First of all, I just finished journaling this story and it was about eight pages long. I am going to write a condensed version for my blog, but I wish all of you could read every detail in hopes of better understanding just how amazing this event was for me. Either way, you are going to find out how I came to know God better, instead of just believing in him.
It happened on Monday, November 16th, 2015.
It was one of the worst days of my life.
My husband, Glen, left for his week long work trip on Sunday, leaving me with our two little kids. Travin is 7 weeks old. Atley is 19 months. I'd injured my back during labor with my son, herniating discs in my C spine, which has made life with a newborn and toddler unimaginably difficult. Very painful, motor deficit, inability to hold my own children with my right arm, etc, no sleep, etc. (i chose not to do aggressive steroid treatment so that I could breast feed but that's a whole other story!) Sienna, my dog for the last seven years or so, has been staying at my sister's house for a couple months because the dog had been mean to my daughter, and with my new baby I did not have the time or energy to properly care for her. However, Saturday night, my sister called to tell me Sienna had started puking up blood. I told her to monitor the dog and then on Sunday, her and her husband came over to my house for dinner. They brought Sienna, who was still ill. She had lost weight and her mouth was covered in sores. I knew she had lupus, but was now concerned she had cancer. That night was chaotic, to say the least. My 7 week old baby had a bug and was extra needy. So, on top of him waking up frequently, I was dealing with my dying dog. I tried to let the dog sleep in my bed to calm her, as that is how we used to sleep, but she had diarrhea and quickly soiled my bedding. I tried locking the dog in the bathroom, but she wouldn't stop scratching the door, waking up my 19 month old daughter. The bathroom was covered in poop. I took the dog outside 4 times that night, and ended up locking her in the basement bathroom so that my babies could find some rest! I, unfortunately, did not.
By 7:00am Monday, it was clear I had to put the dog down. I cried and cried, despite the dog having been a bit of a nuisance towards the end of her life. Dogs really do become part of the family ! Sienna, who I rescued during one of my greatest life hardships, ended up rescuing me. In the end, I was broken hearted that she was gone, even though she was in a better place.
The rest of the day, I could not stop bursting into tears. I tried to conceal them, and kept busy with the kids, baking and watching movies, but I felt completely distraught. It was a lot to take after an already tough two months. On top of this, Glen and I had faced a conflict two weeks prior that had not been resolved. It was causing me great stress.
The time came for Atley and I to get into our nightly bath/shower for one on one girl time. I set Travin in his bouncy chair outside the clear curtain. As the water ran over me, my daughter played innocently with her toys, and I sobbed a prayer.
I want to note that, while my whole life I have been very spiritual and religious, I have not been blessed with the power of prayer. In fact, I can name on one hand the number of times I noticed a prayer of mine being answered. With it being so few, I would wonder if they weren't just my own ideas instead of God's. Of course, I've read all the scriptures that speak about the Lord answering prayers in His own time, in His own way, but it is immensely frustrating to feel as if you NEVER see an answer, even if it's the one you don't want. So, although I'd lived in faith and kept praying, I was praying with the faith the size of a mustard seed. I was constantly filled with doubt, confusion, and even abandonment from a father in heaven who, supposedly, would comfort anyone who asked for it. "Knock and ye shall receive". Well, I had not been receiving the comfort I so desired during my darkest hours. Needless to say, I still say prayers every day, for my family and kids. And I need them to know this now:
Something happened to me in the shower. Something that has never happened to me before. Something that helped me understand many of the puzzle pieces of my life, the atonement of Jesus Christ, and about humility.
Within several minutes of my heartbroken prayer to simply feel comfort, I felt a huge sensation of relief. None of my problems were fixed, and yet, I felt such a peace with them. There was no warm, tingly, feeling in my chest. I did not feel arms around me. But the solace I felt, after so long feeling as if my heart was only partially beating, and that my father in heaven had forgotten me, and that I was completely alone in the world, was remarkable. I was lighter. My tears subsided. The promise in the scriptures, that the Lord will make our burdens light, was fulfilled.
On top of this, an even greater miracle occurred. A part of my heart that had been dead for years began to beat again. You may have read posts about my divorce and the trauma it caused. I had gangrene of the heart and I would not have survived if I had not cut it out, but Monday night in the shower I was made whole. I was filled with a capacity to love anew. The conflicts with my husband no longer pained me. I knew they would be resolved, and I would be able to handle them as they came. I felt such a great deep love for my children that, for the rest of the week, I burst into tears just looking at them. That, particularly, helped me comprehend how my Father in Heaven must feel about me. It made me desire a relationship with Him and my brother, Jesus Christ. And the whole experience humbled me in a way that never could have happened had I not experienced the exact, unique set of events in my life that lead me to that moment. While I'd viewed them as huge physical and emotional trials, they pointed me straight towards the moment when I would finally feel the peace and comfort of God I had looooooong been craving. A second major point, is that for the past year, I have been praying to have a softer heart. Literally, a year. I have a tendency to be cynical and bitter, but I was sick of feeling that way. I want so badly to be a good mom and a good example, and to shine with love instead of animosity. So, I've been praying for it. Well, the Lord's time was definitely not my time, but He knew my moment was coming. That moment on Monday my heart was changed in an instant. The promise in the scriptures that the Lord can remove your stony heart has also been fulfilled. I feel softer and more compassionate, I feel a deeper love for my husband, and a love for those strangers around me.
Obviously, nobody wants to be humbled that way. We all think we will escape mortal pains and heartache, but the truth is, that is EXACTLY how we are supposed to grow and learn, I know it now without a doubt. I know that a told in the scriptures, Christ suffered all manner of afflictions during his atonement that He may know how to succor his people. He knew me. And my past. My pains, my struggles, my current situation. And even though it was not my first desperate, tear filled plea, It was the right time for me.
I never want to forget that moment. Or this feeling. I want my kids to read this story and feel eased if they ever experience the years of waiting that I did. I know I'll still have weaknesses, or I might slip into the old habits of cynicism, but I will always remember how light and comforted I felt, after having been grieved for years. God works in mysterious ways. And that night, I met Him.