I have often desired to be like a very cheerful, upbeat friend that I had in high school. Trish could be counted on to emphatically say, “Praise the Lord!” to almost anything that happened. Any room would brighten when she walked in. Life was better when she was around. She always had a smile, and I think everyone just felt better when they could hang around with her.
Unfortunately, I am still not that person. I’d like to think that my friends, colleagues, and students have been left better off for my presence in their life. I hope that, even when life knocks me to my knees, I am able to recover quickly and help prove to others that the strength found in living the gospel makes life much better than trying to take it on my own. I just don’t know that I have reached the station where I can automatically praise my Father in Heaven for EVERYTHING. I still have to grit my teeth through the hard times.
Instead, my life experiences have created a deep, fierce, and abiding loyalty to my Heavenly Father and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know my Redeemer lives, because He has met me in my darkest hours and comforted me. I know that living the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ has saved me from untold heartaches. I know that I can make a difference for the better in this world by walking in the strength of the Lord.
Some of the experiences that have profoundly shaped my life are:
- The LDS friends I had in high school. Thank you, Leslie, for being yourself and sharing with me things that were most precious to you. Thank you, Bethany, for not listening to everyone I had said “no” to in the past and giving me that Book of Mormon. It has made all of the difference. I don’t know where I would be if you hadn’t listened when the Holy Spirit spoke and brought the light of the gospel to me.
- Getting married instead of going on a mission. It is only within recent months that I have really accepted that it’s o.k. Somehow, Heavenly Father knew the choices I would make and already had a plan. While I may still wonder how much I convinced myself that I was following Heavenly Father, I am finally at peace. The marriage was a 6 1/2 year disaster followed by almost 15 years of war, but my greatest strengths and best qualities were forged in that furnace. Precious children were born to me. The outcome may still be uncertain, but I know that we are remembered in Heaven and all things will eventually work to our good.
- Having a stillborn child, Martha. She was a spiritual turning point in my life, and one of the reasons that I became more sensitive to the unseen things in life. She left a sweet impression on my soul, and I look forward to being reunited with her one day in heaven.
- Divorce. There are so many different sides to the story, and memory is a fickle thing. However, there is ample evidence that I suffered unnecessarily at the hands of my ex-husband, and I know that my children suffered as I tried to recover mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It was a long, difficult road, and it’s not over yet. Many times I felt angry with God for not sparing my children and not sparing me. He patiently led me out of the anger and taught me that His plan is bigger and better than anything I can imagine.
The longer I live, the more I am convinced that no one on this planet “has it easy.” Sure, if we compare difficulties, we know that there are people who climb mountains without complaint while others sit in the dirt and cry over a molehill. Life is uniquely tailored to test us, stretch us, and make more out of us than we can imagine — that is the glory of a loving Heavenly Father.
So, to finally answer the question, “Who am I?” I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who knows me better than I know myself. I am a disciple of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I live in awe of the sacrifice He made, and He blesses me with more than I would ask for myself. I have my scratches and dents. I fall down, I make mistakes. I hurt people when I don’t intend to cause any pain. I work hard, I have a few regrets. I am someone of whom much has been required, but I am also someone who has received abundantly the blessings promised. I guess, in the end, I’m just pretty normal.