4.23.2012

John 20:27

Here's the story in a sentence:  I was prideful, even said my pride aloud, lost something, was humbled, prayed, ate my words, found the thing I lost.

Saturday night Carl and I prepared for our primary lesson.  The lesson book is rife with stories that are black and white, miraculous and testament to a God who listens, always.  I said to Carl, "Why do all stories for teaching prayer have to involve someone losing something, then praying to God and finding it right after?"  It bothered me because it seemed so simple, so childish in a way, and I sometimes like to pretend that I am so much more complex than merely a child who is lost or who has lost.  I even said to Carl that I just didn't like those stories and plus, they never ever happen to me. I think I even said that I didn't think that God cared so much about dumb little things we lose.  Little did I know that at the moment I spoke my critical words, my wedding ring was sitting alone at the bottom of the YMCA swimming pool.

I am not a "things" person.  I let possessions come into my life and go away without too much strife.  My wedding ring, however, is dear to me.  My dad made it along with the matching band he made for Carl.  Over the past three years we have worn our rings down together.  The insides have become smoother.  The gold on mine more shiny, while Carl's has worn to a dull yellow.  I love my wedding ring.  It is one of the few things that I never lose because I only take it off at the end of the day, and I only put it in my special, tiny glass bowl that Brooke brought me from Jerusalem, that sits on my dresser.

Saturday afternoon we took Remy swimming because he'd been sick for days and was finally feeling better.  After swimming I played in a softball game, so when we got home that night and I noticed that my ring wasn't on, I assumed that I'd taken it off and left it upstairs when I had changed for softball in a hurry.

By Sunday morning, as we were getting ready for church, I couldn't find my ring.  We looked all over the house, but in my heart, I knew it wasn't in the places we were looking.  You know the feeling when you just know that something is gone?

After we got home from church, we prayed.  Carl prayed that whoever found the ring would find it in their heart to return it.

We called the YMCA, but the ring wasn't in the lost and found.  Carl went back to the softball field and searched in the grass during the halftime of a soccer game, but no ring.  We drove over to the YMCA.  I had a pair of goggles and a swimsuit and was going to scour the pool nonchalantly while dozens of families swam about.  Awesome.  My plans are so much less childish than anything God could have planned.  When I walked into the swimming area, a lifeguard asked me if I needed help (I obviously looked a little frazzled).  Before I could even finish my sentence about losing a gold wedding band, the young lifeguard went to his little tower and came back with the ring between his pointer and thumb finger.  Is this it?  "Yes, that's it." I said.  "You're lucky, some guy named Nick just turned it in.  Said he found it at the bottom of the pool."  

Humbled?  yes.

I guess maybe even more than that, I've been taught a lesson about being a skeptic.  I can't quite pinpoint what it is, but lately I've been more of a skeptic than a believer.  I've carried around the weight of unanswered questions.  I've felt the burrowing burden of question in my own beliefs.  I do feel the process is important, and even healthy, but I also am learning that there is a time to stop and simply believe, because sometimes that is the thing that saves us, that brings us back to who we are supposed to be.

I read a Stanford study about people who believe in God.  The study reports that many people claim to talk to God all day long: have tea with Him, chat with Him, wake up to Him.  The study goes on to say that those same people, while some of what they do may appear to be over zealous, do actually feel less lonely and less stressed out.  I have also learned that we are all on a spectrum vacillating between absolute and almost blind faith, to total skepticism and doubt.  Most of us are somewhere in the middle of that scale.  The trick is to always stay on the side of faith, even if it's just 51% faith.  There is power in believing, because the things we believe become our reality.  I was the one who was wrong to say that the stories I grew up hearing about people who lost things and prayed to find them were too simple.

The author of the study, Tanya Luhrmann, concludes the article by saying, "...the prayer techniques – paying more attention to your inner thoughts – don't have to be limited to a religious context. These techniques involve attending to your imaginative experience and treating your imaginary experience as significant, meaningful and worthy," she said. "I think when that happens, your inner world springs alive."Now,  I do believe in prayer, and I do believe in a God who attends to and cares about the things that are important to us, even when they are seemingly insignificant.  I have witnessed that firsthand.  I don't believe that God is simply in my imagination, but I do think that sometimes I let the skeptic in me quiet the  things I think I feel in an attempt to be practical.  I want to continue to learn and practice the value of following those feelings, wandering with them to see where they take me.  Like our dear friend Joseph who does things like buy a cupcake for a complete stranger because he feels he should, then accidentally eat the cupcake and tell the stranger he ate their cupcake and please wait there while he goes to buy them another one.  Joseph's life is magical because he lets it be, and in turn, he spreads magic all around him. I don't know what you believe.  Or what you are trying or hoping to believe, but maybe let yourself do it a little more.  Let things that seem impossible, or silly, or simple, be real.  



Outer Space from Sander van den Berg on Vimeo.

12 comments:

Shelly said...

I really loved this post. I always say that, don't I? I'd like to be more original or creative, but I do just love it. And the video made me cry! So, so beautiful. Oh, and it's those little, silly prayers that God answers that remind me that I can actually go to Him with the Big ones.
I'm so VERY happy you got your ring back!

Brooke said...

We teach primary too and I find myself saying to Max "I don't think I'll teach our kids that. Or that." That's probably bad...

I just feel like sometimes these black and white stories teach that we are good because we get stuff and we always get stuff when we are good. Teaching coping skills and enduring faith (despite not getting all the stuff we want or think we need) has become much more important to me.

But then I'm always getting my pridefullness smacked down :)

Little Lisa said...

I feel the same way about the simple examples in Primary. I always want to share amazing, almost too-good-to-be-true stories with the kids. But those aren't examples of the day to day help the Spirit gives me, or examples of how Father works. Plus, we have the Book of Mormon for those fantastic stories.

I can't tell you how many favorite earrings prayer has brought back to me...

meg said...

The last line of this post....Oh lovely. Thank you.

Britsyb said...

Wow. I have never read your blog before - I simply stumbled upon a link in another blog that I read. What is really ironic is that I have been struggling with exactly the same thing. I've been questioning my own beliefs and the simplicity of some of the stories in the Bible. Rather than taking this and praying about it, I've allowed myself to put some distance in my relationship with God. Thank you for your honesty. I can't help but have a bit of rekindled fait in God putting us where we need to be. Thank you for the post!

Miss K$ said...

Ive been reading your blog (recommended by kayte b my roomie) for all of about one week and I really like it. Especially this post. I've been talking about this with a dear friend. I love the doubts and the struggle and the verbalizing towards truth, but sometimes i just want to shout, "JUST HAVE FAITH!" Because I know it all works out.

Miss K$ said...

Ive been reading your blog (recommended by kayte b my roomie) for all of about one week and I really like it. Especially this post. I've been talking about this with a dear friend. I love the doubts and the struggle and the verbalizing towards truth, but sometimes i just want to shout, "JUST HAVE FAITH!" Because I know it all works out.

ashmae said...

thank you guys for your comments. I actually woke up in the middle of the night last night and had to re-read what I'd written because I suddenly worried that I'd sounded too negative, or maybe been too honest, but I'm so glad to see that I'm not the only one, and that we all benefit from one another's honesty.

Deja said...

It's funny, I find it easier to pray for help finding things and to believe he will hear and answer than to pray for bigger, more complicated things. I sometimes have to work to apply that faith to the big things. I'm technically skeptical of those stories, too, but at times the feeling of that primary simplicity becomes a sort of touchstone. And I really like my days when I talk to God all through them, asking for his help. Thank you for such a beautiful post.

just a little bit mo said...

I love you, Ashmae. I had to come to the same conclusion not long ago myself while in strangely similar circumstances to your own that sometimes I just need to believe and feel. I also wanted to let you know that you are not alone in waking up in the middle of the night because you think something you said or wrote in a moment of honesty and clarity may have implied something more or less than intended.

Ashley said...

Ashley, I miss you! I'm so glad I found your blog. Your baby is beautiful. I would sure love to reconnect with you and your sweet family sometime when you come to visit.

This is a great post. Faith is the never-ending quest of our lives, I think. Love, too, but faith in God expands our ability to love as well. I have to say, we lost our only set of keys to our van the other week. They were gone for 15 days of searching and praying and looking some more, and then we finally had a family home evening activity of "find the keys" and prayed again. Jerry told the girls it was important to have faith, and Sarah said, "I have tons of faith. I'll pray." After we prayed, she said we should go downstairs (where I knew we hadn't gone the night we lost them) and we did, and the pieces of our sectional had moved apart, and there I spotted them, in plain sight.

Yes, He cares. And his ways are WAY better than ours. :) Love you, Ash.

carla thorup said...

Thank goodness for faith. And a loving god. And even when a wedding ring isn't found (sad face from June 2011 over here), I still know that prayers are answered... Because of my other experiences and bc sometimes, rings are found. So glad yours was!