Monday, August 31, 2015

Be Still...

Be still.

I LOVE those two words.

It's amazing how two little words can pack so much power; can penetrate the soul and quiet the storms.

Two words that conquer chaos, summon faith, illuminate hope, and restore peace.


I remember one of my first lessons in learning to be still.

Back in 2009, I had a tumor removed...

FROM MY SPINAL CHORD!

Sounds fun, right?! 

Trust me, of ALL the places you don't want doctors poking around, your SPINAL CHORD is ONE of them. [Shivvvveeeeerrrrr...]

Fortunately, Heavenly Father blessed the hands of those surgeons and they were able to remove my tumor without snipping any nerves; avoiding unwelcome, life changing implications (for which I will FOREVER be grateful). 

Unfortunately, those surgeons couldn’t 100% guarantee my tumor wouldn’t grow back!  

Bummer.  

Now, maybe for a NORMAL person, this wouldn’t have been the end of the world (every few years, bop-on into the hospital for an MRI, keep an eye on it; no biggie). But for someone like me, who tends to be a little hypochondriacal, it was like opening up a can to a LIFETIME of OBSESSION and WORRY.  

(Any other hypochondriacs out there?) 

So the news that this tumor could "possibly" return, was a BIT overwhelming. I mean, how could I POSSIBLY have a happy, PEACEFUL life with this EVER-PRESENT piece of UNCERTAINTY dangling before me?!?!  

Well, I reached a point where worry began to take center stage. It consumed my thoughts…

Another surgery meant another LONG and PAINFUL two-month recovery! And what if next time I wasn’t so lucky?! What if NEXT time the doctors would have to sacrifice a few nerves?!?! What if I ended up losing the use of my legs or one of the OTHER frightening things that the doctors said I needed to "possibly" prepare myself for?!?!?!

Yup, the storm of uncertainty was raging. 


Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness.
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

For me, the UNKNOWN became too overwhelming; so I did what any other hypochondriacal mormon girl would do...

I grabbed my husband and asked for a Priesthood blessing.

I KNEW God knew how this would all shake out, and I wanted to know too!!

I politely explained to my husband that I NEEDED to know if this tumor was coming back. If it was, I could mentally prepare myself and face it like a man woman. If it wasn’t, I could FINALLY put all of this worry behind me and obtain PEACE. I also expressed how WONDERFUL it would be to have the reassurance that this tumor would NOT be coming back.

Have you ever tried to custom order a blessing? You know, the way you would at a fast food drive-through window...

"I'll have a large order of  'tell me what's going to happen' please, and a side order of 'your tumor will not be coming back', SUPER-SIZED." 

Yeah, that didn't work so well.

My husband kindly and patiently listened. Then he put his hands on my head and proceeded to give me a Priesthood blessing. It was the SHORTEST blessing I have EVER received in my life. Direct and to the point. I'm paraphrasing, but it went a little something like this,  

"STOP worrying about your tumor and START serving others."  

I have to admit, at the end of the blessing I felt a little cheated…I had VERY SPECIFICALLY asked for some answers, for some reassurance! What kind of drive-through window was this?! I ordered a super-size, double patty burger and was handed a bun with no meat!

Well, in spite of being a little disappointed, I took Heavenly Father's counsel to heart. I tried my best to STOP worrying about ME and START serving OTHERS. Heavenly Father was kind enough to help out in that regard; shortly after receiving that blessing, I was called to serve as my ward's Relief Society president. (Yes, God has a sense of humor.)

But here's the part I reflect back on with reverent, wondering awe...

I might have sulked a little when I ordered a double patty and Heavenly Father handed me, what appeared to be, an empty bun. 

But it turned out the bun wasn't empty at all. 

Sandwiched between the two pieces of bread was a super-sized portion of "be still."

I'm SO grateful Heavenly Father didn't hand me exactly what I ordered that day, because, in His wisdom, He gave me something A HUNDRED times better.     

He gave me an opportunity to learn how to “be still” in the MIDST of a storm. And he provided me with the tool I needed to accomplish it…service. 

It brought new understanding to the verse,

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

I wanted Heavenly Father to give me peace the way THE WORLD gives peace. You know, by taking the problem AWAY; by calming the STORM.  

But he gave me a more POWERFUL peace. 

He gave me HIS peace.

The kind of peace that enables a heart to be still in the FACE of uncertainty; in the MIDST of a storm.

Check out this painting by Howard Lyon...


There are so many things I LOVE about this painting. 

I love how the storm is STILL raging on the outskirts of the painting, but the Savior is there, cutting a peaceful path THROUGH the storm. 

I love the depiction of the man in the back of the boat; too focused on the looming waves and encroaching water to see the peace and calm that COULD be His, if he would just take his eyes off the storm and look to the Savior, TRUST in the Savior. 

That empty bun taught me many lessons, one of which was: Sometimes, when the Savior utters those two powerful words, He isn't speaking to the looming waves. Sometimes, He's speaking to those of us furiously scooping water in the back of the boat.

And if we'll muster the courage and the faith to put down our buckets and turn to Him, we'll find that we are not sailing alone. That He's right there, facing the storm with us, offering peace, bringing hope. We'll find that uncertainty melts away as we realize that HE is in control and HE will not let us sink.

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
Peace, be still, peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still.

I also learned that SERVICE was the key to STILLING my heart in the storm. 

While I was busy serving, my problem didn’t DISAPPER, but it DID fade. Service bumped my problem from center stage, into the background, where it belonged! It was still there, but it was no longer running the show. 

The FEAR of uncertainty gave way to TRUST in Him. I didn't have to worry anymore about how things would shake out, because I knew either way, Heavenly Father would be right there in the boat with me, to comfort, to calm, to strengthen and sustain.



And if I ever find myself sailing through a storm, fixated on the looming waves and encroaching water, I remind myself who's in the boat with me, and I tell myself to...


You know in the movies, when a person is out-of-control panicking, and their loving friend steps in, grabs them by the shoulders, shakes them back and forth and cries, "PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!"?!?! Well, this is the LDS equivalent...

“An High Priest of Good Things to Come”, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, General Conference, October 1999

Peace, peace, be still.

Barbara

2 comments:

  1. Great insight from a woman who is wise before her years. Keep 'em coming! I need this reminder to Be Still.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is so great. I, too, am an Elder Holland fan, and someone who wants to know how things will turn out, and a worrier. So this truly hit home for me. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete