Sunday, April 1, 2012
Instead I cried out, "Heavenly Father, I cannot do this. I am not strong enough. I cannot do this. I cannot handle this. Give me strength, please give me strength." I wondered as we drove, and the EMTs rushed around me, if God could hear me.
Then my sweet boy died. I held his precious body in my arms, until my physical strength was gone. As Jordan and I returned to an empty house, I felt as if all the strength I had ever possessed or attained had been ripped from me, in one violent merciless jolt. The next morning, I stood in my kitchen, starring out the window, and I felt my knees give way. I was nothing more than a pile of emotions on a crumb littered floor. My weakness felt infinite. I prayed again for strength, for understanding, and for God to let me know He was there.
Three days later Jordan and I lay motionless on our brown vinyl couches, exhausted by the continuous work of grief. The angelic rush of friends and family subsided, and we were left alone, listening to General Conference on the radio. Normally, I love conference. I love the opportunity to feed my spirit, and to listen to inspired messages. But, as I lay on the couch, and heard the messages, I felt nothing. That isn't true. I felt pain, pure pain, and hour after hour the words rushed over me.
Until in a moment, I came to myself, and heard a message that was meant for me. Elder Robert D. Hales gave a talk called "Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will be Done." This talk pricked and revived my waning soul. Elder Hales spoke of the Savior, and how he waited on the Lord as he prepared himself to make the ultimate sacrifice for each of us. He spoke of the pain, suffering, and humiliation, inflicted upon God's only begotten Son. He explained that even the Savior of all mankind cried out in his pain, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Elder Hales said he often wondered why good and honest people must each face heartbreaking trials and tribulation. My heart agreed and also wondered why.
I felt the spirit confirm the truth of the words that followed:
As we ask these questions, we realize that the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we “wait upon the Lord.” Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, “all these things shall [be for our] experience, and … [our] good.”
It became clear to me that although my heart was broken, and my strength seemed annihilated, one day my heartache would become a source of strength.
In the last six months I have had a lot of people say they are impressed by my strength. I usually take this to mean, "I am impressed you are not crying all the time." What they don't know is that I cry a lot, so much that I don't put on makeup until just before I leave the house, if at all. Despite all the crying, I do feel unusually strong. Inexplicably strong. As I have contemplated the manifestation of strength, and the source of my strength, I have only one explanation. I believe in God.
I have a deep and abiding faith in a God who loves me. I believe that I am in his constant care, that he sends angels to lift me up, and to care for me. I believe I am His precious daughter. I believe that His will for me is greater than my own. I believe that He sent His only begotten Son to die for me, that I might live again. I believe that he sends me messages and revelation to help me on my way. I believe that He lets me experience heartache and sorrow so that I can become more like Him.
I thought I believed all of these things before I lost Jonah, and now, after the excruciating pain of his loss, I know what I believe. In my moments of greatest weakness, and intense sorrow, that knowledge gives me incredible strength.