Unanswered Prayers

…it’s all going to be all right. You and your family will be fine, and you are not to worry…

Those were the words I used to close my last post. It’s with a mix of reverence and perplexed bemusement that I contemplate them now. After two years of unemployment, a son diagnosed with autism, and my husband making choices that were beyond my control, I find myself still tremendously comforted by those words, and oddly, they have more meaning to me today, in the middle of a divorce, than they did then.

When I was a kid, my friends and I played a game in the kitchen doorway. One of us would stand between the jambs, and with our arms at our sides, we would press the backs of our hands outward with all of our might for one solid minute. Your muscles would begin to quiver, your arms shake, and your face would screw up in concentration as that minute dragged on. Then, when you couldn’t take it any more, you would step from the doorway, relax your muscles, and with no effort whatsoever your arms would fly up from your sides into the sky.

I remember laughing for joy at how something so difficult became so effortless and buoyant.

Those post-closing words I’ve contemplated, rubbed on like a smooth worry-stone, for months now, and it’s funny how they don’t mean what I thought they might mean- but how true they are nonetheless. We think we are such fragile creatures- we want answers, hoping to see the end from the beginning. And yet despite our perceived fragility, we are resilient, flexible, and strong like the sap-filled boughs of spring.

People keep asking me how I’m doing. I never wanted to be divorced, to be a single mother, or to walk in life alone. Yet I am calm and centered and oddly, feeling closer to God than I have in all the years I was trying to make someone else choose wisely. I am untethered. I am free to hear the Spirit now, in a way that was locked to me when I was praying for someone else’s agency to be violated.  I felt abandoned by the Lord when my prayers were not answered, but it was my ears that were stopped, not the hand of the Lord that was stayed.

Agency is a  mighty and powerful gift, and I am beginning to see, the tiniest glimmer, of the wisdom of the Plan of Salvation. There is no doubt the agency of others can bring agonizing pain and hollowing sorrow- but like glaciers, (and sometimes just as slowly, depending on our hearts), that carving pain creates a collection place; an internal cache and reservoir for understanding, compassion, reverence and love.

You never know where your personal line is, until you are upon it. It’s easy in an abstract  thought-experiment to claim knowledge, or to lay out your own laws, claim something could never happen to you-  but when your heart is involved, you do not know. You do not know what you will take, or when you will reach No More. The day came when I surprisingly found myself standing at the Line. Clarity washed over me as I laid down the burden I had been carrying, and it was just as my childhood doorway game. The struggle stopped, the shaking, weary muscles released, and my arms soared towards the sky. 

The Lord was with me all along. It’s just I was just so busy holding up the wall, so sure that if I let go, my life would blow apart, that I couldn’t, wouldn’t, see His divine presence. I cried out, but refused to see the answers He gave, being too busy missing the answers I wanted. So much of our pain is self-chosen.

The Lord has given us the greatest potential, and I daresay, shown his own faith in us to allow us agency. It’s a testament to what he’s created in us that he trusts us enough, loves us enough, to allow us this gift, and the potential it contains.

…it’s all going to be all right. You and your family will be fine, and you are not to worry…

Comments

  1. Bless you Tracy.

  2. Sharon LDS in Tennessee says:

    Dearest fellow traveler in mortality..and sister in heart..Tracy:
    I cannot begin to tell you what your post meant to me.
    You are an awesome communicator.
    You are a brave and beautiful soul.
    You are very special in so many ways….the first that shines out so brightly is your willingness to admit the things that happened – your mindset on both sides of your predicament and release – your turning and remembering God and His perspective and care and truth for you in those words He gave about…
    it’s all going to be all right.
    Of course this hit me so hard as to weld up tears….from my own tear in my heart. (from torn).
    I’ve personally been ’rounding’ the bend of a whole life’s journey….suddenly facing many hard, cold, facts of reality in my senior years…..mostly doing with EXACTLY what you had to do.
    Know anothers choices are THEIR choices.
    We cannot and should not feel responsible.
    We cannot and should not push, shove, or try to pray them into change or better decisions.
    ‘We will be all right’…..IF we follow God. And listen to HIS answers of those prayers we just ‘thought’ were unanswered.
    All these months of digging up blogs and posts ended up with early morning reading of YOUR jewel of testimony=”so much of our pain is self-chosen”.
    Your persepctive at this point =Profoundly d e e p.
    PURE diamonds and gold.
    So much truth.
    Thank you so much for bearing your heart to us.
    Your standing at “the Line”….is exactly what I needed in my decision-collection to move forward ….as well.
    It’s being printed off and shared with others’ needs.
    Love to you and all who are starting anew.

  3. Antonio Parr says:

    Tracy:

    The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
    The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
    The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

    (Numbers 6:24-26)

  4. Tracy, this post is absolutely beautiful, and so are you, and so is the life you share so generously with us.

  5. merrybits says:

    After a beautiful post, I am aware this a bit on the crass side, but it helped me identify my “no more line” after years of my now deceased husband’s many affairs and drug addictions: God does not want his beautiful daughters to stay married to ***holes.

  6. Thomas Parkin says:

    “we want answers, hoping to see the end from the beginning.”

    Amen to that.

    “I am free to hear the Spirit now, in a way that was locked to me when I was praying for someone else’s agency to be violated. ”

    I know this _exactly._ When we attempt to circumnavigate another person’s freedom, that is dominion. When we attempt to compel them against their will, even through prayer, even for their good or the end of our pain, it causes the Spirit to withdraw. Seems like I’ve had to learn it again and again. But it is hard to learn when someone’s choices are causing us pain … as you’ve said, so much more beautifully.

    “You never know where your personal line is, until you are upon it. ”

    I’ve now been on that line twice. I swore after the first time I would never find myself at it, again. The thing about the line is, once you’ve reached it, it is virtually impossible to cross back over it. This is something people who haven’t had their marriages dissolve cannot understand. Maybe there were things you could have done before that line was reached, and sometimes not, but once crossed – no bargaining, no counseling, nothing can bring you backwards over it.

    God bless you, you are wonderful. ~

  7. CJ Douglass says:

    So much of our pain is self-chosen.

    Tracy, Thanks for your inspiring words. They remind me of one of my favorite passages.

    Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.

    -Habakkuk 3:17

  8. Julie M. Smith says:

    “they don’t mean what I thought they might mean- but how true they are nonetheless”

    This pretty much sums up my entire experience with the gospel.

  9. Thomas Parkin says:

    ““they don’t mean what I thought they might mean- but how true they are nonetheless”

    This pretty much sums up my entire experience with the gospel.”

    :< So so true. ~

  10. Thanks for writing this up Tracy. It is moving to me.

  11. I love this. It amazes me how important agency is and how much we fight for it, even when (especially when?) we’re making unwise choices.
    Also, I’m with Julie M. Smith and Thomas Parkin (#8 and #9). I had to let go of so many notions of what I thought the gospel was before I could really find it’s truth. And it is true, just not in the way I once understood.

  12. Tracy, your words are so wise and beautiful. They touch me deeply, as always. You know I would wish you well, or good luck or something, but you don’t need any of that. You are well. You are whole. Love you!

  13. Nate Brown says:

    You masterfully describe much of what I felt when I realized I was standing at the line.
    Thank you.

  14. Steve Evans says:

    Tracy, we love the heck out of you.

  15. “It’s a testament to what [God has] created in us that he trusts us enough, loves us enough, to allow us this gift [of agency], and the potential it contains.”

    Wow — I really needed to hear that this morning. Thanks.

  16. OK Tracy, no one had better knock on my office door until I can get my eyes unwetted. That was so beautiful, true, and well said. I hope you are blessed in a thousand ways through this transition.

  17. God bless you and your family, Tracy.

  18. Wm Morris says:

    Amen.

  19. Beautiful, Tracy. For some reason, Isaiah 61: 1 and 3 keeps coming to mind:

    The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound . . . To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

  20. Stephanie says:

    Wow, this is so powerful. Thank you.

  21. Tracy, this set of verses from D&C 98:1-3 seem applicable, as the Saints in Missouri were in the midst of their problems:

    “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you….all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord. ”

    There is something about grace that says we should learn to give thanks to the Lord before the blessings have been granted, thanks for knowing he hears our prayers and knows us. Thank you for your thoughts this morning.

  22. StillConfused says:

    I was nervous when I started reading this for fear it would be one of those whiney posts about how God is supposed to take care of everything etc etc. I am so very pleased to see rather that it is an acknowledgement of empowerment and growth and responsibility. This is a very powerful message that often times gets lost. Thank you for sharing and I hope you continue to share this with those who are a little further back on the path.

  23. Thanks everyone. I’m trying to walk the line between honesty and openess about my experiences and respecting the privacy of the others involved.

    Part of how I process things is in writing them down- and these ideas and feelings have been floating in the ether of my mind now for a few days. As they make their way out my fingers, they solidify- and become clear.

    Thank you all for your kind words. The blog community has been very good to me, and I am so very grateful for the extended circle of Saints in my life because of writing.

    Oh, and Still Confused- if I ever write a whiny post complaining about God, y’all can take me out behind the barn and put me out of my misery. That, or you will know the Pod People have invaded and Tracy is gone. ;)

  24. The doorway game is a wonderful metaphor here. It is not your posts, but your daily walk that inspires us. Thanks.

  25. Love you Tracy. You are a beautiful writer.

  26. I’ve been turning that metaphor of the glacier over and over in my mind, and I find it so powerful. Thanks for choosing to share with us, and, like so many others, my thoughts and prayers are with you and those you love.

  27. I particularly love the glacier metaphor too, Norbert. I’m pleased with what that conveys.

  28. Sharon LDS in Tennessee says:

    THE LINE – Dedicated to Tracy M.

    I just discovered a certain line.
    I did not see it clearly until the day I almost stepped upon it.
    I think though I somehow eventually drew it, myself.
    When I clearly saw that line, so sharply now demarcated;
    lying low;
    I stared at it.
    So, this is what they talked about, the sage advice about a “line” we cannot tolerate when crossed?
    Some crossings change almost everything.
    We can even lose ourselves.
    I watched as someone who meant everything to me,
    without reserve – crossed that line.
    That choice brought finality and loss in countless ways.
    Gratefully, mercy’s boundlessl healing from “THE CROSS” offered release and met my every need.
    Holding tightly to that “CROSS” I’ve found myself.
    I begin anew.

  29. Tracy, thank-you for this.

  30. Savor the joy and embrace of the Spirit while near. The Lord will carry us awhile in our afflictions–but because He loves us, He will allow us to return to the fallen world to once again rejoin the battle to prove worthy of a celestial inheritance.

    Having traveled the road you’re on, on more than one occasion, I suggest that you write down your feelings, blessing, and thin veil experiences in detail so that you can revisit them when they are but a memory.

    Thanks for sharing.

  31. Let me send heaping piles of love your way, Tracy.

    As a frequent reader (although rare commenter) here and at Mormon Mommy Wars, I’ve enjoyed your beautifully written and inspiring posts. I think you’re probably the best loved person in the bloggernacle, and you deserve it. Although we’ve never met, and proabably never will, you are an inspiration to me. I hope you write a memoir someday, because your story and your faith and hope in the face of adversity are beautiful.

  32. Oh Tracy, I needed to read that today. With three kids with Autism at home (9 and under) sometimes I feel some people born just to suffer. Thanks for the words.

  33. I have been wondering and worrying the past few days about you. This post was beautiful. Understanding agency is a powerful thing, even though it’s often a painful thing to get to clarity about its importance.

    Thank you for these powerful words, and may God bless you. It’s clear He is.

    Bah. Words just fail. Fortunately, yours didn’t. Thank you.

  34. marjorie conder says:

    To Tracy and Sharon–Blessings and hugs.

  35. Tracy M — thank you for writing this.

    And isn’t that a funny thing — the balance between honesty and privacy? I’ve learned that being relentlessly honest, shining a light on all (especially all my) dark corners is tremendously freeing but it gets complicated when you shine the light on others’ dark corners. I feel it is a lot like agency — you can’t force anyone’s agency and you can’t force anyone’s honesty.

  36. Tracy, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through this. I’m glad to know that you’re feeling calm and centered already; I hope you are able to get through the transition quickly and easily.

  37. Lovely. Thanks you.

  38. Aw, I remember playing that game in the doorway when I was little. I might have to go home tonight and try that again to make sure it still works. I love how you compared it to what you are going through. I love how when we are brave enough to accept things and people as they are without it needing to bring us down that we are able to more fully experience the buoyancy of the spirit.

  39. Love your guts, girl.

  40. Sharon LDS in Tennessee, I’m intrigued by your comments. I would really like to ask you some questions. Please e-mail me at CrustyAmbulanceDriver@Gmail.com

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