Friday, April 23, 2010

Love is the answer

Sorry this post has been so long in is about the day I started back to church after a month off, March 21,2010. My goal was to stay the whole time (whether I went to my classes or not) so that my kids would stay.

As I took a shower that morning, I found myself actually looking forward to going, not dreading or nervous for it like I had been for the weeks and months previous to my break.

The kids of course had taken a bit of a break, too, so it was somewhat a struggle to get them up and going.

I turned on "Music and the spoken word" to play in the background while we got ready. I wasn't really paying attention until Lloyd Newel began one of his final message on the program. It was about delighting in the happiness and success of others, even if that success sometimes comes at the cost of our own. An example was shared of a high school girl who called another one to congratulate her for being the valedictorian of their class. The girl who called was second place, and there was only one valedictorian. Instead of mourning her own loss, she rejoiced in the other girl's success.


I really enjoyed Sacrament Meeting. The speakers consisted of two sisters from new part of ward. I don't know anything about their current situations with their spouses, but if they have spouses, they weren't there speaking with them.

The first spoke mostly of her life, her childhood, her siblings, her participation in the Hill Cumorah pagent. Her mission call, which she ended up trading for marriage in the SL temple, her 5 children, sadness in her life losing her dad, then losing her mom. She spoke of each of her 5 children, what they are all doing now. She then added something about their family now being a little bit broken, but how they are still an eternal family. While she was speaking, I felt impressed that I should get to know her better.

The text for the second speaker's talk came from President Eyring in last October's conference, from his talk "Our Perfect Example". Here are Some of the main things I remember, that impressed me the most:

Words from the primary song "I'm Trying to be like Jesus."

"...I'm trying to love as he did in all that I do and say....Love one another as Jesus love you, try to show kindness in all that you do. Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought, for these are the things Jesus taught."

Elder Eyring's message was a simple one of love, "Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him [the Savior], our perfect example...Love of others is at the heart of our capacity to obey Him."

"The greatest joys and the greatest sorrows we experience are in family relationships. The joys come from putting the welfare of others above our own."

As she continued to speak about his talk, the words clicked for me and how I should handle the stresses of my life right now. Instead of being frustrated and swayed by others telling me how selfish Scott appears to be, I felt strongly that I just need to love him, and try putting his happiness above my own, even though it seems to many that I shouldn't have to. Don't the scriptures tell us to work on improving ourselves before telling others how they should improve?

Elder Eyring mentions the inscription on a gravestone at a cemetery near his home that says, "Please, no empty chairs." He points out the word "please" and how we Can't force anyone's choices.

I loved his council to husbands and wives, and the words filled my heart with peace: "Pray for the love which allows you to see the good in your companion. Pray for the love that makes weaknesses and mistakes seem small. Pray for the love to make your companion's joy your own. Pray for the love to want to lessen the load and soften the sorrows of your companion."

He continues to give advice to parents, to children, to those who have adopted other people's families as if they were their own. I thought of our many friends, friends that we are currently closer to than to our own extended families, my love for them, my excitement for them as they find love and make plans to "marry", or at least in Utah, to "commit" to each other. Is the love I feel for them not the same Christ-like love that this whole talk is about?

His final message in the talk: "I hope you will go out today looking for opportunities to do as He did and to love as He loves. I can promise you the peace that you felt as a child will come to you often and it will linger with you. The promise is true that He made to His disciples: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." (John 14:27)"

So, if I pray for love, love like the Savior, and put the happiness of my spouse above my own, I will find peace? That is my interpretation, and it sounds like a good plan to me. I seem to remember the speaker mentioning a line from the talk that says Some of us are blessed with love that grows when we need it the most. I have faith that I can be blessed with the love I need right now to get through everything.


Following Sacrament meeting, I walked my children to their classes, and then I saw the lady who had spoken first. We had a heartfelt conversation as I learned a bit more about her situation, and I told her a bit about my struggles. We embraced, and I realized that there are a lot of people in the ward that I don't even really know yet that have a lot to offer to me and my family. I hope opportunities will come for me to get to know them better.

I proceeded outside to the back lawn. The weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm with a slight breeze. I had snacks to nibble on and a new book to read...

...and now the story of the book...

A few days earlier, I received an email at school. The time on the email was 1:30 a.m. I got the impression it was from a parent, but it didn't say much. All it said was "Please call me at your earliest convenience" and then included a name and phone number. Based on my experience with parents last year, I was nervous that somehow information about my personal life or views had ticked someone off again, although I have been really careful this year not to talk to my classes and students about it. Still, I knew there were rumors circulating from the year before.

Following my two classes that morning, at the beginning of my lunch, I called the number. The man who answered was very friendly and excited that I had called him back, he made sure that I had some time to talk (that I wasn't in the middle of a class or anything) and then he became awkward as he told me that he was the father of one of my students, that he had given me a fake name to protect his daughter's identity because she begged him not to talk to me, that his daughter had told him I was going through some personal struggles, and that he was embarrassed to talk to me about it because he didn't know if it was true or not, but that he could not sleep the night before thinking about me and the possibility of what I was going through.

He then shared with me that he has had homosexual feelings, and that decisions he made previously in his life were really hard on his wife and children. But he found his way back, and he wrote a book about his experience that he wanted to share with me, and that his main message to me was that no matter what happens, no matter what decisions my husband makes, I will be okay. Everything will be okay. I can call and talk to him or his wife any time. "Can I bring you the book? You are in room number ###. right?"

I cried as he spoke, then I went to lunch, in awe of what appeared to be God's tender mercies and this time a parent that was going to be an angel of sorts rather than a trial like last year.

At the beginning of my next class, I was wandering the classroom, collecting papers and helping students with the starting activity when I realized someone peaking in the door. This man and his wife were there with a book and a vase of flowers. They both hugged me and reminded me that I would be okay and that I could call them any time. There was a sweet spirit in their presence--one of love and deep concern, not of judgement or advice or anything like that.

Thus I had this book, and I finally had time to start reading it. I read a few full chapters, then skimmed, and read some more. It didn't take long for me to realize that I disagree with this man in a lot of ways, mainly with the last chapter and gay-rights issues. But it didn't bother me, because the tone of the book was wonderful. It was not preachy, but rather just as he says on the back cover: "Although the solutions for each person who is sruggling with unwanted behaviors will be different, my hope is that my story will encourage you to never give up, always dream and contemplate what seems impossible, and continue to seek solutions to life's most difficult challeges."

Another thing I really liked about it is that even though he is LDS, he does not mention it. He talks about his religion and how it influenced his struggles, both in the guilt he felt and in having God's help with the decisions he eventually made, but the denomination of the church itself was never mentioned.

I want to share a few quotes from the book about his wife, for they are what touched me the most...

From the dedication of the book, which is dedicated to his wife, he says...

"I dedicate this book to my beautiful wife. She has walked this long journey with me for many years...Her only concern has been what is best for me. My sincere wish for the world is that all people could have a spouse (or family members) as understanding, compassionate, and who posses the ability to love unconditionally as my sweet wife has been able to do."

"My sweet companion willingly stepped back and allowed me to make my own decisions in this journey we call life. She has always accepted the fact that this was a risk and that there were no guarantees. She just did it. And now, we are reaping the rewards of her unconditional dedication, loyalty and love."

Later in the book he says, "In the forthcoming years, she had some very difficult days and seemingly insurmountable decisions to make."

He quotes from her journal, "I am very sad at this time. I have been married for many years and have two marvelous children, and I have a great husband, but he has a problem...He is a great father for our children, but as a husband he is making decisions that are destroying our marriage. At this time he is only thinking of himself and what he wants without thinking of the damage he is causing me and the children. I love [him] ... but I don't know to what point I can endure this. This is very difficult for me! I am very sad and I think a lot about him. I know I need to remain calm, just live my life and be strong for my children. I pray that the Lord would bless him with His spirit that as he decides what to do, he might be able to remember the pain I am feeling. I hope he is able to put more emphasis on the most important thing, our family."

The following quotes come from a chapter titled "Love and its incredible power"

"As I felt the power of my wife's unconditional love, I was then able to begin to express myself and figure out what was happening within my sweet wife naturally comes with a very unconditional loving heart...she repeatedly forgave me each time I failed. "Hatred tears down, but understanding builds up" (Howard W. Hunter).

"My wife was able to work through the hatred she felt for my situation, and began to understand my pain. By so doing, we were able to find enough strength to focus on commonalities instead of the differences we felt. Because we were both willing to discuss the issues and never stop trying to figure out the huge puzzle, we ultimately were able to turn this very negative situation into a very positive success story."

Now that I read over these quotes again, a month later, I wonder if I am placing too much hope in them. It still feels right, however, to focus on loving him and rejoicing in his happiness, rather than getting angry and throwing him out so that I don't have to deal with it any more.

I have shared a bit about our situation with three friends (staff members) at school. Two of them immediately reacted with how selfish Scott is. So I was afraid to tell the third. She knew I was avoiding talking to her about it. When I finally did, though, I included telling her about the parents and the book they brought to me. She became emotional and told me that she felt like I was taking the right path with the situation, although not the easy one.

I have felt bad that it has taken me so long to write this post, but it has been good for me to mingle the memories of the peace that this Sabath day in March brought to me with the mixture of other emotions I have been feeling over the last month--sadness, anger, frustration, depression. I am sure that things will continue to feel like a rollar coaster for a long time, especially for the next couple of months until the baby comes. But I need to remember this post and these feelings and allow peace to fill my heart. Not an easy task at all, I must say. But maybe, just maybe, within the realm of possibility.


loquaciousmomma said...

Thank you for sharing these powerful words of counsel! You have provided me with needed guidance in my own family's struggles.

I admire your desire to follow the Savior's example and love unconditionally. I believe your life will be richly blessed for it.

I will pray for your continued strength as you face this challenge.

Sarah said...

Thank you, and you are welcome. I will need to keep reading and rereading this post to remember to apply it!

Sophrosyne said...

From the experiences of friends struggling with grief, it seems that they are often called upon to teach the people who should be supporting them how to do so. I wonder if your situation is somewhat similar. Your posts have helped me understand so much. I am amazed at your insight and strength! You have taught me much in just a few words. Perhaps you will be able to share a little bit of the love you are learning with your friends so that they can learn to understand as well. I know that it's not fair -- they should be the ones supporting you, instead of you having to teach them what to do!

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I marvel at your courage. I've shared your story with others and discussed it with a few people who already know, and almost all express the same frustration with Scott. But I now see another side, one of a valiant and courageous wife and friend. My prayers have been with you and Scott for many months. If anyone deserves a path through the storm, you do. I pray that Heavenly Father blesses you with one. Know that even though you sometimes feel alone, there are many waiting and watching for a time when they can help. When you will allow someone with a different opinion to support you and love you in spite of the issues at hand, I think you’ll find more support and help than you realize is there.

A very wise person in my life once told me of some personal revelation related to me. She said that she was distressed by my lack of interest in the church and was pleading with the Lord to change me. She was told (whether by words or impression, I don’t know) that I was His son and that he loved me more than she did. She was told to love me for who I was and to allow Him to workout the rest. From that time forward she focused on her own spirituality and personal testimony. The time came when the Lord did work a miracle in our life, but it was not until she unconditionally loved me and finally was at the point of accepting what ever the Lord had in store for us.

I think what she did was plan for the worst, hope for the best and to exercise faith in Him who is the source of all blessings. She did not face anything near the trial you face.

We love you and admire your courage and faith.

mandi said...

This was beautiful. Someone commented on my blog a while back and said, in effect, that God never asks us to trust in man, but to love man. Trust in God, and love our fellow man. That's it. If I put my trust in Him, and strengthen myself, my love for my own husband will grow, and when the storms come, whatever they may be, I will be able to weather them. I no longer put my trust in my husband, but in God. Let God dictate your life, not your spouse. Just love your spouse.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog and your husband's blog for quite some time now and I have read as your situation has unfolded. Awhile ago I posted an anonymous comment on Scott's blog and then you quoted me on one of your posts. I am the person whose father died of AIDS and I talked about making choices. Anyway, I hope this is ringing a bell for you.
Well, I would like to tell you about my Mom. She is amazing. The one thing she did that I appreciate so much (among the other million things) is the fact that she NEVER bad mouthed my Dad, she left it up to us (my siblings & I) to formulate our own opinions about the situation. She was example of love and service. Now, their marriage did end, and my father did die from AIDS. But she loved him, and it was hard.
I think you are making the right choices. Staying close to the gospel will be imperative in your life. It saved my Mom's life. And although things didn't work for my parents, she always kept her covenants and can stand blameless before God- plus she has now been happily married to my step-dad for almost ten years.
Also, I think you are totally right in loving him and letting your kids know of your love for him. Because, no matter what happens, they will need the freedom to decide for themselves.
I also believe that anything is possible and I hope and pray that it all works out for your family! DON'T LOSE HOPE! But, also do what is best for you and your kids. I personally feel like MOM marriages are possible!
Sorry I feel the need to remain anonymous, your situation just hits really close to home and it's hard for me to face right now. Perhaps in the future we will meet. Just know I am rooting for you!!!!

Jenz said...

Sarah -- great post. I loved it and took away very positive things about how to treat my spouse.