…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep…

A Followup to Strong and Faithful Amid the Storms

By Eric Chaffey


I’ve given a lot of thought to storms the last couple of weeks. Since I wrote my post about lighthouses and their strength amid the storms and relentless pounding, I’ve had some time to reflect on some of the storms in my own life. Some of them are things that I have no control over. Others are things that I am working on.

One of those storms that I am going to be talking to a counselor about is anxiety, and my response to stressful situations. I’ve been having a lot of panic attacks lately. Some of it I believe is related to past traumatic experiences. About seven years ago, I was briefly engaged to a woman. For a number of reasons it didn’t work out and I called off the engagement.

Recently I had been attempting to function in my calling as a men’s single adult representative in my ward. Being a shy and quiet sort of person by nature, it was definitely something out of my comfort zone. But I did the best I could with what I was given and what I knew. With a few exceptions, parties and large social gatherings are never something that I’ve been very comfortable at by and large. The thought of “cold calling” and “pushing” these parties and events to a whole lot of people I didn’t know provoked a couple of panic attacks. I came up with the idea that mailing out postcards would be a way to get passed that and still get the word out. Evidently it was successful, because more people showed up than were expected and most of them were from our ward.

The ward female representative had a number of personality traits that were a little too reminiscent of my ex-fiance. I had another very strong panic attack and became afraid of answering the phone and for a few days, I was functioning very badly. In desperation, I called the bishop and asked to be released. The repercussions of that still seem to be lingering. More than a couple of people have pointed out in the last few months that I seem to be a lot more anxious and that I’ve started stammering a lot. I’ve got an appointment with a counselor soon.

Another storm that seems to be a lingering problem for me is that I am a people pleaser. I really have a hard time saying no to people without feeling guilty. When it comes to some things, I have no problems saying no. If someone asks me to do something that’s going to violate my principals or standards, I can say no with determination and not give it a second thought. However it is somewhat a more difficult proposition when it’s something that someone I care about wants me to do that I really don’t have time or financial means for.

I gave into such a thing this week. The end result was a spiritual experience, but the lead up to the spiritual experience was anything but. I went to a reunion at a summer camp that I attended when I was young. Several people really wanted me to come and I too really wanted to be there.  I really wanted to reconnect and share meaningful conversations and activities. It turned out there was a large amount of alcohol being consumed. As the alcohol flowed, the conversations drifted into what felt like a very dark place. At first I was okay laughing along, but it soon became terribly uncomfortable.

Here comes the spiritual experience. I took a walk around the camp. Gazing up through the tall pine trees at an unbelievably starry sky and praying as I walked, the answer came quietly as the stanza of a favorite poem by Robert Frost:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Even though it was after at midnight, I left. Indeed I do have promises to keep that I made to Heavenly Father. I made covenants with him that I would be true and faithful to his commandments. As soon as I got home, I followed through on the great yearning to go to the temple. It was one of those occasions where as I went through the temple I felt the temple go through me. I felt at peace, and knew without a doubt I was where I needed to be.

As I was reflecting on my experiences in the temple another favorite Robert Frost poem called The Road Not Taken. I would like to share this in closing as I did indeed take the road less traveled by, and it has made all the difference. The road that leads to toward God and Heaven is the one less traveled.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.- Robert Frost

2 people like this post.

2 Responses to “The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep…”

  1. Ross said:

    The road less traveled is somewhat appropriate to my current situation. Thank you Eric.

  2. Eric Chaffey said:

    Thanks Ross, I appreciate your message.

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