There is, in the scriptures, a phrase that is the equivalent of “And they lived happily ever after.” It’s in Second Nephi, chapter five. The background to this story is that Nephi, the fourth son of Lehi (one of the Lord’s prophets), was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, and obedient to whatever his father and his Father in Heaven asked of him.
Sometimes that obedience meant that he was put in charge of difficult situations, instead of his oldest brothers, Laman and Lemuel. Over time, they got jealous. On several occasions, they talked back to their dad, made fun of Nephi, beat up Nephi, and even tried to kill him. All this because they were proud and only cared about doing what they felt like doing; they didn’t care whether it hurt anyone else.
Nephi and his righteous family and friends eventually did what I’m sure must have been a difficult thing to do. They followed the Lord’s counsel and left the older brothers and the rest of those who would not follow Jesus Christ. They set off into the wilderness to create a new life, far from those whose hearts had turned cold.
It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually Nephi and his people were able to build a prosperous community where they continually looked to the Lord for direction and inspiration. Nephi wrote, “And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.”
This is one of my very favorite scriptures. Heaven knows that this life throws all sorts of crazy at us. But through everything we encounter, we must remember that God wants us to be happy. Not the kind of happy that comes from the exhilaration of going on a roller-coaster. That is fleeting. He wants us to have real and deep joy. The kind that can only come through giving yourself over to goodness. To love and to hope and to charity.
Here I am...throwing up into the dish filled kitchen sink, bawling. Alone. Well, not fully alone. My three-year-old is screaming from the potty for assistance. My older four young children are at school. All in elementary school. Oh, and a little baby growing inside me… which explains the forceful stomach regurgitation.
My husband has chosen to leave me. This shouldn’t surprise me. I have known about his affair for over a year now. I have known about his continued hidden contact with her, despite his promising he had none. I have seen the lies in his eyes. Felt the coldness and lack of love he had for me now. Yet, I bawl, throw-up, and bawl some more.
I thought I had tried everything I could have. I did everything I was told to do. Reading books, giving praise, expressing gratitude, seeing a counselor, working to sexually please him, working so hard to pray to our Heavenly Father, reading scriptures. I have made promises to God and to my husband. I want to keep those. I know family life is critical in society. It gives our children the best place to be raised. Not saying single parenting isn’t successful, but it isn’t what I want for our family.
My goal was a happy, two parent family. I thought it was his as well. At least, it use to be. He used to be so loving. So different. Yet, he has gradually transformed before me into someone I don’t recognize… yet he is still in my husband’s body.
I am left here, being told I just have to accept it and move forward. Watching my children suffer and cry. Watching them go through pain because of a choice they had no say in. Hearing his new lover tell me to “accept my part” and get out of her life… with MY husband. Fighting bitter feelings, because not only did he get to make this decision, he gets to walk away from watching his children, our children’s fallout.
He gets to text and talk to his affair-mate for hours a day, while only calling for brief minutes when he has time to listen to the chaos at home. He doesn’t have to face the questions about what Daddy has decided… and the excruciating job of trying to say as little as possible to not drag them into anything their young minds shouldn’t have to deal with. Trying to save Daddy’s face. Letting them know we still love Daddy very much, but he has made this decision. He doesn’t even have to cope with the continued and on-going daily tasks of trying to keep some sense of normalcy for our broken children. He gets to take long, thought-filled jogs to keep his body in dating shape.
...And me...pregnant with our sixth child. He claims he will be here for our children, however, the first two weeks aren’t looking so promising for that. Even when he was in town he only gave them time after he was finished networking with his people. Those who are much more enticing than his family. He serves them. Loves to. It gives him fulfillment. These are the people he would stay out with until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning.
This sounds very harsh. But, the emotions are raw and very real in this moment. Somehow, I hope to express myself through this journey to help others who may be facing a similar trial.
Through all of this, family, neighbors, and friends have rallied. Giving assistance where and however they can. Babysitting, meals, helping repair and maintain things around our home that have fallen by the wayside, prayers, money, help in looking for work, and words. So many wonderful words and prayers on our behalf. This is only because some of them know. I have not told any out of revenge, but for support. I think getting support is critical for myself and my children at this time.
There is a story about Mister Roger’s mother that comes to mind: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" Wise words from Mister Roger's Mother. So many helpers have come from everywhere. From the acts of two people, I have seen so many others coming to help us.
For now, I will focus on mourning and helping my children through this. Working to show them the good that comes from every trial. At least this is my goal for the moment. I am sure as we progress our emotions will transform. Hopefully and prayerfully for the better. ~Lizzie
Last night kicked off this fall’s session of General Conference. President Uchtdorf shared the story of a young girl, Ava, who went to stay the summer with her Great Aunt Rose. Aunt Rose’s life hadn’t turned out how she had planned it. She had many setbacks and disappointments and felt that she had every reason to be bitter and resentful.
Over the years, however, she had found peace and was able to become truly happy. When Ava asked her aunt about it, Great Aunt Rose told her, “There’s enough that doesn’t go right in life. So anyone can work themselves into a puddle of pessimism and a mess of melancholy, but I know people who, even when things don’t work out, focus on the miracles and wonders of life. These folks are the happiest people I know.” In the story, Aunt Rose continued her words of wisdom, reminding Ava that God didn’t design us to be sad, but to have joy. She shared with her niece that there was a time in her life that she just didn’t want to go on. She was angry all the time and was an “absolute monster to be around... ‘It’s not fair’ was a song I sang over and over in my head,” she said.
The changing point in Aunt Rose’s life was when she discovered faith, which led to hope, and the realization that one day, everything would make sense.
I have not experienced what Lizzie has gone through. But I have had my own trials. We all do. I have felt the pain of a broken heart, and of loneliness. Like Lizzie and Great Aunt Rose, over and over again, I have found that the things that can get me through hard times are my family and my faith. And the realization that through everything, Jesus Christ is there and has felt our pain.
God wants us to be happy. Sometimes, as it happened with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, the furnace is turned up seven times hotter than normal. Sometimes it seems like it’s seventy times more. But, as surely as He puts us into the furnace of affliction, He will be in there with us.