Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Road Less Traveled

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".


SnarkyMama said...

So incredibly wise to be so incredibly young. You amaze me...again and again. My belle of a hero!

I love you...

Lanie said...

I would have been scared and angry too!

Before Mom passed away and my jaw surgery, I was talking with my 6 year old one night and I told her that things might get a little crazy and Mommy might be sad one minute or grumpy the next but I needed to remember that God is in control. So I asked her to tell me when I got a little emotional that "God's got it!"

Don't forget Natalie... God's got it!

Huge {{{HUGS}}} my cyber friend!


Angie said...

what an amazing post. Thank you.

Michelle said...

You are braver and stronger than you think you are.
I admire the heck out of you!
Blessings on you and your family.

KC Mom said...

You are strong, I know you will make it through this...and I don't mean the old "this".
Faith without works is dead. Of course we need to have faith...but we also need to do our part. You've done it. You've taken the first steps.
I would feel a lot better if you would get a security system though. :)
Love you.

jen said...

Letting go is such a hard thing, especially for people who are used to getting what they want through hard work and talent and stubbornness.
But, like you, I keep learning the same lessons, over and over. "This" isn't why we're on Earth. We're on Earth to turn "this" over to Him. For some that's easy. For some, that's their test. But I truly believe, down to my soul, that God tailors our trials and experiences for our individual spirits. We all learn the same lessons, just taught in different ways and by different teachers. That doesn't make some better or worse. Just ours, and ours alone.
I'm sure you'll struggle with this over and over during the next year, but I truly believe that Heavenly Father tries to make it as easy as He can for us, and still enable us to learn the lesson or trait we need.
"Hard isn't bad, it's just hard."
Good luck, my friend, and you're constantly in my prayers, along with your precious family.

Jill said...

Oh crap a year! I don't know what I was thinking, hoping maybe it was 6 months. And good for you for wailing. There is something physiological that makes us feel better when we do that. And as for the creepy follower, good idea for the fire station, I would have picked a convenience mart. Fire station--better idea.

Sue said...

I have a poem about this! (Of course, I do. heehee). But seriously, I have one I wrote a year or so after I got diagnosed with autoimmune disease. I was 38 years old, and I was fed up with feeling so out of control and unable to be healed. Anyway, here it is:


©1999, Awaken Your Spiritual Power,
Susan Noyes Anderson

A boat is life, a vessel in the gale
Tossed by the wind and driven through the night;
A hapless cutter, searching for the light
That used to dance and shimmer on a sail
Once bright and proud, bedraggled now, and pale.
Life’s boat. The oarsman struggles with its plight,
Unwitting victim of his self-made might,
Each desperate thrusting doomed, at last, to fail.
Humbled, the oarsman tries to understand
The currents that assail him fore and aft;
He struggles with the oars until, unmanned,
He hurls them through the tempest like a shaft.
Henceforth, the raging waters he’ll withstand
By trusting in the Maker of his craft.

In other words, to coin a phrase from Carrie Underwood (heehee), "Jesus, Take the Wheel."


Yep. Letting go is a popular theme, and there is a reason for that, because it works. Sure ain't easy, though.


PS. Your mom is right. Your wisdom exceeds your years. Love to you, the kids, AND the Captain...

-clevergirl said...

I am so glad you are ok! What a terrifying experience! **HUG**

karen said...

Cool under pressure - good for you! I'm so glad you're OK, and hurray for epiphanies! A year will pass no matter what - it sounds like yours will pass with bravery and grace - sorta like Snarky Belle.

Em said...

Growing up, my mother would always tell me to be "a willow."

Even the mighty oaks will snap in a fierce wind, the willows bend. Sometimes all the way to the ground. They bend, so they survive.

That, and God's sweet grace.

Breath and bend sweet lady.

(Did you get the creepy guy's plate number?)

Melanie said...

Beautifully said and beautifully written. First I want to say that I don't know what it is like to have a husband in the service and away from home for a long period of time. BUT, my husband and I had to live apart for a year due to his job taking him to Florida and I had to stay in Georgia. I was the mother, father, realtor, yard person, teacher (I homeschooled) and the person who had to deal with a 5th grader that didn't want to move. It was a hard year but we made it thru better and stronger for it. You will too. You have many people sending prayers your way and God is there to comfort you as he did the other night.

Second, I love The Biggest Loser. I didn't watch it at the beginning but around the 4th season, I jumped on board and I love every minute of it. The people are so strong and they all have a story and I love their stories. Yes, there is a whack job this year too.

Keep your chin up. You are doing a great job.

Krystyn said...

What beautiful words. It is really hard some times (and I've never been in your position) to remember that God is in charge. I'm so glad you were able to have a talk with Him and remember.

Shauna said...

First of all I have experienced a similar situation on the road and it was I am so sorry you had that happen. I too love Jillian and replayed that same statement over and is very powerful. Enjoy this new story and continue to remind yourself that God is in makes it easier to let go. all my love and prayers, hang in there. love, Shauna

jendoop said...

What an intimate and honest post. Thank you.

Your example helps me let go a bit more, when people around me seem to expect my breakdown at any minute. The phrase, "I don't know how you do it" doesn't help me, it makes me wonder how I've lasted so long and when I will stop "doing it".

Magic Brush said...

I love the comment "breath and bend sweet lady"... that's great.

I'm so grateful the Lord made it obvious to you that the creep was following you. Sometimes while driving I get into lala land and may not even have noticed. The Holy Spirit is so good to prompt us to things.

I love the Biggest Loser too. Go home crazy lady (cant think of her name).

Midwest Mommy said...

When I was fresh out of college and thought I was all that I flipped the bird to a guy who cut me off in traffic. He pulled over then pulled out behind me and proceeded to chase me for over 30 minutes before I finally lost him. Scariest thing ever when you are in that moment.

RitterB's said...

You are absolutely correct. Two years ago I had hit the lowest moment of my life. I was angry at the story I had been handed to deal with. I was angry at the Lord for the lesson I was being taught. I walked MY "THIS" alone also. With a heavy bag full of burden. Many wanted to help but my wall of Pride and Hurt was well build. Sturdy and Strong... It was not until a moment somewhat similar to yours... When my burden became so heavy and my heart so shattered that I became Meek and Humble.... I expressed my sadness to Our Father. I spoke of them one by one. I handed over my desires to him with a full understanding that I knew He would help "write" my life as He knew was best. My road less traveled has been an amazing journey. When the fear creeps in I remind myself of the moment on my knees. Our Father knows us that for sure. I am thankful for your story today. I am reminded once again He knows us.... And I am grateful to KNOW Him.
You are in my prayers. Love ya tons honey buns!

Dennis and Cherise said...

I love You! The first few months after they deploy are always the hardest; its the time that you become adjusted and settle into a routine. I know that when Dennis is Deployed I go into what I call Deployment Mode, and my red flag can go up quickly and easy! Good for you for thinking quick on your feet! I'm sure the firemen loved seeing such a beautiful face in their station =)
But every time I have to send Dennis Back I always start freaking out and have the feeling of I cant do this again.(I am no way comparing my I can't do this again to your can't do this again) I always pray after I send him on his way, I pray for his safety, and I hand the deployment over to Heavenly Father. For it is his will that will be done. I know that I have no control what happens in Iraq, and only Heavenly Father has that control.

I am so grateful that we know and believe what we believe. I am so grateful to know that Dennis and I are Sealed for all time and Eternity. You are such a strong person and such a great example!

Laretha said...

Note to self: Don't read your posts when I have makeup on or need to work!

First - I am so glad you are safe.

SnarkyMama said it are so wise!

I recently had the "I can't" conversation with God and I really needed to read your wisdom on this today. Thank you! I know it's not hard to put yourself out there so thank you because I needed the reminder to take the road I haven't in the past.

I love you girl!

MammaWarrior said...

You are certainly the most couragous woman I have ever known. Thank you so much for sharing your hard times, your good times and all the in between. I was shocked and pained when I heard of the creepy guy. I felt even worse when I realized Capt'n is not home! Your brave! Very very brave!! Your my hero too!!! ((hugs))

MammaWarrior said...

Just to let you know I mentioned your family in my blog! Don't worry...only a couple people read it..your one of them haaha!

Karen said...

Thinking of you! Thanks for your families sacrifice for our country and for us personally!

Glad to catch up on your posts after being in the 'wilds' for a week or so.

Love to you,

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

So beautifully said, my sweet, snarky friend. And...exactly what I needed to hear! (I...ahem...have a few issues with control myself!)I love the quote you shared from Jillian. Very powerful words...

I hope you don't mind, I added your Victoria's name to our remembrance day list (the October 15th post). I didn't have her details...but wanted to remember her. So, I added her name a couple days ago, and linked it to you. Sorry I didn't have it up computer has been very sassy (or should I say snarky??).

Love you...

Jess said...

So sorry gross creepy guy scared you, and especially when El Captain is gone. I'm glad the firemen kept you feeling safe. Even though we know we'll never be given more than we can handle it sometimes seems like that limit is stretched and tested until just before it breaks, somehow I think that you'll come out at the other end even more of a super-woman.

Lori said...

You are such a wonderful example to me. I thank God that we have had the opportunity to cross paths in this lifetime. You are a great source of courage and strength to me and to that I am deeply grateful. I too have learned to turn things over to God. Loosing a child shows us just how much control over life "we don't have". We have to have Faith. Faith that he is there and faith that he knows what is best for us and our progression. He is refining us and making us strong so that we will be examples for those that will follow. He has molded you into a very kind and loving person and I am so glad to call you friend.

Love ya,

I am LoW said...

I love Biggest Looser. LOVE it. It's so inspiring. Proof that you CAN change.

I also am struggling with having no control. (a 20 year old son) And having ZERO control is about the hardest thing ever. :(

Lindsay said...

I kind of feel like I'm in a similar place. Perhaps I didn't keep the tools I was given and they got stolen. Perhaps I did forget my name and God's name again.
You inspire me Natalie. My 'go to guy' will only be gone a fraction of the time yours will be, but it's quite lonely today.
My first ultrasound is in two hours and I'll be going without Kenny. He's five hours away in Baton Rouge working on this big dumb alien movie. Production doesn't end until mid-December and he works weekends so he can't come home. I told God and Kenny that I couldn't do this. Maybe God wanted to show me that I could.
Sorry for jabbering away on your blog. I've missed communicating with you.
Much love, Lindsay

Carly said...

You are an uber genius for going to a firehouse, I would have driven around forever until I ran out of gas and was trapped and panicked. Seriously.
And, for the record, I too like the Biggest Loser, but I don't like Jillian for a whole other reason. The show has always been about losing weight the only "right" way, by exercising and cutting calories, but even though she advocates that on the show, Jillian sells "fat burning" pills and stuff. It's so crummy, like "hey, this is the right way to do it, but if you're too lazy, I'll still take your money!"

Em said...

you're amazing. i marvel at your grace and intellect. i tear up b/c i am wishing that your husband didn't have to be away, thinking how i would feel in your shoes. it makes my respect for you grow even more. loved all of your spiritutal insights. those are the times in life that you grow so much, but fear to be in b/c you know how much work it is to get through them.

Mel said...

How do you respond to such a raw post? How can I tell you that you bring tears to my eyes and that my heart aches for you and family? You truly are an amazing woman, you are strong and you are an inspiration without even thinking about it. I admire you, your strength, your faith. I suffered 8 losses while traveling the road to my son, and I know so well the battle that you waged. I am still trying to let go of the past and the pain and rebuild my is a day to day issue for me though every time I look into my son's eyes it gets a little easier.

How I wish there was something I could do to ease this pain for you.

caitsmom said...

Glad you found the strength you needed. Yikes. Your story makes me worry, though. I'm sure you did, but I hope you reported it. Sending some hugs.