The following is a story I've been meaning to tell for a while. Shortly after it happened I used it in a Relief Society lesson. Then I joined a Parables class at the Institute, so thought I'd better save it to use there -- which I did, in December. Ever since that day I've been planning to write it up and post it here, but I didn't get to it until today. It's a good thing this isn't a parable about procrastination.
In August my family decided it was time for our yearly float of the Oneida Narrows. It was my first time doing the whole run, so I was a little bit nervous. I was prepared -- I wore long shorts, sandals with backs, and sunglasses. Also sunscreen. (Always wear sunscreen! It's gross, but better than a sunburn.) But none of those things would really protect me in the case of a spill, you know? They just enhanced my tubing experience.
One thing I did have was a length of PVC pipe to steer myself away from obstacles, and you can bet I kept a firm grip on it! It came in useful when I got too close to rocks and didn't want to (or couldn't) push off with my feet. And it made me feel more secure.
It didn't take long on the river for me to get separated from the rest of my family. (It's so typical.) Also my tube was often sideways or backwards, but I always made sure to turn it back around or at least check that I wasn't approaching rapids -- I was way scared of rapids!
Any time I was in a place of moderate roughness, I would pray constantly in my heart that I wouldn't fall out of my tube. I don't like to think about what could happen to me when I fell out -- I could pull an important muscle or break something or hit my head and go blind -- or drown. It was a scary prospect, so I just made sure to use my pole to keep me safe.
There came a place where the rapids got kind of crazy. Straight ahead I saw a dip, which meant there was a rock. Even more concerning was the fountain of water on the other end of the dip -- it seriously went up like 3 feet! I started praying out loud. Not very coherently -- more like a litany. The dip got closer and closer. I couldn't paddle away from it in time. I had time for one more prayer when I hit the rapid. I closed my eyes and my mouth and away flew my tube.
Oh, I forgot to mention I was wearing a life jacket. Also, I still had hold of my pole!
So there I was, floating along the rapids, banging into rocks, doing my best to swim to my tube. I was able to get to it before it got too far afield, so I held onto it while still not navigating the rapids with any efficacy. I knew I needed to get back on the tube or I could get really hurt, but it's kind of hard for me to climb into things like that, even when I'm not rushing along a river. I tried once, and got pretty close, but then I lost it. After another failed try, I got a very distinct prompting:
Let go of the pole.
Wait a second, I thought. This pole has been useful (kind of). I don't want to lose it -- what will Dad think? I'm sure I can make it.
But I couldn't.
With a sigh, I relinquished my hold on the pole and watched it start to float downstream. With one more herculean effort, I pulled myself back onto the tube. I was safe! And I hadn't even lost my sunglasses.
Anything else that happened on that trip was basically nothing compared to what I'd already been through. I was even able to make it to the dock without too much trouble (which is a far cry from the year before, when I was in danger of floating away forever).
Not only that, but I was able to catch up to my pole and bring it safely home as well.
Now. I told this story to both my Relief Society and my Parables class, and they came up with way better interpretations than I did. You can probably see them for yourselves -- being prepared for the storms of life won't protect you from everything, sometimes you have to sacrifice something good for something more important (and maybe it'll still work out in the end), listen to the promptings of the Spirit (when is that not an application?), etc.
But I still like my interpretation best, because it was what I needed to hear at the time -- and, to my shame, what I still need to hear: Let go of it, Leslie.
There are things in my life that I wish were better. Nothing's bad but I could be spending my time a lot more productively than I often am. Like everyone else I'm struggling through life, trying not to get too battered by the rocks, attempting to get stable enough to make it. I know that if I stop wasting my time and start serving the way the Lord wants me to, He will help me do what I need to do to be safe and happy.
So, let go of it. Whatever it is that's keeping you from being the person you know you ought to be, you know you don't need it. Just let it float out of your life for now. And it will all be okay.
(Some restrictions apply; use your own agency and inspiration to apply this counsel to your life as needed, and I will too.)
My sisters were not thus prepared. They ended up duct-taping their flip-flops to their feet. Yep, pretty ridiculous.
I'm trying to talk myself into this. I don't like sunburns, but I really don't like excessive sunscreen.
This section works better in person. Actually I'm starting to think that this whole story works better in person.
I love those sunglasses. Ironically, I seem to have lost them in the last few days. I'm not happy.
That reminds me! I got an awesome bruise on my leg from my little experience! It was way deep; I could still see the outline 3 months later.
Title Text: "Shine" by Vienna Teng (until I can find a more applicable one or need this one for another post's relevancy)
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