What advice do you have for someone who has struggled in her marriage for many years and was pushed into leaving her husband due to drugs? A woman who had just lost her mom, who was her best friend, from a sudden heart attack? A woman who has four young kids and whose soon to be ex lives at home while she rents a house for her and the kid? A return missionary whose testimony is on the brink and who feels angry at God for taking her mom when she was so young at only 67? A woman who was told for years through the spirit to stay in a marriage which was manipulative and abusive and drug addled? What would you say to that girl?
I appreciate you reaching out to me and allowing me the opportunity to hear of your tremendous burdens. Even though you only sent me an email, I can sense through your writing the extreme pain, frustration and sorrow you are experiencing. The trials you have been called to endure seem unbearable and daunting to me as a reader and the only thing of which I am certain in this regard is that I do not know or comprehend the half of what you feel, the extent of your pain, and the depth of your sorrow. I will not pretend that I comprehend it with some cliche, terse statement like, “I know how you feel.” The reality is I don’t know how you feel, and neither does anyone else. This trial is your own and your feelings are your own.
What I would say to such a woman who has been called to endure such tremendous fire and pain in the furnace of affliction is this: Do not lose your testimony! Hold the ground you have already won! Somewhere in the midst of your pain is an ember of testimony that still burns with the fire of the Holy Ghost and has not yet been defeated. If you had lost all hope, you would not have reached out to me. You are reaching out, and I am here to grab your hand and hold on with all my strength to keep you from slipping into the abyss of bitterness.
The adversary has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat and drag you down into his endless pit of misery, woe and bitterness. He looks at your pain and laughs with pure contempt! He delights in the suffering and anguish of those who he would seek to control. He binds them with his chains of regret and pulls them steadily to the gates of hell. He will mock your plight and belittle your soul. Do not give him heed!
This earth was created for the glorious purpose of exalting the children of God. It is a laboratory of exaltation, a proving ground of growth, and a hands on education to obtain the highest! You have been chosen by the Lord to obtain your exaltation through the pain and suffering of the mortal experience. This is the same mission that our Savior was called to bear, to come to earth and to suffer. Even Jesus Christ, the greatest of all asked the same question you have asked me, “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” You have been chosen to enter into an elite group of individuals known as Disciples of Jesus Christ. Do not allow the adversary to deceive you out of the group!
Because I believe in action, I am going to lay out an action plan for you and I want you to report back to me with your thoughts and feelings as we work through this trial together, and as you attempt to fulfill these different action items.
1. Pray, immediately to God and give him thanks for anything that you can muster the courage to be grateful for in your life. Express that gratitude to Heavenly Father. It could you be your children, your job, your health etc. Even if it is small and seemingly insignificant, think of anything and everything you are grateful for, and thank your Heavenly Father for those things. Once you have done that write down those things, and email them to me.
Even in the darkest tragedy there are blessings, and losing sight of these blessings and forsaking God will only perpetuate the bitterness and pain.
2. Forgive. I suspect this will be most challenging. Seek with all your heart to forgive the terrible offenses that the people in your life have committed against you. It will take tremendous courage and faith, but remember that all people on this earth, even the most vile and sinful are sons and daughters of God. Holding on to the bitterness and pain they have caused you by the misuse of their agency will only allow their sins to continue their damage. The only way to true peace and healing is to forgive them and to free yourself from the shackles of the pain. Remember Jesus Christ on the cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
If it is appropriate to express your forgiveness in person, or through text/email, then let those individuals who have wronged you know that they are forgiven. If it is not appropriate to express your forgiveness, then allow yourself to forgive them in your heart and in your mind and feel the freedom of releasing their hold on your heart and your soul. Email me the individuals who you expressed forgiveness to, what manner you forgave them, and if they responded. Keep in mind, not everyone will accept your expression of forgiveness, but that is their agency to remain in bitterness and it is your agency to be free.
3. Serve. Finally, find someone to serve. Reach out. You have been given a perspective on life that will make you a saint and savior to others who find themselves likewise burdened with pain. As you allow your heart to be filled with compassion for others, magnified by your increased capacity to experience empathy for those who are in pain, you will find healing in your own heart. Email me the individuals who the Lord has brought and will bring into your life that you were able to serve and reach out to because of your understanding of their trials.
I cannot remove your trials, I cannot bring back your mother, I cannot change your ex-husband or force him to use agency properly, but I can reach out and do all I can to share and lighten your burdens. You have my love, my empathy, my support and my prayers. Feel free to contact me with your victories and failures, your highs and your lows. I’ll be here to listen and to encourage.
Through faith all things are possible unto God, and I testify this is true.
Your Brother in the Gospel,
Paul Green, is a real estate broker and professional improvisational comedian, actor and trainer. He has trained thousands of professionals and teenagers on principles of leadership, communication, team building and creative thinking and has provided heart-filled advice and encouragement to all who he has had an opportunity to interact. His greatest passion is helping individuals find creative and uplifting solutions to the many challenges of life by applying the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looks forward to hearing and understanding the challenges of his readers and helping them to overcome these challenges. For his full bio, click here.
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