Sometimes the trials that my friends go through are so huge and dramatic that if I wrote a novel about them, people would complain that those sorts of things never happen to real people. Accidents and tragedies sometimes happen on top of other accidents and tragedies in what seem like cruel tricks of nature. It always leaves me wondering how anyone can cope with so much stress.
(Now I get to do something I’ve always wanted to do—change my friend’s name in case this is going to embarrass her. Instead of using her read name, I’m naming her after the old MoTown song, Bernadette.)
Dealing with a son or daughter who’s making bad choices is one of the hardest trials a parent can have. My friend, Bernadette, has been struggling with her youngest son for the past several years. Last August, he was in a motorcycle accident that left him in a coma for two months. Because of a priesthood blessing, Bernadette never doubted that he would recover even when the doctors predicted the worst. When he started to come out of the coma, the nurse told Bernadette that he would most likely be a vegetable. Bernadette didn’t believe her for a second. Slowly,but surely, he is recovering and at the same time, he’s deciding to turn his life around.
During this time, Bernadette has also had multiple other stresses in her life. One of these was when her grandson received a heart transplant. People have been telling me how strong Bernadette has been though all these trials, so I wanted to know how she did it.
So what helped her get through the stress? Last year, she had a thought come to her: “I can’t fast for 40 days like the Savior, but I can go to the temple for forty days.” So that’s what she did. Going to the temple helped her with her trials, and it wasn’t as hard as she’d thought it would be, so she kept going. By the time the big trials came last summer, she was prepared for them. During the time her son was in his coma and since then, she’s continued to attend the temple every day it’s open.
Of course, not everyone can attend the temple every day. I certainly can’t. But I’ve learned from her example. If we're going to help our kids, we have to keep ourselves strong. She shared with me some of the insights she’s received about dealing with our children as they make disappointing decisions. The following quotes and scriptures are from a handout she received from an Oquirrh Mountain temple matron:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving Father’s [or mother’s] heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on trust on, until you see the salvation of God.”
3 John 1:4—there is no greater joy than to hear that my child walks in truth . . .
2 Nephi 10:2—God will be merciful, and our children shall be restored to the true knowledge of their Redeemer
Mormon 9:31—Children should forgive imperfect parents, and become more wise
Mosiah 21:15—God softens hearts
Alma 39:1—Disobedient children need more time and resources
Mosiah 27:14—A parent needs to exercise faith when a child is disobedient
Alma 19:23—Turn a child over to the Lord
Doctrine and Covenants 31:2-8—I will bless your family . . . the day will come when they will believe, know the truth and be one with us
Doctrine and Covenants 128: 12—welding links=sealings, whole, complete, perfect unions