17: When God Speaks...And When He Doesn't
If there was ever a time when Calee needed to hear the voice of the Lord loud and clear, it was the year she found herself in the midst of a difficult divorce navigating life as a single mom. The fact that the heavens seemed completely silent might have driven her further from her faith, but Calee’s determination to hold out for more from God takes her to new and exhilarating places when she seeks to understand the quiet.
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Welcome to This is the Gospel an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay. I think one of the hardest things about being a human being is the work of figuring out how to hear and understand when God is speaking to us. So many of the stories that we've shared on this podcast seem to revolve around that theme, directly or indirectly. What does it look like when God is talking to us as individuals? Well, today, we're taking that theme just a little bit further as we explore those times when it actually feels like God isn't speaking to us at all. We have one story from Calee who admits to feeling a lack of God's presence in her life during a difficult divorce, and what that silence meant to her in a pivotal moment of her faith when His voice came back loud and clear. Calee is a singer-songwriter with several popular music videos that play an important role in this story. Here's Calee.
CALEE: I feel like I'm floating through my life a lot. You know, God likes to keep things very mysterious, very nebulous, right? And so I'm kind of like floating through my life. And every now and then I'll get these... It's like a buoy, or like a, like a mile marker, where it's like, "Oh, I reached the thing, right? Like, here's the thing, a point that I'm supposed to be doing like." And it's this moment of, I feel totally aligned. And then the moment passes and I'm back floating around again, right, like trying to figure out what I'm doing. So I didn't get married the first time until I was almost 30, which in Mormon years is like 745 years, right? The conversion table, it's it's old and people start thinking that you're super weird. And you start thinking like, I want to have kids and I want to have a family. Like, why isn't this happening? So I had dated so much all through my 20s. And I had seen my sister go through a divorce, which was, like horrifying to me just to watch, you know, that marriage crumble. And so I was so freaked out of marriage. And I, I just wanted to make sure that I was doing everything right, you know, and so I wanted to make sure that I that all of the checklist and that there was enough time, I dated my ex husband for over three years. And then I got to be in my late 20s. And it was just time. It was- you just you either jump or you don't. And so once we got married, I was like I'm not getting any younger, you know, let's have a baby. And I felt really strongly about that. My marriage was really hard. I was not expecting that. I, I have this expectation based on you know, knowing this person, the way that I did, that it would be a certain way. And it was so hard. And the three, three and a half years after we were married, we separated. And then it was several months after that, that we decided to divorce. And that was, that was a very isolated time for me. It's really difficult to know, what you should and shouldn't talk about and who you can, and, you know, should not confide in, at church or even in your own families. My divorce was final before, like anyone even knew outside of my immediate family that we were even separated. Like no one even knew because it was I was so private about the whole thing. You know, what do you do like you, you keep yourself from getting support, but you also kind of insulate yourself and protect yourself from judgment or whatever, that's kindof what I was worried about was people not understanding, I just- I needed to protect myself. And so I had been so alone, not really opening up about anything. And then you go into divorce, which is horribly lonely.And I'm living in my dad's basement, not expected. And it was just really hard. And I didn't get married, and have a baby so that I could be a single mom, you know, and so all of a sudden, I'm raising this child by myself. And I have to go back to work and figure out how I'm going to pay for my life and my kid. And how long is this going to last? And and it's so interesting. I've talked to so many single moms over the last couple of years that I've been talking a little more about my divorce. Have echoed the sentiment of if God knew that this was going to happen, why did I have these impressions to have a child or children. And the thing that I hear most often that I connect with so deeply is that God knew I would need reasons to like get out of bed, and it was so hard. And she was very literally there at five in the morning, needing me to get out of bed. Like my option was to either let her fend for herself as a two year old, which is not going to happen, the house would burn down, or I could get up and deal with it. And so and it really, she pulled me out of this place. Like she kept me from going to this really bad place. And I'm so grateful for that. I would love to be able to say that during my divorce, I never felt closer to the Spirit. And that I was getting all of these answers, and all of this comfort and peace, and that God was walking with me and I felt super close to him. But that is not true. I didn't feel like that. I felt very alone. I was praying and fastingand trying to do everything right. And I still felt very cut off. What I will say is that, that quiet space that I was in for so so long, prepared me so that when answers started coming to move forward on this new path that felt super scary. There was no question. Like it was okay. This has been really quiet for a long time. And you are talking to me now. Dating after divorce, I cannot. It like makes me want to throw up a little bit. Dating is so bad. It kind of comes to the mental emotional space that if I could find a good solid man with a testimony that that's that I could just make it work. But that's kind of a tall order just by itself. Right? Just a really good solid man with a strong testimony. I mean, hopefully he's funny and like, likes children. When I met john, I had intentionally avoided dating widowers. And that's because when I lost my mom, it was so unbelievably hard for me when my dad started dating, and I love my stepmother. Like she is the most wonderful woman. But man, it was like, not okay when they were dating. But just the thought that I would be that person for someone else's family. I did not want to do it. So when John messaged me, he had seen "Lead, Kindly Light" and that song meant a lot to him when his wife was very briefly sick before she passed away. And then after her passing, it meant a lot to him. And so, he'd reached out to me and just said, "Thank you for your music, you know, blah, blah, blah. This is what it's meant to me this lit up my story." And I remember— I remember exactly where I was when I read that Facebook message. And I just thought to myself, that is, that is like, devastating. And I'm just thinking, How on earth is their life ever going to be normal again? How do you rebound from that with four kids? With a one year old? Like, ah, like, it's like, your brain explodes! How is God good and this? We started talking. And it took me like, a whole day before I realized, we're talking. Like it's nonstop just back and forth. And he's so easy to talk to. And he's so charming and funny, and it's just, I mean, easy is the word. It was zero effort. Just so effortless. And he asked me out and I was like, "No. Are you crazy? Go out with you? Like, no. But instead I was like, "Okay." And we went out. And I told him, like, "Okay, listen, listen, at this point. Like, I'm not trying to be a single mom. I want to get married. I want to like, move out of this. Because dating, like if that is the worst. And so I was dating a lot. So he asked me, "When can I take you out?" And I was like, the only time I have like, in the next three weeks, I'm traveling and I'm performing. And I have Eve. So Monday and it's Sunday night, right?" And he's like, "Okay!" And I'm like, "Okay!" So Monday, we go out and I'm thinking to myself, "This guy's just going to be a chump, right? Like, there's no way. He's catfishing me. But he was so great. It was like, it was the kind of first day that when people tell me about I'm like, "You're so full of it. Like, that's not real. What you're telling me is not true." And, and it was, it was so great. And by the end of it, he was like, "What are you doing tomorrow night?" And I was like, "I have a date." He was like, "Cancel it." I was like, "No" And he was like, "No, seriously, like, Why? Don't go with anyone else. Like just go out to me." And I was like, "You haven't been doing this very long. Obviously, john, okay, this is not the way this works. Like this is we're- slow down!" And so I did, I went out on all my other dates that week, I went out with like four different dudes that week. And then on Friday night, and John had come down like for lunches. He was like, "Let me come down" And I'm like, "You live an hour away. You have kids and a job like, are you just quitting your life? What is happening?" Anyways, on Friday, I was finally like, "This, this is ridiculous. Like, who am I kidding? I don't want to go out with these other guys. And I'm wasting their time. And that's rude." So I canceled my Saturday date, and my dates for the next couple of weeks. And I called John and said, "Okay, what are we doing?" And then he was like, "Great, come up and meet my family." And I was like, "You have got to be kidding me?" And he was like, "Nope" And in my mind, I was like, "Great, bring on the crazy, like freak me out and make me not like you anymore. Because I'm like obsessed with you and it's a problem." And so yeah, I went up. I met his brothers, and their wives, and their kids. And like, we all hung out that weekend, that weekend. And then the next week, I can't. I seriously hear stories like this. And I'm like, "You're all insane. All of you are crazy." Like that's how this works is because you're on that, but we're the same kind of crazy and it is like, magical. Can I tell you how many times during those first few months that I was like, "I have to stop talking to you. Like, I don't, I don't believe in this. Do you know wat I mean? Like I don't believe this kind of story. I don't think it's wise to date quickly. I have a very hard and fast date for a year rule. All of my rules were broken, fairly immediately.I mean, I met, I met his first wife's family, her parents, within the first couple weeks. All of my natural, my natural man would say, run, run away, what are you doing? Do not do this.That's I think what makes dating so hard is you get hurt over and over again. And so you have these walls and this hesitation and it's born from experience. Like you're not just making it up. It is self protection. And so as I would go through all of my emotional roller coaster, you know, my triggers, and my past, stuff that comes up out of nowhere, and you're freaking out. He was just always so steadfast. So John's first wife. Her mother is like this angel person. And we'd only been dating for a few weeks. And she gave him this clock. And it's a quote from President Nelson that says, "Trust in the Lord means trust in His timing." And I have always thought, especially over the last, you know, 10 years of just feeling like I'm treading water. I'm so exhausted from the trials that just keep coming. I have always felt like that means, wait, wait, wait, wait. It's all about patience. And you just endlessly long suffering through it. And when she had given it to him, for the first time, it had struck me that sometimes the answer is move.Sometimes the answer is now go, trust, leap. You know, that is sometimes way scarier than the waiting. If you can make sure that you're right with God, even if he's not talking to you for a while. Because that's what it felt like for me. Again, there's there's a reason right? Like, hold on, there's a reason. And then be ready. Be ready when the time is now. It was so fast. So my parents dated for six weeks and got engaged. And I remember talking to john and being like, "That is so insane. I can't believe people do that." And you hear stories about that all the time. But I think it's for crazy people. And can I tell you, john and I, we we dated for six weeks, and it was like the longest six weeks of my life. Waiting because we had decided that we were gonna wait, right?And we got engaged on the banks of the Mississippi River, in Nauvoo. It's at the end of what used to be called the Trail of Tears because that was the path that the Saints took out of Nauvoo as they left on this big exodus. And President Gordon B Hinckley changed it. Changed the name to the trail of hope. Hope has been such a big word for us in our relationship and in our family. Because there are lots of moving pieces, right? Like lots of kids, and lots of feelings, and grief, and blending, and all kinds of things happening. For all intents and purposes, I feel like should be really hard. Like it- with all the blending and things like you would think? And with all of the families, we have three families that are very intimately involved in all of the workings of all of this, you think they would just be? It would be harder, you know? But it's not. And I just feel so certain, so settled, on the fact that I've reached another moment, another mile marker along the way. That it's like, "Okay, you're moving in the right direction. You know, I left you out there for a little bit, but we're here, we're good." Having felt so stuck first for so long, it is like a breath of fresh air. And people will say things like, "Oh my goodness. Isn't it so hard to go from one to five overnight or whatever else?" And, and yeah, I mean, logistically, yeah, that's hard. And there are all kinds of things that are hard about it. But I think again, feeling so strongly, this is where God needs me to be. It is like breathing. It is after being underwater. I'm starting to see a real pattern in the way that God deals with me in my life. And so, if God continues to work with me the way that he has in the past, then I'm gonna head into a space where I am wandering, you know, and like, not sure what's going on and trials. And I want to be able to remember what this feels like so that as I'm waiting, even if it takes a long, long time, I can hold on.
KARYN LAY: That was Calee Reed Adams. You might recognize Calee from her inspirational music at Timeout For Women events, and her charming LDS Living video, "What, and What Not to Say, to Divorced People at Church." She's the kind of person who immediately brings both wisdom and humor to just about any situation. And I love the faith in advance that requires for her to say, "I expect He'll leave me to wander again." So what do we make of those wandering times in our own lives? I think it's pretty easy to brush it off by saying to ourselves, of course, God isn't quiet, I must not be able to hear him, it must be me. And while I've personally learned that it's not such a bad idea to be self-aware about what I might be missing in my reaching. I just don't believe that he can't break through my self imposed walls when it's necessary. So there must be another way to interpret that kind of silence. What if that quiet space is actually part of the bigger plan like it was for Calee? Is it possible that sometimes not knowing is a critical part of eventually hearing him and following him? Calee's story reminds me of Lehi and his family's journey into the wilderness in the first chapters of The Book of Mormon. I have always felt a particular kinship to Sariah, who left her comfortable home in Jerusalem, with faith in her husband and the Lord, only to find herself wandering, and wandering, and wandering. Though we don't know everything about that time before she reached the Promised Land. We do have what Nephi recorded. Both his mother's moment of questioning the Lord's plan and the powerful answer that she later received. Sariah was the wife and mother of prophets of God, well-loved of the Lord. And even she had to lean into the wisdom of a Heavenly Father, who sometimes lets us wander in the quiet of the unknown. This perspective has really helped me especially in times when it feels like I'll never reach my destination. I think it teaches us that we can begin to trust. There's a purpose in the silence and hope in the wandering. While we continue to pray to God, to speak to us, and to open our eyes so we can recognize the Promised Land when we finally arrive at its shore.
That's it for this episode of This is the Gospel. Thank you again to Calee for sharing her story, and her faith, and thank you for listening. If you want to see the video of the song, "Lead, Kindly Light" that inspired John to reach out to Calee, we'll have a link to it and Calee's newest album "Believer" in our show notes for this episode at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. If you have a story to share whether it's funny, touching, miraculous, we'd love to hear it. Call our pitch line at 515-519-6179 and leave us a message with a short synopsis of your story. We've heard from so many of you that this podcast is making a difference in your day. If so, would you please take the time to leave us a review on the Apple podcast app or anywhere you listened to your podcasts and tell all of your friends about it. It'll help more people to find us. This episode was produced and edited by Sarah Blake and Davey Johnson with additional help for me KaRyn Lay and Derek Campbell. It was mixed and mastered by Mix at Six Studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast, and other LDS Living podcasts, at ldsliving.com/podcasts.