Years ago as a youth, I had some distant relatives, and several people in my church congregation go through the trial of cancer. Back then I wasn’t really cognizant of their suffering and what they truly were struggling with – and even now, knowing that each body is affected differently, I still don’t know what each of them went through, but I have a better understanding. Some of them lived, and some of them passed away. A few years ago I reflected back on that and thought, “I think the Lord is preparing me for someone I am really close to to have cancer” – *cue hysterical laughter now as I realize it was for myself (at this point)*.
However, I can’t really think of anything too specific I actually did learn back then… and maybe I didn’t really have a responsibility to then… so now I get to reflect back on things and see what I can learn in this moment now. And maybe there isn’t much but, there have already been little superficial things I’ve had “Aha moments” over – like this weekend while wearing my face mask and seeing people look a bit curiously at me and thinking, “Wow, I bet X knew exactly how awkward this feels to have people just kind of stare”.
This weekend I attended Time Out For Women (TOFW) – a women’s conference for renewing the soul of a woman and the topics all focused around being centered in Christ. It was an absolutely beautiful conference with talented musicians and speakers and I loved getting to attend with my Mom, my cousin Tiffany, and Jeana (and I can’t remember her friend’s name! whoops). It was exactly what I needed amidst this trial and it bolstered my faith.
One of the speakers (I think it was actually the musician Calee Reed, but she shared little snippets before/after each of her songs that were soooo powerful) said she’s often asked herself, “What am I supposed to learn from this trial?” – I think we hear that a lot and think that to ourselves often. Mine is usually more like, “UGH Why is this MY trial? When is this going to end?”. I wrote her question down as a note to ask myself and my Heavenly Father. I mean, if I am going to have this trial, let’s make dang sure I learn the lesson the first time right?? But instead of leaving it just at that, I felt inspired to write down additional questions over the course of the conference, and again as I wrote this post reflecting on the messages of this weekend. I (also) don’t have the answers or the full answers for these yet, but I have received some bits of personal revelation from Him.
What am I supposed to learn from this trial?
What is this trial consecrated for?
What has God consecrated me for in this life?
How will my experience change me?
How is this trial consecrated for others?
What can others learn from my experience?
How will this shape me to be an influence for good?
When the word consecrated came out of my pen it was almost a little surprising to myself even as I’m writing it. Consecrate means dedicated to a sacred purpose. Synonyms mean to bless, hallow, or sanctify, and related words include purification, worship, and dedication. In short, something that has been consecrated is a holy and sacred thing.
My brother-in-law Kevin asked me at Christmas, “What were your first thoughts when you found out you had cancer?” I told him my first two thoughts were, “I am so glad that I have cancer and it’s not Emmett“, and “I am going to die“. I believe that being faced with your mortality – (even though my personal prognosis is very good and most days I don’t feel like I have to “worry” about death) is an experience that ends up being incredibly spiritual and personally sacred and allows us to re-examine some things in our life. I really loved these quotes that were shared this weekend:
Linda S. Reeves in a talk given at the 2015 October General Conference titled Worthy of Our Promised Blessings said, “I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in the day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, ‘Was that all that was required?’ I believe that if we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in Their presence again, surrounded by Their love eternally. What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior?”
My mother shared with me that when trials come, if we can, instead of asking, “Why Me?!“, that we consider, “Why Not Me?” We are meant to have trials in this life. We are meant to have struggles, hardships, heartaches. Illness & Disease are part of this mortal life. But just as important as our trials, we are also meant to have healing + joy – although some healing has to come in the eternities. “Each of us must go through certain experiences to become more like our Savior. In the school of mortality, the tutor is often pain and tribulation, but the lessons are meant to refine and bless us and strengthen us, not to destroy us”. Robert D. Hales
Go listen to Calee Reed singing “Blessings” by Laura Story – “So what if your blessings come through raindrops? What if your healing comes through tears? And what if a thousand sleepless nights Are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life Are your mercies in disguise?”
At the beginning of the year I choose a few words that had spoken to me through different ways – . I am sure additional words will be added, but my first three words that I wanted to lean on, and learn from are: Hope, Peace, and Compassion. I think this experience has already had a large impact on how I try to view others, and be more aware of the invisible (or not) struggles they have. I hope this experience makes me a better friend, a better spouse and mother, sibling, and daughter.
It is important for us to ask questions during trials – having questions is how we grow and learn!! I am not saying there are a wrong and a right way to asking them, but I hope that you and I can choose to dig deeper in the questions we ask and find more meaning. And if we do not receive our answers, may we remember:
I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend the conference this weekend and be uplifted and renewed in my testimony of my Savior and Healer, Jesus Christ, and in a loving, merciful, and just God who is aware of me and knows me and seeks to bless me. “…Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace” Luke 8:48