Equal Opportunity Trial Giver


I grew up in a home that was less than ideal, especially for an LDS family. Both of my parents dealt with addiction and my father lost his life to alcoholism when I was sixteen. I remember when I would go to church, I would look around at all the wonderful families we were associated with, and I would think, “How come my family can’t be like that?” Of course, as I’ve grown older I have come to realize that just because the exterior looks good, it doesn’t mean the interior doesn’t tell a whole other story. And just because you are trying to live a righteous life, it doesn’t exclude you from trials. Yes, it may prevent pitfalls and hardships caused by poor choices, but this mortal existence was never meant to be trial free, even among the purest around us.

As an adult, I probably have one of those families that I used to look at when I was younger and wish I could be a part of them. I’m married to the bishop, which while a blessing, is also a trial. I have three beautifully talented children (yep, completely biased there). I have a daughter at BYU and one serving a fulltime mission. We live in a good neighborhood and have wonderful friends. We are blessed. We try our best to live the gospel, including daily prayers and scripture study and monthly temple attendance. We are far from perfect, but we try our best. With all that said, being the bishop’s family and having a missionary out has not protected us from the trials of this world. While we have been blessed by these events, and by our efforts to live good lives, we have had our share of trials, too. Heavenly Father is, apparently, an equal opportunity trial giver. And it seems we still have a lot of growing to do.

Two weeks ago, my husband was laid off from his job, as the company is downsizing. It is one of those sucker punch moments. A moment where you think, really? I pay my tithing, we have a missionary, a child in college, two houses (not by choice), and a myriad of other responsibilities. Again, Heavenly Father is an equal opportunity trial giver. Does it mean He doesn’t love us or care about the uncertain situation we find ourselves in at the moment? No. On the contrary, I think He loves us very much. The last two weeks have been filled with many tender mercies.

I love the following passage from President Monson’s talk titled We Never Walk Alone:

Wherever we are in life, there are times when all of us have challenges and struggles. Although they are different for each, they are common to all. There will be times when you will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle. There may be times when you feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone. Fear replaces faith.

I’ve had moments that I have felt alone and moments of fear these past two weeks. I have found myself praying and fasting more often. Of course, I just want the trial to end as soon as possible and like my friend says, in human time, not God’s time; or at least before the severance runs out. I’m finding myself where I once again have to trust in my wise Father in Heaven. Trust that there is reason for all of this and that this is for the best. I wish I could say I was doing well at this, but I’m a worrier by nature, and impatient. Maybe this is one of the reasons Heavenly Father feels so inclined to bless me with trials.

I’m not sure I will ever be like Paul or Job, and glory in my trials. I’m not even sure I will ever be thankful in all things. I can say I’m not grateful for this at the moment. Perhaps I will get there. But I will do my best to lean not unto my own understanding, but His.

I will leave you with these parting words from David A Bednar. I hope you will find comfort in them as you deal with your own trials, whether they be great or small.

Faith in the Lord empowers us to hush our fears because Jesus Christ is the only source of enduring peace.

6 thoughts on “Equal Opportunity Trial Giver

  1. I’m sorry for your trials right now and will pray for you and your family at this time. This post is so perfect because I’ve been thinking of this exact idea lately…that living according to God’s will does not guarantee a trial-free life. God wouldn’t be very loving if that was the case. As I look back over my life, the hardest moments I would never willingly choose to relive are when I grew the most. I think of my poor trees and some of the storms they’ve weathered. I thought one would die when it got whacked in half, and for a while, it really struggled and looked pathetic in my yard. But now, it is lush and full. It isn’t quite as tall as my other tree that matched it, but it has thicker branches and I believe is the stronger tree now. Its roots have had to dig deep to overcome the trial of being broken. When my kids complain that they’re struggling through a trial, my first impulse is to say, “Oh, I wish you didn’t have to do this.” But now I stop myself…because truly, I don’t want to wish away their trials. Why would I want to stunt their growth? I’ll mourn with them in their trials, but I’ll never again wish them away because I know those are what will make them great.

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  2. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Jennifer. I hope your hubby finds new employment quickly. Thank you for this reminder that we all have trials and that no one is immune. It’s easy to feel alone in our trials, but we all have them. They say we’ll be thankful for them someday, because of the growth they caused within us. Sometimes I wonder where all that growth is hiding. But I know it’s there!

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  3. This is a great post. My hubby and I went through this a couple of years ago. I remember dropping eveything and going to the temple, just very shaken. When we returned, I was talking with a friend who was not a member of the church. I told her that we didn’t receive any specific guidance, just a feeling of peace. She wisely said, “What could be better than that? That’s the important thing. It doesn’t matter HOW He is going to help you, you just know that He is and that everything is going to be okay!” We ended up moving to Idaho, and that’s how I met Charissa. I will be praying that you feel that peace and receive some clarity soon.

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