Monday, 5 March 2012
Monday thoughts . . .
Yesterday was our March Fast and Testimony meeting at my church. The first Sunday of every month is given over to fasting and the bearing of our testimonies. As members we agree to abstain from food and drink for two meals and to donate the equivalent cost to the Church as a fast offering to help to assist the poor and needy. The church service is also given over to the bearing of our testimonies. I think it is my favourite service of the month. It is so wonderful to be able to bear your own testimony as well as to listen to the testimonies of others. I always come away strengthened and uplifted.
Each month there are a few young lads in our Ward (congregation) who get up to bear their testimonies. I am always so deeply touched by their sincerity. One of the lads has Down's Syndrome and I am always especially touched by what he has to say. None of his words really string together to make a sentence, but his meaning is clear. He believes and trusts in the Saviour, and loves Him. The Saviour is real to him. That is all a testimony is or should be really . . . words that leave no doubt in people's minds that you have faith, belief, trust and love in the Saviour. Yesterday though, this lad added a few more words, words which did string together, right in the middle of his testimony. He spoke as clear as a bell . . . saying . . . "I love my mom." I was so very touched.
I was thinking as I sat there yesterday . . . about this young man's testimony and about his love for his mom and the Saviour. I believe that I was a good mom. I did all that I could have done for my children when they were growing up and I continue to try to do what I can when I can even now. I kept a decent home for them, I took care of all of their needs, and most importantly I loved them unconditionally. I did it largely on my own, with no support, as my ex was in the Military and away much of the time, and I only ever very rarely lived close enough to family that I could call on them for any help or support. My children were largely my life, and that was ok. It was how I wished it to be.
I thought I had done enough . . . but in actuality . . . I did not do enough. I will freely admit that I dropped the ball briefly during the last year of my marriage. I had an ex who was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after having served almost a year in Bosnia during the height of the conflicts there . . . he was largely absent from our home, mentally, emotionally and physically, volunteering to go to one place or another. . . he needed to escape. This was not his fault. He had a lot of emotional problems . . . I felt abandoned. We had moved three times in two years, leaving my oldest son behind on the first move . . . and my youngest daughter on the second move . . . I found myself living, yet again in a new location and feeling very lonely and bereft . . .
The three children that I still had at home had their lives . . . school, friends, etc. My ex had his job and escaped into that . . . I had nothing and no one. I make no excuses for myself, but am merely trying to give some background as to what happened next. I ended up escaping too . . . except that I did not leave the four walls of my home.
I found myself emotionally involved with someone on the internet, and no, it was not Todd. It was a much younger man who I used to spend hours chatting with, both on the internet and sometimes the telephone, and yes . . . I did fall in love with him . . . or in retrospect . . . in love with the idea of being in love, and in love with the idea of being important to someone else. I am very ashamed now to admit that . . . it wasn't real, it was a fantasy and it was an escape from the reality I was having to live. It is not the reason my marriage broke up . . . the marriage broke up for a myriad of other reasons, which I won't and cannot go into on a public forum. But . . . for a brief moment . . . I did drop the ball as far as my children are concerned, and I regret that deeply.
I set a poor example for them and I let them down. A mother's love may be unconditional, but it doesn't always work that way in reverse. I have tried to make up for my lack of control in so very many ways, and happily . . . three of my children don't seem to hold my failures against me. Another loves me, but has no respect or esteem for me . . . and one other has nothing for me or to do with me at all.
As a mom, this does break my heart but I have come to understand in recent years, after much prayer andthe beating up of myself continuously, that it is something I have no power to change . . . and so I have handed it over to God, my Heavenly Father, and to His son Jesus Christ . . . the mender of all things . . . and I hope that one day a healing will occur. I have faith that one day a healing will occur.
And so why am I talking about this this morning . . . well, yesterday as I listened to the lad with the Down's Syndrome give his testimony it struck me that yes, his mother had given him all that he needed in order for him to love her . . . but also, his mother had passed on to him her love of the Saviour in such a way as he loved the Saviour too, and even though his words were not strung together in any way that made any kind of sense . . . their meaning was clear.
I thought to myself, if I could only give my children one thing in this world, aside from my love it would be my own testimony of the Saviour. It is a gift that is more precious than all the gold and jewels that money could buy . . . so here goes.
I love the Saviour and my Heavenly Father with all of my heart. They are real to me. I trust in them in all things, and I know that we all matter greatly to them. Just as real as they are to me, I know that I am real to them, and that they love me with an unconditional love and acceptance that can be found nowhere else on earth. They forgive me of all my weaknesses, and I am grateful for that. I may disappoint them from time to time, but they are always there for me irregardless, whenever I need to reach out and touch them. They pick me up when I fall down, and they carry me when I feel I cannot walk one step further. I am important to them. The Saviour died on the cross and was raised up from the dead . . . and because He lives . . . I, too, will live forever. Joy in this life comes in and through following the Saviour's example, and by doing the things He would have us do . . . following the commandments, serving others and sharing His love with all that we meet. No, I am not perfect . . . but through Him I can be perfected.
A love of, and faith in the Saviour is the most precious gift that I could ever give my children. I want them to know of His reality and of the surety of His love, and of the healing balm of His presence in their lives.
I know with all of my heart that He came and that He will come again, and I believe that it will not be long now, and that we must be prepared to meet Him. I may not see this happen in my lifetime, but I am ready as we must all be ready. My lamp is full. It matters not to me what people think of me . . . it matters only what He thinks of me, and this brings me great peace.
I don't know what else to say . . . I hope that you are not all too disappointed in me.
“Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you. God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God love encompasses us completely. He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked. What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us.”
~Dieter F Uchtdorf
PS - I just wanted to add a note in case anyone mistook what I wrote. My marriage continued despite my having had this emotional lapse in conduct. It was only some months later that it failed, and we split up.