Sunday, April 21, 2013

Faithfulness in Times of Trial

For the last 4 years of my life, I've spent 2 out of the 3 hours at church with 3-year-olds.  This year, we were asked to teach the 12-year-olds for one of those hours, which means the third hour was opened up for me to attend Elder's Quorum.  I was super excited about that at the beginning of the year.  I decided I wanted to make the best of it, so I set a goal to read the assigned readings every week before Sunday so that I could get the most out of the lessons.

This year, the book we have been reading is The Teachings of President Lorenzo Snow.  I really enjoy the weeks when we cover a chapter of this book.  I've come to call it "Book Club Week."  It functions just like a book club.  We have an assigned reading and we get together and discuss what we read.  And, just like every book club I've ever been a part of, most people don't actually finish the assigned reading, so it becomes a discussion between the three people who actually read, while everyone else does their best to get us off topic.  I love it.

This week's reading was Chapter 7:  Faithfulness in Times of Trial.  There were a lot of powerful lessons in this chapter.  The funny thing about this chapter, was that as I was reading, I actually had the thought:  "I really don't have that many trials."  Then, about a nanosecond later, the other half of my brain said, "Hey stupid head, do you not remember this past year?"  (Two things you should know about the quarreling parts of my brain.  1.They're not always friendly to each other, but it's always out of love.  2.They name call each other like 2nd graders.)

(I am about to tell you about 2 trials that I have not talked about before on this blog.  Both were too difficult to write about at the time.  But, apparently since I forgot that they were trials, I have healed sufficiently to talk about them.)

The cranky half of my brain continued, "Remember how you paid a doctor $5000 to cut you open.  Remember how that was almost exactly a year ago?  Remember how painful it was?  Remember how you had to lay in bed for 3 days?"

Remember how cute I was in the process?
I have to explain a little bit more about why I was in the hospital.  As most of you know, Robyn and I are trying to adopt.  I may write more about how we came to that decision later.  But, I'll just say now that we arrived at that decision only after several years of trying to have kids, working with fertility experts, even getting surgery in hopes of helping the problem, and ultimately being told it was impossible.

To say that it was a trial would be an understatement.  Here is an excerpt from my journal in May of last year:  "Robyn made the statement, 'All I ever wanted was to be a mom.  Is that so much to ask?'  It shook me to the very core.  I wept with her.  She has always had an urgency about having kids.  I have never felt that.  It's always been something that I want in the future but it doesn't have to be today.  But when I realized that someday may not be an option, and never may be the only option.  That really hit me.  I don't know how to deal with never."

In high school they try to convince you that you should never even talk to girls because they might get pregnant if you hold hands.  Apparently that is the case for most people, which makes it even harder to not be most people.  It's difficult to watch announcements of pregnancy pretty much every day on Facebook, and realize that we will never make that announcement.

I have been blessed with something that I believe is much more powerful than my trials.  I have been blessed with faith.  I thoroughly believe that the Lord has a plan for my life.  I know that His plan includes what is absolutely best for me.  Why would I not want to take the road that ends with the absolute best thing, regardless of how bumpy that road?

I've had to make peace with the idea that the plan I started with, is not necessarily the same as the plan the Lord has laid out.  That certainly hasn't been easy, but the Lord has "consecrated my afflictions for my gain" (Jacob 2:2) and I have really felt that.  Going through the trial of infertility has certainly brought me closer to Robyn.  I've also been endowed with a greater level of faith that has given me the strength to move forward.

Infertility is actually what leads into the next trial.  Since then, the road we've begun to travel is toward adoption.  On the road to adoption we were required to get checked out by doctors.  (They basically just have to say that we're going to live for 18 years, so we can raise a child.)  While I was being checked out for adoption, the doctor ran some blood tests and let me know that I am diabetic.

For me, that was worse than the infertility revelation.  I was completely terrified of diabetes.  All I knew about diabetes was that it makes people go blind, lose limbs, have heart attacks and kidney failure.  I read more about it.  I read about neuropathy in your extremities, where it feels like you have barb wire tightly wound around your feet.

I was so afraid of the complications of diabetes, I literally wept.  It seemed to me, my options were to suffer through neuropathy or to never eat food again.

But then I realized how blessed I was to find out relatively early on.  Most people get diagnosed in their 50s. They often have to go right into insulin therapy because their pancreas has already become a casualty to the disease.  I was given the blessing of some medication to lessen the risks.  I was given the blessing of having a choice to change my lifestyle.

I've heard it said that there are two forms of motivation.  You can be running from a nightmare, or you can be chasing a dream.  Two months ago I began running from a nightmare.  I realized I needed to change my lifestyle and get healthier to lessen my risks of diabetes complications.  In those 2 months I've lost about 30 pounds.  I've turned back the clock about 5 years.  I feel healthier than I have felt in a long time.  

To be honest, I no longer fear the nightmare.  I am much more motivated by the dream.  I've had enough success in changing my health already that I'm beginning to see a future that I wouldn't have dreamed possible before.

What will it be like to be able to do things I haven't done in years?  I'll be able to stand on top of mountains.  I'll be able to ride in an airplane without having to request a seat belt extender.  I'll be able to explore the world and not have to waste so much of my vacation time resting in a hotel room.  I'm gonna go sky diving!  (They don't let super obese people go sky diving.)

I have realized what a blessing it is to have found out about my diabetes.  It has given me the motivation to change and to become a new person.   That trial/blessing grew out of the first trial of infertility.  I would not have found out about my diabetes without going through the adoption process.

When I think about my life, I think about how excited I am about the future.  My life is better now than it was a year ago.  I feel closer to my wife.  I feel healthier.  I feel more spiritual strength.  I feel happier.  

That's why it's so hard to remember that I have trials.  Trials don't stay as trials for very long.  They have a way of turning into blessings.

It's certainly still difficult to know that we can't have a family in the way we originally planned.  It's difficult to know that I will always have to manage a disease that could have terrible complications if left unchecked.  But, ultimately, I look forward to a future where every day is brighter and better than the day before, both in this life as well as the next.

As Lorenzo Snow said, "I know that your lives have not been all sunshine; you have doubtless passed through many a trial, and perhaps you have come up through much tribulation; but by continued integrity you will soon emerge from the shadows into the glorious sunshine of the celestial world."


  1. Excellent. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life. :)

  2. Best of luck to you and your wife on the road to adoption and getting healthy. I love your positive attitude about it all, even if at times you didn't feel so positive about any of it. Totally understandable.

    Thanks for sharing though. It's tough to put things out there like this, but in return you get a lot more people thinking and praying for you, so win/win, right?

  3. I love how you said that trials don't stay trials for very long. It's so true. So often as I look back, I can see why the trials were necessary for the Lord to be able to guide my life where he wanted so that I could be most blessed. What a merciful God we have. :)

  4. Jeff-

    I always read your blog when you post on facebook and I quite enjoy it. However, today's post made me want to come out of the dark corner and leave a comment. :)

    We struggled with infertility for 5 years. We were told by some that having our own child wasn't in our future, and invasive procedures such as IVF may not work. Aside from that, $10, 000 + was not in our budget by any means. By some miracle, finally finding a good doctor that understood what was wrong with me a LOT of hard work by me, and a LOT of money spent between doctors, fertility specialists,etc. we finally got our miracle. However, I still feel the heartache when I hear others are affected by this. It's not fair.

    Even now, I still feel that sadness when I see pregnancy announcements on facebook, having those feelings still fresh in my mind of the years of sadness. I've battled with feelings about why was I able to resolve it, and others can't! It seems like the pain of it never goes away, it just manifests itself in other ways. I pray that you and your wife get your miracle.

    I really enjoy reading your blog! Thank you for sharing this part of your life.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you were able to be successful. For us, at would take a miracle on par with the parting of the Red Sea. But adoption will be its own miracle.

  5. Thank you, Jeff. I don't know Robyn, but I admire you both tremendously, and I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

  6. Love this post so much. Thank you for sharing your faith with me.

  7. This is a beautiful way to share these experiences. The things that stand out most through my life are those things that were trials that I waded through and learned from. The growth and the blessings that came to me as a result are priceless though I would never have asked for that trial to gain from it. I believe you and Robyn will be blessed for your faith (and as a result I will also be blessed). Love you!

  8. Thank you everyone for your thoughts. This post was difficult to put out there, but I appreciate all the kind things you have all said.

  9. As much as I love your funny side, I equally love your deeper, thoughtful side. Thanks for sharing more about your trials and your faith that has sustained you. After reading this, Scott said, "He has way more faith than we ever did." Thanks for your example. You and Robyn are in our prayers.

  10. I would never have made it through our trials without your love and support. I'm glad I had your faith to lean on when my own was less then adequate. I love you more then ever!

  11. Thank you for sharing this, Jeff. Hearing others' faith-promoting experiences can really strengthen your own faith, and this has done that for me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...