∙Susan & Jeff are sharing their personal recovery journeys to help others in similar circumstances.∙
Hello friends. A friend of mine just told me of her missionary that is having a difficult time and asked for my advice. As I thought about it I reflected on my own path of discovery, recovery and everything associated with it. There is strength in the struggle. I wouldn’t want to rob this missionary of the growth that he will experience through this adversity, at the same time I understand how as a parent we want to protect our children from things that we know are going to hurt. When they are small, this is easier and obvious. But when they get older the things that could hurt them are not as obvious or within a parent’s control.
I wonder, as these events of my life were playing out, what it was like for our Heavenly Father to watch. He knew what I was heading for, he knew that I could not see the events of Jeff’s life that would have this impact on me. However, he was preparing me. As I mentioned in an article before, the Friday before I discovered his addiction I was driving and the spirit clearly said to me, “Your family is about to experience a tragedy.” The Lord did not prevent the tragedy, but he gave me the opportunity to prepare for it.
Surely the Lord knew all of the hardships that the early members of the church would be facing. Being ostracized by family members, losing loved ones as they came across the ocean or traveled across the long trail to Utah, the persecution that they would face and the violence they would experience, but He did not prevent those tragedies, either. On days of tragic events I’ve heard people express, “Where was God today? Why didn’t he prevent this?” He was here. He was right here. And in D&C 122:7, after outlining all of the possible things that could happen, said, “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” There is a similar line in my patriarchal blessing that tells me I will have the opportunity to grow through adversity and choose to overcome. (Honestly, I did not take that as good news.)
Last month I wrote about the betrayal trauma I’ve experienced. In the depths of my depression, when I could not turn to Jeff, I still did not feel alone. God was right there. Even when I didn’t feel peace and thought that my life was over, there was a microscopic feeling in some remote corner of my heart that things would work out. D&C 6:33-34 spoke solace to my soul and gave me an understanding I hadn’t had before. That understanding was in one little word. As I personalized it I heard: Fear not to do good, Susan, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward. Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
LET! That was the word! LET! Let it happen. Bring it on. It is coming so be prepared. What was my preparation? The Sunday School answers! Prayer, repentance, forgiveness, scripture study, fasting, service, attending church, fulfilling my callings, temple attendance, faith, etc…these things do more to thwart the fiery darts than anything that the world has to offer. These things build upon the foundation of my Savior Jesus Christ. “My reward,” as spoken of in the above scripture, is not an earthly one. If I sow righteous choices, it has no bearing if someone else will too. If I am kind, it does not take away the agency of another to not be kind back to me. That is not the cause and effect. The cause is Jesus Christ and the effect is what I will become through Him.
So, “fear not.” I don’t know what is on my horizon. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I know what I have learned and what I continue to learn. I do better when I put my faith where it belongs, in my Savior. There IS strength in the struggle.