Heartache and Hope

At the beginning of November in 2013, I sat in my bedroom putting away laundry. It was a good day, I suppose. Nothing exciting had happened, nothing special, but it was good. My brother knocked on my door and came in. "Mom wants to talk to us."

You know when your gut somehow knows when something bad is going to happen? As soon as I heard those words I got sick. These weren't uncommon words, it was a sentence I had heard countless times. So why did I feel this way? I slowly walked up the stairs to find both my parents sitting on the couch, and the rest of my siblings sitting throughout the living room. I took a seat next to my little sister on the floor against the wall, and began to listen.

I began listening to something I had feared for a long time. Something I thought would never actually happen. Something I had hoped to never understand or experience. Sobs became a background noise as I fell into a hole of emotion. Maybe I felt sick because buried in my heart I knew it would happen. Maybe I felt that way to prepare for heartache. Either way, I entered into a world of pain and anger; confusion and a sense of responsibility for my siblings.

It's not something I like to talk about, and I don't very often. It's still a hard topic and I'm still learning to adjust, but it has impacted my life and because of that I would like to share my journey of heartache and hope.

"The effects of divorce unquestionably can be damaging, but they do not need to be crippling. You can overcome the pain and suffering, though you may feel the situation has been devastating. You can regroup, learn, and grow." - Children of Divorce By Elaine Walton

Days were spent in my room, alone. I didn't want to be around anyone, I didn't want to talk to anybody, and I especially didn't want to look at my parents. I felt like I had no where to go. Each one of my friends lived thousands of miles away, spread out among the world. My family was an uncomfortable option, and my siblings...  I wanted to be with my siblings, tell them it would be okay, but I couldn't. I didn't have the strength, and I didn't even know for myself if it would all work out. I wanted to be strong for them, but I couldn't find it in me. I was numb, I was angry, and I was lost. I didn't want to attend family parties in fear that they would ask how I was. I didn't want to leave the house in fear I would run into someone who would ask how the family was doing, not knowing of the current situation. So, I silently stayed in my room, coming out for short amounts of time and for specific things. I knew I had two options. I could either take a negative path, or a positive one. And I'm proud to say that I chose the positive. Here, in my darkest time, my Heavenly Father became my best friend.

Days seemed like lifetimes as I waited for the sun to fall onto the horizon. I waited for the moment I could go to sleep. The moment I could escape reality and enter a world of peace and oblivion. I wished that maybe my reality was a dream, and that I'd wake up and realize that all was right once again. But without fail, morning came again, and I was woken up to the harsh reality that things were never going to be the same.

Luckily I had an amazing bishop who was concerned and helped me immensely. He gave me amazing council, and answered many questions that I had. He understood, and he became my go to guy. I was so concerned about my eternal family. How does divorce actually work? I had family members who had been through it, but now that I was experiencing it first hand, I was afraid. I was the oldest of four kids, and I felt a glimpse of parental love for them. They became my number one concern, and I needed to help myself before I could help them.

I prayed, I studied, and somehow I climbed the hill of emotion; dug my way out of a deep, dark hole. I had love pouring out all around me. Texts flew in from cousins, aunts, uncles, my grandparents. My missionaries gave me amazing spiritual council, and hope began filling my soul.

In the talk Children of Divorce  by Elaine Walton that I quoted previously, she goes on to list steps of healing.

"Trust in the Lord. Heavenly Father is mindful of each of us in a very personal way, and His divine plan includes a way for us to overcome the effects of opposition and enjoy eternal blessings. There is great wisdom in the Lord’s counsel to the Prophet Joseph Smith during a time of severe persecution: “Be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16; see D&C 101:12–18). Talk to your Church leaders and close friends about their relationship to God. Read the scriptures and words of the Brethren, pondering and praying sincerely. Reread your patriarchal blessing, remembering that the Lord has great blessings in store for you. Exercise and increase your faith in God and in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Develop trust in friends and family. Your trust in a divine plan can generate trust in those around you who may be less than perfect yet are children of God. Through Christlike charity, we can learn to love people despite some imperfections. There is no comfort in freedom from heartache gained at the cost of freedom from loving others. Trust and disappointment are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Forgive your parents. Don’t let your parents’ mistakes be your excuses for error. Don’t be misled by barren statistics; for every child who followed the path of a misguided parent, you can find one who didn’t, going all the way back to Abraham, whose father was willing to see him sacrificed to an idol (see Abr. 1:5–7).
Repent of your own wrongdoings and forgive yourself. If you grew up in a home where people were hurt, you may have picked up some harmful behaviors and caused pain to others. You can repent of this once you come to understand your mistakes. The needed repentance for such mistakes is not so much about assignment of blame or self-flagellation as it is about making amends for the hurt, where possible.

Learn to choose. Your individual accountability and agency empower you to choose, and you need not be imprisoned by damaging family patterns or relationships. You have the right to say no to manipulation or degradation, and it is not your responsibility to keep everyone happy, particularly if they are determined to persist in unproductive or morally unacceptable behavior. When divorce has occurred, find in the new family structure a way of developing healthier and more enjoyable traditions and patterns for your own life and the family you will create by marriage.

Acquire new interpersonal skills. Taking charge of your life is one of many skills such as communication, joint problem solving, and conflict resolution that are learned, not inherited. Don’t be afraid to take a class, attend a seminar, or seek counseling to develop more effective and rewarding interpersonal relationships. But be careful; the training process in acquiring new skills should fit comfortably within the guidelines of the Church. Be in tune with the promptings of the Holy Ghost to know if the schooling and counseling you are receiving are appropriate. In fact, there is no better schooling than the guidance of that still, small voice as you try prayerfully and lovingly to apply the teachings of the Master in your interactions with others.

Identify compensating factors in your life. Every family has strengths. Every environment has supportive resources. Instead of focusing only on losses or problems, find out what is good about your family and what resources are available to you. For example, let yourself be open to receiving help and comfort from extended family members or friends who may be uniquely qualified as mentors. After spending time with an aunt and uncle who were obviously happy, one young woman realized for the first time that a happy marriage is possible. She said, “Somebody in my family actually pulled it off!”

The Promised Hope

Faithful Latter-day Saints are not disadvantaged eternally because of their parents’ missteps. President Ezra Taft Benson’s promise to a family of divorce makes that abundantly clear: “Please note that a cancellation of sealing of a wife to her husband does not affect children born in the covenant or previously sealed. Such children are entitled to birthright blessings, and if they remain worthy, are assured the right and privilege of eternal parentage regardless of what happens to their natural parents or the parents to whom they were sealed.” 7

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles underscores that promise: “I testify that with unimaginable suffering and agony at an incalculable price, the Savior earned His right to be our Intermediary, our Redeemer, our Final Judge. Through faith in Him and receipt of the requisite ordinances and covenants, you will earn your right to the blessings of eternal marriage made possible through His infinite Atonement.” 8
Children of Divorce By Elaine Walton     

Silly things would make me emotional. Movies with divorced parents, seeing an old family friend who didn't know yet, hearing the song Families can be Together Forever, memories, simple things that never bothered me were now things I tried to avoid. Family pictures, home videos, knowing we wouldn't be all together very often, and when we were it wouldn't be the same.

I've had to cope, adjust, and learn in a whole new way. New houses, new routines, new everything. It's been hard, but I've had to keep in mind that the Lord has a bigger plan, He knows my pain, and He knows how to heal.

PC - Mark Mabry - Reflections of Christ
"Our Savior knows the heart of each of us. He knows the pains of our hearts. If we seek the truth, develop faith in Him, and, if necessary, sincerely repent, we will receive a spiritual change of heart which only comes from our Savior. Our hearts will become new again.

As we put our faith and trust in the Lord, we must battle our pain day by day and sometimes hour by hour, even moment by moment; but in the end, we understand that marvelous counsel given to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he struggled with his pain of feeling forgotten and isolated in Liberty Jail:
“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes” (D&C 121:7–8).

My dear brothers and sisters, when pain, tests, and trials come in life, draw near to the Savior. “Wait upon the Lord, … look for him” (Isa. 8:17; 2 Ne. 18:17). “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). Healing comes in the Lord’s time and the Lord’s way; be patient.

Our Savior waits for us to come to Him through our scripture study, pondering, and prayer to our Heavenly Father. Great blessings and lessons come from overcoming adversity. As we are strengthened and healed, we can then lift and strengthen others with our faith. May we be instruments in the Lord’s hands in blessing the lives of those in pain. I give you my testimony that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ and that He waits for us to come to Him to give us counsel and compassionate caring. May the Lord’s blessings be upon each of us as we deal with the trials of life for us personally and for our loved ones..." Robert D. Hales, Healing Soul and Body

I'm grateful for my knowledge of the atonement. It's not just for mistakes. It's for heartaches, pain, and healing. It's for comfort and guidance. If the gospel was not in my life, who knows if I still would have chosen the positive path, the one full of hope and love.

With that said, I am very grateful for both of my parents. I know they are doing what they feel is best, and I respect that. It's not easy for us, but I know it's not easy for them either. We will always be a family, just a family with a difference.

Like my previous post, timing is everything. Leaving on a mission was a hard decision to come to terms with knowing that things are still changing, my family is still adjusting, and that I wouldn't be here for my siblings. But I know the Lord has a plan for me and them, that there is someone, somewhere in the world that needs to hear about the gospel from me. If I needed to be home with my family, then that's what I would do. But there's so many other puzzles pieces that I haven't seen yet, that I don't know even exist in this big picture. What I do know, is that this puzzle piece, this choice, is the perfect fit for this moment. Maybe I can't understand why right now, but I have faith in my Heavenly Father, and I am grateful for the trials that become lessons and strength. 

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