I Have to Share:
It's April!

Not Why But How

This time, there wasn't much camera drama; I went as a mother, not a leader, and I seemed to be constantly making everyone wait for me. But I am still glad I went with Haley on Saturday to the general young women's meeting. (This is a meeting that happens yearly in the LDS church, the Saturday before spring conference; the audience is the 12-18-year-old girls.) Being in the presence of so many teenagers forces me to think of my own adolescence in a different light; I am able to see what I missed and to imagine how my decisions might have been different if I had been, well, different myself. More, though: even though the talks are geared toward teenaged girls, I still listen to them as if they were directed to me.

Lately I have been grappling with an issue in my heart. We talk a lot about the purpose of trials, how they make you stronger and how they make the good times better. Opposition in all things. I understand this intimately, but I also keep wondering when, exactly, the "good times" happen. I continue to learn that they are not two different things. It isn't that you work through a challenge and then there is a period of peace. At least in my life, the challenges feel constant. I keep tracing them back, in my mind, trying to find a time when I didn't have something I was grappling with—and I cannot find it.

Take the past two years: we had Kendell's hip surgery and then his heart surgery. There is the underlying thread, constant for half a decade now, of my dad's Alzheimer's. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we discovered that Kendell's dad has terminal bone cancer. When I told a friend this news in an email, her response pointed out that we really have had a stressful few years. She is right! When I read those words I thought — wait a second. You mean everyone's life isn't like this? I had really thought that everyone faced this constant stream of trials, but maybe it is just me. I don't know.

So when I listened to President Uchtdorf's talk I wanted to weep. He spoke about fairy tales, how they start with "once upon a time" and end with "they lived happily ever after" and how the real story is what happens between those two phrases—the struggle of moving toward your own happily ever after. He told the story of courting his wife, whose affection he earned after many years of wooing. I imagine—although of course I don't know—that their marriage hasn't had the same bitter words my own has. In my notes I wrote "but when does 'happily ever after' get here?" When are the trials and the struggles enough? When will I have a feeling of peace in my heart? I have grown weary of trials and heartache.

I also wrote down this statement: "it is not the trials themselves, but how you react to them, that will define and shape the outcome of your life." Of course, I often fail at responding well to my own trials—but I do try to do the opposite. I try to learn something and to not be bitter. Slowly, as I listened and I thought, as I glanced over at my daughter who was also listening, I felt a sort of answer. Not yet a complete one. Not yet that feeling of peace. But the realization that while the fairy-tale structure makes for a great metaphor for a talk, while it builds a good story, it isn't how life works. The trials and the happily-ever-after aren't separate. They are simultaneous layers; everything happening at once. The trick—that response that can bless—is knowing how to find the peace amid the trials.

I confess that I am not good at that. It is inherent to my nature that I focus on the troubles, that I sit awake with them, worrying them, puzzling it out: why me, why now, or simply: why? And always I come back to that teenaged, angry, rebellious version of myself as the answer to the "why" question. I don't know how to let go of the feeling that the trials are a direct response to those mistakes I made. The hard things happen and I feel I deserve them, and when the happy moments come I don't trust them because I don't feel worthy of them. "Why," as I puzzle over it, always seems to have the same answer: because I am flawed.

Perhaps, though, I am asking the wrong question. Not why, but how? How do I find peace anyway? How do I let go of feeling not-good-enough? How do I learn to savor the happily-ever-after bits that are hidden within the trials? I'm not exactly sure. But there is a sense of peace, somehow, in simply changing my questions.


Constant Focus_Shriek

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Amy~ Your words are beautiful and perfect. I can relate. Thank you for sharing.


I used to love to look at the reflection of the reflection of myself in mom's mirror. You know, the one that shows what you really look like to others, not the one that you see yourself. Or when I see my cat's in the mirror, because their spots of black are on the wrong side. So much relies on perspective, but how do we know which one to trust? Which one is the real one?

I think that the answer you received is the one you can trust. Keep asking, keep pondering, but I think you are on the right track by questioning if you are asking the right questions.


I love listening to President Uchtdorf. I didn't see the broadcast, but I'll have to go watch his talk online.




I needed to read this today. It often seems like my life is all trials and no peace. I also wonder, where is a break to gather myself and my family, to feel love, quiet, peace, harmony. As I write this, it is raining again, three days in a row, week after week. My yard is flooded, my septic system failing, ailing parents, aging parents, the never ended call of "Mom, I need you.!"

I try to practice, it is how you react to your trials that design your peace. But, it is hard when it feels like there is no end in sight.

Every evening after we're all asleep, I peek into my children's rooms, snuggle them, kiss them (even the 14 yr old hs boy) and go to sleep believing that the answer may just be in front of me. My family and the strength we find with each other, laughter and the ducks in the yard's pond, fresh cookies in the oven, and the time I get to pick up my hs son after he has had a 14 hour day and he tells me thanks for coming out at night to pick him up.

Email me sometime, I loved talking with you before and we all can band together to figure this thing called life out.

Good day and good thoughts,


Amy, you may be on to something. I don't know the answer, but I do know how we react to life's challenges can make a huge difference in our feelings. It can make the difference between feeling victimized and feeling like you are in control. Yesterday, a young man at work told me he believes everything happens for a reason (even the bad stuff), and his job is to react or handle the issue the way he needs to so he becomes closer to God. Really got me thinking about my reactions and my "how." Your post was the exclamation mark to his statement. I hope you keep writing about the important stuff, the real stuff, the difficult stuff because you are not alone. Hearing your voice strengthens us, and it is, in its own way, a ministry. I just hope we can, some way through our comments, give something back to you.


I think there are far too many of us out here who say "ditto." I look at those who sail through trials (and I mean really difficult ones like giving birth to a stillborn and then battling multiple physical challenges with the child that finally made it whole and alive out of the birth process, etc) with a positive outlook and gratitude for the process, and I marvel. I tend to wallow in the trials, desperately seeking what the intended outcome was supposed to be. Where am I supposed to be after all this? At this point, all I can say is that I'm a more compassionate, less-quick-to-judge person as a result.

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