Sandra Turley | Aug 4, 2015
Over the last year, four out of the six members of our family have had a dream that we found our youngest daughter, Gwen, face down in water. All different scenarios. All different outcomes. I typically do not like to give weight to dreams, but after four similar dreams we all took pause and began to worry.
One month before our first family reunion at a lake house in Virginia, I awoke at 3:11am with a phrase circling around my foggy mind: “Voice of Warning. Voice of Warning.” It was a calm but sure voice. My voice. In my head. But not my thought. It came from elsewhere. With faint images of Gwen accompanying the words. When I awoke the following morning, I shared the nighttime reverie with my husband. We were not panicked by the message. Instead we felt peace in knowing that we were given a warning, not necessarily a divination of danger. With a warning, we could prepare. And we did. We prepared ourselves and our children to pray for safety, to be aware, and to navigate each other around possible hazards. If ye are prepared ye shall not fear. (D&C 38:30)
The night before the reunion, however, I forfeited the peace with which our preparation had blessed us and I surrendered my soul to fear. I contemplated canceling the whole trip - if we stayed at home we could avoid catastrophe. I confused my thoughts with the Spirit’s and found myself drowning in doubt.
The following morning as we packed, my husband, our captain and patriarch, laid his worthy, priesthood hands upon our heads and bestowed blessings upon each of our four children and me. Each blessing was specific and different. Words of caution, love, and admonition to care for each other. Gwen’s blessing included the supernal assurance that “guardian angels” would be close by, bringing her to safety.
The moment we walked into the lake house, we were greeted with family faces we had longed to see. We hugged brothers and sisters and grandparents. We took quick note of which nephews and nieces had grown the most over the past year. We gave soft snuggles to the newest babies in our bunch. Gwen was in my arms as we hugged each of the 33 family members. Everyone gave Gwen extra attention as she had changed so much since the last time we were together. Gwen greeted everyone’s love and kindness with fairly intense screaming and crying. It was a strange house with tons of people she did not know. That is a lot for a 2 1/2 year old to absorb. Her behavior was easily forgiven by all. But day after day, her crying and whining did not change. She clung to my side. She cried “Hold me! Hold me!” while I was already holding her. She whined, “Mommy, I need you!” whilst she was in my arms and I said, “I need you too.”
Five days of tantrums. Only moments of respite. I was frustrated with Gwen’s behavior. I was bothered that my husband could not help because Gwen screamed endlessly for me when he took her into his care. I was even embarrassed that our wonderful family had to listen to Gwen’s all too impressive volume for so many days.
On the sixth morning I awoke before the sun as a new phrase flooded my mind: “She has been with you for her safety.”
The peace of the words rushed through my veins, crashed into my mind and enraptured my heart. I blinked my eyes. Stunned by the understanding and the voice that delivered this unrequested answer. It was my voice. In my head. But not my thought. It came from the Spirit. It came to explain to me and to humble me. How did I let myself get so frustrated by Gwen’s behavior? Of course. She had been guided into my arms because there was no greater place to ensure her safety. By whatever means possible, she had been made safe.
Since our reunion, our prayers have stayed strong - prayers of gratitude for Gwen’s safety and of supplication for continued protection. There are a lot of summers ahead. There will be a lot of water in Gwen’s life. There are millions of reasons to worry for her safety. But drowning in fear will never save a soul from literal drowning. Likewise, drowning in fear will never save a soul from spiritual drowning. Teaching our souls to stave off fear and give place for peace is the only way we can prepare for the hardships ahead. If we are prepared, we shall not fear.