Had one of those weekends. You know which kind.
Spent Sunday morning in covert hysterics, agonizing over my parenting skills or the lack thereof. Praying for an answer–direction, hope, anything.
But I receive nothing. God is eerily silent.
And then sitting in the van that morning, waiting for my kids to pile in before church. Freezing because both doors are open. My eldest has planted herself in the driveway. "I'm not getting in the back," she insists.
"Neither are we," her brothers retort. "We were here first." They don't care that she's really, really tall, and she's wearing a skirt.
"We're wearing suits," they remind her.
"It's not as hard to climb back there in a suit."
They sit there, staring forward. Smug.
They've had this discussion before. Frequently. I don't take sides. I wait for someone to give. "No arguing," I remind them when voices begin to rise, and so they conduct their debate in subdued, reasonable tones. Back and forth. But no one budges.
And then I remember–we didn't have our morning prayer. I say, "Hey, we need to have prayer." Daughter folds her arms, still firmly planted outside the van. Son whose turn it is bows his head, "Dear Heavenly Father," he prays. You can almost hear the smugness in his voice. "Please help us get to church on time, and to stop fighting." He still doesn't move. Honestly–I thought he might recognize the irony, and give in.
But the youngest does. He dives over the back seat with a smile on his face. It feels good to be the hero.
Thank you! And we are on our way.
At church, I struggle somewhat to focus on the speakers. Something about listening to the promptings of the spirit. Yeah, yeah, I've heard this before.
After sacrament meeting is over and the kids have skedaddled to classes, a member of the bishopric comes down off the stand. He sits next to me. This is the guy who assigns people to terrible things like serving as Scoutmaster or public speaking.
"How are you doing?" he asks, in his thick Italian accent.
"Great!" I smile broadly at him. Because even if he has another task for me, I have to admit I am fine. Even in the face of my worries and God's silence, I'm okay. I've been in far worse places before. It's just been one of those weeks, and there will be other, better weeks. I know this.
"I just wanted to thank you for your son," he says simply. He's referring to the smug one, in the van. "He amazes me in class and at activities."
"He's a pretty good kid," I acknowledge, and as I say it, I can feel the truth of what this man is saying in my bones. I see my son's life in one snapshot. He is a good kid. His stubbornness drives us all a bit crazy sometimes, but he more than makes up for it in so many ways.
The Italian proceeds to tell me exactly why my son amazes him. I'm trying to maintain my smile, because otherwise I'm going to begin sobbing and melt into a puddle of snot and tears. The examples he gives amaze me, too. I'm not sure I taught him those things.
This was a middle-aged, bespectacled man speaking to me, but I heard the voice of God in my extremities. It's going to be okay. Your efforts will be enough. You are not alone.
I barely made it out of there in time to dissolve in private and I had less than an hour to compose myself before I had to get up and teach my class of young women–whose mothers probably agonize over them.
Your best effort is enough. You are not alone. God hears and answers prayer–sometimes in an Italian accent, and often when you least expect it–but His grace is ever-sufficient.
"God does notice us and He watches over us, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs." (Spencer W. Kimball, 1895-1985.)