet I’m in the same place.  Fear.  Will my children make the right decisions?  Will they do the right things for themselves?  Will they fall into addictions and bad habits and sins that will cause them problems?  I don’t know.  I want to take comfort in the power of the Savior to heal them if and when they stumble and fall, but that fear is too powerful when it is magnified by my parents’ fear.  The fear has to go.

God has given us the spirit of faith, hope, and a sound mind.  I don’t feel those things right now.  I feel doubt and hopelessness and despair.  And yet as I write, I see that the fear is not so rational.  I start to see the good in myself and my parents.  I see the Savior waiting patiently next to me, waiting for me to push the fear to the side, partner with him, and move forward in making a better home for my children today.  I can’t change the past.  He’s got that.  I can’t predict the future, that’s in His design.  All I can do is live in this moment and do the best I can to follow the light I have within me.

And I’m sad because I can’t fix my parent’s fear.  I can’t open their eyes to the things that I’ve learned.  Some things you have to learn yourself and no one can give you a shortcut.  I think parenting is one of those things.  My Savior says that he has power for them too.  He has a plan for them too.  I can’t control it.  I can’t smooth the path for them.  That’s not what he needs me to do.  He needs me to listen to Him again and focus on being the best mom I can be for the special boys he has given to me to nurture.

There is a portion of His spirit in me.  I’ll keep plowing on in my calculus problem.  I may not get it right, but when I get to the judgment bar of God, at least I will be able to show my work.  To any good judge, the work counts for something.

I’ll find my faith again.  Through the clouds and shadows and dark nights, He is there.  He waits for me to find Him again.  He stands at the rock hard walls around my broken heart and waits for me to let Him in.  It’s time to cast fear aside and embrace certainty; not in myself and my infallibility, but in Him and the path He has for me and the people I love.  I can give all the broken pieces to Him.  He fixes broken things.

And as I put my trust in him, as I break down those walls again, I feel His love again.  I feel His hope again and I know that I can face another week of sickness and quarantine and needy kids.  It’s all in His hands and He knows the design I can’t discern.  My efforts will never be enough, but with Him, I can do everything that is needful.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Letting Go and Moving Forward

Image by Giulio Perricone from Pixabay

The hum of the motor, the shift of the grain.  It shrinks until its gone and in it’s place, the powdery staff of life.  A little water, a little flour, some salt, and some leven and you have Bread.  The smell of yeasty, buttery, homemade goodness defines comfort food.  There is nothing like it.  Maybe that’s why so many of us have taken up the hobby of bread baking during the quarantine.

I’ve been experimenting with different kinds of breads and sourdough starters. There have been some successes and some learning experiences. Sometimes the ingredients don’t go together right.  Sometimes the harder you try, the more you realize that things aren’t working.  You’re not sure what happened or what went wrong, but you can’t fix it.  It’s time to let go.

Let go of the past and what didn’t work.  Clean off your hands and get ready to start new.  New ingredients, new methods, new recipe; a clean start. If you keep trying to fix it, keep trying to control it, keep thinking that if you just add a little more of something, it will come together, you waste your time and resources.

When you figure out that you’ve been gaslighted and that you’ve been gaslighted for your whole life by someone who was supposed to love and nurture you, that hurts a lot.  And going back to that relationship is just going to give you more of the same.  And you know it, but you can’t stop yourself from going back.  I think, “This time, she’ll see that I’m not to blame.  She’ll see that I’m trying so hard.  She’ll see that I deserve to be loved and praised not blamed again.”

But I am blamed again.  And I will be blamed again.  Because that’s how it has to work.  It works for them.  And that’s the problem.  Because the same people are blamed and the same people are given a pass.  And they like it that way.  You can call it abuse, you can call it sexism, you can call it codependency,  but one thing I know– I don’t want it.

I have Him, and its enough.  Letting go feels so alien.  It feels like coming out of a cave into blinding sunlight.  Like a chick leaving an egg, once you take that step, once you leave that comforting place, you can never go back.  

But I’m ready to make that step.  I’m ready to let go of the past and embrace the future.  I don’t owe them anything.  I’m not going to be their scapegoat anymore.  I have a right to live with respect for myself and the path I’ve taken, the things I’ve learned, and the person I’ve become.  I’m not the person they wish I was, but I’m who I want to be.  I’m who He wants me to be.  

Why did they think they could control me forever?  Why did they think their manipulations would work?  Didn’t they see that it would end someday?  Either with my death or with me walking away at last?  It was inevitable.  Some relationships were meant to die and keeping them alive in a torturous zombie existence doesn’t fix anything.

So I’m letting go.  I’m letting go of the need to change them.  I don’t need to please them.  I don’t need their approval or their love.  It hurts to grow up and leave them behind, but it has to be.  There is no other path forward.

Poop Paintings

I’ve had something of a writers block for a while.  Being sick has had some interesting psychological effects on me.  About a week or so ago, an old acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook about soothing her child who was anxious about getting the coronavirus.  Her response seemed so inappropriate and callous to me. I’m still not sure if what I read was really what she was saying, or if my mind created something different, my deep fear.  Regardless, my reading of the post was that she was telling her child that she had nothing to fear from the virus because the vast majority of people don’t know how to take care of their bodies and because she and her family ate healthy and took care of their bodies, that they had nothing to fear from the virus.  She said that people who don’t understand healthy living sometimes get sick and sometimes die, but that they wouldn’t because they weren’t like that.

At first I was shocked and angry that someone would blame the victims of the virus in this way.  Also, I can’t imagine the psychological consequences that the child would experience if she or someone she loved became very ill at some point.  I thought about responding to the post, but I saw that there were already many comments on the post and I figured I would leave the contentious conversation to others to sort out.

Still, the post and the insinuation has stayed with me.  Blaming myself for bad things happening is a habit that I developed a long time ago.  It is soothing to think that I have some control over the random happenings of a fallen world.  If I am righteous, smart, and in tune with God, nothing bad will happen to me. I can have peace in my heart because bad stuff only happens to those who are stupid or sinful.  If I am neither, I am safe.

If you are vulnerable to a lie, it is hard to fight it.  You throw reason and logic and contradictory examples at it, and still it worms its way into your mind creating dissonance and conflict within the soul.

What did I do?  Why have I struggled with illness for over a month now?  I haven’t prepared healthy enough meals. I haven’t taken care of my body.  I haven’t rested enough. Maybe I went to the wrong store, didn’t disinfect the cart enough, or touched my face when I shouldn’t have.  I did something stupid or sinful and now I’m sick and I’ve put my family at risk. I’m not smart enough to know what’s wrong with me and fix it.  My repetitive yoga routines to soothe my aching joints help, but the pain keeps coming back. Why? Why am I not smart enough to know what’s wrong?  Why do I keep pestering my doctor during a pandemic for something I should be able to fix?

And yet I can’t fix it.  Blessings and medicines and prayer seem powerless against the relentless illness that never goes away.  And I battle the shame and fear that come with having a possibly deadly virus growing inside me endangering everyone I might come in contact with.  I guess the longer I am sick the more probable my Covid-19 test was a false negative, which sometimes happens. My doctor suggested that I get an antigen test, but I’ve read that those have a high percentage of false positives and negatives as well.  I wonder if it is worth it to spend $65 dollars on a test that is not likely to tell me anything reliable.  

Still, doing nothing is difficult too.  I’ve never been sick this long with a fever.  And it doesn’t get any better. Usually I have a fever for a day or two and then it starts going down.  I start out the morning feeling okay. I start doing my activities and I start feeling the heat and fatigue within an hour after I get out of bed.  By the afternoon, my temp is at or over a hundred. I rest and it comes down.

I dreamed last night that I was visiting my brother.  For some odd reason I had the idea that human feces was the greatest medium for painting.  I collected a bunch of my poop in a towel and mixed it with pigments and painted some pictures.  I wanted to teach my niece to paint with the filthy paint as well. Later in the dream I was ashamed of my art and the filthy paint I had used.  I remembered that I possibly had the coronavirus and that it can be spread through human feces. I desperately worked to clean and disinfect the bathroom before I put my brother and his family at risk.

I think this dream captured the shame and worthlessness I feel right now, and how intimately connected I feel to the illness I have because I used it to create art.  My desire to destroy the art and disinfect the bathroom reflects my desperation to cleanse myself and the filth of contagion that came from my body. I’m afraid that the illnesses in me both mental and physical could hurt the people I love and that even something like art, which is something my niece and I connect over, could be harmful to her because it came from me.

I’ve struggled the last week or so with my feelings towards my parents.  Our relationship is going through rocky times again. It is so painful for me to think that my parents are ashamed of my expression and that my writing causes them pain.  It makes me feel broken beyond repair and that nothing I write could possibly benefit anyone; that my creations are poop paintings to be ashamed of and discarded. I feel broken beyond repair and worse than useless; dangerous and harmful; someone to be hidden away.

Usually I come to my Savior at times like these and he brings me comfort and peace. For some reason, that peace and comfort has been beyond my grasp. Ben tells me that the sun exists even when it is hidden by clouds. Right now my Savior exists, but he is hidden from me. His love is there, but I can’t feel it. What is faith if it isn’t tested sometimes? So I am taking one day at a time with the faith that eventually the sun will come out again and that he will sanctify me and my efforts and my suffering for his glory. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Peace in Chaos

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The world is in chaos.  The streets of every major city in the world are empty.  It is like we are Icarus and we flew too close to the sun and now we are careening helplessly to our doom.

And yet we sit in our homes and stream movies.  We bake and we play with our pets and our children, and we try not to think too much about next month or next year because the truth is, the world is forever changed.  And that is scary as hell.

All we really know is that the world we knew of bustling cities and personal freedoms and regular paychecks and business as usual.  The novel coronavirus has recreated the world. Whatever we become after all this is over, and it may be many years before its all over, we will be very different.  

We had a nice evening tonight. My thirteen year old made dinner. We all cleaned up and played a card game together. Then we stayed up late and watched some science You-Tube videos about the immune system. I thought of how complicated it all is. There are proteins and orgenelles and membranes and cytoplasm and all of them are labeled different things depending on their function and their function can change when a catalyst comes to play. And then everything changes. The catalyst turns on the proteins and changes their function. Like so many things, the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know. And the more time passes after you learn it, the more you realize that real understanding is brief and then passes to become almost like a shadow.

My son took a trigonometry test today and I read a few of the questions.  There were sins and cosins and tangents and calculators and I vaguely remembered something about it.  Mostly I just wished him good luck. He aced the test. 100%. I was so proud. Maybe the knowledge will do him more good than it has done me.  Maybe the knowledge has done more more good than I realize. It’s hard to determine what’s really important when important things are so small and easy to miss.

As I watched the science videos tonight, I had a revelatory flash.  “God knows this.” And he does. He knows us and our immune systems and our bodies.  He created them, and the viruses that attack us. I almost reflexively felt angry at him.  “What is he doing up there making viruses and watching us die and suffer and struggle in ignorance about what is happening?  What kind of monster would do that?”  

When you start seeing God from that paradigm, your brain can go to a dark place.  But God isn’t deriving sadistic pleasure from our suffering. He isn’t an arrogant apathetic snob either.  He simply understands that some things are worth the cost we have to pay. Hard things. Bad things. They have to come because without them, we don’t get the good stuff.  I don’t know what the future is going to bring, but i know that he is in charge. 

I did my yoga routine tonight and during Savasanna I opened my eyes and saw the scripture I have in vinyl on my wall.  It says, “Be Still and Know that I am God.” It is surrounded by mandalas which are pictural representations of the eternal complexity of God.  I thought of the human immune system and how complex it is. Life is complex and this virus has been the catalyst of change. What those changes look like are largely up to us.

If I were to venture a guess, I would say that God allowed this to happen because he hoped we would stop being so prideful and independent; so convinced on our own immortality and control. If we could just admit to ourselves and others that we are all pretty much idiots stumbling around trying to get a few things right, we might be able to get somewhere collectively. When everyone thinks they know everything, there isn’t much to do about it. Can we be still and know that he is God? Can we breath out our own thoughts in savasanah and make way for His thoughts? I wasn’t able to tonight. Perhaps tomorrow.

My Prayer for a Miracle

“Maybe I’m looking for the miracle in the wrong place.”  That’s what I felt as I lay on my bed, the screams of my children in my ears along with the memory of my angry retorts.  Miracles can be hard to spot sometimes. Sometimes you expect them to come in one way, and then they come in a different way.

About a hundred and seventy-five years ago, my ancestor John Lowe Butler was serving a mission to the Sioux Indians. The mission wasn’t going well. It turned out that the native tribe preferred to kill the missionaries rather than hear their message. The Elders were fleeing for their lives across the wilderness. With no food for days, my ancestor began hallucinating. He would see a big fat deer running nearby only to have the mirage disappear as he got his rifle to kill it. Each time this would happen, he felt more frustrated. He was doing what the Prophet Joseph Smith had asked him to do! He was trying to serve the Savior. Why was he going to starve to death in the wilderness? Why didn’t the Lord answer his desperate prayers?

The Lord told him to go to the river.  He had been looking in the wrong place for food.  God had generously provided for John Lowe Butler and his companion.  The miracle was not in the field where the mirages were. The miracle was in the river.

When John Lowe Butler approached the river, he was stunned to see it teaming with fish. There were so many his autobiography said there were thousands. The two men caught the fish and ate their fill. To my knowledge, he never was able to teach any Sioux, but his mission tested his faith and helped make him a better man.

This week has been so taxing for me and my family.  I have been sick. I was tested for coronavirus and the test was negative.  I am grateful that I am not on oxygen and next to death, but I still don’t know what’s wrong with me or when it will go away.  The extra burdens on me and my husband have created tension in our marriage. The typical teenage struggles have been magnified by the quarantine creating tension and problems in our relationships.  There seems to be no relief in sight as school will likely not resume this spring. Hopefully we can keep our teenagers from failing their classes, but the stress of the situation seems unrelenting.  

I am fasting as of this afternoon on Friday.  We are planning to order takeout this evening to break our fast, in part because I will be too exhausted to cook a meal.  Like my dear ancestor, I feel frustrated and confused. Why is this happening? When will it end? The fear and chaos are palpable and the spirit seems so far away.

I’m not good enough.  The members of the church aren’t good enough.  We don’t have enough faith. We aren’t righteous enough.  And yet……He is good enough. And he loves us. For whatever reason, he sees the good in us.  He sees value in us and has compassion on us in our suffering.

The miracle is happening, I’m just not looking in the right place.  Maybe the miracle is in the river and I am looking in the field. The Lord knew that John Lowe Butler would not starve.  He had provided the way. He had a plan. It was John that was afraid. John was confused. John was angry. God knows the path.  He knows the cure. He has the plan.  

I pray for the medical professionals who have to watch people die in their care and can do nothing to save them.  I pray for their families who often can’t even be with them to help them carry their burdens. I pray for those who die alone surrounded by nothing but screens and strangers to say their last goodbyes.  I pray for those who can’t get care and die alone in their homes. I pray for those who mourn for their loved ones, unable to have proper funerals and loving social support of a warm embrace.

I pray for the suffering that is unseen, unreported by news outlets.  I pray for the suffering in refugee camps and migrant communities. I pray for victims of domestic violence and the innocent children who are now trapped inside of homes with violent caretakers with no school to escape to.  The world groans with the suffering of humanity.

There is only one cure. There is only one path. There is only one who is Mighty to Save. May we find Him in our hearts. May we cultivate Him in our walk on this planet. May we more perfectly imitate the Master who can and will deliver us. This is my prayer.