Our guest writer today is Marie from Idaho. She will be talking about what she has learned as she has dealt with chronic illness in her life.
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I was raised in a faithful LDS home with wonderful parents. My mom was always a good example to me in the way that she fulfilled her motherly duties without complaint. I have memories of her full of energy, tackling projects around the house. In my eyes, she never wasted a minute.
I wanted to be like that. Because of her example, I always looked forward to becoming a mother. In fact, I was determined to be the best wife and mother I could possibly be. I was excited for the opportunity to achieve those goals.
When my kids were very young, my health took a turn for the worse. This has been the greatest trial of my life. I was overcome with debilitating fatigue and pain, feeling extremely sick most of the time.
All of the sudden, everything that I was determined to do became impossible. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t take care of my family, I couldn’t develop my talents, and I was even in too much pain to focus enough to read the scriptures or write in my journal. I couldn’t accomplish any of the goals that I had envisioned myself achieving in this life. Months turned into years, and I felt like I would never be the person I wanted to be.
Then one day I had the realization that I felt closer to the Savior than I ever had before. Somehow my spirit was changing. I was filled with Charity, The Pure Love of Christ. I’d never felt more humble and filled with the Spirit. I gained a strong confidence that my spirit is stronger than the natural man. When I thought my trial was keeping me from becoming who I wanted to be, I was actually becoming who the Lord wanted me to be.
Have Thine own way, Lord!
Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter;
I am the clay.
Mould me and make me
After Thy will,
While I am waiting,
Yielded and still. 1
I can see now that life isn’t a “To-Do List” of things we need to get done to enter the kingdom of heaven. Life is a proving ground, a time to become more like the Savior and eventually be perfected.
We don’t become perfect by being the best cook, seamstress, housekeeper, and gardener. We don’t even become perfect by reading the scriptures every day, developing our talents, or by being amazing at a calling in the church. We become perfect through Christ.
It is our hearts that need to change.
Our desires need to change.
Christ can help us find that light that’s inside each of us.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive to do the things on our spiritual To-Do Lists. Oftentimes those righteous acts are what create the change in our hearts. When we serve others and keep the commandments, the Lord blesses us with increased faith and spiritual light. There are also times when those actions are a reflection of that change that is being made in our hearts.
Our trials are often God’s means of bringing us to Christ and transforming our spirits into something magnificent.
[In 2011], a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and church members. Many wondered, ‘Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”
“Then months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred eternal covenants.2
I discovered that during my experience in the refiner’s fire, when I felt like I was, “figuratively (being) burned to the ground,” my Heavenly Father was actually rebuilding me into a “magnificent temple where His Spirit can dwell eternally.” 2
I had been having a mental battle each day against the trial. I was impatiently waiting for God to take the trial away. It was getting in the way of my plans for my life!
A wise friend of mine advised me, “Sometimes strength and progress come first through acceptance of weakness and or vulnerability. When you reach that point of just submitting yourself to it and accepting it, then you’re willing to let go and trust. And when you start trusting, that’s when amazing things happen.”
It is hard to let go and trust! I realized I had to stop trying to wish the trial away. I had to submit to the trial. That doesn’t mean I gave up hope or didn’t keep trying to find things to improve my health. I gave myself permission to stop worrying about it, stressing about it, and feeling guilt about it—that wasn’t doing any good!
That’s when I found out what it really means to lay my problem at the feet of the Savior. I discovered that my responsibility was to take each day at a time and do the best with what I was given. If that meant that I didn’t get anything done each day besides trying to have the best attitude possible, then that was enough. Even on the days I couldn’t keep a positive attitude, it would still be enough.
We don’t know the purpose of all the trials we go through in this life, but God does. He is molding us in ways that we often cannot see or understand. We just need to “serve him with all our might, mind, and strength”. Even during times in our lives when we are only capable of giving our hearts to Him, “his Grace is sufficient for you…and…by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.” (Moroni 10:32)
So trusting my all to thy tender care,
And knowing thou lovest me,
I’ll do thy will with a heart sincere.
I’ll be what you want me to be. 3
1. “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal, no. 72.
2. Linda S. Reeves, “Claim the Blessings of Your Covenants”, LDS General Conference, October 2013.
3. “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” Hymns, no. 270.