A few months ago, my work schedule changed and I started working a lot more. Both of my kids really struggled with the transition. In general, I would see them for about an hour and a half in the morning (45 minutes of that being our commute to school) and I would get home (hopefully) in time for bedtime stories or at least snuggles for a few minutes. They would seek attention from me in the way that irritates me the most—bullying each other in the car during that cherished time together in the morning. I’d try to redirect and try again and again: “Let’s count tractors!” “Check out all the flooding along the river!” (Yes, we live in Idaho.)
Sometimes it would work and other times it didn’t and I’d stop the car and raise my voice in order to get them to stop bickering with each other. During our few minutes together at school drop-off, I’d try to further the lesson to get along in the car and talk about how I want the time we do have together to be fun. I’d feel frustrated with them for ruining our morning and frustrated with myself for adding to it. As I gave them hugs and said, “I’ll hopefully see you before bed!” the guilt-goblins would start whispering. “You know, they wouldn’t be acting up if your schedule hadn’t changed. It’s your fault that they are even having to transition.” “You only get a few minutes with them each day and you can’t even make them amazing and wonderful? Come on!” “If you are going to spend all your time together arguing, you may as well just work even more because someone else could do a better job of parenting them!”
It is ridiculous the things you are willing to believe/accept about yourself when you are being beaten down like that. Having a few weeks between those times and now, I can honestly look at those statements and see how untrue they are but, in that moment of doubt, frustration, and insecurity, I did believe those things. As would be true for anyone heeding any such self-talk, I would spend my solo drives in tears—always keeping track of the time to know when I needed to get things in check so that I wouldn't show up at work or home with eyes and face that revealed the fact that I’d been sobbing.
Just Be Held
On one particular day, the same song came on both on my way to work and on my way home. It was "Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns.
The lyrics are as follows:
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm
You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You'll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted
In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you'll find Me
And where you are, I'll hold your heart
I'll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won't let go
I was touched by the idea that in the midst of a difficult trial, it is okay to “just be held.” With our kids, sometimes that’s all it takes to give them the strength to get back into the fight. When he was younger, my son always wanted to be held for a “five-minute cuddle.” Sometimes you just need to take some time to be held—spiritually, emotionally, physically—and to really let it sink in how much the Savior loves you and wants you to succeed.
The lyric “not a tear is wasted, in time, you’ll understand” reminded me of the talk “Trust in the Lord” by Elder Scott from the October 1995 general conference. In it, he states, "Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love." I can’t claim to fully comprehend that but, as a parent, as a friend, I can relate. I don’t want my family members or friends to suffer more than is necessary—or even at all. As a parent, it can be so hard to not rescue our kids from difficult situations. However, it is frequently in letting them experience some discomfort, pain, or heartache that the true lesson is taught.
He Will WIpe Away Our Tears
In an institute class I attended at the University of Utah, S. Michael Wilcox related a story about those tears. He explained that when he was called as a bishop, he spent a lot of time passing out tissues to people that would come to him for help and counsel. He came across the scripture Revelation 21:4, which states, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." He was struck by the image of God wiping away our tears. The Savior doesn't just hold out a box for us to grab a tissue that we can use but instead, He gently wipes the tears from our eyes. That definitely brings greater understanding to the closeness of our relationship with Him.
No matter the trial, we know that the Savior is there to hold us and to help us. When we feel we aren't being heard and that our prayers our unanswered, we need to remember and have faith in those promises.
A few weeks ago, my husband and oldest son were downstairs making a Saturday breakfast. I was supposed to be sleeping in but was really reading the news. Our other son started whimpering and crying. I assumed he was downstairs and being tormented by his brother. Then I heard the words, "I want someone up here with me!" He thought he was abandoned. If he'd only have walked a short way down the hall, he'd have known I was right there.
How often do we whine and complain (or, in other words, "murmur") about being abandoned before putting in any effort to see evidence of God in our lives? D&C 88:63 states, "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." We can strive to count our blessings, recognize the tender mercies we've received, and be the blessing in the lives of others. Then, instead of feeling abandoned, we will better be able to feel rescued and held by our Savior.