"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
May 15, 2013
Seeing Doors
by Marian Stoddard

One of the big adjustments in our move to a smaller house was going from an eleven by fourteen-foot bedroom to a nine by eleven one. There are two bedrooms, and the other one is a whole two inches longer. That one is in the back, off the kitchen, and has the only phone jack in the place, so it had to be the office room with the computer setup.

We have moved in stages, with the generous volunteer help of friends in the ward. The first Saturday, most of the furniture went, but not our bedroom. We were still sleeping in the old house and arranging the new one. The second Saturday, the bed went. The next day, ready to leave church, my husband said he had to finish something and he would be at the house in a little bit. Since we were going back and forth between both houses, fetching and checking on things, I asked him which house.

He said to the new house — home. Once the bed is there, he said, that’s home.

Mulling that a moment, I had to agree. It was a valid point. Once you’re sleeping there, getting up and having breakfast there, that is indeed the house you are actually living in. I just hadn’t completely made the psychological transition yet that it was now “home.”

One of the things we wrestled with, though, was the size of those bedrooms. We have a maple bedroom set that was my grandmother’s, and both dressers would not fit along with our bed. One is in the room, and one is going to be in the living room while we hide the mirror somewhere else. I initially thought we might have to sell the second piece, and I didn’t want to do that.

That room just seemed so small. Looking at it empty, I wasn’t sure our queen size bed would fit into it with enough room to walk around it. I measured, and calculated, and realized that there would still be two feet on either side, enough for us to navigate, but figures on a page did not totally make me a believer — I would have to see it for myself. It just didn’t look big enough.

I put sticky notes on the walls to show where big items went, and was stationed at the old house to direct outgoing loading. When I did get to the new place and looked in the bedroom, they had moved the dresser to the right place, and the bed was now set up, but it was noticeably closer to the wall on my side. Not a lot, but I was feeling every bit of lost space and I determined that this needed to be fixed, so I pushed it forward a little.

And I found that the door wouldn’t close: it now hit the corner of the bed. So I moved it back and tested it; I even moved it another inch closer to my wall, taking away a little more of “my” space because the door was brushing that corner, and I didn’t want the quilt to be abraded daily and damaged.

Did I want the space to be fairly divided? Yes. Did I wish the room was bigger? Yes. In fact for the first week I just wanted to push that wall out a simple two feet, that’s all I asked, for the two bedrooms that ran end to end to each other. That would make it so much easier to fit our belongings. But was the room going to change size? No.

Did I want the door to my room to be able to close? Absolutely. That was much more critical than anything else I was looking at. The house being already built, and not being mine to rebuild even if I had talent or means, the dimensions were not about to change. I could figure out what to do about them or I could make myself miserable.

During the first week, when we were half here and half there, before the beds moved and made it undeniable, I was telling a friend about all the challenges of organizing this new space, mostly about the kitchen. I was simply feeling a little overwhelmed with all the changes I was facing. She said, “Am I hearing that this perfect place the Lord found for you isn’t quite so perfect after all?”

Part of my mind wanted to wail, just for a moment, that indeed it wasn’t, but her question, asked without reproach, was answered by the wiser part of me. “No, it’s not that, it’s just that it’s an adjustment. There are some challenges, but I know this is where we’re supposed to be, so all those challenges must have solutions, and we’ll find them.”

A little trial and error, a little invention, and a little time have helped as we settle in. There are a few things that I’ve identified that I really need, though some of them will have to wait. There are a few things, such as uneven floors and shallow cupboards that go up beyond reach, that I can’t change, and have to work around. The living room is a nice size, and there’s a dining room. There’s more outside traffic noise, but lots of light. Perspective is all — let it be an adventure!

It’s a good object lesson, when what you’re given isn’t what you ordered, or it isn’t enough or it isn’t fair: does the door need to be able to close? Might you need to “give up” some of what you assumed you needed because of a more critical need which you have yet to understand? We don’t see everything that our Father can see.

So the question that really matters is, are you where He wants you to be? If so, then He’ll help you figure out the rest.

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About Marian Stoddard

Marian J. Stoddard was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in its Maryland suburbs. Her father grew up in Carson City, Nevada, and her mother in Salt Lake City, so she was always partly a Westerner at heart, and she ended up raising her family in Washington State. Her family took road trips all over the United States and Canada, so there were lots of adventures.

The adventures of music, literature, and art were also valued and pursued. Playing tourist always included the local museums as well as historical sites and places of natural beauty. Discussions at home, around the dinner table or working in the kitchen, could cover politics, philosophy, or poetry, with the perspective of the gospel underlying all. Words and ideas, and testimony and service, were the family currency.

Marian graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, and attended the University of Utah as the recipient of the Ralph Hardy Memorial Scholarship, where she was graduated with honors, receiving a B.A. in English. She also met the love of her life, a law student, three weeks after her arrival; she jokes that she had to marry him because her mother always wanted a tenor in the family. (She sings second soprano.) They were married two years later and have six children and six grandchildren (so far). She treasures her family, her friends, and her opportunities to serve.

Visit Marian at her blog, greaterthansparrows.† You can contact her at bloggermarian@gmail.com.†

Marian and her husband live in Tacoma, Washington. Together they teach those who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time, and she also teaches a Stake Relief Society Institute class.

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