My life certainly did not play out anywhere near where I thought it would when I graduated college. We all have those hopes and dreams when we are young and starting out in the world as an adult. It’s exciting and there is much hope, as it should be but where our journey takes us in life is many times a big surprise. No one plans a shortened life span of a spouse or child. No one can foresee what path we will find ourselves on as we live our life in our chosen careers and pathways.
President Dieter F. Uchtodorf, one of three First Presidency leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints said in April 2010 General Conference: “‘Happily ever after’ is not something found only in fairy tales. You can have it! It is available for you! But you must follow your Heavenly Father’s map.”
I have followed “Heavenly Father’s map” and life still had its challenges. There is no guarantee for living life without scars or losses but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In Sunday School last Sunday, our teacher asked us a question to start out the class: “Was life what you expected it to be when you first started out?” My answer was a definite “NO”.
Her next question was interesting. “Are you a happier person because of what you experienced?” This one caught me off guard. My first knee jerk reaction was NO. I was not happier my husband passed away after only being married for 25 years leaving me with nine children’s grief. But then I started thinking about what I had learned 11 years later. I thought about this question for the rest of the week and how after this one second in time had changed my life forever and what I learned from it.
Driving to work gives me some time to ponder life’s difficult questions and I listen to The Book of Mormon as I ponder. This morning I heard from Mormon, himself as he witnessed the destruction of his people. (See Mormon chapters 1-6) It’s such a sad story and I thought to myself,
“I bet Mormon didn’t think his life would be what it was when he was fifteen years old and was visited by the Lord. Even with his strong testimony at a young age and at that same age was asked to be the leader of their armies. I bet he didn’t think his life would be so difficult.
What an incredible responsibility for someone so young. I felt his pain as he told of all his people gathered around the land of Cummorrah (modern day upper state New York) and watch them annihilated in battle as they would not heed to his wise words of repentance.”
I bet Mormon had no idea what his life path was to be as he grew to adulthood. Was he happy with his life experience? What did he learn from being not only an army leader but a spiritual leader to his people as well? He had a family who loved him and he wanted his people to be happy and live to an old age but it was not to be.
As the week progressed and I thought more and more about how this one experience of being a widow had improved my life, I realized that I had been brought down to earth and learned to pay attention to life passing me by. I learned to love more fully with those I had relationships.
I learned that I could be a better wife, mother, sister and aunt to my family and I learned to be a better friend. All these experiences gave me the understanding of what I needed to do to be a better person and that is worth a lot to me.
President Uchtdorf finishes that idea of “happily ever after” by saying this: “…I promise you that future generations will be grateful for you and praise your name for your courage and faithfulness during this crucial time of your life”.
I love to read about others’ paths in life and found a younger man who writes a blog called Things are Going to get Better. I loved what he says here about receiving reminders from God:
“I really appreciate loving reminders from Him that He’s there and He really cares. Maybe I’m high maintenance, I don’t know, but overall I’m learning I need patience. Once again I’m being taught to trust. The lesson of a lifetime that seems to constantly be going over my head”.
I’m that way too. I need reminders from God that He loves me. Just like when I used to ask my husband if he still loved me. I knew he did but I just needed a reminder.
I am thankful for all of my life experiences and where it has taken me. I just need a reminder that all is well and everything will work out just fine. This scripture is a good reminder: Doctrine and Covenants 90:24
“Search diligently, pray always and be believing and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.”
Life has its ups and downs but for the most part, it’s very good and I will try to remember this feeling when challenges come along, and you know they will.
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.