Widowhood is teaching me so much about how to love. I feel like my heart has been opened to so much more empathy for other people. I find myself becoming far less judgmental and more forgiving. That is such a good thing. How much better it is for my soul to see people in that light!
Here is the thought that has begun to change that for me….
What if we choose our trials before we came here?
I believe that we lived with God as his spirit children before coming to this Earth. I believe that coming to Earth was a necessary step in our eternal progression. I also think that trials are given to us for our growth and our betterment. One of the first thoughts I had after Scott died was that we together had chosen this path for our life, not that God chose it for us, but that we chose it for ourselves.
You may wonder, how could you think that you would ever want to choose something so horrible and difficult? Well, we knew life was not going to be a Disney cruise. We fully expected it to be a difficult workout. We wanted to grow, and we knew that struggling and pain were part of that process. But more than that, I feel that we had a lot of love for each other before we came here. I think we had pure, unselfish love for each other. That love drove us to make some hard decisions. After I had the thought that Scott and I chose this, I knew that we chose it because we could see that this experience would not only help us grow, but that it would help many, many other people. Specifically, the thought was that “this would heal many hearts.” This thought gave me ownership of this trial. It gave me strength and confidence to get through it. As I have moved forward and listened to the promptings I feel from God about how to live my life, helping other people has been foremost on my mind. I don’t was our sacrifice to be for naught! I have a lot of work still to do and that all starts and ends with the words love, empathy and charity.
Knowing that I chose this trial, I have begun to look at people differently….
Instead of seeing someone who has wayward children and judging them for all of their parenting mistakes, I think…. What if they knew their children were going to have rebellious spirits, yet out of love they chose to try to help and love and raise them even though the task would be extremely hard.
Instead of looking at someone with depression and seeing that as a major character flaw, I think…. What if they chose that disability because they knew it would teach their family and them valuable lessons.
What if a woman born into a family where she was horribly abused chose that so that she could break the abuse cycle for her family down the line?
What if someone in poverty chose that trial because they knew with time they could rise above it? That their humbling experience would better help them to find Christ someday and that their suffering would give other people a chance to find Christ through service.
Now instead of looking at these people as less, I see them as so much more. I think, what heroic spirits they must have been to choose such difficult things! What love they had for others to choose pain for themselves so that their loved ones could grow and feel more love.
Now I know that sometimes we just don’t get it all right. I think we had grand lofty plans for all of the things that we would overcome and do here. I think we didn’t really understand how hard it would be. We did know, however, that we would not be perfect; that we would make mistakes. Sometimes we would even get lost for a long time and completely loose sight of what our real purpose here is. For those people, I feel great love and empathy. I think how God must weep for them as I do for my children who have suffered greatly this last year. Instead of being drawn inward to just care for and protect my little family, I find myself wanting to reach out and help pull others out of the darkness and back towards the light.
Patience, I am learning patience for the growth of other people, and the time it takes them to make changes.
As I have watch myself struggle, get back on top of things, and then fall apart, I have learned that some trials take a long time to overcome. They cannot just be fixed right away. It isn’t a matter of being strong enough to overcome, but a matter of the time it takes to internalize and learn the lessons. People need people to just love them and be patient with them as they struggle to make changes.
God has been so patient with me. Every time I fall back into despair and turn away from Him, He does not give up on me. He may hold back and wait for me to come to myself, but as soon as I do and I turn back to Him, I realize that His love has always been there even though I was pushing it away and rejecting it in favor of self-pity.
We need be patient with each other like God is patient with us. Our love needs to always be there, waiting and willing to help them when they come to themselves. That does not mean that we tolerate evil, sin, or injustice. We need to stand up and be a voice against those things, not a voice of acceptance. Those two ideas are often confused. We don’t accept sin, but people we always need to love. We may not accept or condone what they do. We wish that they would make better, correct choices so that their lives could be happier and more productive of good, but that is always motivated by love for them, not judgment.
When we judge others, we do so out of pride. We feel that we are somehow better and that they are somehow less. That takes me back to that original thought…
How do we know who they really are and what difficult circumstances they may have chosen and for what great and awesome purposes they chose them?
We just don’t! That is why we need to love and not judge.
I am grateful that this experience is striping that pride from my heart and opening it to see people in a different light. I believe that light is the light that God sees us in.
The Book of Mormon prophet Moroni couldn’t have said it better…
“ Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.” (Moroni 7: 48)
I have learned that as I have actively tried to put off judgmental thoughts and instead tried to see people in this light, that the gift of charity is being given to me by God. My heart is learning how to love more openly and more purely, and living with that love in my heart is so much more freeing that living with my pride and judgmental thoughts. May we all try to love each other a little better. Look for the good and compliment it. Help others stand a little taller and rise up from their struggles. Let’s lift and strengthen where we can and leave the judging up to God.
My widow friends at Fall Conference
The most awesome, loving group of people. Love you guys!
Questions to Ponder:
1. How can you choose to see people differently so you can feel more charity for them?