Don’t call us, we’ll call you

January 22, 2017

The first door, Day 27

1 October

General Conference, a twice-yearly worldwide meeting of LDS church members, has certainly been harder for me to “get into” since we had Addison. She has always been a noisy, chatty girl. Now when she watches with me, the questions and conversation are more topical (“I think loving burritos is part of my divine identity.” Direct quote during a session a year or two ago.), but every bit as constant. Adding a shrieky baby to the mix, I thought was sure to decrease my enjoyment and attentiveness even further.

This is not a miraculous story about how that didn’t happen. It totally did. I was so determined to keep listening despite how chaotic the environment was that Neal said I was getting a little shouty and asked me to turn it off. And I said, “I’m going to get through this dang 20 minute talk if it takes 3 hours, so you can just go to your room!” Or something equally grumbly (me, shouty? As if!). Truly I have no memory of the vast majority of what I heard, and I have yet to make it through all 5 sessions. But I think I heard the one thing meant for me.

President Uchtdorf’s discussion of faith and story of the missionaries who knocked on every door in an apartment building before finding a family who would listen didn’t really impact me right away. But then he said this:

Will we give up after knocking on a door or two? A floor or two?

Or will we keep seeking until we have reached the fourth floor, last door?

God “rewards those who earnestly seek him,” but that reward is not usually behind the first door. So we need to keep knocking.

One month into foster parenting, I continue to feel that I can’t do this again. When we attend our adoption support meetings, there is a mom who has had 26 foster placements, and I know I’m not like her. I can’t do this with 26 different children. I fear the eventual loss of this baby that I want so desperately to be my son will be too much for me to bear. Maybe I don’t have a major depressive disorder any longer but it will come back, I think. It’s just too hard; I don’t want to do this anymore.

But if I believe the “you will be an adoptive parent!” message came from God, then this is only the first door on that journey. Going all the way to the fourth floor, last door feels impossible right now, but we must. Sometimes I tell myself that it will get easier, I’ll get used to it, but I’m not sure I’m really wired that way.

There’s always the not-so-secret hope that this first door will “work” for us, but I know how slim the chances are. So we need to keep knocking.

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April 12, 2012

The Merciful Obtain Mercy (and Bracelets?)

While I decided that talking about my Relief Society teaching required more context than I can give right now, a description of my Activity Days calling requires very little context.  Last night was maybe my favorite night (aside from the budgeting night, of course).  We listened to and then discussed Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s General Conference (the LDS Church’s semi-annual worldwide broadcast) talk about not judging, called “The Merciful Obtain Mercy.”  My co-leader asked, “So what kinds of things does he say can ruin our relationships?”

A (8 years old): Oh, oh, I know! [while raising arm as high as possible and flailing] Like if you yell at someone and they yell at you, and you argue about . . . argue about . . . I don’t know.  I forgot.

Co-leader: Good.  So arguing.  What else?

B (11 years old): Oooh, I know.  If you argue with someone about who gets to do something first.

Co-leader: Yeah.  Arguing definitely hurts relationships. What else besides arguing?

C (10 years old): Well, let’s say you like blue.  And you tell your friend, “My favorite color is blue.”  And your friend’s like, “My favorite color is purple.”  And then you argue about which color is better.

Co-leader: So we’ve established that arguing definitely hurts relationships . . .

Eventually we moved on to things you can do to improve relationships: “What does Elder Uchtdorf suggest we can do to help our relationships?”

A: I know! [arm flailing again]  Well if you have a necklace and someone else really likes your necklace and wants it, you could give it to them.

Co-leader: Okay, so being kind.

A: Yeah.

B: And also, let’s say you have a really nice bracelet and your friend loves it and she really wants it.  But she can’t get one because maybe they’re out of them at the store or something, you could give her your bracelet.

A: Yeah.  That’s just like what I said.

B: No, it’s not.  It’s different.

D (10 years old): Well, I know one thing you can do.

Co-leader:  Great.  What can you do to improve your relationships?

D:  So if your friend really likes your bracelet but you also really, really like it because it’s a really cool bracelet, then you could just not wear it to school.  So then your friend never sees it, and they don’t feel bad, you know.

Little known fact about Elder Uchtdorf’s talk: it was also about how to handle jewelry among friends.

I still feel like I’m just getting to know these tween girls (and their vocabularies), but it sure is fun to sit back and listen to them talk amongst themselves.

February 17, 2012

“Other compensating doors . . . “

As I was processing old papers a week or so ago, I found this quote I recorded during church a few years ago:

It will free you from the dead ends of your own reasoning.

Naturally I wanted to know what “it” was, so I googled the quote to figure out where it came from.  It turns out it’s from a 1995 talk by Elder Richard G. Scott called “Trust in the Lord.”  I read it on Sunday and the first lines really hit me:

It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness.

I’m certain I heard Elder Scott deliver this talk live, if for no other reason than my family always went to every. single. session. of General Conference.  Always.  I have to admit that for years I did not find Elder Scott a particularly compelling speaker; I think I tended to tune him out in comparison to some others (like President Eyring, my favorite).  But my feeling has changed in recent years as he has talked more about his family, especially the deaths of two of his children (within weeks of each other) and his wife.  I relate to him more now as someone that has experienced and coped with deep loss, rather than simply a lecturer, which, fair or not, he always seemed to me to be before.

Later in the talk, he says this:

I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith.

Wow, that spoke right to me!  In that brief moment, I had this vision of what some of the “compensating doors” in my life may be for that one very important door that appears to be closing.  While they are things that  Neal and I have discussed intermittently for years, the pieces seemed to fit together in a new way now that I have accepted other realities of my life.  A sweet calm came over me, reminding me that I will love many other children even though they won’t all be “mine” in the same way Addison (sort of) is.  And for a few wonderful hours, I felt more than mere acceptance but genuine excitement for what the future holds.

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