I look for lessons everywhere, and often I find them–at just the right moment. This is more than just being showered indiscriminately with God’s goodwill toward all creation; this is personalized guidance and nourishment that is available to each of us.
There have been so many times I have heard just the right quote, read just the right scripture, ran into just the right person to help me in my journey of parenting and life. I have entitled this mercy “meaningful connection” referring to the meaning I have found and the connection I have felt in such occurrences. I certainly don’t always get answers and help falling in my lap, but as I am seeking for them in high-yield places, they eventually come.
For me, one of those high-yield places has been the biannual LDS Church conference called “General Conference.” Certain addresses apply more to my life than others, but there is always something there. I distinctly remember one evening feeling so burdened and inadequate caring for my mother who by then needed ongoing care. Her physical weight that I leveraged multiple times a day in caring for her felt like a literal weight upon me–one I balanced with the responsibilities within my own growing family. I broke away briefly to attend a conference session after throwing on a skirt and quickly running a brush through my hair. I sat in the back, sort of hoping to hide, but simultaneously wishing for someone to rush to my side, miraculously sensing how much I needed to be rescued. One of the talks was entitled “The Caregiver”–it was my rescue. And as the meeting progressed, I found myself surrounded by friends and lovely people who reached out to me and buoyed me up. It was a message and a moment just for me, just at the right time, there on a folding chair in a church gym.
“The Church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling, and the exhausted.” Dieter Uchtdorf Gen Conf Oct 2013
Have you ever experienced an inside joke with God? To me these are sweet moments when I know that God knows my situation and that He has a sense of humor. It is like a wink from heaven.
Once I was visiting historic religious sites with my family. Unloading a car full of little boys onto sacred ground after hours of touring, I could only expect a very active (okay, downright rowdy) bunch. We had stopped at a proposed Garden of Eden spot. The kids ran around amid the trees. I stood and wondered, “What if this really was the site? These trees could have come from seeds that came from seeds that came from seeds that were from those original trees!” Then I got to thinking: my kids and my husband and I–we too traced back, by necessity, to that original event! Wherever the Garden of Eden really was, it was part of my history. After the kids ran around some more we finally called to them to gather and load up in the van. I said, “Come here boys, I have some sliced apples for you!” They came and clamored for their snack. And then a small black snake slithered over my foot. There I was, passing out fruit, seeing one of only a few snakes I’ve ever come across in my life (maybe this was the Garden of Eden!) and then we packed up and left. On to the wilderness that is life!
An excerpt from my book “Faithful Nurturing” p 263:
“An elderly friend named Queta once told me of her experience walking down a dusty road in Mexico on a hot day. The sun was beating down and shining in her eyes, so she prayed for a cloud to come shade her. The sky remained clear, but as she turned the corner, there in the road was an old straw hat. She picked it up and put it on, offering a prayer of thanks as she continued walking. Her story reminded me of a morning I walked to work and was caught in a sudden downpour. I prayed that the rain would stop, but instead, a city bus pulled over and the driver offered me a free ride. In such experiences we find joy not only in the blessings themselves—the shade, the dryness or warmth, the need met—but in the central reminder they give: that God is there. Though tangible or immediate rescue does not always come, remembering past glimpses of God’s awareness and love will carry us.”
When have you experienced divine rescue?
Not only do we ourselves require rescue at times, but we can participate in the rescue of others. This can be very deliberate–heartfelt praying, pleading, or fasting for another–or almost incidental, because we happen to be in the right place at the right time and are open to the needs of others. I know God can guide us to see others’ needs, but sometimes it can be as simple as asking a person directly. A quote I ran across recently said, “[One] effective way of obtaining an accurate concept of a man’s experiencing is to ask him what he is thinking and feeling. If he tells us honestly, there we have it: the basis for perfect empathy.”* And perhaps the basis for action. . .
*The Transparent Self by Sidney Jourard