Thursday, March 30, 2017

I Hear You, I See You, I Love You

It's no secret that I've been struggling lately. 
I've never been able to keep secrets very well anyway. 

I've had a week to think about what I want to say in this post and how I want it to be portrayed---a week where every night, I cry myself to sleep and tears stream down my face at work and the anxiety is a knot in my throat. 

I haven't been eating well. I feel nauseous a lot of the time and can't get through full meals. And when I don't feel nauseous, I eat all of the things at once. 

Why?
Because life is hard. 
Because life doesn't always turn out how we plan it in our head. 
Because life seems so unfair sometimes. 

Last week, I was given the news that I'd have to write a letter to the First Presidency of our church, telling my point of view of my marriage, divorce, and life since then. 
THIS is a semi-outdated-but-best-I-could-do-for-tonight explanation of why I was asked to write my letter. 

Yeah.

It's been a long time since I've had a panic attack so great I thought I might not be able to physically take another breath. 

The heartache I've been dealing with since that day has surprised me. I don't know what I was expecting but I surely did not expect to feel this way. 

But instead of just focusing on my pain, I wanted to turn this story in a different direction. 

You see, for weeks I've been asking for understanding and faith and peace. And...nothing. 
And then on Sunday, I got this news and was like, "You've got to be kidding me, God! I've been praying and trying so hard to trust you and without a significant answer to my prayers, I get this phone call?! You knew this was about to happen so why didn't You send me comfort yesterday so I would've been better equipped to deal with this?" 

And...God did not answer. 
So all night on Sunday, I was a crying, shaking mess. 

I asked my dad for a Priesthood blessing and went home to get rest before work the next day. 

And when I woke up, it started. 


It started with a text early Monday morning from my foster care intake coordinator. "Your license was approved!" 
An early Monday morning reminder that God is aware of me. I have been working for six months to do everything required to get my foster care license. It has not always been easy. I have been frustrated at times. I have done hours of interviews and classes, organized and baby-proofed my home, etc. in anticipation for this and after a hard night, God knew I needed to hear that in that exact moment. 

Suzanne, I hear you. I see you. And I love you. 

On Tuesday, I decided to tour daycare centers because I had the afternoon free and knew I'd need to get things in order. I was worried I wouldn't find a center that would be DCS approved and have an opening. 
I got to the first center for a tour and within ten minutes, found out it met all of my requirements and had openings right away. I immediately felt peace. 

I hear you. I see you. And I love you. 

Wednesday, I decided to spend my evening at the Gilbert temple. I spent 3.5 hours crying and praying and reading scriptures and as I asked God to help me through this and bring me clarity, He did. 
He reminded me that He knows the plans of my life and can see the bigger picture. He reminded me that I need to have faith in Him and trust that He will carry me through my heartache. 

I hear you. I see you. And I love you. 

On Thursday, my mother came over after work. She brought me a home cooked meal and helped clean my house for two hours. We spent that time talking and/or blasting music while we worked to get my house in order before the kids came home from their dad's house. 

I hear you. I see you. And I love you. 

Friday, I had to drive to Tucson to pick up my daughter because she had dance pictures that evening. Although I've taken that drive many times in the past 5-6 years, I was not looking forward to doing it alone and also spending my one day off in the car. 
Out of the blue, a close friend of mine found out I would be taking that drive and offered to ride with me so I wouldn't be alone. 
She turned what could've been a hard afternoon into a really fun memory. 

I hear you. I see you. And I love you. 

Saturday came and I had experienced a week of miracles. I tried so hard to recognize the many beautiful events from the week to counteract how my heart was feeling but there was still so much weighing on my chest and I prayed for guidance to get through another day. 

Hayley had been begging to go out to breakfast so I took her to IHOP. 

And an hour later, I posted this on Facebook: 

"My precious girl and I went to breakfast this morning and after sitting down, a lady was seated at the table right next to us. She was by herself and kept looking over and smiling at us. 

When our food came, I began to cut up Hayley's pancakes when the lady leaned over and said to her, "You must have the best mom in the whole world. Never forget how amazing she is." She then told me she had a daughter who is now 49 and lives all the way in Baltimore.

She told us her name is Mary and we gave her our names. Throughout the meal, we would have little conversations but mostly, she seemed to just be observing my relationship with my daughter and smiling at us.

When we went up front to pay for our food, Mary had already left but waiting for us was the news that she had paid for our food and left us a sweet note on the receipt.

"Thank you for sharing your mother day and daughter day with me. Mary."

As I sat in that restaurant and began to cry, it hit me so hard how much God is aware of us.
Mary doesn't know I'm a single mother of two. She doesn't know how difficult this week has been for me. She doesn't know my anxieties and insecurities and how much I pray to not feel so lonely. But God knows. And today, Mary listened to that prompting and was able to be our angel, to remind us how loved we are.

So thank you, Mary. You have made such a difference in my life with your kindness." 

Saturday was my long-awaited turning point. It was the day I could no longer excuse the hand of God in every measure of my life throughout the week. It was the day I came home and just wept that He had shown me grace in such a significant way. 

Although I've asked him to take away my heartache and He hasn't, God has shown me that His love is neverending and that I just need to keep my focus on Him and not on the millions of outside worries I have. 

This week has been incredible in so many ways. 

In fact, it's kind of an odd feeling because I feel like I'm still fighting to remember God and not go to a very dark place while at the same time, I feel like I've recognized God more than ever before in my life. 

The miracles I've witnessed have not completely dissipated the anxiety or the heartache or even the anger I've been struggling with. But they have made it so I don't stay down for as long as I normally would. 

I feel like I'm screaming like a five year old, "IT'S NOT FAIR!!!" And then I hear my dad's voice saying, "Well, life isn't fair, Suzanne." 
(Solid parenting advice---I use those same words on my kids almost daily)

I've been trying to catch myself as I start to fall into that pit of "It's not fair" or "I'm doing the job of two and am all alone at the end of the day" or "I didn't do anything to deserve this and now I'm the one suffering" and bring myself out because what I've found is that at the bottom of that pit is nothing but misery. 

And when I'm able to pull myself out of that pit, I find a much brighter world filled with thoughts like "I have almost put myself through school as a single mother" or "My children are doing such amazing things in their lives" or "I am HAPPY and ACTIVE at church these days" or "I have so many people in my life who love me" or "I get to be with my kids so much of the time right now" or a million other positive thoughts about how my life is so blessed and I am so loved and God is so good. 

My days are so up and down right now but I am trying. 

I am fighting and learning and trying so hard to be the best possible me when I walk out the door each day. 

And I think that's what matters most, especially right now. I think it's ok to not be overly peppy or serving others or smiling like I might do on a more normal basis. 

I'm doing the best I can right now. 

God knows it and I know it. 

And for me, in this moment, that is the biggest miracle of all. 


PS: If you're wondering about my encounter with our angel, Mary, our story has been shared  over 1000 times and has been liked over 23 thousand times on the Love What Matters Facebook page and has now been written in 6-7 articles that I've found when I google myself. It certainly has been a whirlwind of a week and I feel very blessed to witness all of these miracles firsthand. 
Here are a few of the articles:

Refinery 29

Babble

Huffington Post UK 

Monday, March 20, 2017

He Carries Me



A few weeks ago, I walked into my LDS church and I felt at home. 
I felt like I belonged. 

Much like when I used to walk onto the campus at Redemption and feel such an immense love for everyone that would walk by. 
And how my intense love for the special needs students in the classroom I volunteered in at Mission was something I counted down the days to. 

But as it was with each of those feelings at those two different Christian churches, I eventually lost my desire to go and connect with people and give Sunday worship my all. 

Church used to be so special to me. 
And sometimes I catch glimpses of what that used to feel like back before my world turned upside-down. 
Back before my then-husband announced he wouldn't be attending church with our family any longer and I became 'single' at church---and a year later became legitimately single. 

A month or two before my then-husband had left the LDS church, I was serving in the Relief Society presidency. I think I was 23 or 24 years old at the time. That calling was a highlight in my life and a significant highlight in my faith. 
I was asked to open myself up to serving people I had never taken the time to get to know. I was pushed past my comfort zone and grew in so many ways. 

And in just a short amount of time after being released from that amazing calling, my world started to change and I felt so broken at church. 
I felt like nobody noticed our little family and how we were struggling. 
I would scream and cry alone in my car, asking why it seemed nobody was fixing him and forcing him to go back to church. 
I spent many nights crying in our bed, begging him to just try a little harder and be there for us

But nothing worked. 

And so instead of living the perfect life I had imagined, I started to break. 
I slowly let cracks in as I became hardened toward my husband and God and the people whom I felt were ignoring our situation. 

But I never fully lost hope. 

I would sit in my car and listen to my Christian radio stations and rely on the hope that he would come back to church with our family someday. And more importantly, that he would know of God's love for him again someday. 

I truly believed the day would come where he would go back to church. 
And that day did eventually come---after we had been divorced for a few months. 

Since then, I can't seem to fit all of my scattered puzzle pieces back into their spaces. In fact, I feel like a lot of them have changed shapes and are waiting for me to make a new masterpiece. 

But sometimes it is just so exhausting to try and change how my brain plays those traumatic events in my life and how it equates those events to anger at people and at God. 

I will never be the same person I used to be. 
And do I want to be her? Probably not. But back when I was her, church was easier. 

And now, no matter how hard I try, I feel alone at church. 
I feel alone everywhere. 

I feel achingly alone. 

This struggle has been much more prominent for the past six months. 
I know the reasons.
And I know this isn't supposed to be a race to see which one of us has a serious relationship first or gets married first. 

I know that. 

But that doesn't make it hurt any less. 

I spend so much of my time being a mom, putting my kids first, that I am exhausted in a way I can't even describe. 
I make sure we don't miss church so that they have consistency from me. 
I try so hard to pray with them. 
I try to remember Family Home Evening each week. 

But this stuff is so hard alone. 

I'm trying. 
And I think that's what matters most to God. I think He understands better than anyone else can because He knows how torn apart my heart feels a lot of the time. 

But although life doesn't seem fair, although it seems like I'm getting the short end of the stick because I'm trying to make the right decisions and have the right priorities, I am trying to remind myself that God does not owe me anything. 

And that I owe Him everything. 

So when I feel frustrated that I'm not being handed an amazing new husband, I'm trying to remember that not getting that is not a punishment from God. And that other people getting those blessings that I so deeply desire is not them being more worthy than I am. 

I owe everything that I am to my God. 
Because without Him, I am nothing. 

And with Him, I can and will be made whole again.