My daughter, Kayla, believes that all bad things come in threes. She also believes, however, that once the three bad things have happened, something good is bound to come along to balance things out…at least that is her theory. I’m not sure the formula is that simple, but it does seem like good and bad often accompany each other. It also seems as if the degree of the good versus the bad are directly correlated. I have found myself thinking about this quite often lately. Why is it that positive and negative seem to be so interconnected–almost woven together? Is it coincidence? Or part of a greater plan?
Last weekend, my 17-year-old daughter, Aubree, and I traveled to Utah to have a little mother-daughter time. Our church was holding its semi-annual women’s meeting on Saturday, and I was able to get tickets for us to attend the conference live. We left on Thursday morning, drove all day, and reached our destination–downtown Salt Lake City–at about 7:30 that evening. After a late dinner, we fell into bed exhausted.
We got up early the next morning prepared to do a bit of site-seeing. First, we stopped at the General Relief Society Building where all of the women’s auxiliary presidencies for our church are housed. During our time there, we were able to meet Sis. Bonnie Oscarson, the General Young Women’s President of the Church, as well as Sis. Rosemary Wixom, former General Primary President. Sis. Oscarson spent quite a bit of time with us, giving us a tour of the building and talking to my daughter about her future plans. It was a wonderful morning. As a matter of fact, the entire weekend was nice. We hung out with my son, Colin, took pictures of Aubree in her prom dress, visited with my mom, did a little shopping, and had dinner with my Aunt Sandra (my namesake) and my cousin Joni.
The entire trip culminated with the General Women’s Session of Conference. We had the unique experience of being guests of a general authority so we got to go by golf cart in the tunnels underneath Temple Square to the Conference. We also got to enter the Conference Center through a “special” entrance. I have to admit, it was pretty awesome to get a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the LDS church-owned properties.
The meeting was everything I had hoped it would be when I planned the trip. President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors were in attendance, as well as several other general authorities and general officers of the church. A wonderful spirit filled the vast hall and brought a sense of peace to me that has been missing for quite a while. It was a great reminder of why I have chosen to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After the conference, we went back underground and rode the carts once again. This was one of Aubree’s favorite parts of our trip, tied only with meeting Sis. Oscarson. (She said she felt like she was on a Disneyland ride!) We were tired, but happy, when we headed back to our hotel.
Our trip was quick. Sunday morning, we packed up our car and started the drive back home. Things were going well… until about 11:00am when I lost control of our vehicle and slammed into the side of a mountain. We landed on our side, with me hanging above Aubree once again. It was definitely a deja vu moment. The vehicle was totaled, but Aubree and I managed to escape with only minor cuts and bruises. The wounds that hurt the most, however, were the emotional ones. As I reflected on our wonderful, spirit-filled, testimony building weekend, I wondered why it ended the way that it did? It almost seemed as if there were forces at work that wanted to make us forget all of the good–the good times, the good activities, the good visits, the good meetings–and focus on the bad.
I will admit that for several hours after the accident, all I could think of was the bad. I was grateful that Aubree and I were alive and well, but frustrated and angry that we were in ANOTHER rollover accident. Isn’t one major accident in a lifetime enough? As we were transported by ambulance to the closest hospital, I couldn’t help but ask myself all of the unanswerable questions. Why did this happen? What am I doing wrong? How will we deal with the additional problems this accident would surely bring? When will the trials end? As I watched tears well up in my daughter’s eyes and then spill out onto her cheeks, I felt completely helpless as a mother. How could I give her the comfort and assurance she desperately needed when I didn’t feel it myself? That feeling of helplessness has stayed with me throughout the past week. The frustration and anger I was initially feeling passed quickly, but I was left with a sense of unease. With all of the difficulties our family has experienced lately, I’m having a hard time feeling any sense of safety or security in my life. The question, “Why me?” keeps coming to mind.
This past weekend, during the General Conference for my church, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a talk about opposition. He didn’t expound upon new doctrine or share any new scriptures. He simply restated the truths I have known all my life. In the Book of Mormon, we are taught: “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11). How true this is! Trials, challenges, adversity, difficulties–what ever you choose to name them–this thing called opposition is a major part of our existence, because life here on earth was meant to test us and try us. Sometimes, challenges come because of decisions we make. Other times, we are faced with difficulties because of the decisions of those around us. And then there are the trials that seem to have no origin, the ones that can’t be blamed on anything or anyone. Those can be the most difficult to accept. They are the ones that make us question, “Why me?” I’ve experienced a few of those in my life, and during the past few years, as I have experienced them over and over again, I have finally figured out one of the lessons I believe I am supposed to learn from them.
It will all work out.
It always does.
In the moment, it often seems as if the world is coming apart, crashing down around me. Eventually, however, things work out, life goes on, and the sting that I feel in the most difficult moments fades away as I learn to deal with the new reality that is mine. It happened when I was diagnosed with cancer. It happened when I found out that my son was gay. It happened when my arm was nearly severed. And it will happen now, as the cuts and scratches heal and the bruises fade away. It will all work out. The why’s and how’s don’t really matter, because life will go on, things will get better, and in the end, I will be a stronger person because of the things I’ve endured.
The challenges we suffer, although overwhelming in the moment, give us strength and fortitude. Even when our initial reaction to a problem is anger or frustration (as mine often is), we are becoming stronger simply through the act of pushing through each day and making the best of it. It is not always easy, but as we learn to put our trust in God, it becomes easier. Perhaps the best part of adversity is that it makes the good times better and the blessings seem sweeter, for without opposition, we wouldn’t know the difference between good or bad, right or wrong, happiness or misery.
As we travel through life, we can expect adversity and challenges to present themselves each day. Like my daughter, we may be counting them, hoping for some relief after problem #3. Or, like me, we may be praying desperately for a bit of boredom and normalcy in life. Either way, some trials will be hard. Some will seem unfair. Some will make us want to run away and hide from reality. All of those reactions are normal. But try to remember while running, or hiding, or shaking a fist at the heavens and asking, “Why me?”, IT WILL ALL WORK OUT. IT ALWAYS DOES.