My ways are not your ways
It’s interesting how difficult this has been for me to put into words. Some of you were there when I tried to verbalize this in church about a month ago. But I cried and stammered so much that I am sure you were just as confused as I was. (“At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you ever close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dummer for having listened to it.” 10 points if you can name that movie). And yet, the words have always been there. Sitting right on my bed stand, next to me every night, in Isaiah.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Or in other words: he knows better than us.
I found this verse a few weeks ago while I was reading the scriptures in the Temple. I actually followed a footnote from Mosiah that led me to Isaiah.
“Believe in God… believe that he has all wisdom, and all power… man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
Sitting in the Temple, I was learning the same lesson I have been learning for years. Again.”
That He knows better than I do.
Back in the beginning of summer we were getting ready to move. We didn’t know where, exactly. We knew we wanted to be close to campus so that JT wouldn’t have to commute and so that I could be in the City- which has been a life long dream of mine. (maybe a little more of the latter) We were on the waitlist for the U.W. Student Housing and had been told it could take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to get in. And the rest of the housing in Seattle was so expensive it seemed nearly impossible to move there on a student budget. We were starting to feel discouraged. After all, I had been praying about this for months and the only answer I had received was that it would all work out and be clear in the end. So when would it be clear?
While our family was at Disneyland the idea came to me that we could rent out our friend’s basement while we waited for student housing to become available. That would buy us some time while we waited for things to work out (and become clear).
It wasn’t actually necessary that we move out of our own house. But it would mean saving 10’s of thousands of dollars in Private (that is Non-Student) Loans to cover our mortgage. And we had always planned on renting out our house during school. In fact, we bought our house with the intention to live in it for a year or two and then move somewhere out of state for P.A. school and rent it out while we were gone. We just never expected to get accepted to U.W. (notice: my ways are not your ways)
So there we were. Choosing to rent out our house (to save tons of money) for a few years and down size to student housing. But it would be OK, we would be living in the City, my dream come true.
Thankfully, our friend agreed to rent out her basement to us. She was pretty much alone in this large, beautiful home, after all, and was happy that she could bless our lives as well. (And let’s face it, she loves our kids and they love her. It’s a win win.)
But a few weeks before we were planning to move in, the call came from U.W. Student Housing that there was a unit available with our name on it! We were in shock. (So much shock that I ended up being pulled over by a cop and given a ticket for speeding, that kind of shock.)
I was ecstatic. My dreams were finally coming true. You all know how rough these years have been on me. (That is, if you have continued to read my whining about it on my blog for 3 years. If you just started reading my blog it looks like you have some catching up to do.) I felt like I finally caught a break. I felt like there was actually something in this for me. I felt validation. I felt like one of my dreams was coming true. I felt like Someone really had been listening to my prayers for all of these years. And I felt excited to be a City Girl.
We drove up to campus to check it out. And we felt nothing. Nothing. No excitement, no peace, and certainly no clarity (which if you remember from the beginning of this post- was what I have been waiting for all year). We prayed. And the answer we got shocked us both. (Luckily I wasn’t driving this time- we couldn’t afford a second ticket in one week.)
We felt like we needed to stay with our friend. (In our friend’s basement to be exact.) What?! Right when I felt like Heavenly Father was finally handing me one of my dreams, when He was finally compensating me for my support and sacrifice these years, when He was actually listening to what I wanted, and giving me this one wish, He was going to take it away?
But that is just it. He didn’t take it away. He left it there on the table. And then quietly asked me not to pick it. (My ways are not your ways) He gave me what I had been begging for, and then asked me not to take it. I knew it as clear as anything. There it was, finally: clarity.
So we moved our stuff across the street and down the road. We left our house and our swing set (Ok, strangely I miss the swing set more than anything, even more than my walk-in closet) and turned down U.W.’s Student Housing (and a life in the City) and we moved in to a basement. Immediately I felt judged. I felt like everyone thought we lost our house, that we were too broke to live on our own and were living off of charity, or that we were crazy for turning down student housing. I felt embarrassed. How could I explain this decision? How could I tell people I own a house across the street, but live with a friend? (In a pretty big basement, actually, with a really loving “landlord”. About the best rental situation you can get.) How could I explain that I stayed in a suburb when I wanted the City?
(My ways are not your ways)
And then, on Friday, I took Riley to school. If you read the last post you know we have had our traumatic moments with Kindergarten. Friday was just as bad (don’t worry, she will not be scarred for life). Riley was late to class because of a Doctor’s appointment. She got sad and said she didn’t want to go to school. (Not because of the first day of school, she is well over that and loves her teacher- but because she is an exhausted Kindergartener who misses her Mommy and her little brother and sister.) When I took her to the class- there was a substitute teacher. (Dun, dun, dun….) Things fell apart and ended with Riley being pried off of me, again, only worse than last time, and sobbing and begging me not to go.
The scene was similar to last week, with me going to the car and sobbing. (Seriously, guys, if this doesn’t scream “Katie needs meds- she is having nervous break downs on a daily basis!!” I don’t know what does.) Luckily, I have a close friend who is also a teacher. She kindly explained how common this is with little ones. She confirmed how quickly they calm down when the parent finally leaves. And reminded me that I am not a bad mom. And as I cried to JT about feeling like the world’s worst Mom for leaving my baby girl crying at school again, he reminded me that she is Ok. Not only is she resilient, but she actually needs this. Everyone has to go to school. And everyone has to do things that are hard, that they may not want to do. And it won’t help Riley if I am whisking her away from any situation that hurts a little. (Before you decide to comment and judge, remember, you don’t know the whole story here. Things are resolved with the first day of school. ((and I promise to Blog about Part II next)) She is fine. She came home happy and smiling. Public Schools aren’t evil… not altogether. I defend her and fight for her and she knows it. )
As JT held me, crying about how hard this was for me, I heard it again:
My ways are not your ways.
Or in the words I would say to her:
Riley, darling, I love you so much. I hate to see you cry. I hate to see you hurt or confused or scared. I hate to walk away when you are begging me to stay.
But I don’t really walk away. I look in the window and see you sit back down at your desk. I watch you recover and get stronger. I see you in 20 years with a college degree as a successful woman, and I laugh at the idea of agreeing to let you quit school when you were in Kindergarten. I laugh at the idea of keeping you away from the thing that will make you stronger, and wiser, and eventually much happier.
I know you don’t understand right now. And how could you? You are only five. But I know what I am doing. My ways are higher than your ways.
So here I am. The child. But I am also the parent. I have a small idea of what these verses mean. And I am beginning to believe them.
I don’t really understand. I am not positive why this is right. (why we live with a friend) I just know it is. I think I always thought that if something was “right” it would also be easy. You always hear people say that they knew something was right because “things just fell into place” or “it all just made sense”. That does not seem to be the case for us. Right means right, it doesn’t mean easy. It doesn’t mean obvious, or logical, or fair. It just means that it is right. And it certainly doesn’t mean that right is always what I want to be right.
There are moments when this is hard. When I miss my swing set. When I feel judged by others. When I feel bad for my friend that her quiet house is being taken over by Tylers. When I wonder why things are working out this way. But I have to remember that His ways are not my ways and go back to Mosiah.
“Believe in God.”
And if He is any kind of parent, (and we know He is the Best Parent) He hates to see me cry. Or scared, or confused or disappointed. But he also sees the end from the beginning. And he can see me 20 years from now, when I am successful and happy. And he knows it is because of the ways he is teaching me, and blessing me, and correcting me right now.
And chances are – He is laughing.