Sunday, September 9, 2012

My ways are not your ways

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.

Isaiah 55:8-9
“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.

Mosiah 4:9
“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.


  1. A year ago, we experienced a very similar situation, though for starkly different reasons.

    "[W]e 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."

    An obvious difference being that we did lose our house (but had to stick around to finish school).

    We were judged. We did get condescending looks in the hallways at church, from those whom we had previously thought to be our friends. We were talked about. Close friends did abandon us. We were looked down on because mom was in school, well past the "appropriate" years to do so. But to hell with all of them - it was right for us.

    This decision is a decision we made once when we were first married. Then again when we moved a year later. Then again when we moved a few years later. Then again when she finished her undergrad. Then again when she applied to grad school. Then again when we had our first child. Then again when she returned to complete her degree after a quarter off. Then again every quarter until her degree and were all finally complete. And these decisions have been so wonderful for her, for us and for our family in innumerable and sacred ways. It would have been easy to quit school and swim with the current around us. It is the right decision for so many, why wasn't it right for us? We didn't know but we knew what was (is) right.

    That isn't to say that what is right won't change - it very well may. Keep doing what's right because a year later, when all those who judge you aren't anywhere around, they won't care one little bit what you chose to do, but you're left holding the bag of their social pressure. And it may be a bag of regret.

    Doing things His ways is awesome. But you know that. Embrace confusion, awkwardness and uncertainty, so long as the Spirit takes you there!

    1. thanks so much, Wendell. It is funny how much we can relate! I have always admired Ashley (and you) for her decisions with school and motherhood. I know you guys have been so careful to follow the Spirit. I know it wasn't easy, but I can see how much you have both been blessed. (I am grateful for how supportive you have always been- you are definitely the right guy for Ashley) We miss having you here (not just for my beautiful family pictures!) but for our really great talks -- and Ashley has been such a great example to me. Thanks again for the comments :) We love you guys!

  2. Also, that is one fine family photo heading your blog.

  3. I came to comment and was surprised to see Wendel's comment above. Wendel and I have a saying that we remind each other of often: "Just because it's hard doesn't mean it isn't right." That was very applicable when we moved to Arizona but we can see now how we were led here for several reasons. You're awesome. Keep on keeping on! The Spirit always leads you in the best direction.

  4. Katie- reading your blog and a few previous posts had me in tears. You are me 6 years ago. We had a house in covington (in the lake sawyer ward), we had 3 little kids, and i was happy as can be. My husband had a great job with lots of promise. For the first couple of years we were married I kept bugging my hubby to go back to school, to get it over with. He didn't want to, said he didn't need to. And then one day after we had been living in our house for 2 years he just dropped the bomb that he wanted to go back to school. I knew instantly it was what we needed to do, but I also knew it would be the hardest thing i ever had to face. I was right. We decided to sell our house, get rid of all most everything and move to Idaho, into a small 3 bedroom apartment that we had never seen before. I was devastated that I had to leave all my friends, family and most of our belongings behind. But I quickly learned that it was a true blessing. I never doubted that we were doing the right thing. But it was the hardest, best thing I have ever done! My hubby worked and went to school full time. And we actually thrived. We were making just enough to scrape by, but our family grew so much. Our faith and testimonies grew tremendously. And you better believe that when my hubby graduated I made all 4 (yes 4, we added another one in the midst of it all)of my kids come and sit upfront and cheer for their Daddy!! After that We got a job in Oregon. Not where I wanted, but after praying we knew that it was right. So we moved to Oregon. And after being there for a year and adding our 5th kid, the company he worked for offered him a position that would bring us back here. We jumped on it. As we started looking for houses we had a huge area in which we were willing to live. But we when we walked into this house I knew instantly that this was were we were supposed to be. Less then a mile away from our 1st house that we sold 6 years ago. We really have come full circle! But we are so much better off because of our journey. So like I said before It will be the hardest, best thing you will do! And if you ever doubt yourself, or your decision, just remember that feeling you had when you knew that this is what Heavenly Father wants you to do!! Good luck Katie, and if you ever need anything don't hesitate to call!

  5. Hope you know how much we love and support you guys, and that we look to you as examples of spiritual strength and true friendship.

  6. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.