Shattered Silence

Shattered Silence

Thursday, May 25, 2017

God Will Send Rain

When we find ourselves stuck in the deserts of life, how can we
find our own oasis of hope?
During a Church meeting several months ago, there was a discussion among the brethren in my Elder’s Quorum on the topic of hope. The teacher that day used an analogy that I liked about taking a cross-country trip in a vehicle from Point A to Point B, and how hope is the courage, faith, and trust in God to keep going even if you break down along the way, which often seems to happen in the worst places; his example was having car problems in the middle of the desert. Do we abandon our quest and return to where we started, or do what we can to fix the issue and journey on to our destination?

A young man in my ward—a somewhat-troubled soul who has seemed to have experienced the lion’s share of hardship and disappoint in his life—brought our metaphorical trip to a screeching halt with a loaded, but honest and searching question: What about when hope runs out? What if there is no hope? It was a bleak proposal; my first thought, I ashamedly admit, was “Here we go again.” This wasn’t the first time this young man (and gospel novice—he was only recently baptized) entreated the class with his desperate, yet humble questions.

It came to me one day that life is like a plot of grass, and we are
the caretakers.
After a brief pause in the collective spirit of the room, hands began to shoot up as my brethren came to his aid, giving their views on what to do—or perhaps what they did once upon a time—when the waters of hope ran dry in a desert of despair (or maybe when the fuel of hope was not initially a driving force for them). As I pondered deeply on the analogy, hoping to contribute a relevant comment, I saw a familiar scene in my head—at least, it seemed familiar to me, though I’m not entirely sure it had ever entered my head so vividly as it did that day.

What I saw was a modest stretch of green, supple grass; in the middle of the grassy lawn, from the height at which my mind’s eye rested, could be seen an ugly, crudely-dug hole, akin to a grave. There were rocks protruding in spots from its dirt walls, and stringy, frayed-out roots exposed and hanging loosely among the stones. The sky above the scene was a terrible but majestic purplish-black, and stormy clouds in the distance seemed to break just enough on the horizon to show the stars glimmering above them; and from the gathered clouds poured a torrential rain.

Life with anxiety and depression sometimes feels like digging
myself into a hole of misery.
As this vision in my mind’s eye was displayed before for me, I zoned out of the classroom chatter and went into my own place where this image began to take on meaning, right then and there. Readers familiar with my posts will know that I have a keen ability to conjure up metaphors and analogies, with relatively no effort on my part, that often carry deep meaning to me. As a very visual thinker, these types of symbolic picture-stories make a lot of sense to me. This situation was no different. My mind raced, quickly but peacefully, about what meaning this image and its story could have for me.

Here’s how it all came together for me at that time. That hole became another metaphorical description—a place, really—of my state of living with depression and heavy anxiety which robs me of motivation, drive, and initiative. Sometimes when these struggles are at a peak in my day-to-day living, it becomes difficult to make small talk with well-meaning people who ask me how I’m doing, or how I’ve been.  Invariably, I just smile and say that I’m doing fine, because I don’t want to compel anyone to offer me sympathy or say, “Oh, I’m sorry!”—a phrase that is becoming increasingly hollow to me.

Tending to my mental health and well being is much like caring 
for a lawn, requiring constant upkeep.
Not liking to lie to people, but also wanting to just be polite and concise, when I am really not well, I have just grown accustomed to telling people, “I feel like I’ve dug myself into a hole that I can’t get out of.” It’s more honest, but it’s also easier to play off as normal stress; living around other young people who are working and going to college, it’s not hard for others to relate to what I’m saying. That’s why that hole in the ground was familiar to me because I sometimes picture it hazily when I have to report to others on my wellbeing.

But how did I get into the hole in the first place? I have pictured this at some length as well since pondering the analogy in class that day. It begins with a pleasant, soft patch of grass that can be easily maintained with diligent upkeep and regular, responsible care; we are the gardeners, entrusted with the role of caretaker for this little gem of botanical beauty. I thought the patch of grass represented my life, my existence—this mortal journey from day to day and year to year, in every season—which is nothing short of delicate and complicated, and sometimes vulnerable. 

Avoidant anxiety is probably my greatest enemy in caring for
myself; as I avoid stress, the weeds and molehills begin to surface
in my life.
Unlike my remarkable mother, for instance, I have no green thumb; even a simple houseplant is doomed in my care, and I don’t think tending to a little lawn would be any easier for me. Too much water can drown; not enough water can shrivel. The sun can scorch; the grass must be clipped and fertilized and protected from persistent, vicious weeds and vermin. One wrong move can set a course for destruction. Finding balance in one’s life is not always easy.

My greatest enemy in caring for my little lawn of life—the gophers, maybe? dandelions? anthills?—is my kneejerk reaction to all things that stress me out, or which may stress me out (present and existent or supposed and fabricated): To avoid them all. I’ve recently learned that anxiety is a repetitive process that an anxious person like me goes through when presented with uncomfortable or potentially uncomfortable situations—things that haven’t even happened yet. I avoid the causes of stress to avoid the anxiety of it, which alleviates short-term anxiety, but contributes to much larger and much more destructive long-term anxiety over unresolved conflict (or potential conflict).

The brown patches in my lawn of life only grow and multiply as
anxiety and stress turn to depression.
It is not easy for me to live my life—taking care of my little lawn—happily each day when watering seems too scary or difficult; when clipping is too tiring and too complicated; when fertilizing and weeding is too agonizing or can be put off for a little bit longer before it really becomes “necessary.” The grass doesn’t need to be watched unceasingly; but it’s good to check in every day to assess how things are going. Get enough rest, eat good foods, get a little exercise and sunlight, and spend time with others. It seems like a simple process, which, if adhered to, can help us to enjoy the grassy space, and be content with it—to have a happy life.

However, when I am depressed—which festers from the wound of anxious avoidance—I stop caring for myself properly.  I am also extremely critical of myself.  I suppose somehow that I ought to be stronger than I am, and that any continued mourning or melancholy is uncalled for. I don’t allow myself to slow down sometimes, and I push myself harder than I probably should at times. I would rather ignore the grass and assume that everything is fine; “I took care of myself enough yesterday, so that should suffice for the week. Suck it up; you’re just being ridiculous now.” 

Stuck deep in a hole of depression, hope seems lost, and life
becomes an unwelcome burden.
After all, isn’t it selfish to always be thinking about oneself? Other people are caring for their lawns just fine, and they have far more troubles or responsibilities than I do. The plague of self-comparison can be debilitating for me. The harder I push myself, the more I actually feel like just giving up; it’s too much to bear, this lawn, my life. And as I neglect my self-care and compassion by refusing to tend my life, the grass loses its emerald sheen, and the dismal brown patches creep in, threatening even more to overtake what’s left of my life.

By not practicing self-compassion, those brown spots spread into my days, my weeks, even into months. Weeds pop up here and there, then everywhere; and pretty soon my life is in shambles. I no longer have happiness in caring for my little plot of grass. Just looking at it makes me ill; it gets easier to talk myself out of repairing the neglect every time I give even a casual thought to picking up a hose or rake. I can’t see how I can possibly catch up with all I have yet to do, and taking a break to breathe and think things out will only waste precious time.

As stress and work pile up, the easier it is to just abandon all
responsibility and isolate myself.
After all, who decided that I should have this little plot of land for a season anyway? Who would trust a person like me with the priceless vessel of mortality in such a turbulent world? I find myself stuck with difficult choices that could’ve been easier if I had thought them out better. Pacing myself would’ve helped—a long time ago. Doing that assignment for school early or preparing that lesson for church before Saturday night would’ve been helpful—a long time ago. I am faced with the drought of hope, and my choices seem limited—but giving up altogether is the most appealing option. 

When work and tasks pile up like this, I can lose all control; it doesn’t matter what it is (but it is usually housework and homework). Sometimes all I can see is the disgusting, unkempt plot of a gardener who should have known better—the caretaker who didn’t care. Sometimes this affects my mood dramatically; I begin to wonder if I even want to be in charge of so much! Do I even want to be in college? Do I even want to have a job? Do I even want to put myself out there and meet new people? Outside of my analogy, in real life, I might sometimes think that death would be a welcome way out, an easy exit plan—do I even want to be alive? How I wish then that I could tear up everything, down to raw, bare dirt, and start over again with fresh sod—heck, I’ll even resort to reseeding the soil myself if it just means all this grief will go away. 

From the bottom of my emotional holes, myview is is bleak; 
how will I ever get out?
Though suicidal ideation is rare for me, I am no stranger to it; it is not something I have ever gotten close to actually carrying out, but the thoughts of ‘leaving it all behind’ are disturbing, unnerving, and almost sickening. The frustration with my situation and the tiresome persistence of even being a human, in some moments, can be debilitating. I beat myself up for what I see as constant failure, and my little patch of decrepit lawn so often becomes a frustrated handful of grass, ripped out in anger. I hate the grass. I hate my life.  Anxiety has led to depression and depression has led me to the end of my figurative rope.

I can see myself taking the tools that I once used to care for my little patch of lawn and turning them against myself—faith becomes faithlessness, testimony becomes cynicism, belief becomes burden, religion becomes rejection, and hope becomes hopelessness. And why stop there? How much more hopeless could my situation become? With shovel in hand, I pierce the ground like I am putting to death the enemy of my soul. Then it’s a shovel full of sod, then soil, and soon rocky dirt. With every minute, day, and week that I avoid my duty in caring for the plot—for myself, my life—the hole can only get deeper. 

The regular storms of life can seem like a watery death sentence
when you are stuck in a hole.
Frustrated with life, I dig and dig—putting off homework, household chores, text messages, emails, phone calls, work shifts, class attendance, and even eating and personal care sometimes. Everything becomes burdensome in the looming uncertainty of my present and my future. I soon find myself in a deep hole that I cannot claw my way out of. In my anger and frustration, I was focused so intently on dwelling upon and enlarging the problems that I couldn’t see the pit I was digging myself into. Disparagingly, and realizing I’m about as low down as I can go, I tend to curl up in a figurative ball and force myself to ignore my environment, and the person whose fault it is that I am there—mine.  I also tend to isolate myself from others at this point.

This is when the depression is deep, the hurt is powerful, and there is nothing worse than realizing that you’ve brought it all upon yourself. Not to say that I can help the biology that causes my depression; but I can help to avoid the circumstances that cause the crushing dips into its abyss. These are the times when, though I am physically present at school, work, church, or with friends and family, yet I am emotionally detached and psychologically numb. The weak smile I put on for everyone is as fake as Astroturf; a false portrayal that everything is okay. But like the Astroturf, my façade is artificially produced by me to cover difficult emotions, rather than grown from roots of true contentedness with life.

When the courage to simply try strikes,the fog of 
depression disperses just enough for me to catch a 
glimpse of hope again.
No matter how bad things are, I can recount numerous times when I have received miraculous second chances (and third, fourth, fifth …). I have an understanding boss at my job, and he knows what I deal with. I have been blessed with instructors at my university who are the epitome of compassion and cooperation. And as the ones closest to me, my friends and family have long been patient and forgiving as I’ve struggled with many disorders and mental health issues from my childhood. 

When another of my trespasses is forgiven and forgotten, I can often catch a sudden glimpse beyond the smoky fog of depression, and for a moment, there is some hope! But what can I really see, then, when I have pushed back so much emotion and responsibility for weeks and weeks?—only the rugged walls of the hole that I am now in. As hopeless as this scenario sounds, whether as a parable or my occasional reality, I have learned something from it. 

The beauty of this analogy that came to me in my Elder’s Quorum class that day was not that I figured out a way to figuratively claw myself out of the hole. It was not even that someone came along to rescue me by reaching out a strong, helping hand. Neither did I perish in the ground while pitying myself and casting relentless self-blame. The beauty came unexpectedly—not as my present situation improved, but as it worsened.

What can be worse than being stuck, alone, in a deep, cold hole? To my mind, it was that ensuing darkness from the skies high above, and the threat of a sudden downpour. As if I’m not already in a predicament by digging myself into a hole of avoidance and procrastination, a storm enters my world—the world above the ground—and the rain begins to fall. It could be anything distressing that befalls me in addition to the predicament I am already in—family concerns, financial stresses, spiritual failings (more likely supposed failings), arguments, disappointments, shortcomings, illness—whatever may keep me indifferent to or uninterested in solutions that I might seek under normal conditions. When you’ve dug yourself into an emotional hole, there’s not much that can be done about the rain as life carries on despite your already-loaded troubles.

Back at church, I no longer heard my Elder’s Quorum brethren commenting on our young friend’s question. I only saw myself gazing up from the hole, and the rain coming down in sheets. Simultaneously I also saw flashes of myself bending over my desk under a hot lamp, papers strewn about, as I typed furiously on the keyboard to make a deadline (a typical state of last-minute panic I encounter a lot). As I slip easily into this live metaphor playing in my brain, suddenly I cannot ignore where I am anymore, and I cannot pretend that this isn’t my fault or that someone else is to blame. 

When all seems lost, Christ's grace descends
gently to buoy me up and out of my darkest places.
Courage often strikes out of nowhere, like lightning piercing through the clouds of my hopeless depression.  Like the homework example, I sometimes decide at the last minute that I am going to try to get out of my hole, even if the forecast is bleak and the odds are against me.  In the hole, my feet are already covered in muddy water, and I am certain that I am going to drown in this miserable pit. The surface seems so far away, and my deadline, or class time, or work shift looms ever closer. But as the storm rages on, I try desperately to claw myself out. Initially, it always seems like it’s just no use. Doubt creeps back in; the water is now at my knees and rising.

The anxious attempts at getting myself out of the hole only remind me how deeply I have dug myself. I realize then that perhaps I should have thought harder about my possible solutions before consigning myself to a lifetime of pouting underground. These are the times that I finally care about what I’ve gotten myself into—long after any plausible, relatively-comfortable solutions have passed. I am still in the hole, and it's not looking good, but I continue to try.  The water reaches my waist. Not long now.

Sometime after the initial project is started, or I decide that I will go to work or class after all, the anxiety of beginning is gone and the anxiety of finishing is now what fuels me. Once I reach this stage, I am determined to complete my task no matter what it takes. I avoid the clock face, and just try to make it through the day. Those ominous deadlines I’m often racing against make the dread even more palpable. This process includes periodic pauses to breathe deeply, psyche myself up, and offer prayers for mercy. The whole situation is nonetheless precarious, and there is no certainty that I will make it out alive. Will work ever end? Will the teacher ever wrap up their lecture? Will this social gathering ever end? WIll I finish my essay in time?  Back in the hole, the water has reached my shoulders, and I still don’t know what will become of me.

Even when stuck in a hole, humility and patience can help us
"tread water" until we are delivered from the abyss.
The water level crawls up my neck slowly, and the storm will not quit. I’m scrambling, but also so close to just giving up and drowning in my stress. Perhaps if I had been more responsible and diligent in caring for my life, the worst I would be dealing with right now would be the raging storm of unexpected issues and personal concerns atop the green grass. When my anxiety is high and my depression is thick and cloudy over my mind, I would so often like to accept death (that is, missing that assignment, that deadline, that work shift, a class, or social event) by drowning in the hole—in other words, for me, sleeping through the impending doom, my chosen depressive poison.

But as the water reaches my chin, and I take a final deep breath, the beauty of the storm is realized. Suddenly, my feet are not touching the muddy bottom of the hole, and my head is still above water. I am not drowning! As long as I put forth the effort to tread water, I stay afloat. This is the moment of serendipity, usually when I notice, partway through my task or responsibility that things are working out. Maybe it’s not as bad as I initially thought. I am getting the answers right, I am nearing the end of my essay, only minutes remain of work—my mood is improving, I am closer to finishing what I began—I can see a way out of the hole if I hold strong.

As the storms of life thunder and flash above me, I am so often brought to humility by a sudden and instantly-discernible grace. When we are above ground, experiencing a mostly-happy life, the storms that come along to put a damper on our day can seem so difficult to bear. But when you’re already 10-feet under, sometimes you need to be reminded that there is a reason for the rain. The storms of life come, I have found, not to hammer the last nail in my coffin, but the lift me back to life by helping me to understand the need to constantly be humble and to trust in a higher purpose for some challenges.

The rain can sometimes be an inconvenience, but it is meant to
replenish and refine us.

If I can just be patient and continue to “tread water,” things will eventually be okay. And sure enough, the water lifts me high enough to finally grasp the edge of that terrible hole and pull myself out of it. Each and every time it leaves me in shock that I actually did it—I finished the essay; I made it through my whole class or my entire work shift; I made it to my date with friends; I finished the semester; or whatever it is that I had gotten stuck in. In reality, my shock is probably unfounded, because I know that the water falling from the sky in this analogy is not a coincidence or just good luck. In my real life, it is the grace of the Lord sent to buoy me up and carry me out of my sorrows and troubles (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I felt these moments as a child, long before I ever knew who God or Jesus Christ were—years before I ever found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and the gospel. I remember sitting at the kitchen table in the home I grew up in, laden with homework and on the verge of tears at the threat of losing my 4.0 GPA. And suddenly, as I cast my eyes hopelessly upon everything I still had to do, I would feel a sense of peace enter my heart. 

Instantly the doubt and confusion and unfairness of my situation diffused, and I could no longer feel troubled by my present responsibilities. I was touched by the Light of Christ within me, and His grace flowed over me to calm my fears and give me the push I needed to carry on and finish my tasks. And I always did in the end; and on those nights my bed never felt so comfortable as I lay down with the burden of work lifted from my mind and the assurance of continued academic success.

We won't ever be perfect caretakers of our lives,but God fills our
days with moments that help us to better appreciate what we've
been entrusted with.
Knowing what I know now about the sacrifice of the Savior and the grace offered through His atonement, I can see that the Lord was with me even before I actually found Him. And still I know He is with me, because I experience this washing over of the Spirit often when I am at my wit’s end, crying out in my heart for help. He answers my pleading by sending the rain to teach me that His love and blessings can reach me even in the bleakest of places. And if we have an eye to see His glory and an ear to hear His voice, He can raise us up out of whatever miserable holes we’ve dug ourselves into (Matthew 13:9-17; Ezekiel 12:2).

Blessings can come in disguise; but the Master Teacher can help us learn to see them in their true light. Just like the rain flowing down into what seemed might become my grave, the blessings of hope and humility amidst the storms can carry me slowly up to the edge of where my struggles began, and lend me the strength to grasp the solid ground of faith and pull myself out. And never am I more grateful to be safely back at the top, even while the rain may continue to fall upon me for a time. 

Somehow I recognize that if things hadn’t been so tough, my spirit may not have been contrite and my heart perhaps not broken enough to see the purpose of the rain (Moroni 6:2). When all things realign in my life and I see the hand of God in correcting the chaos, I am usually a little more grateful for life—my little plot of grass—and more willing to “act well [my] part” in order to avoid digging more holes (see this video for more). Additionally, the cleansing power of the rain—the refiner’s fire of tests and trials—can nourish and renew us where we have failed to take care of ourselves, giving us another chance to start over and make things right.

Although we can prepare for life's storms, none of us will escape
Indeed, when life seems to be going my way is when I am often compelled to be humble by experiencing a setback—some kind of stumble, trip, fall, or a suddenly-cloudy sky. I don’t feel that it’s God’s way of “kicking me when I’m down,” so to speak, but His way of showing me that things are not always as they seem—that things can always be worse. But perhaps more than that He is showing me that things will usually get better. No storm ever lasts; the sun always breaks the clouds in the end. What need is there of a roof unless you know that the rain could eventually come?

God’s intention is not to teach us how to avoid the storms of life, or to know when we should anticipate them coming and going. But His purpose is, I feel, to teach us that the storms will come throughout life, and although we can do our best to prepare for them, we cannot escape them. What we can help is how we care for our little plot of grass—ourselves; and we can also choose how we let the rain affect us. He wants us to learn to appreciate the rain, not to dread it. 

He wants us to get ourselves wet now and again so to better appreciate the warmth and comfort He provides. As the Lord has said in modern revelation, “If they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet” (D&C 29:39). Even though we may not mean to start digging in the first place, inevitably we will all do it, and God can encourage us to make the best of the holes we end up in. I think that’s why He sends rain. He wants us to discover that it is He who sends the sunshine and the storms when He knows that our little plot of life is ready to grow a little more. A favorite quote of mine, from Latter-day Apostle Richard G. Scott (1928 - 2015), reflects upon life's storms in this way:

          “Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. … [T]hey are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that simulate growth, understanding and compassion, which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.” 
          ~ “Trust in the Lord,” October 1995 General Conference; see also Ensign, Nov. 1995, 16-17.

We neglect ourselves constantly, in my opinion. Many of us feel we are the one exception to God’s infinite love, or Jesus Christ’s ever-reaching atonement. When we don’t care for ourselves, our little plot of grass can become dry and lifeless; even if we have not broken the ground with our shovels through our avoidance, our rebellion, our silent pain, or our procrastination, and are still firmly planted on the ground, there is no living happily when our little plot has lost its health, vibrancy, softness, and glow. We are meant to enjoy lying in the grass that we have cared for, and be proud of our efforts to maintain it as best we can.

A tidy plot is not always a sure sign of an expert gardener; when
we compare ourselves to others, we only see what's on the surface.
But even if we don’t know how best to tend to our lives—let’s face it, who does?—God does know. That’s why He sends rain. Though challenges are difficult, they are not without purpose; they can be revitalizing to our lives by bringing back the meaning to why we were given this little plot of grass to care for in the first place. We are here to enjoy life, to live happily and abundantly (2 Nephi 2:25). Not everyone will be able to immediately see their personal storms as a good thing. It took a long time to convince me, and there are still times that I curse the drops that fall on my happy picnic. But I usually recover more appreciative of the sun—the Light of Christ in my life—and less worried about the next downpour.

One trap that I get myself into is to assume that as I sometimes suffer silently, I am suffering alone. I commonly forget that everyone around me is their own caretaker of a plot similar (but not identical) to mine. Maybe their plot is the blue-ribbon-best, or maybe it is sloppy, but healthy. Others might be feeling the prickles of dead grass between their toes and longing for a time when they were better at gardening. 

Our lawns don't have to be perfect to be enjoyed; life is never
idyllic, but with regular upkeep,we can be content with the plots
we've been given.
Still, some are merely surviving with both feet still planted on the ground, but trying to pass off their Astroturf lawn as the real thing. And others, still, are no longer living above ground, and are sulking in their own miserable holes. And all around each of them, storms are raging from time to time. What a comfort it is to know that no matter the climate in the lives of others, we all witness storms. Some are more powerful than others, but likewise, those individuals may also be better prepared to face them, according to Elder Scott. 

And while the sun may seem to shine endlessly upon some from our view, internally some of them are living with darkness, and they are sometimes the ones who keep their plots the tidiest so that no one discovers their pain. Similarly, I have learned that even those whose lives’ seem a little unkempt can still be extremely fulfilled in caring for the plot of grass that they’ve been given, even if they don’t do so ideally. 

God will send rain upon us all, the just and unjust; whether we let
the rain drown us or discipline us will always be our own choice.
For this reason, it is best that we learn not to think unkindly or be critical of those whose gardening techniques are different from ours, because we are all called to the same task, on the same earth, underneath the same ever-changing sky; God does not expect us to keep our plots spotless, but to endure until the season and harvests are over (James 5:11; D&C 14:7). As Jesus said of His Father, “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

As I mentally came back into the classroom that day in Elder’s Quorum, my mind was set at ease, while also being alive with personal revelation and wisdom from God, though I did not end up sharing my experience with the others. I do not know why He sends me these parables to help me understand my life, but I am intensely grateful for them; and I expound upon and share them in the hope that they may connect with someone else’s soul or mind in a way that will help them know their Father and their Savior the way I feel I do.

I have found that life's storms can often be a gesture of the
Lord's mercy, whether lost in the desert or stuck in a hole.
I’m not sure if my quorum brother’s predicament in the figurative deserts of life was ever resolved. I don’t know if that troubled young man ever found the well of hope he was seeking for. He stopped attending our ward a few months after I had this experience. Certainly there is much still from his past that he desires to resolve and work through; I have a prayer in my heart that he will. 

I don’t think I really have an answer either to the analogy that was presented in that class of a trip from Point A to Point B. It’s true, as we carry on with life, we make many different journeys; some are more pleasant while others can be extremely difficult. And like stumbling upon a lone mechanic’s shop when you are broken down on a highway to nowhere, or finding a true oasis when you have wandered the Saharas of mortality, I have found that serendipity often comes just when you are about to give up. The Savior’s grace arrives just in time, like “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

We all find ourselves off track sometimes on our way to where and whom we want to be, and we might remain there longer than we anticipated. But occasionally those stalls in our progression are what we need in order to better recognize divine intervention in our lives. So my hope is that when this young brother finds himself stranded in the metaphorical deserts of life—lost and alone and not knowing what will become of him—that God will send rain.

"Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and
knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger."
~ Saint Basil the Great, (AD 329 or 330 - AD 379) ~
Greek Bishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia