Monday, August 13, 2012

Surviving more hard things ... Another Journal Moment.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to sing solo in Sacrament meeting for the first time in twelve years. (For those who don't know, Sacrament meeting is the time when our entire local congregation meets together for church.) It was a great opportunity, if a bit overwhelming. I think that I was most nervous about how my nerves would affect things. It's been a while since the nerves have had that kind of workout, so I don't think said nerves or I were quite certain how they'd react. On the plus side, I didn't know I was singing until Tuesday, so there wasn't a lot of time to panic. Luckily, one of my best friends was willing to give up her time to come and accompany me. (She used to do that quite often back in the days when I did that kind of thing fairly regularly.) Just knowing she'd be there made things easier.

Because it has been so long since I've sang like this, choosing a piece to sing took a bit more effort than it might otherwise have done. A lot of thought and prayer went into narrowing the selection down. After I'd chosen a few pieces that I thought might work -- including two old standbys that I used to perform fairly regularly -- I met with my sweet friend to sing them through. After some time, we both knew which piece I needed to sing. Not one of the old standbys, but a piece that I'd never heard until last Wednesday, a song called "Cast Your Burden on the Lord" by Sally Deford. (When I chose this piece, I didn't know that we'd be calling the wedding off later that night, but the Lord did ... )

In the wake of big life changes, and while babysitting two of my nephews, I had the opportunity to focus on the words of this song. Phrases like, "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will heal your soul," "bring Him your sorrow, all your grief," and "give Him your broken heart to bind" were ever present in my home. Since there wasn't a lot of time to prepare, and because the week had been challenging, I found myself mentally dwelling on this piece during most waking moments.

I'm a firm believer in the statement, "Whom God calls, He qualifies." I knew that this was the right song for me to sing, and I felt a strong responsibility to prepare myself so that God could qualify me. I've seen the Lord expand my talents when I use them in His service, and I wanted to do all I could to allow Him to do that. I have to admit that there were a couple of times when I nearly called Mai to change to one of the pieces I was more familiar with, but it didn't feel right, so I continued to prepare this new song.

I'd like to say that things went off without a hitch, that I sang my very best, and didn't miss a note or a word ... but I'd totally be lying. (And quite frankly, between the previously mentioned challenges, a daughter with strep, and everyday life, there's enough on my plate without my pants bursting into flames ... ) The first line of the song went off fairly well ... and then my brain just shut down -- completely. Yup, the second line of the song was missing in action, and -- because I had it memorized by then -- my eyes didn't seem to know where to look to find it.

What I really wanted to do was burst into tears, fling my hands up, say, "I'm sorry. I can't do this," and walk in shame to my seat on the front row. What I chose to do was keep singing some kind of incoherent babble for the three lost words until I was able to find my spot and keep going. (So, for those of you who had no idea what random words were being mumbled over the pulpit ... Yeah, neither did I.) After that, it seemed to go off smoothly. I think I hit the right notes, and no more words decided to skip the meeting. I found my feet and felt relatively calm.

While I'm not a fan of such public embarrassment, I've learned to be grateful for these kind of moments. They help me to see that -- while I may not think of myself as strong or exceptionally talented -- I'm not a quitter. I can face these challenges and, instead of retreating, I can walk through them to the other side. More importantly, I can grow and become better with each challenge I walk through. I'm learning that perhaps this is its own kind of strength. This is the life that God has given me. It is at times riddled with deep difficulties and painful embarrassments. But I have learned to do hard things. I can garden with rattlesnakes. I can shield my children from the bitterness that life sometimes holds, while still teaching them the lessons of those moments. I can make hard decisions, and I can learn to smile through the humbling that occasionally knocks me off my feet. This is the life that God has given me, and it is good.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back ...

Thanks so much to all my friends and loved ones who were so very willing to celebrate with my sweetheart and me this last while. Your support has meant a lot. However, I just wanted to let you all know that -- for personal reasons -- we've decided to call the wedding off. I don't think a broken engagement can ever be an easy thing. After all, to get to that point, you have to have been willing to commit to eternity with a person ... That involves a certain level of emotional investment.

In spite of how things stand, I'm really grateful for the opportunity that I've had to get to know this man. He is a good man. He has treated me remarkably well. When I spoke, he listened ... and remembered ... and acted on it. He showed my children much of what they can and should expect when the time comes for them to look for their own eternal companion. It's been a blessing to see that there are good men out there. I still have a lot of respect for this man.

Since we decided to break things off, there have been a lot of ups and downs. There are times that I feel happy and calm; and there are other moments where -- if this weren't such a busy week -- I could crawl into bed and sob away a couple of hours. As with any goodbye, there are beautiful memories and a good lump of healing that will refine my soul. It's a process, and it's still a journey. The joy and the sorrow are, as seems to be common in life, intertwined. It seems that it is impossible to taste one without the other.

I'm grateful for this time in my life. There are moments that are harder than I ever thought they'd be. Some of those moments like to pop in for repeat visits. Apparently, those are the moments that need time to truly ease the burden. Perhaps because of those, the bright spots shine all the more clearly for the contrast. There is a beauty to be found in all that's good, but that same beauty can be found in the challenges.