I have a few more contributors in this series. I am so excited to be sharing the next one with you. I am excited because she seriously amazes me. I know her from junior high and we cheered together in high school. She is amazing even though her trial is one that scares me so bad. I hope you can feel how amazing she is as well through this post! Here's Heidi!
As I sit down to write about this, I am very emotional, but not because of the trials I have faced in my life, but because I am so very blessed.
Every single person has individualized trials that are dealt their way. Not any one person is exempt from this. But trials come in all different shapes, sizes, degrees, colors…you get the point. I remember saying some years ago, “I am so grateful my trial in life isn’t that I’m a single mom….I could never do that.” Heavenly Father knows each one of us individually and knows how to test us in such a way that we can reach our highest potential. I was divorced 2 ½ years ago and became a single mom of 3 beautiful boys. They bless my life in so many immeasurable ways. We most definitely have our challenges, but we make the best of everything we have.
A couple of years ago, in the middle of my divorce, my children were learning a song for their primary program. It talked about Noah being a man of no fear, but when he taught repentance, the people would not hear him. When the Lord asked him to build a boat, he did and he was prepared for the rain falls. The second verse in that song relates Noah to us and how we can be like Noah, building our arks and doing what we know is right. The chorus says,
“I will build my ark before it starts to rain.
I will follow the prophet, for he speaks in God’s name.
I’ll prepare ev’ry needful thing. I will walk in righteous ways.
When the rain starts to fall on me, I’ll be ready for that day”
The first time I really listened to the words in that song, it hit me like a ton of bricks that everything I was taught from the beginning of my life by my parents, nursery leaders, primary teachers, mutual leaders, every calling I have ever served in, every sacrament meeting, stake conference, general conference attended, everything I had been taught throughout my life, was preparing me for challenges I would eventually face and was currently facing. My parents and leaders had prepared me. I had gained an undeniable testimony, that the Lord loved me, and I could not say that I was not “ready for that day.” All I had to do, was hold on to that testimony and the knowledge I had, and not be afraid to do hard things.
Many challenges came in a short amount of time and I had to learn to quickly adapt. Although I did little jobs here and there to keep up my nursing license, I still considered myself a stay home mom for 7 ½ years. Suddenly I needed to find a full time job, I had to consider moving, and would now only be able to see my children half of every week. I was terrified to work again, I loved my neighborhood and didn’t want to move. I couldn’t imagine my life without my kids at all, let alone for even half of the time.
My Heavenly Father knows me, and He loves me. The same week my divorce was final, I was offered a full time job that would allow me to keep my home, and allowed me to work when my kids were with their dad, so that when they come home, I can just be home with them, and give them all of the energy I have. My family lives close by and always without question, steps in to help however we need. My friends and neighbors also are always looking out for us and quickly turned into family. They are all such examples to me and I only hope I can give back in some way.
I so strongly feel that it is so important to surround yourself with positive relationships. You become like the people you surround yourself with; so surround yourself with people who will lift you up when you are down, people who you know you can count on, and people who share your joys, struggles and triumphs. But more importantly, BE that same kind of person back! It will bring you joy and happiness. I know this, because I am surrounded by so many of these kinds of people, and they make me want to be a better person every single day because of their example to me. Truly, I am blessed.
My children are my absolute world, and we live a happy life! We have our struggles, yes. But every family does. Our family may look and function a little bit different than a “traditional family” but we function, and we love each other. My boys are the bravest boys I know. They’ve been through so much in their short little lives. Besides having their parents divorce, they have faced so much change that came with that. They’ve experienced loss in multiple ways. My brother passed away unexpectedly this summer who was very close to them. They are oh so very strong and THEY are my heroes.
I’ve always heard the saying that “it takes a village to raise children,” but never did I fully understand what that truly meant. I couldn’t be more grateful for those who are aware of my children and their needs. It’s as simple as walking through the door at church with my hands completely full and a fatherly figure noticing and taking a moment to teach my boys chivalry and helping them hold the door open for their mom, or the example of respectful and obedient 12 year old boys, whom my kids idolize and mimic everything they do. Or a soccer coach who they can look up to, or a school teacher who cares. Or grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who at a moment’s notice, will drop anything and everything for the sake of my children when in need. Most of this “village” probably doesn’t even know how much they contribute to raising my children. Truly, I am very blessed and so very grateful.
Going back to work was a hard adjustment. In fact, I cried and cried when I was first offered the job because I was terrified. I felt like a brand new nurse all over again. And I quickly realized how much the world had changed since I had been living in a little “stay- home- mommy bubble” for quite some time now. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make friends at my new job. Friends were made who have turned into my work family and I absolutely love my job. I find joy and happiness in serving those who are nearing the end of their lives. Truly, I am blessed.
It is important to me to pass on the love of serving others to my family. At a particular challenging time in my life, I came across a quote by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf that says, “As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.” This statement couldn’t be truer. When I am giving any kind of service, whether it be big or small, I am able to forget about all the worries I have and find true joy in serving. This is how I eventually was able to find my own happiness. It is hard when the kids leave and the house suddenly feels like a big empty box, but it was particularly hard in the very beginning. I had friends who knew when the kids were leaving and always had plans for me so I wouldn’t have to just be home alone. It was because of those friends and family members who wouldn’t let me wallow in my woes, that I learned to stay busy, and I was the happiest when I was busy helping others. I hope my children too can learn to find this kind of joy in serving.
So, although our family faces its own challenges, and my life looks quite different than I had ever imagined; through simple things, we find happiness. Yes being divorced is hard, and yes being a single mom is hard. But who’s life’s challenges aren’t hard? Every life challenge is hard! I can’t sit here and say that there weren’t times when I was angry, frustrated, upset and overwhelmed, because there most definitely were. And in fact, I still have times when I feel that way. But I have been so blessed by those around me and by my Heavenly Father, that I just cannot be ungrateful. I am happy.
I am grateful for the lessons I have learned through life’s challenges, as they have shaped me into the imperfect person I am today. I know I am a stronger person because of what I have learned along the way. I know that each challenge I face only prepares me for the next, and as long as I hold on to that testimony and lean on the “ark” I have built, there is always a way to find happiness. ALWAYS. I have never felt more carried by my Heavenly Father than I do now. He won’t ever leave us. He won’t ever leave me. All we have to do is stay close to Him and hold on to what we know.
Read the other posts in this series: