That You May Come Off Conqueror D&C 10-11
One of the things I love about studying the Doctrine and Covenants is being able to look into the not so distant past and the people that took part in the restoration. Sometimes I feel like I can relate to them much more than I can to the people of other scriptures because their time was not all that long ago.
The main message of this week's lesson is one I really needed considering the state of the world and my tendency to get caught up in it and feel despair. The idea that I "may come off conqueror" sometimes doesn't seem likely...
God won't allow his plan to be frustrated
God knew and prepared for Martin Harris's blunder thousands of years ago. He knew the designs of satan and what his plans would be as he tried to frustrate the restoration of the gospel.
Sometimes when I get thinking about that it makes my head spin. If we have agency, how does the Lord know what we're going to do before we do it? It's one of those areas where I realize I'm going to have to just wait for an answer in the next life or I could drive myself crazy.
But in the meantime, I also find that I have to be extremely grateful for the fact that Heavenly Father not only knew what was going to happen, but He had a PLAN.
Jeffrey Holland gave a talk many years ago discussing the topic of the lost pages, and expressed the idea that while we don't know what we lost, we do know that what we ended up with contains the fullness of the gospel, and that was the Lord's ultimate plan from the beginning.
How does this relate to me?
As covid restrictions have been in place for the last year, I have found myself frustrated at times with things like churches being closed, temples being closed, missionary work being frustrated, as well as a million other things.
But if God had a plan prepared for those lost pages, doesn't that mean He has a plan for the roadblocks that satan puts up for us too?
Maybe I spend so much time looking for a miracle to come that I don't concentrate enough on the miracles that already came.
Like the Lord preparing us to study the gospel in our own homes.
Or the changes to the missionary program that make use of phones and other technology to continue the work.
Or the family search program that helps me to do important work that needs to be done before temple ordinances can be done anyway.
Or the glorious invention of the internet that allows us to hear from and be inspired by our sweet prophet and other leaders on a regular basis regardless of where in the world we are currently located.
We all get our own miracles if we're looking
This last week I experienced a miracle of my own. We're all having them if we take the time to look around.
We've all suffered our own hardships during the past year, and as this new year begins, it doesn't appear that there is much end in sight, although I am trying to be hopeful. The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, but the one thing that has been exceptionally hard for us has been having our disabled son Braden locked away in the care center.
I remember the day we got the notification that they were restricting visitors, and at the time it was stated that it would be just a month or so, but we all know how "two weeks" has turned into ten months+... and I'm here to tell you that ten months of not getting to bring Braden home, and not getting to go in to see him has been long and hard.
And while it's been hard on me, it's been even harder on my sweet husband that has spent the last 28 years loving and caring for that boy like no other. He keeps expressing how guilty he feels, and even though he has nothing to feel guilty about, I understand that feeling because Braden certainly doesn't understand why his family has abandoned him, or why he hasn't been able to visit his home.
Getting to go over and look at him through a window is hard. My husband, Patrick, does it all the time, but for me, it feels like it sparks my anger at the situation, so I actually avoid it a little. I know that probably isn't right and I should go, but there is a part of me that can't.
When the weather was good, we did get one 30 minute visit out on the patio. But we had a table between us and we had to stay six feet away, no touching, hugging, holding his hand or anything. It was good to see him without the window between us, but frustrating none the less.
Two months turns into ten...
So as the months have passed, we have visibly seen Braden slipping downhill. He doesn't look good. He's super skinny, almost a bag of bones. His scoliosis is getting worse, and his cerebral palsy has tightened his arms and legs and twisted his body pretty severely.
One of the fears that I've over the past while has been that Braden will pass away in the care center, with us never getting to hug him or touch him or physically be with him again before that happens. Some people think I am being silly, but we hear stories of people in nursing homes or care centers that slip away because of depression and loneliness all the time, so it honestly isn't outside the realm of possibility. Worrying about it doesn't really do much, but I worry anyway.
But more than worrying about Braden, I worry about Patrick. I know beyond a doubt that there is a new life waiting for Braden, where his body will be healed and perfect, and where one day I hope to meet him and talk to him. But Patrick, who is already experiencing so much heartache from not being able to be with Braden, is another story. Braden leaving us will be harder on him than anyone, and if it happens in these circumstances, it will be that much worse.
This has been on my mind a lot lately, and about a week ago, it overwhelmed me. My overwhelm drove me to my knees, with a heartfelt prayer like I have never offered before. I told Heavenly Father about my fears. I told Him that while I didn't know how much longer Braden would be here with us, I was okay when his time came to go, but I pleaded with Him to please make it possible to see him again soon, not so much for me, but for Patrick, who needed it most of all.
After the prayer, I felt better, and to be honest, I moved on and kind of forgot about it a little.
Prayers really do get answered
Fast forward to this weekend, when Patrick gets a call from the care center and they say Braden isn't doing well. He is refusing to eat or drink, and his seizures have gotten out of control. Usually in this situation we are able to go to him and help get him to eat and drink, or at least comfort him in some way, but this time we can't.
Patrick asks if he can come and try to get him to eat, and at first they said no, but eventually they made arrangements to take Braden to the greenhouse and have Patrick come, take a rapid test, and then try to feed him.
The next day things are no better, so Patrick ends up taking him to the ER. They did x-rays, blood work, and put him on an IV because he was dehydrated. But the x-rays, blood tests and urinalysis all come back normal. There was not one thing wrong with him other than he needed to get some fluids in him.
In addition to the IV, he drinks a full protein shake and eats a bowl of applesauce.
In the midst of this ER visit, I am going back and forth between worrying and being angry. Patrick has had to take an entire day off to sit in the ER, in an uncomfortable chair, for nothing. Braden gets poked and prodded, all for nothing. And it's not like I want something to be wrong with him, it's mostly just frustration at the entire situation, and knowing that Braden's biggest problem is probably depression. And if we would be allowed into the care center, or he was allowed to come home, these problems wouldn't even exist.
By the time Patrick got home, I was kind of frustrated and perplexed. It was a great big nothing-burger and I didn't understand what was going on.
But as I got ready for bed and said my prayers that night, I realized that I had completely missed the boat. It wasn't a nothing burger, it was an answer to my prayer. Nothing was wrong with Braden, but Patrick got to see him and spend the entire day with him, hugging him, feeding him, talking to him, trying to get little vocal responses out of him that we have missed hearing for 10 extremely long months.
God is in the details of our lives
I realized that God is in the details of our lives. He knows me, and He knows Patrick, and He definitely knows Braden too, and he blesses us specifically and openly, and sometimes in ways we don't expect. And if we aren't CONSTANTLY looking to see His hand in our lives, we WILL miss it. Just because we don't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there. Miracles have not ceased, they are present every day.
I am so grateful not just for the miracle, but for my ability to see it and recognize it. I think far too often I am so caught up in worrying or being angry at the situation we all find ourselves in right now that the window that allows me to see these miracles closes briefly. I am trying to do better to recognize God's plan in all things, and know that He is ultimately in charge and I can trust Him. There is no reason for worry or anger when hope and faith can be present instead.
If you, like me, have found yourself bogged down in frustration, worry, fear or anger, I hope this story will let you feel some peace and maybe let go of those feelings.
I don't know what will happen with Braden. He could go tomorrow, or he could live another 10 years. All I know is it's out of my hands, but it's in better hands. And I have peace knowing that when it happens, he will be returning to the arms of his Heavenly Father, who has never left him alone. And I will get the chance to see him again, when we can talk, and I can apologize for all the times I failed to be a perfect mother and tell him that even in those moments when I was less than perfect I always loved him.
He always has a plan
The Lord always has a plan. If He can plan for those lost pages 2000 years before the loss even happened, imagine what plans He has for us personally.
Or the plans He has for the world in general. He knows the end from the beginning, and all we are required to do is trust Him. Even when times are tough, we can "come off conqueror". His work will not be frustrated, and our work for Him will not be frustrated either.
The Lord will heal our broken hearts, and comfort us, and He will answer our prayers if we ask and then actively look for the answers, and the peace and comfort that follow. I am so grateful for my knowledge of this because it can and does change everything.
He has a plan, and it's already in place.
Challenge Cards and Lesson Help Links
I have decided to change up how I am making the challenge cards available. Each week they will be available in the FREE STUFF section of my shop. Look for the current month, and that is where you'll find them to download them!
This week a few of the articles I read were unavailable on the Church's website, so I don't have links for them, but on the Challenge Cards I included which magazine you'd find them in.
I also included the Historical Resources as one of the activities! This is something I discovered thanks to a member of my ward in Sunday School and I love it! I hope you'll check it out. Instructions for finding it in the app are on the challenge cards (the link on the website wasn't working right now)