Today I found out through a friend of mine that one of our friends has stage three breast cancer. She is a thoughtful, fabulous friend and mother of four kids under the age of 7. She's also blessed with a sensitive, nurturing husband. She has seen many health scares which is perhaps why I feel close to her even though the busy-ness of our lives doesn't let us hang out as much as I'd like. I've cried on/off all day since hearing this news. Like my friend posted on her blog [link], I looked afresh at my life and kissed my kids, we told stories with the puppets they made at church today, and I enjoyed rather than groaned when they picked me to read stories for bedtimes because I originally thought I wanted to clean up dinner so it wouldn't be left to face in the morning. Ryan's still getting over the cold I gave him, so he didn't quite feel the love as much today, but it's there!
But what can you do for a friend in this situation? You feel so helpless because in doing something, it may not be what they need or may make things worse. In the end, after many drafts, I wrote my friend a note which crystalized a pivotal personal, spiritual moment for me.
For the past few weeks I've been mulling over the idea of posting a series of "Why I believe" blogs because I love testimony meetings [click for definition] and many of the testimonies in the book "Why I Believe." I learn how the Lord deals with me and the rest of us through testimonies and what can be more important in life than to know more about God and my relationship with Him?
There are a few reasons I've felt I should do this series:
1) I want my family, specifically my 9 young brothers and sisters who are in that crazy teenage and young adult season of life to know unequivocally that I KNOW the fully restored gospel of Jesus Christ is on this earth and by staying close to it I have been blessed with the greatest moments of joy, happiness, and a true sense of purpose. As a friend said recently in her testimony, "I've lived in and out of the church, and am happier in it." Almost all of my family lives far away so I don't get to share this stuff often enough.
2) I want it recorded somewhere for my children to find if memory or health fails me. Asking my Grandma Honey about why she joined the church helped me realize that I'm guided by the Lord in much the same way she was. Perpaps my kids will learn the same.
3) Writing it down helps solidify it all for me and remember it better so hopefully I can be brave enough to share it in person with someone someday.
So I'm sharing this little note to my friend to share one of the reasons I believe and perhaps to help others like me who struggle with what to say or do when faced with a friend or family member's trial. I wish I'd shared this type of note with many over the years when I've struggled to know how to show I care.
I hope you don’t mind that [our mutual friend] let me know of your current struggle. Overwhelmed by sadness for the heartache you, your husband, and the kids must face, I searched all day for, once again, how I might help your wonderful family. I remembered your recent testimony after the spring ordeal and how the power of gathered prayers and fasting was felt and strengthened you.
[Our mutual friend] mentioned you felt a sense of peace – not of what outcome to expect, just peace – perhaps of His hand in this. I know that sense of peace in the face of the unknown. In the middle of one horrible night, alone, far from home, and in excruciating pain – I was praying for some sort of relief and clarity and still terrified of a recently diagnosed disease I didn’t understand yet. A scripture came to mind, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (1 Nephi 11:16 [link]) And I literally felt like I was being held in someone’s arms and warmth rushed through me. I knew all of a sudden that Christ had condescended and felt all my pain – physical, emotional, spiritual – He had even been left alone without the comfort of the Father for a time. But I would not be left comfortless. I know you and your husband know this comfort. I will continue to pray that the Lord sends those feelings of peace and comfort often as you work this out.
Please know I’m a phone call or email away if you ever need anything – a meal, someone to play with the kids while you rest up, someone to wash dishes – YOU NAME IT! But I respect your need for privacy because in the midst of trials we don’t always have the strength to share the burden.
I’ve often wished you were a blogger so I could check in on your life and musings about the lessons we learn as moms and wives. You have such great insights and are such a fascinating person whom I admire sharing this season of life with.