Saturday, November 16, 2013
Trust in Marriage
One day, shortly after the divorce had been filed, I was walking with my friend, Ruth. As we were talking, I mentioned something that might help in a marriage. I abruptly stopped myself and blurted out, “As if I would know!” I realized a horrible truth in that moment. I was losing more than my husband.
I had lost two things. First, I had lost my trust in marriage. Second, in that painful moment, I realized I had lost trust in myself and all I had stood for. I didn't feel I could have an opinion on the subject since I was an obvious failure at the whole thing. Who would listen to me? How could I even listen to myself?
As the months wore on, I learned that this opinion of myself was shared by others. The most painful evidence came one day when I was offering my teenage daughters advice on dating, courtship, and yes, even marriage, although we knew it was down the road for them. One daughter turned to me and said, “Mom, not to be rude (a sure sign I needed to grip my emotional cuddly), but you giving advice on marriage is like a fat person giving advice on dieting.” (Where was my cuddly, anyhow?!)
“That may be true,” I said. But then I remembered Ruth's kind and peaceful answer when I had felt that way about myself all those months before. Her simple answer was, “Maybe you know better than any of us. Maybe, because of what you've been through, you could help the rest of us.” So I turned to my girls and surprised them with, in essence, “but maybe I'm just the one to ask!”
How did I get to this point? How did I go from stopping myself in mid sentence, feeling nothing I said or felt mattered because I failed at the ultimate relationship in life, from being so confident in myself? How did I go from doubting everything I said and did, to believing again? It was a path God has taken me down.
I had to start by regaining my testimony of marriage. I had to know. Is marriage in God's plan for all His children or is it for the few who can figure it out? I read the Proclamation to the World on the Family, I listened to LDS general conference talks on the subject, I watched as others around me kept on going. But mostly, I waited. My heart had been wrenched right out of my chest...... I had to wait.
I don't like waiting. I can be quite indecisive at times, but when I know what I need, I have a horrible time waiting for it. But wait was all I could do. Healing takes times; healing takes prayer; healing takes wisdom; healing takes patience. I was willing to work and learn while I waited- that's what made it bearable.
Elder M. Russell Ballard (in General Conference, May 1987) said, “Satan is always working to destroy our testimonies, but he will not have the power to tempt or disturb us beyond our strength to resist when we are studying the gospel and living its commandments.”
As important as I knew waiting was, I knew I could not wait and do nothing. Standing still drives me crazy, especially when I know it is actually moving me backwards. If I was waiting and doing nothing, I was going backwards, my testimony was shrinking, and my faith in myself and marriage was dwindling. It couldn't happen. So I prayed. I prayed for strength to smile when I saw a couple playfully holding hands. I prayed for courage to sit in the temple's Celestial Room with so many loving couples looking into each others' eyes. I prayed for wisdom to keep my sarcasm to myself when the pain was too much to bear, and I prayed for patience as I waited for my testimony to be restored.
One thing that helped me was that I made a decision; I chose to believe. I chose to look forward and not back. I chose to be glad in others' marriage successes. I chose not to be bitter toward the whole institution. Was I perfect at all this? Not hardly! I was horrible at times. There were times I let the hurt take over and the grief was too much to bear. I let it turn me angry inside. I'd go outside and shoot the bastketball at the backboard. I liked the sound it made- an angry, dingy, abrasive noise- a noise that matched my heart. Or I'd hit the punching bag, sometimes giving it a name. But then I would calm down and I'd remember that I had chosen. I had chosen not to be bitter, but to be believing. I would repent and try again. I believe this is what made all the difference.
One day I got up in Sacrament Meeting to bear my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I was bearing my testimony, I felt a strong urge to share my feelings on familes. I had done this many times throughout my life, but with the changes in my family, it seemed difficult to get the words out in the preceeding months. I stood with confidence on this day and said, “I know that families can be together forever.” I wasn't faking it; I knew it. I absolutely knew it. And I knew that one day my family would be whole again. Oh! How I wanted a whole family! But even without all the members there, I knew we were still a family. I knew I was part of Heavenly Father's family, and He wanted me back. I knew that one day not only would I “cleave together again, that [I] stood," ( 3 Nephi 10:10),” but that my family would somehow, someway “cleave together and [stand].” One thing I have never doubted as I've faithfully read the Book of Mormon is that Heavenly Father keeps His promises. And He has promised an eternal family to all the faithful, not the perfect, but the faithful. As I turn my heart to Him, He will not deny me my greatest wish.