There are moments in each of our lives that change everything.
Pivotal points that make us who we are. I can look back and pinpoint each monumental milestone in my life:
The day that I met a certain blond haired returned missionary on a blind date.
A cold February day when I happily promised to be his forever.
The birth of a beautiful red haired little girl–the day I became a mother.
A phone conversation with a friend that lived in Las Vegas.
I look back on these moments with fondness and appreciation. I know that each decision and twist of fate helped to create a life that I treasure.
But there are other moments. Moments of indescribable heartache:
A damaged relationship or loss of trust.
An ultrasound that confirmed that two little hearts had stopped beating.
A final rise of his chest, and then silence. And then slowly taking the blanket that I had used to cover him, and walking out of the hospital wrapped in it’s warmth.
It is interesting just how God uses trials and joy to mold us into the people that he wants us to be. And often, the hard times have changed my outlook so much more than the pleasant ones. I truly believe that we knew and agreed to the trials that we would face in this life. Although sometimes I wish I could jump back into pre-mortal life and shake myself, I know that my individual challenges were hand picked for me by the being who knows me better than I could ever know myself.
During painful times, I beg for relief. I focus all of my energy on “feeling better,” but looking back I don’t regret any of it. Each silent tear, and shaky breath, and shattered dream has shaped me into the person who I am today. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Hindsight is always twenty/twenty right? But that doesn’t mean that future trials aren’t just as difficult to accept as previous ones. Hard is hard, no matter what you believe. This life wasn’t meant to be comfortable, for it is in the moments of discomfort and stretching beyond what we thought was possible, that we grow the most.
What I have found however, is that if we let it, grief can be so much more than pain and suffering. It can be the ultimate teacher of what truly matters. Our hearts can grow. And pain, although still vivid and real, can be used to find a deeper appreciation, a new perspective, unshakable faith, and a strong desire to live an intentional life.
One of my favorite quotes, one that I review when I need a little pick-me-up on dark days is by Orson F. Whitney:
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”
The choice really is up to us, whether we allow the darkness of grief to keep us stuck in a dark place, and to take our hope, or whether we use our pain to become stronger and better versions of our past selves.
Trust God first. Understand later.
He knows what he is doing.