A month after my daughter passed away, I found myself in church listening to a lesson about trials.
I was hoping to find some guidance and peace but instead found the opposite was happening: I heard comment after comment about the need to rejoice in our trials and tribulations.
My husband could tell that I was getting agitated. I saw him ever so slightly shaking his head as if to say, “Just don’t say anything.” My husband knows me well. He knows that I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut sometimes. When someone said the phrase, “buck up” in relation to our trials, I couldn’t hold back anymore. I rose my hand and said, “Um, sorry but I’m not rejoicing that Laila is dead.” There was an awkward silence. Pretty much, I’m the queen of awkward. I was mad and hurt–I felt that I was being told that since I was suffering and sad about the trial dealt to me that I was not a good saint. I felt discouraged that in the midst of my deepest sorrow I was being told to “buck up.”
The poor teacher didn’t really know what to say in response to my abrupt confession, so after a long pause he said, “Well, of course in situations such as yours…” and then he just went on with the remainder of the lesson testifying of the importance of being happy in the midst of our trails.
Elder Holland reassures us when he says, “Only one who has taken the full brunt of such adversity could
ever be justified in telling us in such times to ‘be of good cheer.’ Such counsel is not a jaunty pep talk about
the power of positive thinking, though positive thinking is much needed in the world. No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. But even as the Lord avoids sugary rhetoric, He rebukes faithlessness and He deplores pessimism. He expects us to believe!”
It is a gentle, loving reassurance.
The first words that fill my mind and my heart say, “I know. It’s ok. I love you.”
Those words acknowledge my pain and tell me that He understands and that I am not doing something wrong for feeling the deep sorrow I feel.
I might be told to read my scriptures more or do my visiting teaching.
The direction is so personal and so loving and meant to help me feel more joy and peace in the midst of my trials. But mostly, I remember that the first response was one of love and understanding. That acknowledgment of my pain allows me to get up off of my knees and open my heart to the other response that will allow me to keep moving forward in faith.
And I know that it’s OK that I feel sad and I know that I’m not failing if I am not able to feel joy in the midst of my trails. He acknowledges it and then gently helps me know how to rise above the sorrow.
About the Author: Adrianne is the mother of four children, three of which are still living, and the wife to a husband in the Air Force. Since the death of her daughter she has found the process of creating something, even if it isn’t a very successful attempt, so important because it helps not only to keep her busy but also happy. You can read more about Laila and their story on Adrianne’s Blog