The last few weeks have been challenging to say the least. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the direction my life is going and fighting the promptings of the spirit. Am I the only one who does this? I pray and beg and plead for answers, and then get so frustrated when the answer is not what I wanted.
After all the agonizing I have endured while trying to wait patiently for my perfect pre-planned answer that I probably presented to God much like a shopping list with specific brands and flavors, I couldn’t understand why my prayers were not being delivered with a bow on the front porch.
Silly me for thinking my plan would ever be more successful than His plan!
I have come to realize this so many times and yet still have to be kicked into shape every other day.
I am quick to panic and slow to trust. I am weak and incompetent. I jump to conclusions and expect the worst-case scenario in most everything I do. I struggle to open up to people and then get frustrated when I feel alone.
I am all of those things and more. I am not trying to beat myself up or be hard on myself. These are weaknesses that plague most of us during mortality.
And yet we fail to recognize so often that all we really need is one thing: FAITH.
Faith in the Lord. Faith in the unknown. Faith in His timing. Faith that we do not have to be perfect now, as long as we are trying every day to improve. Faith that everything will work out. One simple word can change everything.
But what about when things happen that are out of our control? How can we keep having faith when we are faced with the loss of a job, the effects of aging, disease, depression, or death?
As I have battled my own inner demons of doubt and depression for the last 5+ years, I often catch myself losing faith. Life is challenging. It doesn’t always make sense, and it doesn’t always seem fair.
Although we have complete freedom to choose what we will do in this life, it is essential to remember that there is a plan designed specifically just for us. A loving Heavenly Father is aware of you and wants you to be happy and achieve all that he has prepared for your good. Seriously, everything has already been planned out for our benefit. Yet we constantly worry that we are not succeeding at the plans we make.
If we consider the offer of peace, comfort, love, acceptance, and happiness that the Savior is extending with open arms, does it make any sense that we would turn from Him? He is literally handing us everything we could ever want. Everything we have ever dreamed of having. All we have to do is turn towards Him and accept it. Realizing this, we should turn and RUN.
What a comfort this has been to me over the last couple years as I watched someone I love fight for her life in a battle against cancer. I have felt helpless. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t good timing. It couldn’t have happened to a better family. And yet it did happen.
Cancer is not selective and doesn’t choose based on age, gender, race, religion, or anything else. It does not direct its attack on the rich who can afford expensive treatments, or the poor who cannot even afford insurance. It doesn’t latch on to the sinners or the bad people only. It can show up in the lives of ANYONE.
At first, the shock of the news would not dissipate. It hovered like a constant cloud over my head. How could this be happening? Why her? The string of questions was playing through my head on overdrive like a bad Justin Bieber song stuck on repeat.
I prayed harder than I probably ever had, begging for a miracle. Pleading for the cancer to magically disappear. I knew without a doubt that this was something that the Lord could provide if only we have enough of that one little word: FAITH.
In the quiet moments during that first month of confusion and anger that someone so good and precious might be taken away, I made a crucial decision. There were only two choices. God or Satan. Faith or doubt. Trust or Fear. I threw myself into God’s ring and did everything I could think of. Sure, I cannot fight cancer directly. But I can fight for a miracle.
Fast forward two and a half years. There have been so many blessings and direct, personal witnesses in my life exclaiming the power of God and His love. My sweet friend has not been alone in this battle. He has carried her, walked with her, and cheered her on every step of the way. I saw it happen.
Last week, the decision was made to bring her home for a final time. This thing called cancer was shutting down her fragile body, and it was trying to claim the last win. On Sunday, she was wrapped into the arms of her loving Heavenly Father and her spirit was lifted from that frail shell that had carried it through so much physical pain and suffering.
My heart feels like it has been crushed like glass. The shards of shattered pieces keep aiming at my lungs, threatening to steal the precious breath that we are all given as a gift in this life. I had spent so much time praying and hoping for a miracle. Where was the miracle? How can she be gone? Why would God allow someone so completely good to be taken away from us? WHY?
As I have prayed for understanding with tears streaming down my face, I have come to realize something.
THE MIRACLE CAME.
Sure, it didn’t come in the form I had requested. The cancer didn’t go away. A cure has not been discovered. Her family has been separated from their wife, mother, daughter, and sister for now.
So….where is the miracle, you ask?
Because of her fight, many things have happened for all of us…
- A whole community was brought together
- Faith has been increased
- Love has been poured down from Heaven
In my personal life though, many more miracles have shown up…
- I learned the importance of being in the temple of the Lord regularly
- I began to understand how to pray with faith, KNOWING that God could deliver
- I gained a testimony of fasting
- I discovered the true joy that comes from service and love
- I witnessed the strength that comes from God during our trials if we will trust Him
- I gained a forever friend, sister, and second mom
- I understand the power of a loving family, and the importance of supporting one another
- I received the blessing of knowing a literal angel of God
- I know my most important goal in life: becoming a wife and mother to create heaven on earth WITH them, so that when the time comes, we will be together for eternity
Although my miracle came in a different shape than expected, I want to testify that it DID come. Although she is separated from us for now, it is not permanent. I know without a doubt that I will see her again. I have gained a special example of how I would like to live my life and who I want to become during this mortal experience. In this trial, I have gained more love, more faith, and more hope than I ever would have found just navigating through the daily decisions of life. Because of her, I have found the true miracle.
He also came in a different way than expected. The king of the heavens and the earth arrived in the most humble of circumstances. He was born in a stable because nobody was willing to sacrifice his or her own comforts. He was taunted, beaten, and attacked. In his final moments, despite the pain and suffering required of him in the fragile shell of mortality as he hung from a cross, he used his last bit of strength to ask for blessings to come to those who hurt him, as well as make sure his family was cared for. In his last breath, he was still thinking of others. He defeated the bonds of death and rose again. Through him, all pains will be healed, all struggles will disappear, and all will be made right. His plan is sufficient. His love is strong enough to lift us and help us endure all that is required.
I hope that this Christmas season, I can more fully rededicate myself to my Savior. I pray that through my actions, I will be worthy of the blessings of eternity with my family because of the sacrifice that was made. Because of him, death is not goodbye. It is merely a “see you soon.” I can’t wait until we will be reunited with the ones we love.
It will be GLORIOUS!
Hope on. Journey on.
XOXO – Heath