I’ll never forget the phone call that I received on October 1st, 2018. It was a Monday morning and I was busy going about my typical Monday morning routine of washing laundry and cleaning up from a weekend spent at home when my phone rang. The call was from the high school. I immediately answered it, thinking that one of my daughters might be sick or need me to bring a forgotten item to school. Nothing could have prepared me for what was about to unfold and how my perfectly happy life would be flipped completely upside down in a matter of seconds. To my surprise, the phone call wasn’t from one of my daughters, but from the school counselor. I’ll never forget her words following her introduction as to who was calling. They still echo in my mind today: “This is a hard thing to tell a parent, and especially over the phone… but last night your daughter attempted suicide.”
I remember that for a brief moment, time seemed to stand completely still as if the world stopped spinning. It was an uncomfortable stillness as my heart sank. I remember how the phone seemed to echo as the counselor continued to speak. I was overcome with feelings of anger, sadness, frustration and confusion, plus so much more. I had so many feelings going on all at once that I could barely speak, much less process anything. I was angry that my daughter would want to end her life or even think about it, much less attempt it. I was frustrated because I didn’t see any warning signs and felt like I had missed something. My daughter had seemed so happy! She had so many friends, she was on the school’s color guard team, and she absolutely loved life! I was so confused! Why would she want to take her own life? She had so much to live for! But above all, I was filled with sadness. It broke my heart that she hurt so much inside that she’d want to take her life to end her pain. I didn’t understand! But at the same time, I did.
Growing up, I had been teased and made fun of relentlessly — for things that I had absolutely no control over! I remember the emotional pain that I went through and could somewhat relate to how my daughter felt, despite her having friends where I did not. And back when I was my daughter’s age, I thought, “Why me?!” I wondered why I had to go through that pain and why I had to feel rejected time and time again. And this time, the same questions instantly flooded my mind: “Why me? Why did I have to face this trial as a parent? And why her? Why does life seem so unfair?!”
The “Why me?” questions often time pops into our minds when we’re faced with adversity or a trial that seems too difficult or too uncomfortable to bear. We often feel that life seems unfair and that we don’t deserve the hardship that God has placed before us. We fail to realize that our Father in Heaven will never give us a trial that we can’t endure. And we also fail to recognize our own strength that God has given us, the very strength that helps us to press forward as we face difficulties in our lifetime. While this was ultimately my daughter’s trial to bear, the weight of her infirmity rested heavily on my shoulders. Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave us this assurance:
“You were tutored by Him before you came into this life. He helped you understand and accept that you would have trials, tests and opportunities perfectly chosen just for you. You learned that our Father has a plan of happiness to get you safely through those trials and that you would help bring others safely through theirs” (Henry B. Eyring, “Daughters in the Covenant,” April 2014).
When facing our own adversities, we often get wrapped up in asking why we should have to endure our trials. As a teenager, I never imagined that the trials and insecurities that I faced would someday be for my own good. Little did I know that my own inadequacies and feelings of worthlessness would someday help me understand my own teenage daughter and her feelings as we coped with her suicide attempt. Little did I realize that my trial would later help me guide my daughter safely through her hardship. Oftentimes the infirmities that we experience in this life are for our own good and will help us develop the strength that we need to press forward in a future trial. Instead of asking “Why me?” what if instead we asked “Why not me?”
Our Father in Heaven gives us adversities that are specific to our needs. While we certainly may not enjoy our hardships, we would also never wish them on our worst enemy. I once heard that if we all wrote down our trials on little pieces of paper and tossed them into a pile in the center of a room, then were told to pick which trials we wanted to endure, we’d pick our own trials from the pile. We’d do this because the trials that we have are what we’re comfortable with. They’re trials that our Father in Heaven specifically picked for each of us individually. We may not enjoy the experience, but who better to withstand the adversity than the person that God gave the strength to endure it?
Our Father in Heaven is well aware of our struggles and the insecurities that we might have as we face our hardships. But on the contrary, He is very aware of our strengths and will never give us an adversity that we can’t withstand. Growing up, I didn’t enjoy being made fun of by my peers and I’d never wish that pain on anyone, but I’m grateful that I went through it. Because of my experience, I was able to better understand my daughter’s pain. And although my daughter didn’t experience exactly what I did and I didn’t experience exactly what she did, I could at least relate to her pain and somewhat understand her feelings. God gives us our own trials to help strengthen us and give us experience for unforeseen circumstances that may lay ahead — circumstances that will shape who we are and who we are capable of becoming, just as my experiences shaped who I am and how I was able to handle my daughter’s suicide attempt. Thomas S. Monson, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said:
“There are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were — better than what we were, more understanding than what we were, more empathetic than what we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before” (Thomas S. Monson, “I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee,” October 2013).
The day that I received that phone call was by far the worst day of my life! I couldn’t imagine my child trying to take her own life. I have never experienced so much heartbreak and sorrow as I did that day. But later, I was grateful. Grateful that I went through the challenges that I did as a child. While I would never wish for anyone to go through the pain and heartache that I went through back then (and definitely not as a parent), as my daughter faced her own adversity, it was all for a purpose. It helped me be more empathetic and understanding toward others, including my daughter. Because of this, I was able to understand her and relate to her feelings. And while I’d never wish for anyone to attempt suicide, for my daughter, it was a moment of growing and learning of our Father in Heaven and Savior’s love for her. It is because of this love that she’s been able to realize her own strength and that our Heavenly Father will never give her a trial that she can’t endure.
And so it is with each of us. God is well aware of what we can and can’t do. Our Father in Heaven loves us each individually as His child, and will never make us go through something that we can’t endure. He is always there for us, and has given us the strength to withstand our trials and the strength to endure — and not just in this lifetime, but for eternity. So before we ask “Why me?” let us ask “Why not me?!”
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.