The day my husband told me he had doubts about the Church and about God, I cried alone in a locked bathroom while I began to comprehend what his doubts and questions might mean for my family. Having grown up in a home where the gospel was taught and where we loved the Lord, I had hoped that my husband and I would walk hand in hand as disciples of Christ and we would raise our family to know and love God. Suddenly, in a single conversation, a lifetime of planning and dreaming hung in the balance and threatened to give way to be replaced by a void of uncertainty.
Through the ensuing years, as I worked to understand my husband’s doubts and reconcile myself to his ultimate separation from the church I was tossed through a whirlwind of emotions: fear, anger, regret, betrayal, doubt, sorrow…
Along my journey, God has blessed me with amazing and supportive family and friends. They have strengthened me and helped to ease my pain; but, the majority of my battles are fought within the walls of my home and in the depths of my own soul and these are places where I must press on alone. I have been to the darkest of places, where I am overwhelmed by the burden I carry and struggle to confront my own doubts and questions. It is spiritually and emotionally exhausting and there are times when I feel utterly alone and defeated.
In my stake’s recent conference a brother taught about enduring to the end. His talk struck me because he stated that enduring to the end is more than just surviving, which, due to my circumstances is often how I picture myself enduring. As I voiced my reflections on this idea later a friend gave me a powerful reminder that enduring to the end is something that we do with the help of the Savior, through the power of His atonement.
Our elder brother, the Son of God, agreed to undergo incomprehensible agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He endured the betrayal of friends, the false accusations of enemies, the rejection of a people He loved and had sought to serve, He felt the sting of a whip, the humiliating spray of spit on His face, debilitating fatigue, the piercing of thorns and of nails, and finally the withdrawal of the supporting spirit and presence of His Father.
While Jesus hung on the cross, there were those who mocked Him and demanded proof saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” (1) It was something that Christ could have easily done. At any moment, He could have stopped the all-encompassing pain and torment and silenced those who mocked Him with undeniable proof of who He was. It would have been easy, but He did not shrink from “the valley of the shadow of death” (2), either physical or spiritual, because He understood that by saving Himself we all would be lost.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross, He thought of you and He thought of me. He shouldered every one of our burdens, bore the agony of our guilt and sin, and experienced every nuance of our personal pain. He did this so that when the rest of us reach the point where the burden of our sin and the weight of our trials have nearly crushed us and our ability to press forward falters – where we have reached the point of barely surviving and when we cry out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?“(3) we will not be met with deafening silence.
Because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path — the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].None Were with Him, Jeffery R. Holland, April 2009 General Conference
As I cried alone in a locked bathroom one simple, comforting thought came to me, “Everything will be okay.” In that moment I knew my Savior was by my side and would carry me through my difficult journey. Through the years, when the difficulties of my personal conflict overcome me, I often forget the promise that was made to me on that first day; but when I raise eyes in the midst of sorrow and look for my Savior He is always there. I know that He will never forsake me, just as He will never forsake you.
(1) Luke 23:35
(2) Psalm 23:4
(3) Mark 15:34
“Lessons from the Atonement That Help Us Endure to the End” – Robert D. Hales, Presiding Bishop, October 1985.
“Behold, We Count Them Happy Which Endure” – Elder Robert D. Hales, April 1998.
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