It seems like the theme at church the last few weeks has been enduring Abraham-like trials. I don’t particularly like the story of Abraham’s hardest trial–I find it a little disturbing and wrong at the moment. I did, however, like the way the Sunday School teacher phrased this, “going through difficult, even ironic, trials”. BTW, if you are not Mormon, trial, is the Mormon word for anything bad that happens to someone (that generally is looked at as a test, which will, if endured correctly, increase ones faith; therefore, trial is used because it is a trial of your faith).
The relief society meeting was probably my favorite today. The teacher told a very interesting story about her father. She said he was out riding on their ranch one day. He and his father (this woman’s grandfather) had stopped their horses and were talking. A rabbit jumped out of a hole and spooked his horse, who reared up, throwing her dad off, where he hit his head on a rock. Since they were so far from home, and even further from a hospital, her grandfather had to load her dad on his horse and carry him home, then load him into the truck to drive him the hour drive to the closest hospital, while the 11-year-old daughter compressed the wound as she cradled her dad’s head in the back of the pick-up truck as they raced to the hospital. He was in a coma for 3 months, then amazingly woke up, but was never the same. She said his whole personality changed (although this teacher didn’t remember her father from before his accident since she was born a few months after her dad came out of the coma). She said he had no tact and would just blurt out whatever he thought. He was paranoid and her mother often had to diffuse situations where he imagined someone was after him. Her mother went back to school and provided for the family and supported her husband in his horse business (he became obsessed with horses after his accident), which made no money. She said her mother was frequently asked how she was able to handle all these changes in her husband, and her mother would always reply that it had been very difficult but that the one thing that had always kept her going is that her husband had never lost his testimony, even after his personality changes so much.
Even though this story was really sad, I appreciated her sharing it. I guess I like when people share personal stories because they are so easy to relate to.
I was thinking a few things throughout church. The first, is that I sometimes feel guilty for having such a difficult time with my husband’s decision to leave the Mormon church and my own faith crisis. There are so many things out there that are so much harder: Brain injuries, strokes…the list goes on and on. There are lots of countries where most people don’t have enough to eat, and some people starve to death, or die of dehydration or diarrhea from dirty water. The extent of human suffering is incredible and horrible. And yet, here I sit, selfishly worrying about my own, comparably small problems. Is it okay for me to focus so much on the things I am having a hard time with? Do I spend too much time thinking about myself, when there are people around me and in other parts of the world who are struggling so much more than I am? It has been good for me to spend time trying to work through my questions that have such a huge effect on how I see the world, but maybe I spend too much time focusing on my own problems. I guess I’m not sure yet if this is something I need to change.
Another thing I was thinking about was the idea of going through hard, ironic difficulties in life. I feel like having my husband leave the church and struggling so much in the church myself now, after being completely dedicated to the idea of having an eternal family and raising a family in the church is certainly an ironic and difficult struggle. It almost, almost makes me wonder if maybe I am just failing miserably some trial of faith (obviously I think it’s a lot more complicated than that, but some part of my brain wonders that).
The third thing I was thinking had to do with the story that was told in Relief Society. This is not the first time I have heard someone say something to the effect of, I couldn’t have survived X without my testimony (strong belief) of the church; or, I couldn’t have survived Y with my spouse if he had not had a strong testimony of the church. When I hear that now, I am always grateful that those people had the church in their life. If the church, and their testimony of the church, helped get them through whatever other difficult challenge they faced, then I am glad they had the church. I guess my situation has been the opposite. My husband “lost” his “testimony” of the church (more like thought through it and it just no longer made sense). And his personality has changed some, and so has mine. I also have struggled with my own beliefs. So, I guess for me, I mostly got to keep my husband and his wonderful personality, but I lost his belief in the church and my own belief in the church, at least to some extent (time will only tell where that path will take me), and my belief in the church has been my coping mechanism and my lens through which I process reality as I know it. The mental process of questioning things I thought were real, and based my life around has not been an easy one–it’s certainly nothing comparable to starving to death–but it has impacted my personal life in a huge way. In some ways it really has felt like I am living The Matrix.
i guess those are just my thoughts. Let me know if you have any thoughts of your own 🙂