One of the greatest examples of someone who found joy in her trials was that of my mother-in-law, Barbara Joyce Zimmerman.

 

Barbara was married at the age of 19 and raised 12 amazing children. She and her husband were converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, joining the Church after moving from Anaheim, California to Grants Pass, Oregon. Barbara’s married life was far from easy or perfect as she experienced many ups and downs in her marriage due to financial stress and her husband’s early onset of dementia, resulting in his death at the age of 70. During this time, Barbara worked many jobs to make ends meet while caring for her husband in his time of need after raising 11 of her 12 children. In addition to these hardships, Barbara was still caring for her third child, a daughter named Dorothy, who has cerebral palsy. 

 

elderly woman old hospitalI first met my soon to be mother-in-law when she was 74 years old and I was engaged to be married to my husband. Her husband had passed away seven years earlier and Barbara was still caring for her handicapped daughter. This took me by surprise as Barbara was roughly the same age as both of my grandmothers, and Dorothy was in her 50’s and older than both of my parents. Dorothy had originally been given a life expectancy of eight years of age, but due to Barbara’s unconditional love, care, and selfless dedication to Dorothy, Dorothy has lived well beyond that age. 

 

Each day, Barbara made sure Dorothy’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs were met as she lovingly cared for Dorothy. Barbara made sure Dorothy had her daily bath, that her teeth were brushed, and that she ate healthy foods; she also helped Dorothy to use the bathroom. These tasks were not easy because Dorothy has the mental capacity of a two-year-old. Barbara also had Dorothy listen to uplifting music, visited with her, and placed her in a wheelchair and took her on a daily walk. Barbara never complained about having to care for Dorothy, but cherished every moment she and Dorothy were together and found joy in serving her.

 

Throughout her lifetime, my mother-in-law not only found joy in caring for her husband, Dorothy, and her other children, but during her times of need, she found joy in serving the Lord. Every Wednesday Barbara would serve the Lord at the temple as she completed ordinances for those who have passed through the veil. She had a sticky note on her bathroom mirror to remind her of her weekly service. Barbara would also diligently serve in her Sunday calling where she would record the Relief Society lessons on a tape recorder and then deliver the tapes to the women in the ward who were homebound. Barbara also found joy in serving the “older ladies” in the neighborhood. Here she was, 74 years old, taking her lawnmower to mow the lawns of the elderly ladies in our ward. She also helped them weed their gardens in addition to keeping her own yard immaculate. My mother-in-law found great joy as she forgot about her trials as she served those around her. Barbara always set a great example as she set her hardships aside and went to work serving the Lord.

 

Former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gordon B. Hinckley reminded us of such service after arriving in the mission field to serve a two-year mission for our church. President Hinckley fell ill shortly after arriving in the mission field. In addition to his illness, President Hinckley was also shy and had a difficult time spreading the gospel to strangers and large groups as he tried to share the gospel in the streets of Preston, England. He wrote home to his father stating how miserable he was. President Hinckley became discouraged by uninterested audiences as doors were shut in his face and people didn’t care to listen on the streets. He felt he wasn’t getting anywhere in his missionary work. President Hinckley wrote home about his frustrations and discouragement. He told his father that he was wasting his time and his father’s money by staying in the mission field, and felt that the work was too hard to do and that he should return home. President Hinckley received a letter from his father giving him a single suggestion: he suggested that Gordon forget himself and go to work. In a devotional on March 6, 1977 when he was serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Hinckley said:

 

“Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others.”

 

As we forget ourselves and go to work serving those around us and by doing the work of the Lord, we find joy and happiness and the weight of our trials weigh less on our mind. Luke 17:33 reads:

 

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”

 

In other words, those of us who live only unto ourselves wither and die, while those who forget themselves in the service of others grow and blossom in this life, finding joy as our trials wither, and also in eternity When we are actively engaged in serving others, we lose ourselves in the work of the Lord and find true happiness and a reward within our own hardships. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28 reads:

 

“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

 

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”

 

Marie Yvonne

To read more of Marie’s articles, click here.

My mother-in-law found her great reward in serving her family and those around her. Barbara’s hard work, sacrifice, and hardships were temporary, lasting only in this lifetime. But her family, her greatest joy, is eternal, lasting forever. Barbara once bore testimony to me stating that Dorothy faced a greater hardship than she did in caring for her — but that she knew someday in the afterlife, Dorothy would be greatly blessed as a result of enduring her trials. She explained that when Dorothy is resurrected, her body will be made perfect and she’ll get to experience all of the joys that her earthly body prevented her from enjoying. That’s not to say that Dorothy doesn’t experience joy during this lifetime. She is childlike, finding excitement in the simplest of things, like when her family visits.

 

Almost three years ago, at the age of 86, my mother-in-law passed away. Barbara had lived 19 years without her husband and was reunited with him just before what would have been their 67th wedding anniversary. Barbara left a legacy of hard work, selfless sacrifice, and dedication to the Lord as she passed on these amazing qualities to all of her children. These qualities are evident in one of Barbara’s daughters as her daughter has taken on the task to care for Dorothy. 

 

For the first time in 12 years, all of Barbara’s children gathered in Utah from as far away as Hawaii, Kentucky, and Texas for her funeral. We found great joy in a trial that is normally filled with sadness and despair as we reminisced and shared memories in honor of Barbara and the legacy she left behind.

 

Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote:

 

“. . . when trials come we can get past them more quickly if we remember happiness in the past as readily as we count on the promise of happiness ahead.”

 

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin also reminded us of this promise when he stated:

 

“If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.”

 

I leave my testimony that it is during our most difficult trials that we can find our greatest joy and happiness. But to find this joy, we must first forget about our hardships and our sorrows, and then we must go to work and lose ourselves in the service of our Lord.

About Marie Yvonne
Marie Yvonne is a motivational and devotional speaker for teens and young adults. In her devotionals, she shares her personal testimony and journey of learning to accept herself as God created her. Her journey can also be found on social media and her personal blog and website, TheConfidenceToShine.com.

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