It seems I'm always thinking and talking about trials. Well, I actually am. Maybe that's because It's life, and trials are a big part of it. Or because I read about trials in my scriptures, or because if I'm not necessarily going through a trial, someone I know and love is.
I was reading in Alma 36 of the Book Of Mormon this morning and was inspired by, and my testimony of this truth was confirmed, as I read this scripture,
"...for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day."
Why is it that we are surprised when trials come, or feel undeserving of hardships? Overall, it's because we're human. But maybe it's also that we know how hard we're trying to do everything right, or that we've gone through a lot of trials and have "hit our quota," so we feel we shouldn't get any more. Or maybe we interpret "...inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper..." as, keep the commandments, be a good person, try your hardest, and you will not experience hardships.
Whatever the reason, subconsciously or not, hardships and trials are part of our test here on earth and if we "put our trust in God, we shall be delivered out of our trials, and our troubles, and our afflictions, and be lifted up at the last day."
I've been pondering on my life and the trials I've had and have. Of course, cancer was a big one, but when I think about that time, I don't feel bad things. I feel gratitude, love, joy, humility, and many other good feelings. I was trying to pick out a few reasons as to why I was able to feel that way about that trial, as opposed to negative feelings. There are too many to list, but here are a couple.
First, it is because of you. I have never seen so much goodness, felt so much love, or witnessed such christlike attributes as you showed me. I was buoyed up by your prayers and service. Burdens were lightened and hope filled my heart. Jesus Christ is hope, His birth was a gift to all of us, and just as I feel hope through Him, I felt hope through all of you because you were acting as He would and were living Christlike lives.
And for the second reason, my scriptures.
Last October, Elder Vinas taught us that,
The pleasing word of God is the word which healeth the wounded soul.
How many of us have wounded souls? I'd say all of us. Whether that's because we're going through a terribly hard trial, or we're watching a loved one suffer, or we struggle with mental illness, or we've lost our temper and have been on edge all day, or we've spent the day surrounding ourselves with things of the world and haven't taken time to focus on what is really important...I'd say we are all wounded, in big or small ways, every day. And our souls need that healing that Elder Vinas is talking about.
I always smile when I see pictures of when I had cancer because you can see my scriptures somewhere in most every photo.
Cancer was no excuse not to read my scriptures. If anything, it was more reason to. They were (and are) my lifeboat, my comfort, and the way to knowing my Savior.
As you know, I received very aggressive chemo treatments that caused me to get really sick. There were a lot of bad moments through it all, and especially some long nights. When I was in the hospital, unable to sleep, the only thing that ever truly seemed to help was to pull out my scriptures and read...even if they just put me to sleep, that was a blessing in itself ;)
I remember one afternoon, feeling especially sick, in fact, I was so sick that I wasn't really coherent and I slept all day. My cute dad worked out by the Salt Lake airport and would come visit me, most every day, on his lunch break. On this particularly yucky day, I remember barely opening my eyes and seeing my dad, sitting in a chair at the end of my hospital bed, mask on, looking down, and reading my scriptures to me. I was instantly filled with peace then silently smiled and went back to sleep.
I am so grateful for him and that he bore his testimony to me that day of his knowledge of the power of the pleasing word of God.
I have mentioned that the hard part for me about cancer, has been the "recovery." I have needed to learn how to cope and deal with my new chemistry, my new emotions, some post stress issues, guilt of being alive and healthy when so many aren't, my new acne haha (but seriously, it's not funny,) my lessened gift for patience, and then, throw busy lives and being a mom on top of that. I know this is not much different for you either.
As I was struggling to find 'me' and feel happy, my sweet husband was always there. He was there to hold me as I cried myself to sleep, to tickle my back, to fold laundry and clean the house, to be nice to the kids, to be the bigger person and take my ridiculous ranting when he was never at fault, to pray for me, to love me, and to try to help me.
One night I asked for a blessing because I was really struggling to know what to do and I needed help.
Sometimes, do you find, that we feel that if we just read our scriptures more often, or say a little more sincere prayers, or serve more, or try harder, THEN the Lord will bless us and take away our trials? Well, of course, all of that is very good and very necessary and will definitely help, but what I have learned, and want to share in hopes of helping you too, is that sometimes, that doesn't cut it and we need to do more.
I will never forget that blessing my husband gave me. He knew exactly what was going on and saw my struggles. He also saw me reading my scriptures every day, serving, and praying. But he didn't bless me to have some miraculous healing because of my obedience. Instead, he blessed me "to be lead to find the professional help I needed and to find the Doctors who could help me feel better."
We are so lucky to live at a time when we have so many resources available to us. I don't know why this is, but I think some hesitate to get help, whether that's medication, counseling, whatever it is. Maybe we're too stubborn, maybe we're embarrassed, or like me, don't even realize we need professional help. But what I know is that Heavenly Father blesses and inspires great minds to be able to help us through this thing called life.
I was able to talk to my doctor and get the medication I needed to function and feel like myself again. Not everyone has these struggles, but I hope that by sharing my reality, those who are having a hard time, can have courage to seek help and to see that it's okay.
My parents recently moved to Arizona, so when they were in town a couple weekends ago, my Dad spent the morning making his famous german pancakes with my kids and being forced into many rounds of "hokey pokey." haha
As they waited for their pancakes, he told them the story of Jesus's birth. I have heard that story one thousand times, but that morning, as he spoke of Mary, something happened. I felt the spirit speak to me, I had an "Ah-Ha moment", and my testimony grew. I thought...
Here was this woman, a virgin, so righteous and good, that HEAVENLY FATHER chose her to carry, and be a mother to, the savior of the world. (no pressure ha) Even Mary, Jesus' earthly mother and the chosen one of God, had to give birth in a poopy manger and later watch her Son be crucified.
Joseph Smith, the man, who as a young boy, saw the Father and the Son and was chosen to restore the Gospel. Even He had to endure more than we ever will, and died as a martyr.
Then Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only perfect man, suffered and felt the weight, pain, and heartache of every trial that anyone would ever feel. Even this perfect man had to suffer incomprehensible suffering and then be crucified to save us all.
As I was overwhelmed with these feelings, a greater understanding came...Even these perfect people had trials. Trials that I could never understand or relate to. Who am I to feel that I don't deserve hardships? Who am I to think that it should be easy? Who am I to question? I am so grateful for the example they set. Even through the hardest of trials, they stayed strong and didn't lose their hope.
But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions.
This is a small part of my testimony, that Heavenly Father doesn't help us around our trials, He helps us through them. I know that if we look to Him, we can always have hope because he sent His Son. I'm grateful to celebrate Jesus' birth this weekend and reflect on what this holiday season truly means.