I remember looking up at Tom perched on the boulder that I needed to scale to get out of the slot canyon we had clambered down. He was reaching his hand down to haul me up and I just couldn’t take it. I was petrified that he would drop me or that I would drag him down. He kept reassuring me that he could pull me up, that I should trust him, but I just couldn’t do it. I was terrified to put my life in his hands.
This is a perfect metaphor for me. I have always been more comfortable relying on myself. Until I got married I didn’t even know that I had trouble trusting others on any kind of deep level. You can imagine the turmoil of our first years of marriage as I struggled with being so vulnerable to someone who I had to trust and who could hurt me so badly just by virtue of our relationship.
Tom coaxed me into giving him my hand that day in the canyon and easily helped me up. And that was a metaphor for him. He was constantly holding out a hand, telling me to trust him, showing me that I could. I learned to open myself up to him and not be afraid. My biggest fear was that he would leave me – and then he did. And I have had to accept it not as a betrayal, but as a fact of mortality.
This morning I was thinking about trust and it came to me that this is what I’m learning from Tom’s death. I have rejected the whole idea that his death is my opportunity to grow, that there were things to learn about myself that could only happen in this circumstance. I dislike that whole idea – that God somehow orchestrated this pain in order to teach me something. But this morning I thought about how I have been trusting God in a way I never did before. For years I have read the scripture verse, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) and wondered how I could actually do this – get relief from my burdens. But this past seven months I have felt my burdens be lifted. When I think of my circumstances, I feel so overwhelmed, but day to day life goes forward with a sense of peace and even rest.
This weekend I took a completely spontaneous trip to Utah for the blessing of my nephew. Saturday around noon Spencer and I were talking about it and somehow I found myself looking for a plane ticket that I could afford. With some help from my brother and sister in law who took Andrew and Haley for the night, I flew out of Denver on Saturday afternoon with a large handbag stuffed with a few essentials. The visit was so fast but so good. On Sunday afternoon I left my parents home to drive the three hours back to Salt Lake City to catch my flight home. About two hours into the trip I discovered I’d left my phone at my parents (along with my ID and credit cards that were in the phone case). There wasn’t enough time to go back and still make my flight. My kids were at home with no one to take them to school in the morning. I didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, Spencer’s girlfriend is really smart and suggested calling the airport to see if I could fly without ID. Amazingly, you can if you are willing to go through an interview and a thorough search of belongings and self. Spencer let me use his credit card to fill up the rental car with gas and I continued on, hoping I wouldn’t be too long in security. I worried that I’d use too much gas and would be unable to pay the fee for not returning the car full… Then I worried about the security process… Then I worried about my car at the other end – how was I going to pay to get it out of the parking lot? Was the small amount of cash Spencer gave me going to be enough? When I finally arrived in Denver (there was a flight delay that I wish I had known about sooner than at the time we were supposed to board the plane) and got out to my car, the battery was dead. It sounds like the worst trip, and on one level it was. I felt so insecure traveling without any money or identification. If something happened, I was completely unprepared to take care of myself. But I had this continual refrain in my head: “Heavenly Father, please help me to trust you that things will work out. Help me not to be afraid.” And He did. Everyone that I explained my predicament to was helpful and kind. I didn’t miss my flight, the gas still registered full when I arrived at the airport, the parking lot attendant was able to jump my car, the money I had was just enough to get out of the lot, and I arrived home safely with my children asleep in bed.
I took a leap of faith and the Lord bore my burden. Tom put me on the path to trust as he patiently held out a hand over and over. Now I’m moving forward, building on that love, and opening myself up to God in ways that I never really understood before. I’m letting Him pull me up in so many ways.