I’ve collected quotes for as long as I can remember. In the days before everything could fit on a thumb drive I used to have binders full of them. They were inspirational and uplifting. They kept me focused on what mattered and helped me find peace when life knocked me on my butt. And I loved flipping through those pages when I needed a pick me up. I thought I had heard all there was to hear until yesterday. We were in church and a sweet lady was teaching the lesson and shared this quote; “You must become the rock the river cannot wash away”. And it got the gears in my brain whirring.
How do we become that rock, and why would it matter? When I was in college I was quite the social butterfly. Anything and everything that sounded interesting became the activity of the day. I went along thoughtlessly on every adventure that presented itself. One sunny afternoon a group of my friends decided they wanted to go bridge jumping. Believe it or not, it’s exactly what it sounds like. You jump off a bridge into a river. Remember how your mother used to ask “If your friends all jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” Well, now I can honestly answer yes. And it almost killed me.
To set the scene, we chose an old railroad bridge. It was arched and had cross beams, and many of the more daring kids were climbing to the top rails before jumping into the water. The river was small, but the water was swift…and very cold. It was May in Idaho, and the water was freshly melted snow from the mountains, that swelled the banks beyond their usual limits. And in the center of the river the current was very strong. Nobody told me that part. My experiences had always been in a serene swimming pool. I knew nothing of currents and how hard it would be to catch your breath if dumped into ice water. So I lined up with my friends to jump right in.
I was timid, so I went last. Everyone else told me that when you jumped in you had to start swimming like mad for shore because the water was moving fast and you didn’t want to get caught in the rapids. (Yea, I had no experience with rapids either. But they looked pretty in the pictures.) So I stepped up. The minute my body hit that water I went into shock. The water was SO cold every muscle in my body locked up. I couldn’t breathe out the startled breath I took on impact. So I couldn’t get any air to help my dire situation. I did my best to warm myself up by lifting my hips so I was floating on my back, hoping to relax the gasping spasms. And my head hurt like crazy- like an instant ice cream headache without the fun. It was awful.
Then, through the fog, I heard a lot of yelling people telling me to swim to shore. What?! Shore was a distant goal, I wanted to breathe! But I started trying. The water became more shallow, and I began to feel the rocks beating my body as I entered the rapids. Every rock I grabbed onto was ripped from my hands. It seemed like a layer of fast moving water was right under my feet and there was nothing I could do to stop myself. So I started praying. I begged Heavenly Father to get me out of the mess I had gotten myself into. I promised if I was allowed to live that I would never jump off another bridge, and that I would stop being a social lemming. But more than anything my Mom’s face kept appearing before my eyes. And I knew I couldn’t hurt her by giving up and dying in that river.
No sooner than I finished my petition to the Heavens, but I was washed into a tiny little cove. It was little more than a group of rocks that stuck out into the river. But it allowed the water that gathered just before it to have zero current. I was finally able to touch solid ground and stand up on shaking limbs. I had experienced my own personal miracle! I looked back to see two guys from our group had jumped in after me. They were strong swimmers, but still couldn’t emerge from the water till several yards later. It was seeing the fear on their faces that showed me the danger I had been in. Not that the enormous bruises forming on my legs weren’t warning enough.
I learned several lessons that day. The one that I want to focus on was the importance of the rocks that formed that cove. They were fighting the current constantly. But they were firm and immovable, and they saved my life. The Lord placed them in just that position because He had a plan. And He does the same for each of us. We may feel like we are fighting too many battles. But in the wake of our efforts there are those who need the calm we bring to the current. And we may be saving spiritual lives. So I challenge myself, and anyone reading this, to become the rock in river of life that the current cannot wash away. Keep yourself spiritually attuned so you can feel the Lord’s influence. Read your scriptures, and say your prayers. And remember He always has a reason for every challenge we face. He may be guiding you to create the cove that saves lives. And you may help those foolish enough to jump in without a clue, to find firm footing to pull themselves from the foam. I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who hears and answers my prayers. And I am so grateful that He prepares in advance for the stupid things I may do so that I can stay here long enough to finish my mission on Earth.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.