“Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7)
Like Nephi, I was born of goodly parents to a devout Latter-Day Saint family. Faith came quickly for me, and, from an early age, I wanted to please my Father in Heaven. In my young mind, I knew if I was obedient to what I was taught, my future would be consistent with the ideals of conventional Mormonism. I attended a Church school, married a returned missionary in the temple, and had three children. Life was on track! Then one day, just like that, it wasn’t. Seven years into marriage, my husband, Dave, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The next two years were spent immersed in prayer, fasting and temple attendance. Dave was positive and our little family lived the proverb, “Go forward with faith!” We did our best to live that. One Sunday, after a ward member gave my husband another blessing, he leaned over and kissed Dave on the head. Seeing that act of empathy, I understood, perhaps for the first time, just how sick Dave was. This acknowledgment prompted me to kneel before my Father, “Father, please heal him or take him, but I submit my will to yours.” I could not see Dave suffer anymore. My Father allowed me, His daughter, to submit my will to His. Five days later, Dave passed away. He was finally free of pain. Now, widowed, it was my job to help my small children understand how to cope with the pain. Even through the pain, I trusted His plan.
In time, I was introduced to a man who was a widower. He came with a high reputation, and many of my loved ones and leaders encouraged me to remarry. I, too, felt it was the right step to take with my young family. A few months into the marriage, I learned I was dealing with addiction—one he had been cultivating secretly for many years. Again, in an effort to seek heavenly intervention, I fasted and prayed unceasingly. I had already lost a husband to physical death, and I was fearful spiritual death could take the second. Determined not to allow this to happen, I worked alongside him, but, after some time, we both realized his addiction had become dangerous to others. This revelation provoked a second devastating loss to my family. At this point, I started questioning myself. Death and now divorce? I never dreamed my life would be like this. I started to wonder if I really could trust myself, or my answers to prayer. For an obedient woman raising little children, how could life be like this? However, I had enough faith to cling to the Gospel—especially the temple. Though my heart was breaking, and my mind confused, I hugged the path of faith.
Again, I walked the path of being a single parent. My children begged for a father, and I still had enough belief in the purpose of marriage to try again; so I did. Though intimately familiar with the ups and downs of life, and married to a good man, I was now facing the complexities of a blended family. One particular day, I felt very heavy. I found myself at the temple and engaged in intense prayer. “Father,” I said in an irrational plea, “let me start over; I have been through so much; my children have been through so much; somewhere I have gone wrong. I have tried to do what is right, yet my life has been met with challenge after challenge, I know if I can just start over…” Knowing very well this was impossible, and yet hurting so much, I heard the words, “Life is not about a perfect record, it is about learning.” They came with clarity and peace. And my aching heart started to understand a concept I had not yet realized. Learning? Yes, I was learning. My children were learning. It was not the kind of learning I had hoped for, but it was the kind of learning that taught me to trust in the Savior. In looking to Him, and trusting Him with my whole heart, He would teach me what He would have me know.
Since that day, I have found so many beautiful assurances of what Heavenly Father was gently teaching me. In psalms 46:10 is says: “Be still and know that I am God.” I began walking down my learning road with a different purpose. I tried not to let doubt overshadow what I was learning. I sincerely wanted to learn, and trust God no matter what. Despite fear and uncertainty, I helped my children comprehend the good and amazing things we were learning on this road. I love George Cannon’s understanding of mortality, when he observed, “The saints should always remember that God sees not as man sees; and that he does not willingly afflict his children, and that if he requires them to endure present privation or trial, it’s that they may escape greater tribulations that would otherwise inevitably overtake them. If he deprives them from any present blessing, it is that he can bestow greater and more glorious ones by and by.” I have come to know that God has an intimate understanding of the human soul, and that we are on this earth to learn to become like our Savior. We can trust God with our life, even when it does not go as planned. When we walk with Him through joy and pain, and perhaps more so during the pain, we truly have the privilege of knowing Him. Ether 12:6 reads, “And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”
In this veil of tears, we will experience many things happy, sad, horrible, heart-wrenching, and blissful, but that is the paradox allied with learning. If we can trust enough to learn in every circumstance we are given, we will be blessed and life will be okay. Elder Joseph B Wirthlin says it best, “While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”
“Life is not about a perfect record, it is about learning.” That learning will refine us, and make us better. We have a Heavenly Father and Savior who love us, and will never abandon us. We simply must agree to learn, to trust, and never give up. God will do the rest.
Wendy Taylor Townsend
Is a wife and mother of 6 children living in Idaho falls. She has a deep love for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wendy’s passion is to offer hope and reassurance during scary and troubled times in life. She recently authored a children’s book on loss titled, ” It will be okay.” Her reason in writing is to help others see there is purpose in the pain we experience and those very experiences allows us to walk hand in hand with the Savior.
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