Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Life Has a Plan and Other Crazy Maps

I went to Relief Society Meeting last night. Imagine 3.2 tons of makeup and perfume with the dearest souls on earth who are trying to keep it together. I was the one in the stretchy maternity clothes and a scant offering of mascara and lip balm - but they were offering a nursery to watch my kids for a few hours. "C'mon Em (my SIL), let's go!"

For this year's meeting they decided to get a variety of women together and have a panel on issues that we face under the banner of "A Proclamation to the World on the Family." I sat on a very back row so that I could catch the nursery worker's eye just in case my child had a poopy diaper, or was makin' a ruckus in the nursery. Hymns, prayers and many ideas later of how to live better, they asked a question to the panel about living the gospel when things don't turn out the way you thought they would. The darling representative for "Older Single Sisters" raised her hand and shared a story of meeting someone who had left the church.

"I asked him why he left, and he said, 'Well, my life doesn't look the way that I thought it should,' and - I was nice and everything -, but inside I was thinking, TAKE A NUMBER!"

She went on to testify that even though her life was not what she had wanted, it was - indeed - tailored to fit her soul to learn by a loving Father in Heaven, "who wants for me what I want - even more than I do." And it got me thinking. Could I say the same?

Same evening, I'm reading my big brother's short story about a colleague who he worked with in his youth. Joel's friend survived brain cancer, but was disfigured in the attempt to remove the cancerous tumor. And though they had rollicking times in the Sears mechanical department, his friend Calvin ultimately committed suicide from... well, disappointment about the way his life was turning out. A college graduate, witty commentator, and WWII officiando, my brother still feels the loss of someone who just couldn't fathom that there was a rhyme or reason to it all.

Throughout all this, I am wondering about my own life and whether it has been planned, or whether - as I suspect - it is unrolling one day at a time, with bizarre factors that have given me a truly frenetic past. And I go to sleep.

In the dream I have that night, I am in a benign wilderness, trudging through gulleys and mountains, and trying to get somewhere. It reminds me of Midway, Utah where the Olympics set up the luge - civilized, but just waaaay out there.

In the dream sequence, I tell Matthew I'm gonna double check my bearings and get some directions. So, I show up at a railroad station and ask the bartender there (I know, they don't match, but it was a dream!),if I'm headed in the right direction. She pulls out a huge travel map and an orange highlighter, and starts asking me about where I've been and sloppily starts to outline my path with the highlighter. (I would grab the pen to make nicer lines, but she knows the place, and I don't.)

"Okay - so it looks like you started here, and then went this way..." *marker swaths start to cover the map*

We outline the most horrendous map. Horrendous because the path is so.. messy and nonsensical. Instead of going from point A to point B, there are ellipses, wiggly lines, weird paths, and one huge dip through the middle of it all.

"And then you came up on this side, and started over here - is that right?" she asks me as we look over the orange highlights.

As I stand back, my eyes take in this map which is criss-crossed with orange highlighter, with different names of places where I've been. Yes - I was there, and there... I was just at that place gathering flowers on my way over, hm, why was I going there? And the big ditch. That sucka is HUGE. Cavernous. Goes on forever.

Then I see that I am on a track, as it were, and completing a most bizarre circle. Not a neat and tidy one, but one that has a rough, ragged outline, and doesn't keep to the edges, but goes, literally all over the map. And under all the highlighter are a ton of roads that I haven't even been on, or knew they were there. Overall, the path has an outline of a jagged "C", and I can tell that, roughly, I'm going back to where I started - or at least trying to get back.

When I wake up - because baby is kicking me at O'Dark:Thirty, I try to remember this dream. And then I get it. It's a map of my life. A totally bizarre, backtracking, messy, yet utterly map-able life. And I'm on track. Something that in the wilds of young motherhood and present craziness, I never would have suspected. My children sing in Primary, "My life is a gift; my life has a plan. My life has a purpose; in heav’n it began."

Sitting and thinking about God-as-architect, I am reminded that most people don't believe that someone could have orchestrated all this. It's too complicated, there are too many factors. One minuscule change reverberates in unknowable directions - and to unknowable ends.

But, perhaps we will discover, as I did, that there is more to life than we ever suspected, and even the most rickety, remote, and ragged terrain is "right on track." Of course, I also dreamed that I had lice night before last. But, at least for me, it has brought me a measure of comfort. I have believing blood, and an utter respect for the Almighty. And if this was all plotted out exactly as it has unfolded, have mercy on my poor family, because the uncharted parts of that map are WACK!


Danika said...

Great post and a reminder I desperately needed this week. My friend's 3 year old boy was just diagnosed with cancer and they had to remove the left side of his face. Makes you stop and wonder and question things...

Sarah E. said...

Thanks for some more things to think about. I love that about you. I think that if my life would have ended up like I planned it at, um, 13, I would be simply miserable.

Alisha and Josh said...

I love reading your posts- you are an amazing gal and I am grateful that our paths meet along this crazy map of life. Thank you for sharing your dream- it does make sense and a good reminder that we are always in His hands. Love you and hope all is going well with you and your sweet growing family :)

Annette said...

Wow what a dream. Did you wake up tired? That is a great dream.

I fell asleep one night for about 15 mins, and I kept thinking that a monkey with sharp whiskers/hair was poking me in the chest. It seemed so real and then I wake up to find that Mike has fallen asleep and it was his whiskers poking me in the skin. I woke him up to tell him... wow I thought you were a monkey. See what happens when you get old... :-)

Erika said...

Love this one too. Especially the visual of being right on track even if it is out of the lines, messy, squiggly, etc...still on track. Good food for thought.

Reggs said...

One of my all-time fav posts of yours, big sis.
I, too, often look heavenward and wonder why things are the way they are. I look back on my path and hope I made the right loops and twists.
I look at other people's paths, who seem to be trying so hard to be on the right path, and yet, there are boulders bouncing around them constantly. Like they never get a break.

I hope someday we get the full explanation! For now, it's time to trust.