When Tragedy Strikes
Last weekend I had the most wonderful opportunity to attend a special conference for Widows and Widowers of my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints – LDS Church). We spent two days listening, visiting, laughing and crying. It was incredible.
This might seem like a strange or maybe wasteful conference to attend but in actually it was very healing. My husband passed away eleven year ago on New Year’s Eve and although I have accepted this huge surprise which completely changed my life, I still have moments where I miss him terribly.
With the help of the other widows who lost their husbands, we were able to listen to the special guests tell us wonderful messages. These messages were just for us in our own situation. No matter what your station is in life, special, uplifting messages can be healing whenever tragedy strikes. Here are a few of them with my comments in between.
“Look in the mirror and see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you. Tell yourself out loud that you are a special child of God.” Brad Perkinson (Local church worker and everyone’s Grandpa)
We need to learn to love ourselves as much as we love our family and friends. We need to visualize ourselves loved by God. Let go of the angst we have and forgive ourselves. We need to tell our brains that can do whatever we put our minds to do and then do it. As a man thinketh, so is he.
“Expect to find joy. Expect to find miracles and you will.” Kristen Lorton Maher.
If we always have a negative attitude about ourselves and our life then how can we have a positive future? How can we get along with others when we are negative and angry? We are miserable and cause everyone else to be miserable too.
CS Lewis: “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense.
What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wiring here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
Remember there is someone in charge “upstairs” and He shapes us as the potter shapes the pot. We can’t fight it, we can only hold on for the ride.
It’ll be OK
Orson F Whitney (LDS Church Leader) said:
“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 character, purifies our hearts, expands our souls and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.”
It’s difficult when we are in the thick of a tragedy to really understand what is good for our souls but as we look back on our difficult experiences, we can see the hand of the Lord guiding and helping us.
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening–or not happening–in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy.” Russell M. Nelson (LDS Church leader)
We don’t know why tragedy strikes when it does. We all face it at some time or another. Like lightening out of the sky, it’s sometimes quick and painful and the memory of it lasts forever but we are eternally changed because of it. We can search to find joy again or just wallow in self pity. Life is too short for the latter so find joy in the journey even in the midst of tragedy.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.