Monday, May 2, 2011

When In the Depths of the Sea or Enveloped by Fog

In all of our lives, there are times when it feels like a battle just to keep our head above water because of a situation that we are in. I have found myself feeling that many times in my new situation as a single mom. The first several months after finding out my temple marriage of almost 18 years was over, I was an absolute walking zombie. Throughout this past year (the one year mark of that horrible day recently past), it has been a roller coaster ride, sometimes feeling such peace and faith that all will be right in the end and I can be happy, and other times falling so low and wondering if I can ever ride back up.

Many of you know the story of the brother of Jared  from the The Book of Mormon. I have identified with being in one of the Jaredites’ barges, down under the depths of the sea, down so long with both holes stopped up, almost gasping for air at times. But every time, if I look to my Father in Heaven, when I need it most, He “will bring [me] up out of the depths of the sea.”

Ether 2:24
For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.
There is one difference with my barge and theirs. My barge has a steering wheel. I can choose to let my Heavenly Father guide me or in moments of doubt about my ability to be enough or with fear of my present and future, I can grab a hold of the wheel and turn that boat where I think it should go. My Father in Heaven knows all things and can see what I need now and where I need to be headed now to get to the right place in the future. I can’t even see where I am clearly, let alone what is best for me later, so how can I steer that boat better than He? Of course it is absurd, but sometimes, full of stupidity, I do that.

A few years ago, my parents gave me the book Better Than You Think You Are by Ardeth G. Kapp as a gift. It is a wonderful book with so many truths. You may have heard this story that is in the book.

“I am impressed with the story of Florence Chadwick, who determined at thirty-four years of age that she would be the first woman to swim the twenty-two miles from Catalina Island to the California coast. She had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions.

“One writer reported the experience: ‘The water was cold that July morning, she could hardly see the
boats in her own party. Millions were watching on national television. Several times sharks, which had gotten too close, had to be driven away with rifles to protect the lone figure in the water. As the hours ticked off, she swam on. Fatigue had never been her big problem in these swims – it was the bone-chilling cold of the water. More than 15 hours later, numbed with the cold, she asked to be taken out. She couldn't go on. Her mother and her trainer alongside in the boat told her that they were near land. They urged her not to quit. But when she looked at the California coast, all she could see was dense fog.’

“A few minutes later, at fifteen hours and fifty-five minutes, she was taken out of the water. It was not until hours later, when her body began to warm up again, that she felt the shock of failure. To a reporter she blurted out, ‘Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I cold have just seen land I might have made it.’ She had been pulled out only one-half mile from the California coast. Later she reflected that she had been defeated not by fatigue, not even by the cold, but by the fog. It had defeated her because it had obscured her goal and blinded her reason, her eyes, her heart.”
Ardeth G. Kapp, Better Than You Think You Are, p. 102-103
We cannot see through the fog, but our Father in Heaven can. He guides us through the Holy Ghost, our church leaders, the scriptures, and our patriarchal blessing. We have to trust that what our Father tells us is true, that we can make it to the coast, no matter how cold or tired we get. We cannot pull out when we are so close to the goal. We need to keep our eternal perspective to remember that all of our sacrifices and hard work will be worth it when we can be reunited with our Father and with our families.  
I gotta send all of you over to Laura's blog Living a Big Story (which I recently mentioned in a post) because she has a great giveaway going on and a Mother's Day guest blog series all month with guest blog posts, including one from me sometime this month.


  1. That story from the book is such a great way to bring it into perspective. I also really like the poem, "Don't Quit" which goes along the same lines. I used to have it taped on my door. It's easy to lose sight of what we're aiming for in the "fog" of everyday trials and activities. You such a strong're doing great with the hand you've been dealt. I hope you are giving yourself credit.

  2. Beautiful post Valerie. You really do an awesome job of keeping things in perspective.
    I'm amazed by you.
    And uplifted.
    Thank you.

  3. Perfect post for me to read today!
    Beautifully said.

  4. Great post. I am the same way ... I pull the steering wheel where I think it should be ... when I should let Heavenly Father guide my path. It takes a lot of faith to do it. I liked how you likened it to the brother of Jared's boats. You are very inspiring. I hope all is well and you are enjoying every minute of your schooling and being a wonderful mom! Happy Mother's Day! {{Hugs}}

  5. Valerie, you once again put your situation in such an understandable and faith-promoting way! Wonderful!

  6. I loved reading this. You have great wisdom and optimism. Thanks for sharing your analogy and thoughts.

  7. That is one of my very favorite books ever. I read it again, and again, and give it away whenever I know someone who needs it. It is very hard for me to keep a good book for myself!! Love your thoughts today. You are so amazing.

  8. Very great analogy with the Brother of Jared.
    I feel sad that I know exactly what you are going through.

    I have felt those great waves taking me under many times this past month.. but one of my very inspiring Visiting Teachers showed up at my door with Neal A, Maxwell's talk from December 4th 1984 " If thou Endure it well" and oh my.. it was just what my soul needed to get on the boat.. and out of the waves. I encourage you to print it out and highlight it-- and read it. IT WILL HELP.

    One quote in it that I keep thinking about is from CS Lewis.. it says: the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is Monday morning." ( The weight of Glory )

    Hang in there lady. I KNOW good things are in store for you. I KNOW it.
    One of my favorite quotes in it..i

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Valerie -- my experience this past year leading a Relief Society of mostly single moms far far from their home land and family, has increased my compassion and empathy for my sisters in this complicated situation, a hundred fold. I wanted to tell you that I've resurrected my old Sunday blog: Mona's Gospel Musings and that this coming Sunday, May 8th, I will be musing on this same general topic. I hope you will share with everyone there. May I link to your post?

  11. Valerie, I will be linking this post to this Sunday's Gospel Musings....Love you.

  12. You are not only inspiring, but also inspired. You see the joy in life even in difficult times. I love that you can relate it to the scriptures. You're doing great in school and are a wonderful mother!!
    Love you! Mom

  13. Valerie,
    I found your blog through Mona's Gospel Musings, and I just want to thank you for your heart felt willingness to share your testimony even through the dense fog that sometimes blinds us. You have a gift for sharing your thoughts with great clarity. This is a truly inspiring post. Thank you-


Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...