Life isn’t easy. As the saying goes, “Nobody gets out alive.” Along the way, there are bumps in the road that can throw you off so badly that it takes a very long time to get back on course — but we can find comfort through the Savior in challenging times.
I am blessed with wonderful friends… But it is so hard to watch them go through trials! My friend Doug “graduated” from this life a few years ago, and the lessons he taught me are still burning strong. He loved his family, law enforcement, and people. When we first moved into the ward, our son was 18 months old. Doug befriended my son and to this day, my son is sure that Doug was HIS friend, and only his. He loved to crack jokes and got bloodthirsty playing board games. He was the first one up for an adventure. Doug also had to fight cancer — twice! But true to his determined nature, he didn’t let cancer kill him.
I’m really proud of Doug and the man he was. He set such a great example for me. But it was so hard to watch him go through cancer. It was even harder to say goodbye. But knowing we will see him again has brought comfort and made it a lot easier to laugh at his antics… Because the more people get together and talk about Doug, the more crazy stories come out!
I have another friend that I prayed for and worried over for years. She also had cancer, but has become a living miracle. She was diagnosed with stage IV uterine cancer at age 24, just after the birth of her second child. We were all shocked! It was an aggressive form, and I remember the fasts we held for Lacey and her family. She was freshly divorced and it seemed the trials just kept coming. I have never prayed so hard for anyone outside my family before. I just knew her girls needed a mom, and there was no way I wanted to see her leave this life when they were so small.
Lacey is a fighter. She beat the cancer and has been living a healthy life for several years now, cancer-free. I witnessed the miracle and I will never doubt the power of faith again. Her girls are getting older and she has even found a wonderful man. They recently got married, and I know that her faith and her reliance on the Savior will play a major role in blessing her family for generations.
There are numerous examples of stories like my friends’ all around the world. This life isn’t supposed to be all beachside vacations and gentle breezes. But when the gale-force winds seem to pull everything comfortable away from us, we have a secret weapon.
Our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered all these things that he would know how to support us in our trials and challenges. That means He knows what it feels like to have that killer migraine. He knows the heartache of divorce. He knows the ache of separation that comes when a loved one moves on to the next life. He knows it all — and He is in a unique position to help you.
I have a dear uncle who had a near-death experience years ago. He told me that afterward, it took years for white to look anything other than totally dingy because the other side was so brilliant and bright. That image stayed in my mind, and I really wondered what heaven must look like if white could look dirty.
The Lord often teaches me in dreams. Soon after this conversation, I had a dream where I was in the temple. LDS temples usually have multiple floors, and the higher floors are reserved for the more sacred rooms. The celestial room is usually on an upper floor. In my dream, I needed to get to the upper floors for sealings, so I headed for the elevator. When I got on, there was an elevator operator standing there wearing all white. There aren’t usually elevator operators in LDS temples.
Up we went, but when the doors opened, it was not a level of the temple that I saw. Instead, there was a green, grassy field with flowers and trees. The sun was bright, but the field was so beautiful I just stared. Every blade of grass, every flower, seemed to be illuminated from within. The colors were vibrant beyond anything I had ever seen. It was like everything was made of blown glass. The whole place seemed to belong in Oz or as though it came from a Chihuly blown glass exhibit. I was so entranced! I tried to walk off the elevator, but the operator stopped me. “Oops, wrong floor,” he said, and shut the doors.
I can’t help but feel like this dream was more of a vision of heaven. When I am missing a friend or loved one who has passed on, this vision gives me great comfort. I look forward to being in that beautiful place with so many loved ones. And in the meantime, I find comfort through my Savior — comfort that my loved ones are being taken care of and that they are in a wonderful place waiting to share it with me.
I really admire President Russell M. Nelson. He was a heart surgeon before he was set apart to work in the Church. He said:
“I recognize that, on occasion, some of our most fervent prayers may seem to go unanswered. We wonder, ‘Why?’ I know that feeling! I know the fears and tears of such moments. But I also know that our prayers are never ignored. Our faith is never unappreciated. I know that an all-wise Heavenly Father’s perspective is much broader than is ours. While we know of our mortal problems and pain, He knows of our immortal progress and potential. If we pray to know His will and submit ourselves to it with patience and courage, heavenly healing can take place in His own way and time.”
“Jesus suffered deeply because He loves us deeply! He wants us to repent and be converted so that He can fully heal us.
“When sore trials come upon us, it’s time to deepen our faith in God, to work hard, and to serve others. Then He will heal our broken hearts. He will bestow upon us personal peace and comfort. Those great gifts will not be destroyed, even by death” (Russell M. Nelson, “Jesus Christ—the Master Healer,” October 2005).
I take great comfort from the counsel President Nelson gives us. When I was in college, far from home, I got terribly depressed. Everyone I loved was far away, and I was on my own for the first time. Then I was given this counsel — to serve others to overcome the depression. Now this was not clinical depression. Sometimes we need medication and medical help, but mine was far from severe.
So I went to a local nursing home and volunteered. I made friends with a woman who was even more lonely for her loved ones than I was. Hers had all passed on to the next life. Her optimism and strength became my strength. I grew to love her deeply. Together, we found comfort through our friendship.
This life is not supposed to be easy. We don’t need support and strength when life is good like we do when it is hard. That’s just how life is. There are opposites, good and bad, without which life wouldn’t have meaning. I think the Lord wants us to be humble enough to accept the changes we need to make in ourselves to become more like Him. He sends us those molding experiences so that one day we will be far better than we are today.
I’m grateful for this knowledge. I’m grateful for the comfort I find through my Savior. And I’m grateful for the people the Lord sends into my life to teach and strengthen me.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.