there is a childhood experience that is still so vivid in my memory and as school gets out every year, i always think about it with fondness.
when my family moved to north ogden, 28 years ago, my parents felt incredibly guided and directed to be there. the lot that they bought, the builders they chose to build our home, everything about it was all orchestrated.
it was solidified when we met our neighbors. all of them. we were surrounded by the best. it was especially exciting to us when the Su'a family moved in. or maybe they were there before us. i don't remember, childhood blurs the lines. but, i do remember that once our families met, the deal was sealed, it was a bosom buddy situation.
my mom found one of her dearest friends and i recall many, many afternoons spent on their back patio with women gathered. they would talk, laugh, relate, and bond. the time our families spent together has proved to be a life long bond. they are family.
i have one very distinct memory. one that i mentioned i think of often and recently i was able to recall it and connect it to a current ongoing in our family.
one summer afternoon, both mothers thought we should go up over the mountain and have a picnic in the wilderness. my mother knows how to do it right. we spent endless days over the mountain just a few minutes away from our house as kids. on this particular day we took a picnic up to north fork and introduced the Su'a family to our tromping grounds. if memory serves me right, it was their first time up there.
we went to our favorite site. it boasted a lazy river with a large tree which was a perfect place to entertain 8 kids. 4 of the aforementioned kids counted/doubled/multiplied because their names were mikey, manti, vaughn, and devin. these boys were the epitome of what and how boys should be. the stories that have been revealed thru the years of their misdeeds together have caused my mother to be grateful at night when she prays. grateful they all survived. so, you can imagine the setting of wilderness, water, and wild boys.
we had the perfect afternoon. the sun was brilliant and we were under a canopy of leaves. we discovered a long, large rope tied to the massive tree overlooking the river. soon, we were jumping into the water via this rope. over and over. again and again. there was yelling, screaming, and misbehavior from everyone, except probably jamie, she was always angelic. but the rest of us tested our mothers limits and surely made them crazy. my brother cameron caught a fish barehanded, threw it on jenilyn repeatedly and understandably, that put her into tears, fits, horror that i am sure caused permanent damage. vaughn, mikey, manti, and devin found sticks. always sticks. keep in mind they were all under 6 at this time and it was always about the sticks for every adventure. the best one, the longest one, the one that was most smooth. i don't remember where i fit in to the scene, most likely at my mother's side. i have always, always enjoyed conversation. is there such thing as a hobby conversationalist? is that real? because it's me and it's my mother. even when conversations were above my head and over my level, i appreciate her never shooing me and always letting me discover/observe the art of conversing.
as the afternoon wore on and the activities shifted, the boys decided to explore a different part of the river. across the road, a different path the river flowed. my mother never had the luxury of trusting her boys alone. never. and if she did, it was always met with stark consequences. this time was no exception. i don't know the amount of time that had passed, but knowing these boys, not long. soon, we heard mothers screaming all of their names and we knew it required everyone's attention. the river they decided to explore started shallow, it started innocent. it was accessible by road on both sides with shallow bush. but soon, it was beyond the road, the trees were impossible to navigate and those boys were lost. the further their river adventure took them, the deeper the water. they knew they were in trouble long before they could hear their names. they were trying to come up, back, get out. with it being so thick and deep it became a feat that required effort. the details after this become fuzzy to me, probably as all of these episodes with my brothers do. i think i always felt their lives were in the balance every single time and i tend to block some things out due to the trauma. they did this to my mom more than they should have. but, i do know that they were found and possibly spanked. deserved to be spanked. their adventurous plan back fired.
the memory of my mom and pam standing at the dense bush yelling for them is vivid for me to this day. i felt their desperation, even as a 9 year old. little boys, floating down an increasingly rapid river with no road or path to reach them.
we have found ourselves in a situation as parents lately that triggered this memory to affect me in a different light. as i was checking into the counseling office the thought hit me that there should be as many mental health clinics as there are physical health clinics. while it would seem charmed to declare all parents are equipped to deal with every situation that comes across the paths of their kids, it would be incredibly foolish to accept that truth as reality. i would never let my child suffer endlessly from strep throat. if i did, it would escalate into a dire circumstance. if my child had a physical deficiency, i would quickly seek help to remedy or ease the situation. i wonder why we aren't as quick to accept our defeat when we are in over our heads with mental health situations? all it entails is finding a different kind of help. the kind that helps ease our burdens as parents and gives us tools to help our kids. we work tirelessly as parents to teach our kids manners, how to be independent, how to succeed at school, but where are our efforts going to help our kids to be mentally healthy and to be aware of their mental health?
this past year, i found myself looking into a shallow part of a river. watching the enjoyment of normal activities. and then suddenly, i seem to have lost one of my kids. without my realization, they are going down a river that gets deeper and more swift. it's hard for me to understand because i am not where they are. i can't see the part of the river they are in, but it's deep. i know they need help but i can't see them. i have never been down this part of the river and i don't know how to get them out. and the thing is, i can try to pray away all the troubles i want to, but at the end of the day, i have to accept that i don't have what it takes to get to them. i don't have a road to access where they are, i don't have hedge trimmers big enough to clear the bushes. and so i have discovered that if i want to help them i have to find the people who have the know how to empower my child with the proper tools.
there is this part when you can't see where your child is heading that makes you feel loads, heaps, vast quantities of guilt. if i would have, if only i could have taken this sign back then, did i not do so and so well enough, did they always feel loved. all of these things taunt my thoughts mercilessly. and if we throw in the fact that i have been entirely out of commission from september to may 13, it doesn't ease my guilt, in fact,it significantly increases it.
but a break comes. in the form of a health provider taking control of the situation and really easing our burden. giving us direction and how to and making such a concerted effort to get us help. and then we realize the depth of what we are facing and our prayers are constant. they are earnest and a level of love and understanding opens.
i see that river and i am desperately chasing thick trees, deep water, and cries for help from the river's victim and this image hits me. if only i could elevate myself above it all, if only i could somehow get high enough above the river above the trees to give me a point of reference. and suddenly i realize, i can't but the power of a creator in his universe can. and the depth of the power washes over me. its a deeper understanding it seems has been on my heart lately. the power of a mighty god. it seems all of my reading and thoughts for some time have pointed to this and to the nothingness of me without it. the furious ways we try to constantly do for ourselves are purely in vain. when we embark on any endeavor on this earth and try to do it ourselves, we will come up deficient. all things point to christ and to an all powerful god. be still, and we will know that he is. to be still and to have the creations surrounding us testify is power that is beyond any love i have been able to give in this life. it seems to me that this power and love are intricately tied together and that maybe in this life, love is secondary to this power.
one of my favorite reads is by george ritchie. he was pronounced clinically dead for 9 minutes. the story is fascinating. return from tomorrow is the books name. as he chronicles his journey of being dead and the thoughts he goes thru without a physical body, he details the power of jesus christ. it hit me that his description is that the love he feels is almost without emotion but with power. it isn't anything he has to question, its a fact. he talks about seeing people in the afterlife, riddled with earthly addictions that heaven can't empower. tortured spirits desiring physical bodies to support earthly addiction. and yet. jesus christ surrounds them. they fail to look up. they don't open their heart to the light and love that is above them. when the author pens his feelings about this love, he describes it as a power that is beyond anything earthly.
when i take that account into thought and give it application to my circumstance, i feel this deep need for repentance. this deep need to forsake my instinct to do things on my own. to eliminate any circumstance that i wouldn't call on what is above me. as the book of mormon phrase i love states, "i would give away all my sins to know thee", it reminds me of the importance of forsaking that sinful need to do it on our own. i read that phrase years and years ago and was so touched by the power of it. daily i have taken to asking myself, what sins am i hanging on to today that have kept me from knowing him? the discovery of every facet of the sinfulness of man has really brought me to know and have abiding testimony of the power of what's above us and the sins we hang onto that prevent that power to aid us. as always, i am ever grateful for the opportunities that surround me that give me new understanding and allow me to love and be loved.