Let it be

Les Disciples Jean et Pierre Courant au Sepulcre Le Matin de la Resurrection, Eugene Burnand

I brought the postcard of this painting home from the Musee D’Orsay. It sits on the shelf above my desk and my heart pings a little every time I look at it. According to my rusty college French, the title translates to something like The Disciples Peter and John Rush to the Tomb on the Morning of the Resurrection. Look at those faces, their simultaneous hope and anxiety. Rushing but almost reluctant. Their thoughts jump from the canvas: Please let it be.

Those disciple faces! I recognize them. I am them. I have experienced those emotions on the long road between promise and knowledge. I have encountered them in the hours between early labor and childbirth, between a prayerful decision and its resolution, between blessing and healing, questions and testimony. Somewhere along the line I picked up the message that fear or anxiety were signs that I’m either on the wrong path or traveling it wrong, despite heavenly assurance at the outset. It makes for a zig-zaggy journey with lots of emotional temperature taking and unnecessary rumination.

Then recently I read an essay about “the wild, tender place between knowing and not knowing,” glanced up at my postcard tilted there on the shelf and thought, Yes.

I had a rush of new understanding about paths and personal inspiration. I can feel fear and anxiety about things I feel inspired to do and yet still be headed in the right direction. Just because I wonder how shall it be doesn’t mean I’m not confident in the outcome.  Even if–perhaps especially if–I’m whispering an anxious mantra of Please let it be and clasping my hands as I walk into the wind.

And now and then the answer even comes like a echo. Annie. Let it be.

. . .

Do you identify with those expressions on the disciples’ faces? What is your experience in that passageway between knowing and not?

p.s. I just noticed that other Segullah writers have posted on “let it be.” Brooke and Emily M. each have had their own terrific take on that phrase.

9 thoughts on “Let it be

  1. My husband and I are in the midst of making a big decision, and feel like we’re heading in the right direction, but there’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of asking ourselves if it’s really the right thing if we still have so many questions.

    It could be a disaster, it might be just what our family needs.

    That’s my very long winded way of saying this was a very timely post. Thanks.

  2. This reminds me of a post I read on Modern Mormon Men recently:

    http://www.modernmormonmen.com/2011/08/guest-post-i-had-bad-feeling-about.html

    It really helped me understand that anxiety and fear isn’t God telling us we shouldn’t do something, especially when we know the thing is good. Once we have confirmation from the Holy Ghost, feeling doubt, fear, and anxiety might be the adversary’s attempts to get us to talk ourselves out of doing the good, right thing.

  3. I am willing. I am thankful. I will miss the dimples in the hands of our 24 young grandchildren, their touch and hugs for the 2 years of our next mission. Our papers are in. I didn’t realize the tears that went into the building of the kingdom as I watched my parents serve many times. I will hug them tighter next time.

    I know from our first mission that when we serve Heavenly Father’s children…He watches over ours. (And I must say…He is so much better at it!) We were blessed with some family miracles and we met 5 new grandchildren when we got home.

    Heavenly Father wants our hearts and our hands and He gave us tear ducts!

    Our papers are in…we will see where we go. I will carry these words in my pocket…just to remind myself that we can never sacrifice in the service of our Father. I know the returns are always greater. When some ask how can we leave our children…I smile and sometime a tear sneaks out as I answer: “How can we not?”

    “…I promise you will do things for them in the service of the Lord that, worlds without end, you could never do if you stayed home to hover over them. What greater gift could grandparents give their posterity than to say by deed as well as word,In this family we serve missions!” – Elder Holland

  4. What a fantastic way to begin my day. Thank you for your message, and for the introduction to such a beautiful work of art. It reminds me of something I read recently in a book, Choosing Glory, by Dr. Lili Anderson who taught at BYU. The stress caused by striving to live a celestial life is a refining stress, its what brings us to our knees and into our personal “spiritual wilderness.” Like Lehi and Nephi, the children of Israel, even the Savior during his 40-day fast, we all will find our faith tested and our most pressing questions unanswered for a season as we work through our wilderness, our not knowing. But just like the painting, we have knowledge which gives us the glimmer of hope, and strength born of our new-found faith to dare to believe that the promises of the Savior are true! In those times I find it natural to “Let it Be,” and rest assured that everything WILL be okay.

  5. Oh Annie, I love this so much. I’m sorry I’m coming to the discussion late.

    I just had a conversation with my mother who is fighting her second brain tumor about hope, trust, and submission. A friend of mine, who is also dealing with a physical disease – one that is lending itself to a slow death – asked, “When do I stop hoping and accept what is?” Her eyes and mine brimmed with tears. That is a hard place. But as my Mom and I discussed it, we determined that our hope can only be in Christ – in eternal life with Him and in a trust that all we have to endure in this life will work for our good. That none of our suffering will be for naught. He will use it for our progression and learning. Submission seems to what is required of all of us. It seems to be the place He needs us to go – to trust completely in Him – and do whatever He asks. To endure those places of not knowing (or having) what we might want.

    I love this painting as well and your description of it, “Please, let it be.” I think it illustrates beautifully the gospel principle that our hope must be in Christ. That we lay our desires at his feet, with a willingness to do whatever he asks, be whatever he needs us to be.

    A lengthy response. But your words tugged at my heart this morning. Thank you.

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