This week I got a call from my mom at 11:32 a.m. on Thursday morning. I answered the phone because I knew that she knew I was at work. I knew that if she was calling me at that time it must have been important.
It’s interesting how a two-minute phone call at 11:32 a.m. on a Thursday morning can change the tone of your entire day, your mood for an entire week and your perspective on your entire life.
At 11:32 a.m. on Thursday morning I found out that my dad’s mom has cancer. We still don’t know much about the prognosis, what stage the cancer is in or what to expect but things don’t look very good. In the past few days I’ve had a lot of varying thoughts. I guess this is normal when you are reminded of just how fragile life can be but it’s amazing that something as cruel and unforgiving as cancer can actually teach us things and fill us with gratitude.
In the past few days, here are a couple of the things cancer has taught me:
1. God is good and gives us opportunities to avoid regret.
Someone recently taught me that guilt is not from God. It is not productive and does not help us progress. God doesn’t want us to feel guilt. That is why He gave us repentance. That is also why He gives us little nudges that save us from a lifetime of regret. I love Him for that.
I live over 2,000 miles away from my family in North Carolina and that can make keeping in touch difficult. Sometimes it’s the time zones that make communicating a struggle, other times it is a feeling that I don’t have anything important to say. But what is important to say really? Is there anything more important that can be said than a simple, “I love you?”
A few weeks ago in church we had a lesson about elderly people. The teacher read this quote by Ezra Taft Benson:
"The key to overcoming aloneness and a feeling of uselessness for one who is physically able is to step outside yourself by helping others who are truly needy. We promise those who will render this kind of service that, in some measure, you will be healed of the loss of loved ones or the dread of being alone. The way to feel better about your own situation is to improve someone else’s circumstances."
She then pointed out that maybe we, as young single adults, have more in common with the elderly people in our lives than we think. Just as we sometimes feel lonely and may dread being alone, they feel those very same things.
My grandpa passed away 15 years ago, leaving my grandma to feel many of the same feelings that I feel on a daily basis. I imagine that she often dreads going home to an empty house and hates that she can’t share sweet life experiences with someone she loves.
That simple quote and suggestion gave me a renewed determination to be a better granddaughter. I called my grandma a couple of days later. Our phone conversation gave me other ideas for how I could be a better friend to her, even from a distance, and I tried to put those into practice immediately.
Having received that encouragement from Heavenly Father just a couple of weeks ago has made this news so much easier to handle. I’m grateful for a God who wants us to feel peace.
2. A knowledge and trust in a “happily ever after” makes everything better
My grandma joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when she was 22-years-old. At 22, I don’t know that she really understood everything about the gospel but what she did know was that she was in love with a good man who loved her and who loved the Lord. She knew that she wanted to raise a family with that good man and that together they would teach their children about God.
She knew that she was joining a church that talked a lot about “forever” and “eternity.” And maybe she didn’t know how important those words would be in her life then but what she did know is that the things she learned about them seemed true and they felt good in her heart.
In the many years that have passed since my grandma made the decision to be baptized, she has learned more and more about the gospel from the Sunday meetings that she never misses, the firesides she looks so forward to attending and from the missionaries that she still invites over to her house on a regular basis. But perhaps most importantly, my grandma has learned from personal experience the value of the gospel doctrines.
In 2000, when my grandpa passed away, it was the foundational principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ that gave her hope; hope that she could see him again and that her family would someday be together forever.
They had raised a strong family together and when he passed away the family vacations, dinners and home evenings didn’t stop. To this day, she always calls on someone to say the prayer in her home and always shares her testimony with her family. She is never preachy but in her own quiet way she makes it clear that she knows.
At 22, “forever” sounds like a word that belongs in fairy tales but it is when life is not a fairy tale that you really need faith in a forever.
I am so grateful for a grandma who embraced truth and believed in a “happily ever after.” I’m grateful that she taught my dad who then taught me. It is this faith that helps me know what she knows: that this life is not the end and that we can be together with the people we love forever.
Messages of Faith
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