Today is going to be a difficult day. Hard things will happen, but (hopefully) it will end happily. We are attending a funeral this afternoon for some dear friends who have lost a second baby hours after birth. I don’t know how they go on after such a loss and I don’t know how they move through it. At the funeral of their first son, the mom gave a beautiful talk about God’s plan to bring us all home and how death comes to all of us. Some earlier than hoped for or anticipated and some late in life after years of declining health. I don’t know which is worse. We will stand by their side as they stood by ours nearly exactly one year ago while we cried, not sure if our beautiful eighteen year old daughter would survive swallowing countless pills and if she did, would she have permanent damage to her liver. They were our first call and, while we were not their first call, we can stand by them and hold their hands and pray.
Today is also the day our youngest will find out her placement on the high school soccer team. She has worked countless hours and had shed tears as coaches have said “helpful” things to keep her motivated and working hard. It has been difficult to keep up with the young women who have played club soccer for many years, but she seems to be doing well. It’s hard to see when you are sixteen and worried about every ball you miss – that someone is kicking at you! I feel reverent today – both at the loss of life and the grief that comes with it and for our daughter, who needs our support regardless of the outcome.
The word “reverent” means feeling or showing deep and solemn respect. I don’t know about the solemn part, but some of the synonyms are respect, admiring, devoted, dutiful, awed. I feel these words about both situations – the happy and sad. I am awed by both of them working so hard to make it through situations with pressure that I would crumble under. I respect them both for what they are going through and I admire them all. We have the privilege of standing beside them both today and to give our support and to just be with them as they struggle or cry out of happiness or pain.
In the chapter I am in Praying Upside Down, Kelly discusses perspective. God has such a different perspective of both of these life changing events occurring today. I wonder what He is saying to both of them. I wonder how He views these events and how, in the years to come, this day will affect them. How often will He be there to hold their hands as they cry in frustration or sit in silent prayer?
There’s only One with the strength to carry it. Only One with the depth to understand it. Only One who can see that this is not the end. And that One is not you. Not me.
Kelly shares this perspective when talking about the difficult things in life. It also applies to how I feel as a mom. There is so much I don’t know about what is going on in my children’s (and friend’s) lives and that limits what I can do. The most important thing I can do to is to have faith, even if they can’t right now. I can be faithful for them when it’s all too much. I can stand and be a witness that God does care and is listening. I don’t have the ability to carry it all for them, nor do I understand how it will all work out, but as Kelly reminds us, there is One who does and knows and loves far more than we ever could. Part of being a mom, friend, or Christian is to reach down and help as we can (this was the general conference subject I read about today). Part of that is supporting in grief and the good part is supporting during happy events too.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have our share of grief and pain concerning that membership. Some of the hardest things to explain or talk about are the thing we fear will bring on the most contention or accusation from those around us. It’s hard sometimes to stand true to what you believe. This is true of the beginnings of our faith. There is so much doubt and anger about what Joseph Smith said happened to him, about what he experienced. Here he was, fourteen years old, and he had an experience which hadn’t occurred since New Testament times and he came out of it tarred, feathered, and eventually with the loss of his life.
The next section of the Book of Mormon is the testimony of this man concerning the coming forth of the actual book, of how he received the plates to even begin translating them. It is such a place of contention, but please bear with me. It ends well. Moroni came to Joseph Smith at night to deliver a message from God (“said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni”). He goes on to explain that God had a work for Joseph Smith to do. We all have work God intends for us to do, but we may not all be called in the same way. I know, personally, that I have been called quietly, by that sweet, quiet voice of the Spirit and I know stories of others who have been called to the ministry in their faith by loud, booming voices. It’s no different, it’s still a call from God. Moroni then explains during the course of four different visits in those few short hours what it is Joseph is being asked to do (translate the plates). However, he won’t be given the plates for another four years, there’s some learning that needs to happen first. Joseph is then instructed to meet this heavenly visitor once a year, on that day, in the spot the plates are buried, which he was told (“the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited”), on the side of a small hill near Palmyra, New York. This is his witness, but he goes further a little later in his life, after years of persecution and death threats and mobs attempting to take his life to say, “and now, after the many testimonies which have been given of Him, this is the testimony last of all, which we give of Him; that He lives. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22).
He lives! What a glorious message. One that was given to a young boy, like our sons, to share with the world. He lives! And oh, what a grander thing could we want to hear out of the mouth of any witness? Just like the Book of Mormon is another witness of Christ and His ministry, we have another voice to add, that of Joseph Smith. He lives and we can take our cares and tears and pleas directly to Him and He will listen and hear and help. I know this is true. It has happened to me and to you and it will happen every single day to someone. He lives!