Thursday afternoon I had a frightening experience. On my way home from a doctor visit, I was followed by a creepy stranger. At first he was in front of me, trying to get me to pull up to his car--jackass jerk didn't know I've read entirely too many Reader's Digest articles to fall for that trick! Then he sped up, slowed down, sped up, turned around, etc. until he ended up behind me. It's a long, icky story and to be honest, I don't want to revisit details. Thankfully, even though I was nervous, I kept my wits about me. I pulled into a fire station. The firemen were absolutely wonderful. In fact, creepy guy drove past the fire station twice while I was there, and I seriously thought one of the firemen was going to blow his top...he was so angry the idiot had scared me. And, I was scared. But, I was also angry. I loathe bullies and people who purposely intimidate others. The firemen suggested I stay at the station for a while just so we could make sure creepy guy didn't return.
When I left the station, I held it together until pulling safely into my garage. With all of my heart, I just wanted to call the Captain...everybody has a "go-to" person, and I just wanted to hear the voice of my go-to guy. The fact that I don't have that luxury right now was suddenly unbearable. I started crying, and by the time I made it into my living room I was sobbing. I was a crumpled heap on the floor, a crumpled, messy, wailing heap of a woman. No exaggeration, there was wailing. I was broken down. In fact, I haven't cried like that since my daughter died. And all those years ago, it never crossed my mind that I would cry like that ever again. But oh, I did on Friday afternoon.
If the wailing stopped for a moment or two, it was just so I could scream at the top of my lungs. "I can not do this. Do You hear me? I can not do this again. You better listen to me this time," I could hear myself bellowing. I was even pounding my fist on the floor. After 10 minutes or so, I just stopped. What exactly is the "this" that I can't do again, I wondered. No one's dying, I'm not preparing a funeral. What is the "this" that has shaken me to my core? I really didn't believe it was creepy guy following me that had pushed me to this point. But, I didn't have time for self-analysis right then. My 6th grader would be walking through the door at any moment, and this was not the picture he needed to see.
That night as I knelt beside my bed, I felt a wrestling match coming on, and I wanted no part of it. So, I simply stated: "Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for keeping me safe today, thanks for keeping my family safe. You and I both know I'm tired. I can't do this. Can't do any of it. Thank you for the Atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for all of my blessings. I can't do this, ok. I'm going to bed now. Amen." I slept a solid eight hours. I was shocked when I woke and realized it was the best sleep I've had in a long time.
My head was clear. My heart still felt a little shredded, but it was all coming together for me. No wrestling required. "This" was actually a number of things. None of which I cared for, and all of which began to flood my mind...vulnerability, weakness, lack of power, and the biggie: lack of control. When my daughter died, I had never felt so powerless. Never before, and never since--until now--have I had such a complete lack of control in my own life. There is nothing I can do to make "this" stop. My go-to guy will be gone for a year. I have no control, no say, no power in that. In my mind, vulnerability is neither impressive nor attractive, and vulnerable is just exactly how I was feeling.
I was still in bed as I pondered these things. The following thoughts flowed clearly through my mind: "You are exactly right. You can't do "this" again. What are you trying to prove? You've wrestled with God before, what did you learn? Why would you choose to wrestle that very same match again, when you don't have to?"
I was reminded of Jacob, when he was asked: "What is thy name?" He was forced to remember his name, who he was, and how he got to that place. It was as though God was whispering to me, "Child, why are you forgetting that you already know your name? I've taught you so much about the woman you are. Can't you remember? I've already blessed you with the tools for "this"? You've already wrestled this match."
At that moment I had a choice to make. 13 years ago, I responded as Jacob did. "Tell me, I pray thee, thy name." (Genesis 32:29) Do I take that road again, or instead do I rely upon the answers and tools I've already been given? And so, Friday morning, I knelt beside my bed, just as I had the previous night. But, my prayer was not the same. "Dear Heavenly Father, You and I both know that I can't do "this". You don't want me to, and neither do I. We both remember I did "this" alone--by choice--many years ago. I'm not taking that road again. I know my name. I don't have to ask for Your name again, I already know it too. I'd like to take a different road, one I haven't traveled much."
A road that is about acceptance as opposed to wrestling with things I can't change. I don't so much like it when people flippantly throw around the phrase "Let Go and Let God". Having wrestled once, and coming so close to wrestling again, I understand there is nothing flippant about letting go. But if you can actually do it, the payoff is amazing.
I feel a renewed sense of peace. I am not powerless or weak. I may not have control of all things, such is life. But, in the past God allowed me to earn many tools, and I'm in full control of how I use those tools. I have the power to use those God-given blessings and tools, ones I wrestled and fought to receive, as I travel a new road.
It may seem unfitting to end with a quote from reality tv, but I've sunk to much lower levels before. The Biggest Loser is my newest reality series addiction. In the past, I haven't watched because I wasn't fond of Jillian Michaels. I thought she was too hard on the contestants. I have a friend who suggested I watch it anyway. Oh my goodness, I love it! The contestants are dedicated, open, and honest...with the exception of one whack-job, but there's one in every bunch, right? A few have even sacrificed their spot on the show so another can stay. These people are truly inspiring to me. And, Jillian cares about them. No doubt--she's cocky, and super tough on them, but she genuinely wants them to succeed. Last week, she was training a contestant who was scared and feeling defeated. Jillian's response to the woman made me pause the show. I had to rewind it until I could get the whole quote jotted down correctly.
Jillian: "You just don't want to let go of the story. That's why you're afraid. And until you're ready to step into a new life, and write a new story, you're just wasting your life. And your life's not going to change."
I'm writing a new story when it comes to "this". I don't have to prove anything to anyone, including myself. I'm becoming ok with not having all the control. I'm understanding that letting go and catching some of what life throws in your face (without fighting it off) doesn't mean you are weak and powerless. Sometimes we've already learned the lesson. Sometimes, instead of wrestling another match, it's preferable to use the tools we have...step into a new life, and walk a road we haven't traveled much. I won't waste another minute of my life on "this".