Wednesday, March 19, 2014

{Also} On My Mind At Midnight

This was part of the post I published last night.  Then I went back and deleted it.  Now I'm deciding to go ahead with it.  It already went out to anyone who reads this blog through a feed anyway.  And I can't be bothered with the exhausting mental gymnastics of worrying how this will come across.  I will try to stop being such a neurotic blogger...

Another thing I've been praying for lately is the love and energy to do the work the Lord needs me to do.  I read this conference talk last week and there was one part that struck me so powerfully -- I've been thinking about it ever since.  Sometimes I get really overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety when I think about the people I should be reaching out to and the way I should be extending myself in service and compassion.  I feel like I have a lot of capacity for love and empathy, but that my social capacity does not extend to meet the demands of true Christianity.  I feel like introversion and Christianity are incredibly paradoxical.  And I have had many-a-tear-filled pillow talk with Nate about how I just don't feel like I have enough capacity to extend myself in the ways I should.  But in this talk, Elder Dyches recounts an encounter from Corrie Ten Boom's life.  She was speaking to an assembled group about the love and forgiveness of Christ and after her message a man came forward from the crowd whom she recognized as a former Nazi guard who had been part of her own confinement in Ravensbrück, Germany:  

“‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’
“His hand was thrust out to shake mine,” Corrie recalled. “And I, who had preached so often … the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
“Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. … Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
“I tried to smile, [and] I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
“As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”1
All my anxiety had hollowed out a perfect spot for those words to settle in my heart.  Such a comforting, merciful thought -- that when it feels like God is asking a lot of me -- He will give me the love and strength to do the work.  Seems so simple and obvious, something I know I've understood conceptually before, but haven't been humble and desperate enough to actually apply.  I am stubborn and proud and always try to do things myself before I ask for help. But I cannot do the things I believe the Lord wants me to do on my own.  I am asking (begging) for the love to do the work.  And it's coming.  One of the best ways I know to love people is to gather them in my home and feed them.  And we've had company for four meals in the last five days.  And it was not easy to extend myself like that and I cannot keep that kind of pace (we had waffles and scrambled eggs tonight and I was so happy to eat in my sweats and not set the table) -- but I didn't have any meltdowns in the process and I truly felt that I had emotional strength and energy beyond my own capacity to plan and shop and prepare those meals and love our gathered guests.

And I always struggle to write posts like this because they just feel so personal for a blog.  And I am really uncomfortable to write about myself - I don't want any attention (thankfully, I don't think there are many readers here anymore).  I fear that these precious, fragile things will be mis-read, misunderstood, misconstrued?  Twisted to mean something other than what they actually mean to me.  But this is our family story.  And I am part of it.  And faith is part of it.  And vulnerability, too.  This is the place the thoughts need to land for safe-keeping.  This is the way for me to talk to my children ten, twenty, eighty years down the road.  And this is the place for me to remind myself that God is good, and near and mindful.  And that this good, hard life is stretching and shaping us into different, hopefully better, people.


  1. Emily...this post was somewhat shocking to me as I have always admired the ease with which you & your family seem to "pull together" wonderful get togethers. Everything from a wedding reception to a gathering around the fire pit. You make it come off so seamless that I have found myself being jealous! I think you are getting soooo much right that you shouldn't sweat the small stuff! And P.S. I still enjoy reading your blog :-)

  2. I read this (via my feed reader) early this morning when I was struggling to get Nathan to eat something--anything! It was so so good for me to read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as you navigate through this complex journey of motherhood and self-development.