I've decided that I really can't become who I need to become until I let go of the reigns, stop trying to run things, and go along for the ride, wherever it seems to take me.
I've been asked to be on a Wood Badge staff again (leadership training through the Boy Scouts of America) with the awesome Snake River Council out of Twin Falls, Idaho. I'm excited for another opportunity to join all the great people on staff, training scout leaders in advanced leadership techniques so they can take those skills home to use in their own unit, family, and career. This will be my third time on staff, and it is an amazing experience every year.
Still, last year when I came home I told myself I didn't need to do it again for the time being. Now is my time to focus on my family rather than all these other things they pull me away, even if it isn't very often. I was perfectly happy with that until I got the phone call a couple weeks ago, asking me to fill a position that someone else had to drop out of. I really really wanted to do it, but I still had the feeling that it isn't my time for things like that. Jamie and my dad were asked to go as well, but both their work schedules won't allow it right now, so I figured that was an easy out too. Long story short, after some prayer, fasting, and a temple visit, I know I need to go.
Still, it hasn't been easily to reconcile what I know I need to do with what I had been telling myself I need to do. I talked to a friend a couple days after committing to be on the staff and told her I don't get it - I keep doing all this leadership training, yet opportunities to use it are not very often.
While stewing over it later that day, I remembered this little story from Hugh B. Brown.
"President Brown remembered a lovely currant bush in his yard that he had carefully trimmed to be attractive and to produce the best fruit.
"One day, noticing that it had started to branch out again, he reached for the pruning shears. As he approached the currant bush, he imagined it to say, “Oh, please don’t cut me back. I’m just getting started, and I want to be big like the shade trees.”
"He imagined his response to be: “No, my little bush. I am the gardener here. I have planted you to be a source of fruit and an adornment in this part of my garden, and I am going to prune you back to size.”
"Many years later, as a colonel in the Canadian forces during World War I, Hugh Brown hoped for an illustrious military career. The next promotion to general should have been his, but when the vacancy occurred, his superiors told him, “We are promoting someone else.”
"He retired to his quarters, crushed with disappointment, and knelt in prayer, asking fervently: “Heavenly Father, why couldn’t my prayers have been answered? Haven’t I lived up to my covenants? Haven’t I done everything I was supposed to do? Why? Why?”
"And then he seemed to hear a voice, an echo from the past, saying, “I am the gardener here. You were not intended for what you sought to be.” Humbled, Hugh Brown then prayed for patience to endure the pruning and to grow as the Lord would have him grow."
(I took that from an article by Robert E. Wells here, but to read it in Elder Brown's own words, you can find it here. Brian K. Evans also mentions it in a talk from Women's Conference 2007 called "We Do Not Take Counsel From Our Fears." I KNOW I also read it in the Ensign last summer, but I can't find it.)
Julie of mental tesserae wrote beautifully on the same topic in a guest post for just an orange:
"Michelangelo talked about God as the 'divine hammer' –one who sculpts us into who we are and polishes away our imperfections until he has managed to release the soul within each block of stone. Saint Augustine wrote about the patterns in his own life (after the fact, of course, because it’s always easier to see them in retrospect) as signs of God’s hand in the writing of his story. In Rabbi Harold Kushner’s books, he uses the metaphor of a tapestry: God is weaving his masterpiece in each of us. We only see the messy underside—the broken threads, the knots and confusing imagery. From above, the divine work that is our lives takes shape with full purpose and beauty."
Jane Clayson Johnson adds another thought. She was speaking on giving her time to her children, but I think it applies any time we go the direction God sends us. "Rather than losing my identity..., the irony is, I actually feels as though I have further identified my true self."
Strange that I've had all these quotes jumping out at me lately. Makes me wonder what's up. If I had more time to think about it I would probably get really worried. I guess if I can't be in control of things, who better to trust my life with than those who know me better than myself.