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I saw the sign

Today’s guest poster has requested to remain anonymous. Sometimes she feels the need to do this when writing about sensitive subjects, in order to protect the privacy of others. Today she does so mostly just to save her own face. Thanks “Name Withheld.”

Recently I got called into the bishop’s office. I’ve warned the ward clerk to please not give me an entire day to wonder and worry. “Five minute’s notice is good for me,” I said. But it was Saturday and he made the appointment for just before church the next day. I had just gotten a new calling, so I knew it wasn’t that. I doubted they needed us to speak in Sacrament Meeting again already. What could it be? I never imagined it would be in order to get called on the carpet.

A couple of my teenage kids have been struggling. Another of them is just female, hormonal and hypercritical of her mother (note to self: Never ever judge a woman through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter). So the bishop (who I might add, was well-meaning and sincere) was concerned. “I feel like my family is falling apart,” one of the kids had apparently said.

Great. It was all I could do not to fall apart myself right there in the bishop’s office. I had been feeling the exact same thing for months. The attack of the adversary on my family had been tangible. We weren’t simply falling apart. We were being torn apart. (And some of the kids were assisting with the tearing.) My feeble efforts to keep everything and everyone together seemed futile. My mother-heart was so desperate there had been times in recent weeks when I had wanted to go to my bishop and plead for help myself.

Now I felt it was all somehow all my fault. All I could do was nod. I understand your concern. We’ll do our best. Thanks. Goodbye.

We left the bishop’s office and went directly in to the chapel for sacrament meeting. I’m not usually a crier, but I didn’t even make it through the opening prayer before sobs threatened to overtake me. I bolted before the last amen. I needed solitude, not a congregation. I sought solace. I guess what I really wanted was for someone to reassure me that everything would be OK. But no one was home. They were all gathered together in the warmth of the chapel. I found myself with no one to turn to.

I went home and cried and prayed myself to sleep. Then I woke up, smoothed my crumpled skirt, reapplied the mascara, and willed myself back to church in time for Relief Society. It was insult to injury that no one had even seemed to notice I had left.

Later that evening we had to attend a gathering at the home of a family member. By the time we arrived, I noticed there was a remarkable difference in the spirit of my family. Everyone was getting along. They were kind to each other. The kids played and joked together and had a good time. Our unity was so palpable, extended family members noticed and commented on it. The happy-family-ness lasted through the entire ride home. (But of course it didn’t last forever. Real life can be a roller coaster and I am in the middle of one heck of a ride.)

It’s likely everyone else who noticed what happened that night thought it was completely random. The stars aligned and we had a good moment.

But I knew better. It was an answer to a prayer. God knew I needed a little encouragement in order to keep trying. He knew I needed to have a little hope. I had been longing for some sort of sign that everything would be OK. And, because he is my loving Heavenly Father and he wants our family to succeed, God gave it to me. I recognized it for what it was and was deeply grateful.

What signs do you see in your life? Do you, like me, notice and appreciate the complete non-randomness of them?

13 thoughts on “I saw the sign”

  1. In my experience those "signs" are often little things and easy to overlook. Sunday was stake conference. And, as usual, it was a great meeting. I looked down the aisle at my obviously bored children and said a silent prayer that somehow they would get something meaningful out of the meeting.

    About ten minutes in to one woman's talk about serving your neighbor, my daughter leaned over to me and said, "When we get home I'm going to make some jello."

    "Ok," I said. She described exactly how she was going to make it and then said, "I'm going to take it over to the new people who moved into the Dewey's house."

    So she was listening. She got it.

    As soon as we got home she made the jello. But by the time it set her good intentions were overcome by her desire for something cool and sweet. And she ate half the bowl all by herself. "I'll make a batch for the new people tomorrow," she explained.

    Baby steps. I keep telling myself to be grateful for those baby steps.

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  2. Wow, I'm going to remember to pray for a sign after this. Or recognize I probably already had a sign this week. Because I understand how incredibly encouraging it is to have one of those afternoons that other people attribute to stars aligned.

    It has been a shock to me, what a lonely road being the mother of teenagers is. It has been such a relief to me, that lately I found a friend to walk with, in whom I can confide some episodes of what it is like living with a 12-year-old girl. I'm so glad you posted, I need some company.

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  3. I have had MANY signs lately. It seems that I am being yelled at to wake up and take notice.
    Let's just say that the stars have aligned in ways I never thought possible, in regards to some of my family. My husband had to be the one to point out just how many things seem to be working out. I tend to overlook some of the blessings I have, dwelling on the little hassles of life, forgetting how much Heavenly Father really knows me. It often takes someone else to point it out. I wish I was better at seeing. knowing. feeling.

    Your post definitely touched me, and gave me something to think about today. Thank you.

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  4. Parenting teenagers is the most challenging thing I've ever done. Once, while on my knees, I was told that it wasn't all on me– that my kids have their own agency for a reason, that they were His children too, that He loved them even more then I could, and that they were in His care. It felt like a ton had been lifted from my shoulders when I realized that I could just turn it all over to God sometimes.

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  5. Thank you for this post. I had one of these tender mercies just yesterday. I have been so grateful for Elder Bednar's talk on tender mercies because he reminded us many times that the timing of things can help us discern them. Running into a woman at the store who knew about my health problems and asked and empathized, on a day when I was barely able to scrape myself together enough to go to the store, had that kind of timing element to it…but I almost missed it until I was driving home and the Spirit quietly helped me see what that conversation was — a gift from heaven.

    God knows what we need, even when we don't know what to ask for.

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  6. I think those little things happen to tell us that the Lord loves and cares about us, but our lesson is not done being taught. Sometimes when we're in the midst of a long, drawn out trial with no end in sight it can be easy to believe that the Lord has forgotten us. Giving us little blessings are His way of telling us that He is still mindful of us, even in our hard times.

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  7. Really great post.

    My nearly 12 year old daughter is my challenge too.
    Thanks for your example.
    Honestly, I wish I could pay closer attention to the needs of those around me……think I'll pray for that.

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  8. I've been trying to remember to pray for the ability to see signs in my life, so I hope that I will continue to do that. This afternoon during my little guy's nap time I decided to check a few blogs of people I know from my ward. One of my neighbors mentioned some difficult things going on in her life today and I felt prompted to write her a note or do something for her. I hesitated because I don't know her well and I'm sure people in her family and her friends are there for her too. I didn't want to intrude. Just then my son woke up from his nap. Forty minutes early. Just enough time to run to the store before picking my daughter up from preschool. I bought her a nice little magnet with an inspirational quote, put it inside a nice note, and clipped it to her door. And then I felt better. I hope my son waking up early was a sign for me to do something nice.

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  9. Heavenly Father often answers prayers in the most unexpected moments. My normally outgoing 10 year old son seems absolutely terrified at the thought of bearing his testimony. I told him I never expected him to bear his testimony (whatever that might consist of) until he was ready. I did however pray for opportunities to help him overcome his fear. A few weeks into this praying cycle I embarrassed myself in relief society with an ill timed (but well meant) emotial outburst. I promised I would keep absolutely silent the next week. That Monday we got asked to talk in church. My first thought was a heaven sent, "very funny and I'm sorry I made such a silly vow." I immediately requested my son be asked to speak also (It was mother's day. How hard is that topic?) He was horrified at my betrayal. But I knew he could overcome his fear. A few days later I realized Heavenly Father had provided an opportunity for both my son and myself to overcome our fears by inspiring others and serving him through our talks. My son did great delivering his talk and I vowed never to promise that I wouldn't share my thoughts in church again. I'm also careful about what I pray for where my children are concerned. Somehow I always get dragged along on the answer to those prayers.

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  10. What an insightful essay. Thank you so very much.

    I am in my mid to upper fifties, and all my children are adults, except one. I have a fourteen year old boy. Nearly everyday I say to myself, "I am too old to raise a teenager." He is quick witted, sharp-tongued, and speaks every thought without thought. In the morning I can get a hug, and in the afternoon I can be told I am inadequate. As a result, I can feel my body aging — rapidly.

    Hang in there — that is all we can do. And yes, if we are blessed with the sign of a tender mercy, then the daily journey goes a little easier until tomorrow's next crisis.

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  11. I have also struggled with teenagers who aren't doing as they should; it is definitely an emotional roller coaster. Something that really changed my perspective happened when our son was using drugs and it felt like our family was falling apart. My daughter said, "the worst thing (name of son on drugs) has done is taken away our happy parents." From that moment on I realized that I had control over whether one child's bad choices could ruin the spirit in our home for everyone. After that I made a conscious decision to put on a smile and make our home happy in spite of the struggles.

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  12. I full well expect to be dragged into one of those type of appts any day now. My teenage son is struggling with his relationship with dad. Big time. We're doing our best, but it doesn't quite seem like enough these days. That said, I did see the tender mercies of the Lord last night, as this son came into our bedroom and sat down to talk…sweetly, with no hatred in his voice. We really needed that, as the night before, he had run away from us to go stay with a friend because he was angry.

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