“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
In Relief Society several weeks ago we were studying adversity. I was suddenly struck by a very startling thought: Thank heaven for unanswered prayers! (Apologies to Garth Brooks)
One of the great benefits of age is perspective. It is possible for me to look back now, especially to periods of doubt and seeming darkness, and see what an enormous blessing it is for me that the Lord had a different design for my life than I had with my limited mortal perspective.
There are so many times I doubted the Lord, certain that He just wasn’t hearing me. From the time I left home as a college freshman until I married at the ripe old age of 25, I had such a string of unfortunate romances that my father took to calling them “the Perils of Pauline,” which I decided must refer to some ancient newspaper serial story. Most of the men in my life were possessed of galloping narcissism which would merely have perpetuated my environment as a child and adolescent. Some were outright manipulators, bordering on sociopathic, one was a dangerous schizophrenic, another died as a result of a wound in Vietnam. But they all seemed nice. I am oh-so-grateful now that I am becoming elderly (yes, my husband insists that the time has come to call ourselves that) that the Lord had a firm grip on the helm of my tumultuous love life and intervened constantly to prevent numerous disastrous marriages.
Instead of marrying someone used to an extravagant lifestyle, the Lord had in mind for me the son of a humble, Christlike farmer from the Midwest. The combination of his upbringing plus an excellent education, has made him the perfect husband for me and father for my children. (Of course, when I met him, he was masquerading as a non-LDS “party boy” in Italian designer suits. Even I knew that didn’t bode well for a marriage, but like the scripture says the Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts. I prayed about breaking up with him daily for at least six months, and the only answer the Lord gave me was “Just concentrate on living the gospel, GG.” David turned out to be a golden contact, was swiftly baptized. The party boy went the way of the Italian suits. So, basically, all the relationships that I prayed would work out, didn’t, and the one I was most skeptical of, did! Crazy, huh?
I am also glad that we have been blessed only moderately with worldly goods, and that we spent most of our children’s lives in a place which I spent years praying we could get out of—the wilds of the Missouri Ozarks. Not only was I nourished spiritually by numerous wonderful “mothers,” but my convert husband grew mighty in the gospel through his many opportunities to serve. The experience of growing up where most people had very little has apparently imprinted itself firmly on my children’s minds. Each of them is a tight-fisted saver of money, and none of them will buy anything on credit. Their father was a bankruptcy lawyer. Enough said. We share some of he characteristics of those who lived through the depression, because we had years of outright poverty while my husband was trying to convince Missourians that Mormons were not devils and made very good lawyers. Neither we nor our children impulsively purchase things that are beyond our income (although I have been tempted to pawn my grandmother’s diamond for just one more trip to Florence). Thankfully, we live in a house we might actually be able to pay off.
My children frequently mention their “idyllic childhood” in rural Missouri, though I notice none of them are planning on raising their families there!
Another result of my forced incarceration in a town with no bookstore or, for many years, a movie theatre, and certainly no mall, was that I lived a very active life of the mind. Forced to entertain myself, I found thousands of David’s and my ancestors and submitted them for temple work. I also went through the lengthy apprentice of a writer. Out of all my eleven published books, only two or three were not in some way conceived in Missouri.
When I finally did receive the answer to my prayers and we moved to Dayton, Ohio, where we had a symphony, an opera, a theatre, and art museum, a lovely library, one of the best bookstores in the country, a university where I worked, and plenty of women who were eager to befriend me, I found that all these things were not as important as I thought. My mental illness worsened, and I remember little of what happened during the four years we lived in Ohio.
As with everyone, we have learned through life’s ups and downs that “bad times” can be good times, and good times may not be that great. I am so glad that I am not in charge of the universe.
G.G. Vandagriff loves to hear from readers at her blog: http://ggvandagriffblog.com, or her websites: http://ptsdweb.com or http://ggvandagriff.com. Her twelfth book: Foggy With a Chance of Murder will be realeased April 25 by Deseret Book. She is the 2009 Whitney Award Winner for Best Historical Novel, The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War. She has been a Meridian columnist since its inception!