My own post that doesn't come from the book :)
"Hide your eyes darling people can see your heart through them."
Today has been a whirlwind. A good and crazy whirlwind. So much so that I don't have it in to write it all down yet. It's been crazy. I will tell you more about it tomorrow but tonight I wanted to post what I shared with my relief society tonight at the relief society birthday dinner. I'll write more about it tomorrow.
It is very daunting speaking to you all. When Koriann asked me to talk about “Finding Joy in your Journey”, in my mind I thought - are you crazy?! But at the same time I felt peace and knew that this was something I could share.
These last few months I feel like I’ve taken a crash course on trying to find peace and joy. I want to share with you a bit about my last few months and I ask those that have heard this story to bear with me because I want you to understand where and how I learned to find joy.
At the beginning of October I found out I was pregnant. Nick and I were so excited but pretty worried. Nick and I had been trying to get pregnant since my daughter Hannah was 1. She is now 4 years old. During that time we had gotten pregnant two other times and sadly lost both of those babies early on in the pregnancy. So you can understand our worries.
After finding out I was pregnant I went to the temple. My fears and worries were overwhelming. It was there that the words came to my mind that I needed to have hope. I went home feeling peace and I was going to choose hope over fear.
This pregnancy was different than the last two and was very similar to what my pregnancies with Henry and Hannah. Almost immediately after finding out I was pregnant I got sick. Not a normal morning sickness but sickness that debilitated me. I was throwing up everything that I tried to eat. I became too weak to even care for myself. I became really dehydrated and was lucky to have a doctor that would listen to me and he helped me set up IV services at home. Along with having a great doctor there were wonderful people in this ward who took care of dinners, helped watch my children, helped with laundry and lifted me and my family up not just physically but emotionally.
However because I was so sick I knew that this baby was okay. The doctors always told me that if I was this sick, it was good for the baby. It meant that I wouldn’t miscarry.
I remember in November I was at 11 weeks and my nurse came over to try and get another IV in. I was so dehydrated my veins would collapse and I wasn’t able to keep the IV’s in the same place for very long. She came over and tried over and over again to place an IV but at this point there were no other places she could get one in so she told me I needed to go to the doctors to get a PICC line put in.
The next day I went to my doctor. I had lost 40 lbs in 4 weeks. After going through all the plans of how to help me the doctor wheeled out the ultrasound machine. I could feel his excitement to try and give me some hope that the sickness was all worth it. He started the ultrasound and there was silence. I knew after about a minute that something wasn’t right and when I turned to look there was my baby Hope on the screen unmoving and silent.
I still remember the heart wrenching sobs of “Why?” over and over and over coming from my mouth. The whirlwind of grief lasted for weeks as I tried to come to terms with everything. I reached a point of hopelessness that I’ve never reached before in my life and I didn’t know how to get out. So now that I’ve shared with you some of the hardest moments of my life I want to share with you how I’ve been able to find the greatest joy I’ve felt in my life.
While trying to figure out how to be okay during all this time I did all the things. I’ve been to a lot of therapists and I know all the tools. I used them. In my grasp to find peace I tried exercise, eating healthy, creating things, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, medication. All of it but none of those brought me joy. I’m not saying those things didn’t help me but they didn’t bring the peace and joy that I needed to help me get through this loss.
I wanted to talk about three ways that allowed me to find joy in my journey.
- Finding joy in knowing you have a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who knows you by name and have a hand in your life
- Finding joy in gratitude
- Finding joy in the great plan of happiness
FINDING JOY IN KNOWING YOU HAVE A LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER AND SAVIOR THAT HAve A HAND IN YOUR LIFE
“Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.”
When I first lost my baby Hope and was searching for peace I turned to the scriptures. I literally just opened the new testament and I opened to John 11:32. It says:
32 Then Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept
At that moment the words that stood out to me were He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled and Jesus wept. It was in that moment that I knew God knew of me and my sorrow. He knew what I was feeling. I knew at that moment he was “groaning in the spirit and weeping with me.” I knew it more than I knew anything else. I loved that He knew that I knew about the great plan of happiness but I was still sad. He knows that and He still wept and mourned with me.
As I’ve continued on this journey I know I’ve been led on how to mourn and how to heal. Heavenly Father and Jesus have put thoughts in my head and brought certain people into my life as I needed them. One particular thing that I was led to do was to start writing in a journal about ways I saw God’s hand in my life. At first it was incredibly hard to see through the fog but one day I was able to say, today I am grateful that God sent me a beautiful sunrise. Each day after, it got a little easier.I can now tell you that I have pages and pages of undeniable reminders that God loves me. I find joy in each and every reminder that God loves me, my Savior loves me and that there is a purpose in everything that I do.
Which leads me to:
FINDING JOY IN GRATITUDE
As I went back and looked through entries of my journal to help me find how I found joy a common theme kept coming up. On the days that I was able to find great joy it was because I recognized the blessings I had in my life.
I think this kind of ties into knowing that God has a hand in our lives. Once you learn to recognize it, the gratitude flows.
At first when I was struggling, most of my thoughts were angry and centered around why was this happening to me?! Why did God take her from me?! Why did you tell me to have hope?! It wasn’t until I humbled myself and set the anger aside and asked, “Why did I need to lose her? What am I supposed to be learning?” and acknowledged the blessings of what I did have, I started getting answers.
It was a lightbulb moment for me to realize that I needed to stop yelling and blaming God, I needed to stop trying to counsel the Lord. I needed to be grateful for what I had and by doing that I was able to receive answers on God’s will for me and my family.
Elder Uchtdorf said it best when he said,
“It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.
FINDING JOY IN THE GREAT PLAN OF HAPPINESS
After receiving answers of why I had lost Hope I found joy in knowing that I would get to see Hope again. On this journey over and over I’ve been filled with gratitude because I knew this life was not the end. In knowing that, my perspective has become eternal and losing her hasn’t been as painful.
This eternal perspective is what keeps me going. This eternal perspective is what gives me hope.
My husband Nick was baptized in October of 2018, so we knew in October 2019 we wanted to be sealed to each other for time and all eternity. Because I was so sick while I was pregnant during October it had to be postponed. And then it was postponed again after I lost my baby Hope. At the beginning of the year I knew that we had to make it to the temple. My motivation was to make sure that all my babies were sealed to me.
A little over one month ago my family and friends were with me as Nick, the kids and I were sealed for all eternity. Strangely I think that it was a bit of a blessing that I had just come from such a painful and dark place because the contrast was immense. The joy was immense. I’ve never felt joy so strongly as I knelt across the altar from my husband and watched as my two children dressed in white walked into the sealing room.
That day the joy was immense but I also realized in joy you can also feel heartache and sadness. I had an eternal perspective but the heartache of not having my baby Hope with me there that day was part of it too. But I knew that because of the steps my husband and I made she would be with us in the eternities.
Our prophet said:
“When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation…and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening - or not happening - in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy.”
The three things that connect all of these ways in which I found joy can be summed up in a name. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ loves us. He loves me. He loves you. I know that more than I’ve known anything in my life. Jesus Christ made the plan of happiness possible. His loving sacrifice made it possible to overcome death and have hope. Jesus Christ is the reason to be grateful. Jesus is the creator of all things and he wants you to have joy in them.
I know that Joy is a choice. Joy comes because you choose to believe in Christ. Joy comes because you follow Christ. Joy comes because you know who you are and where you come from and where you’re going.
I know that by following our Savior, our brother and our Redeemer we will be filled with joy that will overwhelm us. I know that “men are, that they might have joy” and it is because of Him that we can be joyful.