In many ways, this past year has been about surviving – specifically, learning how to live as a survivor. Littered with intense personal loss and disappointments in concert with frequent professional and mental strain – the past 12 months have given me constant opportunities to reflect on a term often heard in Mormon vernacular – “enduring to the end.” In its simplest form, enduring to the end implies fierce and proactive survival, allowing life’s challenges to mold and refine us into the very best version of ourselves.
I didn’t get any of the miracles I prayed for this year. I lost everything I prayed so hard to keep. However, unexpected miracles stretched my understanding of God’s intimate knowledge of my needs and brought comfort in times of extreme sorrow. The miracles I didn’t receive, made it possible for me and those I love to experience even greater blessings we could never foresee including an increased understanding and appreciation for God’s eternal plan, strengthened family ties, and second chances.
Orson F. Whitney, a former Church leader, once said:
“No pain we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility…It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”
With this perspective, I realized the peace I felt amidst the most difficult experiences of my life was the sweetest miracle a Father could ever bestow on a grieving child. He did not grant my pleas for an easy path nor did He deny someone else their right to choose. Instead, He exposed me to deeper layers of love, tolerance and forgiveness.
During the last General Conference, Kent F. Richards, shared a personal reflection on pain, experienced one night as he lay awake in a hospital room.
“I came to understand,” he said, “that during His mortal life Christ chose to experience pains and afflictions in order to understand us. Perhaps we also need to experience the depths of mortality in order to understand Him and our eternal purposes.”
I know there are still plenty of challenges ahead of me, but there’s also a lot of healing already behind me and it gives me hope that I can be a better survivor. I’m grateful to my Father in Heaven for His constant watch and unwavering support to see me through.