The story began in March of 2004. Some of you remember me referring to it in this post, so I won't rewrite the details. (There were other details to the story that I didn't include and won't include for Phil's sake.) Suffice it to say that the experience was hell. There is no other way to describe it: pure and utter hell. It sent me into a deep depression that I couldn't get myself out of. Thankfully, I finally recognized what was happening and was able to get medical help. Phil got better and I got stronger.
The following summer (2005) was Girls' Camp, and I was a newly called advisor to the 14- and 15-year-old girls (the Mia Maids). I wasn't able to go up the whole week, but I went up for the last two nights, one of which included a testimony meeting. I'd had over a year to think about my experience and wrap my brain around what had happened and how I felt about it. When it came time to share my feelings, this is what came out of my mouth (essentially):
Sometimes life can be, well, shitty. There's no other word for it. But this is what I have learned to be true: the mists of darkness that Lehi talks about in his vision are real. I've felt them; I've experienced them in a very real way. I testify to you that the only way to get through these mists of darkness that life brings--the only way--is to hold fast to that iron rod. Hold on to it for dear life, literally, because you won't survive otherwise. I've been through hell this past year or so, and the only way I survived was to hold on tight to my faith in the Savior and in His restored gospel. Even when those mists separated me from my ability to feel the Holy Ghost, I knew that I would make it because I was clinging desperately to my faith that Heavenly Father is in charge, that He loves me, and that everything would work out the way it was supposed to.
I got a lot of flak about my choice of descriptive adjectives that night, but I stand by what I said. It's all true. Life is shitty sometimes. We feel overwhelmed. Why is this happening to me (or to him or to her)? I'm not a bad person, so why is this bad thing happening to me? I think these are natural questions to ask when we are facing hard times. But God never promised that the righteous would never be tried and tested. He did promise to stand by those who keep their faith and endure to the end.
I'm not a bad person, I don't think, but bad things have happened to me. Things I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. However, I know that God lives and that He loves me. Me. Imperfect me, with all my faults and foibles. I also know that that Jesus Christ lives, that He died and was resurrected, for me. Me. He wants me to be able to live with our Father in Heaven again. What an incredible gift! I know that the Holy Ghost is real because I have felt his influence in my life. Maybe I don't always feel it, but I know it's real. And because I have felt it, I know everything will be okay in the end. Maybe not now, maybe not next year, but it will be all right eventually. And whatever happens, I know that God will help me through it. It is this knowledge that got me through the events of the last year.
I listened to my beautiful little girl squealing happily yesterday morning and smiled when my husband said she sounded like a happy bird, because birds (and darling babies) make me think of Stephanie. But as sick as I am about what has happened to Stephanie and Christian, and as heartbroken as I am imagining what their sweet children are feeling and thinking right now, I know that whatever happens is part of God's plan. He will make it right, somehow, someday. Stephanie's birds will fly again.