CHOOSING……..to Believe (Saturday Morning Session General Conference April 2015)

from the talk Choose to Believe

by Elder L. Whitney Clayton Of the Presidency of the Seventy

I have been studying the most recent conferences talks. I have been writing about a number of the ones that Inspire me ( all of them! haha). But I haven’t been posting, and of course the natural question you are thinking is, “Well if you have been studying and writing, why haven’t you been posting?”

You would be right to ask such a thing. And I wish there was a good answer. And I don’t mean good as in a good excuse, but rather a happy answer, one that was uplifting and testimony strengthening, like I have always wanted this blog to be.

But the answer sadly, isn’t those things, at least not yet. I know that my Father in Heaven always uses our struggles and tragedies to bring us closer to him and, to strengthen us. I know he will use my families current situation to do that for us.

Some of you who have read my first posts here know, my husband tried to commit suicide almost two and a half year ago. He survived and continues to struggle  towards wholeness and peace. No one ever said it would be an easy struggle, and it hasn’t in any way been easy! lol But his complete psychological breakdown and subsequent suicide attempt was only the beginning. Actually it wasn’t the beginning I just wasn’t aware that a “beginning” had happened several months before.

As Elder Clayton stated in his talk from the Saturday Morning Session:

“But all of us will, at some time or another,have to traverse our own spiritual wilderness and undertake our own rugged emotional journeys. In those moments, however dark or seemingly hopeless they may be, if we search for it, there will always be a spiritual light that beckons to us, giving us the hope of rescue and relief.”

A Rugged Emotional Journey

Oh how I understand those dark moments. How I feel the pain of my own “spiritual wilderness”. I have struggled in the darkness before, I have searched for the light, hoping and believing it was there, and eventually finding it. There where times where the darkness was unbelievably thick. But nothing like this. Never like this.

In my blog post “Though We May Feel Like a Broken Vessel”, Elder Holland quotes Psalms 31,

9 Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.

12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a brokenvessel.

13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side

As if him being in the hospital wasn’t enough, knowing that his mind had lied to him so much, that death and leaving us his family was preferable to continuing on, it was about to get a lot worse.

While he was still lying in the hospital, alive but still in full psychosis, not knowing whether there was any Brain Damage or not, he told his Mother that he has done it because he has broken my heart and he didn’t know. It made no sense. We had been struggling, but nothing truly terrible. He hadn’t hurt me know like that so I wrote it off as part of the attempt and brain disfunction. That was until she showed up at the hospital. His friend, a person you had three young children, and was trying to make a life for herself. Someone who J helped because that is who he is. She showed up and he couldn’t have visitors so we sat down to talk.

What the conversation came down to was as we where chatting, telling her everything that had been going on, how he was doing, and that I would get here in to see him A.S.A.P. Normal conversation, but something kept nagging at my gut. I knew something was wrong. Then it hit me. I don’t know how I knew , I certainly hadn’t suspected ANYTHING, but I knew, so I looked at her straight on (which is Not something I normally do, and she, who had been looking at me square the whole time could not look at me), and I asked her how long she had been sleeping with my husband?

She couldn’t give me an answer because she couldn’t look me in the eye. She acknowledged the truth of my statement and my world fell apart. Don’t get me wrong, I have been far from a saint in my life and have fallen far from the mark of the Gospel sometimes tragically in my life. I didn’t judge either of them I was hurt and angry. I was angry at myself that I couldn’t see, I had no idea of what was going on behind my back.

I told her to forget we ever existed. As he became more aware, I let him know that I knew, and we started to rebuild.

There may be times when we have been hurt, when we are tired, and when our lives seem dark and cold. There may be times when we cannot see any light on the horizon, and we may feel like giving up. If we are willing to believe, if we desire to believe, if we choose to believe, then the Savior’s teachings and example will show us the pathway forward.

I wish I could say the hurt ended there, that like a lifetime movie, it was a struggle  but we triumphed. It’s never so simple. Isn’t that why we make fun of those cheesy, to easy solution movies? We all know that it doesn’t work that way. That nothing is that simple. We had a couple of hard but good months. Honesty and hope were present again, but just as quickly anger and hurt crept in again. The light was often hard to see. The Dr.’s where not acknowledging the severity of his emotional situation. That all that had happened was not because of a poor relationship choice, but rather a long term struggle with an undiagnosed/incorrectly diagnosed chronic mental health condition, that was masked by institutionalization, a difficult growing up period, lack of stability and whatever other excuses people wanted to use, but that I had know since shortly after meeting him.

Times When We Cannot See Any Light On The Horizon

They continued to over and miss medicate him, to he was more on edge than before all of this began. Overworked county mental health workers, indifferent Dr.’s,, terrible side effects and a host of other problems eventually lead to him leaving the home again, returning to her, and he becoming pregnant. She had their daughter in Feb. of 2014. And 66 days later that beautiful little girl died. We still have no answers. Everything is inconclusive. The autopsy gave not solice, not that ANY answer could have mitigated the loss of this precious girl. By that point we had begun once again to try and work things out, try and figure out where we had gone wrong and get back on track.

There was no light to be seen anywhere for any of us. Our son was in pain because of the loss of his sister. My husband inconsolable, grief stricken not even close to describe the horror of those first weeks and months. Stumbling through our dark night, anger replaced with abject sorrow replaced with anger and each other, God, the Universe, inanimate objects simply because they stayed in one spot while being abused.

The decision to believe is the most important choice we ever make. It shapes all our other decisions.

Over a year later there is still more times of no light than light. My husband is not a member, and so often his anger is directed towards my choice because there is nothing else for him to be angry at that day. My choice to believe in the light even when unseen has in fact shaped almost all of my decisions as he and many others have questioned most if not all of my choices over the last two years. That belief stretches to cover, personal revelation, trips to the temple, priesthood blessings, marathon prayer sessions, and countless other experiences where fro brief moments the light has shinned through so brightly I was nearly blinded after long stretches of darkness. We ALL have continued to fight, continued to believe in our own ways member or not. And continued to walk towards that light hidden behind the next obstacle. While I have not made all the rigth descisons and those choices have been, at times, shot through with anger and self centeredness, my heart has always been directed towards the Savior and the Light of His atonement . I answer to no one expect Him.

I Have Fallen Short of the Glory of God

I have not been perfectly spiritual and strong the entire time. In fact quite the opposite. I have yelled an screamed at him and God, work became harder and harder to do. More payday loans and poor financial choices where made. All of those being on me because I was the only one working and I have always been responsible for the money and accounting. Now I don’t want you to panic either I wasn’t going and buying new cars, or going on insane shopping sprees. It was spending $30 on pizza one night because my body and spirit hung to heavy to feed my family after a day of hurt and pain that was to great for my weak soul to overcome. It was not being able to go to a three hour meeting that would have given us the funds to pay the balance on a significant, but not going because I had spend gas money several days before finding out about the meeting on J’s favorite kind of Little Debbie’s snacks because they made him feel good, or giving him a little extra cash go he could purchase the “right” container for his daughter’s cremains. I regret non of those decisions. The where right and correct at the time. But as my depression grew, as things became more and more overwhelming for me personally, feeling that i had failed all of those that I love most, we finally reached the point where I could not pay the rent, and my management company being unwilling to accept anything short of full payment opted for eviction proceeding rather than allow us to make payments. We moved out, putting all of our things in storage, having lost our vehicle several months before, we where invited to move in with a friend, though that situation was going to be tenuous at best and could end at anytime.

Shortly after moving out of her home, I was informed that my work contract was being terminated, and so for a couple of months, since I am self employed and don’t pay into unemployment insurance, we lived of of the money received from income tax, that we had planned to use for deposits. I was able to find a new contract relatively quickly but it take s a few weeks to build up a regular income, and in the end the new job was a blessing because I am making considerably more than I was even before MY break down, but we also had to move out of our friends and into a motel which costs over $300 a week.

I’ll tell you the light is getting stronger. I see it more often. Making more money being able to afford a nicer place than we had previously had, paying off debt and working actively on our relationship. The last hill to climb is securing the money for a deposit on a new place. My parents who are also struggling, reached out to a crowdfunding site and set a campaign (please check it out if you would like) that just opened a couple of days ago. I don’t know if this is the solution we are looking for or not. But I hope, I hope and I choose. One more hurdle and I think I may finally be able to walk into the full light after so long. While I don’t expect my husband to feel it as fully as I, because of the magnitude of his loss, and ongoing struggles. But I hope that he feels it’s comfort and peace when it comes even if he can’t see yet.

I choose to believe that the scales will yet fall from his eyes, and that he will have peace again someday.

 Sometimes progress in spiritual things can seem slow or intermittent. Sometimes we may feel that we have lost ground, that we have made mistakes, or that our best efforts to find the Savior are not working…In those moments when the light of your faith has dimmed, let your hope for the Savior’s love and grace, found in His gospel and His Church, overcome your doubt…. Our actions are the evidence of our belief and become the substance of our faith. We are choosing to believe when we pray and when we read the scriptures. We are choosing to believe when we fast,when we keep the Sabbath day holy, and when we worship in the temple. We are choosing to believe when we are baptized and when we partake of the sacrament. We are choosing to believe when we repent and seek divine forgiveness and healing love. 

Love is what leads us as a family. Love is what we are striving to find and give each day. And I choose to believe that they love of the savior is what will win on that great and glorious day when my family finally burst into the light after a long night of darkness.

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