“Mommy! Mommy!! Mommy!!!”
Our 3-year-old’s terrified screams woke us in a panic. She’d been having trouble sleeping since our recent move, but that night she was hysterical. We ran to her room and Daddy scooped her out of bed.
“Mommy!! I want Mommy!!” she persisted, through shoulder-heaving sobs.
Gregg handed her to me, but as I cradled her, the desperate cries for Mommy continued. We had no idea how to help. That scene repeated itself several times over the following months. Of all the reasons we endured sleepless nights with our little ones, night terrors were by far the most frustrating. How do you comfort a child who won’t be comforted?
Several years later, our 10-year-old daughter went missing at an amusement park. I was frantic. We prayed for help to find our daughter, notified park security, then split into two groups to start searching. Four-year-old in tow, I began apologetically pushing through lines of people, asking if anyone had seen our girl. People were kind and encouraging, but I could only think the worst. Tears streaming down my face, I continued silently crying out to my Heavenly Father to keep her safe and to help us find her, but I felt only fear.
What seemed like hours later, we discovered the other half of our search party crying and hugging the one who had been lost. I sobbed in relief as I held my daughter close.
I have often thought of this experience when I desperately pleaded to God for help, but–much like our 3-year-old with night terrors–refused to be comforted. How might my search for our daughter have been different if I had taken a moment to “Be still, and know that [He is] God”?(Psalm 46:10)
With the night terrors, we eventually learned that we could capture our little girl’s focus with a snack and a movie. After a few minutes, she would become aware of her surroundings and let us put her back to bed.
I, too, have learned to divert my focus when fear threatens to take control of my head and heart. Through the simple habit of intentionally concentrating on gratitude, I have become aware of how present and involved God is in my life. That realization has refined my trust in Him. Every day I take time to think about things I’m grateful for, frequently recording them in a journal. It’s a simple practice that has had a profound effect on my nature.
Now, when confronted with tragedies and disappointments, instead of allowing panic and hopelessness to creep in, I take a deep breath and direct my thoughts to the many times I’ve seen God’s hand in the significant as well as the trivial concerns of my life. As I begin looking for what I am grateful for in my current circumstance, divine confidence swells my heart, driving out fear and despair. Peace fills me and enables me to move forward in faith.
Beginning as simple hope, my now implicit trust in God has developed over the 51 years of my life through the process of overcoming two decades of chronic depression, the same cancer twice, major financial setbacks, and all the challenges of parenthood. Little did I know that the greatest test still lay ahead.
On September 9, 2019, with my husband at my side, I received a new diagnosis. This time, the cancer is terminal. We are still in awe at the tremendous sense of peace and gratitude that overcame us that day and continues with us now.
Not all situations end the way I might hope, and some are intensely long and difficult, but filled with the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), I continue to feel joy despite the crisis I’m facing. I am keenly aware that my loving Father’s arms are around me and I know that “all things,” the good and the bad, “work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).
Carlynn is the mother of five amazing children and grandmother of two adorable granddaughters. She and her husband, Gregg, live in Moses Lake, WA and are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They love to visit their children, camp, hike, and travel.