My eyes popped open as the pain flashed like lightning through my abdomen. My first thought was that the pain killers had worn off. I realized that my body was curled up in a ball and moving only added to the intense pain now fully raging through my body. My eyes strained to see the numbers on the clock across the room. 2:10 am. “This is not good,” I thought to myself. Carefully I rolled out of the bed and crept down the hall to the kitchen while hunching over and holding my stomach. I felt through the dark kitchen and retrieved a small bottle of water and a few crackers. Then crept slowly back to the master bath to the medicine cabinet.
While sitting up slightly in bed, I gently swallowed the pills and ate the crackers. Then I waited and prayed. Please let the pain go away. Ten minutes passed. Twenty minutes passed. Thirty minutes. “I should be feeling relief!” My mind pleaded in desperation, “Heavenly Father, Please take away the pain.” Tears began to steadily stream down my face and my body gradually converge into a small ball. The pain was not decreasing; on the contrary it was getting worse.
With great effort I rolled over to wake my sleeping husband. His eyes sprang open on my third attempt to wake him. The pain was so intense I could hardly speak. All I could say was, “I hurt.” He gathered the seriousness of the situation from my tears and began to ask questions. Then he offered a priesthood blessing.
The blessing was brief. The spirit was there, but I felt empty. The pain had not gone away. It hadn’t even decreased slightly. Much to my dismay Ryan gathered me together and drove me to the Emergency Room. I hate hospitals. I don’t like needles, or being poked and prodded. Beepers and intercom systems annoy me. “Why doesn’t the Lord just heal me?” I thought to myself, “Do I not have enough faith? Did I do something wrong?”
Every little thing I had done wrong in my entire life came flashing through my mind like a movie playing on fast-forward, whether or not I had repented of it. NO.” A voice clearly rang in my head and my heart, “NO, that is not it.” My heart screamed out in agony, “Then why don’t you heal me?”
In the emergency room the Lord inspired the doctor. Yes, there were needles, and beepers, and tests. But there were also answers, plain and simple answers. An ovarian cyst had evidently ruptured. But there were other problems. The results of the test revealed why I had experienced such crippling pain every month and why I was unable to have a baby.
Three weeks later I traveled back to the hospital. This time for a scheduled surgery which was suppose to remove the cysts and correct any other problems. And there were more problems found.
Once again the Lord inspired the doctor. The problems were corrected. But this trial was not over.
Is it over? No. Can I have children now? Well, I haven’t been able to yet. Why did the Lord not heal me? Did I not have enough faith? No. In the many blessings I have received throughout this time the phrase has been repeated, “You will be healed according to your faith.”
So what is faith? Faith, the first principle of the gospel, the verb which defines my spiritual foundation, is accepting the Lord’s will for me. Faith is not the power of positive thinking or wanting something so bad that the Lord has to give it to me. Faith is seeking and accepting the Lord’s will for me.
- Faith is knowing the sun will rise lighting each new day…even if yesterday was a bad day or the weather leaves something to be desired.
- Faith is knowing the Lord will hear my prayers each time I pray…not that I will get what I want.
- Faith is like a little seed, if planted it will grow…but like in Arizona I’ve got to water that seed like crazy.
- Faith is a swelling within my heart, when I do right I know.
- Faith is knowing I lived with God before my mortal birth…even if I don’t remember it.
- Faith is knowing I can return, when my life ends on earth…I CAN return. I have a choice.
- Faith is trust in God above, In Christ who showed the way…ah yes, trust…kind of like faith, believing the He has my best interest in His mind and heart.
- Faith is strengthened; I feel it grow whenever I obey…wow is that true!
On more than one occasion during the last 10 years this simple Primary song has come sweetly drifting into my mind as I have prayed for peace and understanding. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to learn it.
So, faith is knowing that the medical problems I have and am experiencing are God’s will for me. Not as a punishment, but as a tool or opportunity for my personal learning and growth. From this experience I have learned…
- More about my body. I have learned more about exercise and the things I eat. I am better able to recognize when my body is sending me a message that something is wrong. The Lord understands my body. He will inspire me how to care for this precious gift.
- Not all doctors or hospitals are bad! That doesn’t mean I look forward to seeing either of them, but there can be some goodness in it. The Lord can inspire them. He can use them as instruments to correct a problem.
- I understand and empathize with Sariah and Rebecca in the Old Testament, as well as other women I know who are unable to have children for whatever reason. I know what it is like to feel empty inside on Mother’s Day as the sister in the pew in front of me sits down with her 8 children in sacrament meeting.
- I have learned that women can cry with me. There is such a marvelous sisterhood in the church. Women of such resounding faith and testimony who truly mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, regardless of whether or not they themselves have been there. (One of my greatest strengths was my very fertile visiting teacher who had 7 children.)
- I have a greater empathy for anyone that has any kind of medical problem or surgery.
- I have gained a greater understand of motherhood. It is more than nagging my husband to put his shoes away or do something around the house. Although I still think that is part of it. Motherhood involves teaching, listening, learning, empathizing, nurturing, and practicing.
- More than any of these I have learned that God listens to my prayers. He will always bless me with peace and comfort, even if he doesn’t heal me or give me children.
- I am learning to listen to God, to seek His will and accept it. I’m still working on accepting it without whining or complaining. Sometimes I do good and other times I don’t.
- I am learning to be patient and accept the Lord’s timing. It is not only making the best decision that counts; it is making the best decision at the right time in my life.
This experience and others have shaped the woman I am physically, emotional, mentally, and spiritually. I have become better. Would I want to go through it again? NO! Elder Neal A Maxwell once said, “Those who have passed through a refiner’s fire, seeing the value of it express gratitude for the experience, but don’t necessarily run to the front of the line for the next fiery furnace.” And I can honestly say that there was a point in my life whenever the phrase, “This will be a learning experience,” was uttered in a blessing I would moan inside and think, “Not another one.” Yet for all these learning experiences I have become a better person.
I have learned faith by praying, doing, living, repenting, and in some cases obediently serving. Each time I have taken a step past my own pride and fears to do the will of my Father, I have found joy, peace, and growth. Not every step has been pleasant as illustrated in the experience I shared at the beginning of this talk. I have fought, whined, and cried on more than occasion. Each time I found myself empty and disappointed, knowing deep in my heart that I could do better. And each time the Lord was right there waiting to help me and all I had to do was ask. Often with bitter tears the beginning of a hymn would come to mind.
Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace? When other sources cease to make me whole? When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice, I draw myself apart, searching my soul?
Where, when my aching grows? Where, when I languish? Where in my need to know? Where can I run? Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish? Who, who can understand? He, only one.
All I had to do was keep singing…the answer was always in the last verse.
He answers privately, reaches my reaching in my Gethsemane, Savior and friend. Gentle the peace He finds for my beseeching. Constant His is and kind, love without end.
So if I have enough faith, I will have children. God has not yet specified how or when.