It was probably around 2 A.M. and I was sitting up in my bed alone, crying. I couldn’t remember a time in my life that I had felt so much pain. The kind of pain that makes you feel like your heart might actually be being ripping out of your chest. There really isn’t any way to explain it unless you’ve felt it. I knew that my son was just across the hall in his room sleeping and if you’re a mom you know just how much you would normally do to make sure they stay asleep. On this night, the volume in my cries kept getting louder, I just couldn’t help it.
I guess you could say that I’ve been one of those blessed people. One of those people that never doubts God. Up until that point in my life I had never had to go through anything hard enough that it made me question whether he was there or not. Growing up, no matter what I was going through, I always had this glimmer of faith in my mind that everything would eventually be alright. There was always the knowledge that I had someone at my side even in an empty room. I grew up knowing that God loved me and that he would never leave me. But on this night, this very very different night, I felt alone.
I kept calling out. “Please tell me you’re there.” “Please just let me feel peace so that I can sleep.” “Please send me some kind of comfort.” Nothing came. It was at this point that I really started to wonder if everything that I had believed for as long as I could remember was really true. I guess most people go through a time where they need to find the truth for themselves and it was now my turn, but I didn’t expect it to come in this way. This empty, alone, dark way.
Fast forward 2 years and I’ve gotten re-married and have a 4 year old and a 1 year old boy. They are the light of my life and also the reason I binge eat if you know what I mean. They make me happier than I ever could have imagined I could feel, while 4 and a half minutes later making me wish I was deaf and blind so I could be alone.
Over the years I’ve found myself wanting so desperately to protect my children from the evils of the world. I want their life to be beautiful in every way. I hate seeing them cry. My 4 year old still expects me to feed him sometimes. My 15 month old brings me his sippy cup and then hands it to me while simultaneously opening his mouth waiting for me to hold it and tip it up for him to drink. It takes my children a lot longer than it should to figure out how to go down or up the stairs alone because I don’t want them to get hurt and always end up carrying them. I take them home from the park when the other kids are mean and I don’t know how to say no to their cute little eyes when they want candy in the store, even when they’ve been bad. Is this a story about how I’m a bad mom? No. But rather it’s the story of how I came to understand why I was left alone that night in my room, and how having children helped me reach that point of understanding.
There comes a time in every persons life when you are forced to grow up. I can’t always be there for my children in the way I am now. I won’t always be there to feed them, protect them from the fall down the stairs, stop the mean people in this world from belittling them or making them feel smaller than they are. I can’t possibly follow every step they take and make sure that they are always okay and because of that, it’s my job as a loving parent to let my children learn how to do hard things, on their own. With children, there is a careful balance between teaching your children that you are always there for them, but yet making them grow to their full potential by allowing them to suffer through their trials as they were given that trial for a reason. This same principle applies to our Father in Heaven as he is consistently trying to strike a balance between what he will carry you through and what he will allow you to fight on your own.
Sometimes, life gives us hard things and I guess depending on your age or your life experiences you learn to deal with those things. In the end you become a better, stronger person. I can confidently say that until that October night I had always known that my Father in Heaven was there. I always knew that when life got to hard for me I could do as all of my Sunday School teachers had taught and I could get on my knees, lay my problems at his feet and he would take them. I knew without a doubt that he was listening to me and that I would always receive comfort when I felt like things were a little tight. I knew that I could fearlessly jump into his arms with the sure knowledge that I would never hit the ground because he would catch me.
There came a time in my adult life that God had to be there for me, but from a distance. I’m sure that as my children get older and are further out from under my very protective Momma wing I will understand more how he felt. He understood that comfort can’t always be offered because it’s requested. He knew he couldn’t save me from my pain because I asked him to. God knew that I would never grow in the way that I was meant to, if he picked me up and carried me. He knew that I needed to believe in him not because he always made my life wonderful but because he let me grow through my trials and I believe that that was probably much harder for him to do. Because of the overly helpful mother that I am, I can only imagine listening to my child crying out for my help but understanding that it was their time to become something more. I can’t think about how I would react if I was listening to my child begging for comfort but knowing that even if I could take away all of the pain, it would be worse for them in the end.
I grew up my whole life tossing my problems into the hands of my Savior and our Father and I never had to find the peace that my soul was searching for on my own. God will always give you more than you can handle. There will be times in your life that you are not capable of handling things alone. There will be times that you call out for a peace that you will not immediately find. There will be moments that you wonder if you are alone because you feel like you are. But, if you could only see, you would find that he watches you from a distance, wishing he could do more but knowing you need this time. He will watch you as you are falling, arms beginning to reach for you. I promise you that he will be there in the end.
I often think about the person that I would be today if I didn’t ever have to seek him. If my heartaches were instantly passed on to become someone else’s, how strong would I be now? I am often pushed to wonder where my life would have taken me if I would have found the peace that I was searching for that night and quietly drifted off to sleep instead of picking up my scriptures to read and look for answers. Where would I be if my Father in Heaven had picked me up and carried me through the low points in my life only to set me down to enjoy the high ones?
Yes, for those that feel as if I am suggesting that the Lord will leave you alone, you are correct, but it’s only for a short time. Just as our Father in Heaven left the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, we will all be asked to bear our own crosses and it’s in those times that we will find ourselves alone. Later, we will find ourselves in our Father’s loving arms as he offers the comfort that he wished he could have offered sooner. Never stop finding yourself at his feet even if you feel that he may have forgotten you. Remember that hard times come to everyone and try to find strength in knowing that he is watching you grow into everything that you were always meant to become. Take heart in knowing that you will not feel alone forever, but only temporarily as you find yourself turning into a diamond under the intense heat and pressures that you will be asked to face in this life.
Just as I love my children and constantly find myself taking away their opportunities to learn, the Lord again sets the example of just how necessary it is to give them space to find who they are in the tests and tempests we will all find ourselves in as we move through this life and onto the next.