Learning Trust In God Through Tragedy
It’s been two years since 21-year-old Annie Schmidt, the daughter of Jon Schmidt from the Piano Guys, went missing. It took several weeks for volunteer searchers to locate her body. She had fallen from a slippery cliff and died while hiking in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.
Her mother, Michelle Schmidt recently wrote a book called “Carried” about how her faith in God helped her through the unthinkable. Dave McCann sat down with her one-on-one to talk about what she learned.
Why did you decide to write this?
Originally my sister wanted to write about Annie. She kept trying to do it and she finally just came to me and said ‘this isn’t my story,’ and I said, ‘yeah you’re right.’ It took almost a year of me just putting it on the back burner, and then one morning I just started, being woken up at 4 or 5 in the morning, and just having a flood of thoughts of what to write and I would just get up early and I would write as fast as I could. It just came as a flood and I wrote it in about three months. It was really therapeutic.
How therapeutic can this book be for someone in a similar challenge or a challenge that is just hard for them?
That really is the purpose I wrote it. Not only for me to work through the experience, but I think we can learn by sharing with each other. When we keep things inside, and we just suffer silently, it doesn’t do anyone any good, and it doesn’t do us any good. So I would hope that there would be something that someone could pull out of there that would strike them. Something that would ring true to them and would enable them to have a moment of clarity and maybe feel some comfort.
You have to function, but you cry, you just cry at the drop of a hat. I don’t think you ever get over it. You grieve less severely. I think that is a better way of looking at it. Your depression, your sorrow decreases. But you don’t ever get over it. It’s an integral part of who you are.
Time gives perspective, what’s it like to be in it? When it’s just all you. You go to Oregon and it starts, and it’s like a thick blanket wrapped around you. What were those feelings like?
I think that shock is a gift. I feel like emotionally we go into shock. Where we become numb. I was in a fog. I was sorrowful and crying but at the same time I was just moving through the fog. You know we are absolutely helpless and are so dependent on the Savior and our Heavenly Father. That experience just reiterated to me that I’m just completely dependent on the Lord to help me through this.
During this experience what did you learn about people?
People are amazing. People are good. All kinds of people. Lots of wonderful people of all kinds, just because of their goodness, came to help us. People were receiving dreams and promptings and inspirations to be involved. Not people close to us. Not friends, and yet Heavenly Father uses all of his children and loves them. And gives them inspiration and guidance and these good, good people were willing to follow the inspiration that they were receiving to our benefit.
Jon and Sarah and I we just sunk to our knees and prayed in gratitude. Even now we will look at each other and say, ‘can you believe we found her!’ It’s amazing.
When we have to give them back earlier than we would like what does that teach us? What did that teach you having to give her back at such a young age?
Trust. If I didn’t feel like I would get to be with her again it would be so hard. But I trust that I will.
When people finish the last page of your book what do you want them to think?
I hope that they will know that Heavenly Father knows them and loves them. We all need to love each other better. We need to be more kind, more generous, and more patient.