Monday, February 2, 2009

Letting Go of the Cliff

I've had a lot of ponderous moments lately.

I've been struggling with a lot lately, and no matter how much I prayed or how often I studied my scriptures, the tears kept coming. I would fight the awful, overwhelming feelings and keep them at bay for a while, until something would trigger the flood.

I don't like myself this way. I hate it when things aren't in my control. I like being in control.

For years I couldn't allow myself to fall asleep in the car unless I was so tired I couldn't help it. There were a few occasions when I was a teenager when I was with friends and nearly was in an accident. At those moments I hadn't been looking at the road, even though I wasn't the driver. The fear grew that bad things only happened when I wasn't looking. I knew that I wasn't all powerful, and that those times were just coincidence, but the fear was born nonetheless.

It wasn't until this last trip to spend the New Year's holiday with my in-laws that I finally decided to let go of this particular fear. James knew I was exhausted and told me to sleep. I knew that he would keep us safe and that I should trust him, so I snuggled my pillow and fell asleep for about 30 minutes. "See?" James said after I woke, "Nothing happened." Of course not. I felt safe with him.

I have a hard time letting go of my life and trusting Heavenly Father. I feel that if I have a death grip on what is around me, mainly my life and my children, that I will punish myself enough that nothing worse can happen to anyone. My irrational subconscious thinking is that if I give myself enough of a trial that the Lord will say something like the following: "She's punishing herself enough. I don't need to do anything drastic like take one of her children or allow them to have a terminal illness, take her home before her kids grow up, incapacitate her husband" etc, etc. Because of this I cling on to whatever control I have. My fears aren't something I consciously think about, but they are so scarily real. I don't obsess about my children's safety, but it's something that's always in the back of my mind.

The crazy thing is that our life isn't free of trials when I do this. My second son has dealt with and is dealing with developmental delays that require a lot of extra patience and understanding, which doesn't come easily to me. My health has been frustrating and a concern. My husband has been wearing himself out with work and school these past years and I get worried about him. We don't know what will happen with this pregnancy. Each day is a struggle and a blessing, both. But aren't they all?

Why should I be so afraid of 'worse'? What I'm dealing with isn't nearly as big of a trial as many have, but in our reality it's no small potatoes either. Between those struggles, the depression I've been dealing with and the utter lack of organization around here (extra serving of guilt, anyone?) I'm surprised I've been keeping it together so long. Well, I guess I have barely been keeping it together. No, it's been crumbling around me.

Last week when I was at the end of my rope I asked James for a blessing. It was beautiful, by the Spirit and just what I needed to hear. Combined with our discussion earlier on trusting the Lord when we had family scripture study, I had a lot to think about.

During scripture study I told the kids about the story of the man who found himself falling off a cliff. He loudly begged the Lord to save him. Out of nowhere a tree growing out the side of the cliff broke his fall.

As he hung there precariously, breath coming in ragged gasps, he cried out, "Never mind Lord, I got it!"

While lying in bed that night after the blessing, I thought about this story. Suddenly an image of a rope ladder came to mind. The picture in my head was of me clinging onto a rope ladder that Jesus was holding over the cliff's overhang. I had no recollection of how I got there, but the fear was almost tangible as I dug my fingers into the dark, semi-moist soil, scared to death to let go and hang on to only the ladder as it swung freely in mid-air, twisting and turning. I knew that the Lord would pull me up quickly. There was no way he was going to let me fall. Still, the thought of letting go was paralyzing. I knew I was going to have to soon whether I wanted to or not, as my fingers would begin to cramp. I wasn't saving myself at all. In actuality, clinging to the cliff's side was doing nothing but hurting me, causing more fear, and prolonging my rescue.

I have rarely had thoughts this vivid, and this one has been a great source of contemplation and comfort. That image has stayed in my mind where I think on it daily, and have been slowly giving myself over to my Heavenly Father. I have told Him in great length about my trouble letting go, even though He already knows about it. Bit by bit I am letting go of that cliff side, so He can pull me up.

Usually I would keep something this special to me to myself. For some reason I feel compelled to share it with you. So I have.

I don't know what else to say except that this isn't going to be an overnight change. I wish it were, but it's not. But today was the best day I've had in a very long time. I was able to face it, be a proper mother to my children and even played games with them. An overall wonderful day, even with the little challenges we had. My attitude was different, and that made a world of difference to the rest of the family. It made a world of difference to our house, too. Usually before a doctor's appointment I have so much anxiety that I retreat inward so as not to fall apart. I barely thought of my appointment tomorrow at all, which was miraculous in itself.

My fingers were becoming so cramped holding on to that cliff that I almost forgot that I don't have to hurt them like that, every muscle screaming for relief. It feels much better to let go.

So much better.


Annette Lyon said...

That's a great analogy--and a powerful image. Thanks for sharing it.

Heidi Ashworth said...

Gosh, Rebecca, I'm sorry that things have been so hard for you! They are hard for everyone at one time or another. Being the mother of young children is TOUGH!! I'm so glad to see that you are letting go a bit. We have a gal in our ward who gets so anxious about how her makeup looks that she is late to the point where she just bags it and doesn't go. She takes medication for anxiety which she deff needs but she just won't change her thought processes so she can't get enough better to go to church and find out that it is all going to be just fine. We have had a number of really huge trials in our life (for example, we have a son who is never going to be okay and that's just one thing on the list) but our trials have turned out to be our biggest blessing, and not just because he weights 260 pounds. :) When we let go of our plan for ourselves and follow that little light that shows us, step by step, the Plan the Lord has for us (so many times I have wished for a crystal ball!!) the comfort and peace we feel, in spite of all that is raging around us, is priceless.

LexiconLuvr said...

You really are a kindred soul, Rebecca. I am this same way. I worry myself ill---literally. I have major issues with control and suffer terribly from depression.

Please don't be too hard on yourself. I know that it's almost impossible not to, that you feel responsible and you can't let go because "what would happen if I did?" But I'm certain you're doing an excellent job as a mother and as a wife.

I'm glad you could go to James for a blessing. Not only does it give your husband an amazing opportunity to show his love for you, it gives him a chance to truly be the patriarch of his home. It's good for you too--The Lord has specific things we need to hear sometimes and in our own clamorous life, it's hard to hear it without someone else speaking for Him.

I'm sorry you've been struggling and have shed tears alone. Should you ever need a shoulder, I am always willing to lend mine. You've won a place in my heart and I would consider it a great honor to listen whenever you need to share. Thanks for sharing here, on your blog. I'm so glad to have found you.

A friend always,


Homesteading said...

Wow, that is just what I needed to read. Thank you, truly.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I need to let go of my cliff, too. I need to grab that rope ladder. I need to more diligently rely on the Lord.

My attitude has needed a LOT of adjustment lately. The last few days have been better. I have been trying to choose to live the abundant life.

Thanks for sharing your journey. It helps to know we aren't alone out there!

Kelline said...

It does help to know that we are not alone in our fears. I worry too, I think most mothers worry more then they really have to. How awesome is it that we have a Savior and a Father in Heaven who love us and send comfort through the Holy Ghost in times of need.

InTheFastLane said...

It is so hard to let go. Your story reminds me of the "Footprints" poem. Do you know it? There is only one set of footprints during our toughest times because God is carrying us, but we have to let him.

She's in the kitchen! said...

I love you more than words can say. I am so glad that you came from Heavenly Father's arms to mine....

Kimberly said...


I struggle with this too, as you know, and you put my own feelings into words so well it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

Jen said...

My husband teases me because I have to be looking at the road when he's driving. But I would much rather he drive than me. We all have our strange quirks I guess.

You make so many great points in this beautiful post, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Lauren said...

Thank you for sharing such a powerful analogy. I am sorry things have been hard. This was such a beautiful post.

No Cool Story said...

ITA & ditto Lauren.
I have had these same struggles in the past, I used ot be terrified of everything.

Thanks for writing this, it gives others hope.

Jeni said...

Thanks for sharing, Becca. Sniff, sniff. Love you!

Nancy Face said...

I'm sorry you have had to face such difficult struggles. How wonderful that you had this special experience and shared it...lifting others.

mindyluwho said...

Oh how true your words are ringing to me right now. I've had a big struggle the last little while and had a somewhat similar experience that helped me to understand that the Lord knew what I needed.

You're a beautiful soul Rebecca and that shines through.