I’ve recently figured out something about myself, which is this: I am really good at getting complacent about things. All things, everything–at least when life is going well.
I learned this in a big way the other day when I was PMS-ing hard core (yay for old reliable) and we saw some setbacks with Jack due to changes in his care. Things had been going so well that I blithely assumed they would continue going swimmingly into perpetuity. Slow claps for clueless me.
Things are great, thus they will never change, huzzah!
Why am I like this?
I feel I am exactly like the ancient people in the Book of Mormon who were 100% this way. Life is good, the blessings are flowing, and we (meaning me) are lulled into a zen state. Suspended in ease. Expecting it to continue. Perhaps failing to yearn, work, or plead the way we do when we’re flailing and overwhelmed.
And you guys, I have been OVERWHELMED these last few months. Not to complain, but this is what’s happening: I’m too busy. I have so many places to be and not enough time to get everything done. I’m emotionally weary from being spread so thin across so many avenues of responsibility. I’m also kind of just tired of the need to troubleshoot every aspect of raising my unique kids.
In this state of overwhelm, I’ve found myself being equal parts so busy that I struggle to meditate and be quiet in order to hear answers, and simultaneously reaching for direction with the desperation that only accompanies souls in our times of deep stress.
A couple of things happened.
First, I got some answers relating to Jack and his care. They came pretty instantaneously and clearly. So we followed those promptings and proceeded with his house change.
But the change wasn’t great. It was rocky. It still isn’t ideal. When we visited him recently, I drove away really upset at how the peace I felt when praying about his change in care didn’t match the chaos I saw at the moment. Why the peaceful prompting if it’s kind of a mess now? Did I mess up Jack’s pretty great life? Am I no longer able to reliably receive personal revelation?
As we drove, Jeff said, “You probably felt peace because it IS going to be okay.” God bless Jeff, seriously.
The second thing that happened was this insight: when I quieted my mind, the spirit showed me that while I was not okay, Jack WAS. He is. He’s okay. His life was pretty chaotic when we were there, but miraculously, Jack was peaceful. He was calm and happy in the midst of the mess.
I realized in a tangible way at that moment that Jesus knows what Jack needs and he’s always there with him. He’s always providing it for him, even when I’m not there and I don’t know what to do and when so many things are out of my control. Jack’s okay. He’s never alone.
I had to turn my son over to strangers full-time when he was just thirteen years old. It remains the most bizarre, unsettling, and difficult thing of my life, and you guys, I’m no novice when it comes to facing weird/extreme hardship. This isn’t some kind of humble brag. It’s just the true nature of my actual life.
I had to place Jack on the altar, figuratively, and plead for our Heavenly Parents to intervene. And they did. They have provided the right evolving care for him in a way that we can’t.
All of this has been amazing and faith-affirming and beautiful, but it is also still not intuitive for me. I don’t know that it will never NOT be weird having my nonverbal super special son living far away and in other people’s care.
What I’m getting at is that the strenuousness of the last few months on many fronts, has rattled me out of any state of complacency I unwittingly dwelt in these two and a half years since he entered care.
I had taken on too many things: three classes at school and an entirely new curriculum plus working at the temple. One son now needed to be home-schooled. My Jacky likewise needed me to advocate for improvements in his care. I have been swimming against a stiff current, and not keeping up.
All of this reminded me that life isn’t a smooth, gentle, upward and forward-facing trajectory. It’s more of a wacky, endless corn maze, planned by a sick sadist and employing mud pits, actual rabid bats, and a looming hailstorm overhead.
I had a dream last Easter that I was standing and looking over a steep, narrow canyon. I may have already written about this one, I forget. Forgive me if this is a repeat. There was a dirt path cut into switchbacks leading from the bottom of the canyon to where I stood at the top. Everything looked completely brown and void of any vegetation, until I looked closer. Then I saw that along the edge of the switchbacks, there was a border of bright, colorful tulips lining the dirty path. It struck me that someone had gone to great trouble to plant bulbs to beautify an otherwise brown, steep, grueling landscape.
At church on that morning during the sacrament, I had an impression that the canyon/tulip dream was a representation of Jack’s testimony. I understood in a moment of flashing insight which wasn’t my own, that mortality is the hike to the top of the canyon walls, and that Jesus Christ has both prepared the path home for us, and made it possible for us to experience great beauty and happiness even while we are laboring to just keep going.
I knew right then that Jack knows his Savior. He knows him intimately because Jesus his brother has never left him alone or bereft.
This instruction for my comfort and benefit remains one of the most beautiful and deeply comforting gifts I’ve been given as Jack’s mother.
I suppose my complacency this fall served in a purpose. It shook me awake and woke my dormant pleadings for power, wisdom, and understanding.
Jack’s spirit is close to mine. It’s hard for me to articulate this is a way that makes sense, but it’s true. I am closer to him when I sit and partake of the sacramental bread and water while thinking about Jesus, than I am when I am standing next to Jack in his house. He can’t speak to me in a meaningful way, but his spirit has clearly articulated profound truths to me.
I listened to a podcast during that recent visit to Jack’s house wherein the person being interviewed referenced a blog post they had read which quoted C.S. Lewis. Isn’t the internet a lovely thing?
Anyhoo, the podcast person described the bloggers interpretation of the C.S. Lewis quote, which was from The Chronicles of Narnia. It was when the little girl (Susan? Lucy? help!) talks to Aslan, the lion and the Christ figure of the story. She tells him he is much bigger than when she last saw him. He responds and says that he is bigger because she is bigger.
According to the blogger in this circuitous story, Aslan was always much bigger than the little girl and her troubles. He related to her exactly where she was at every season of her life, but his ability to absorb and neutralize and solve her problems was always infinite.
This was a huge, beautiful insight for me. My Heavenly Parents are vast and infinite. They sent Jesus, who is big enough to manage all the sorrow and suffering in the whole world. Nothing is too big or awful for them to handle.
Jack’s gentle, peaceful spirit isn’t far from mine. Jesus remains with us both. We are each treading on that dirt trail back to Heavenly Mother and Father to be made whole.
My personally stormy autumn allowed me to learn this.
God bless October and fall leaves and brisk winds that blow us back on track.