(all photos via)
Three years ago, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby. We were ecstatic and nervous since this pregnancy followed two miscarriages. Both of us were raised as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but I think we always took our faith for granted. With the thought of a new of a baby, we wanted to do our best to BE our best. We made a goal to read in the scriptures, particularly The Book of Mormon every night and intended to finish it before our baby was born. We planned, we read, and sure enough, we finished the book and welcomed our daughter the following day! Although not recognized at the time, it was truly a blessing from God.
Fast-forward two years. We were pregnant again! The emotions were different. I felt scared and unprepared. I had goals to accomplish, things to do, and places to visit. It felt like it was happening so quickly – too quickly. While I felt excited for a new baby, I also worried. I re-planned and re-scheduled. While I spent all that time planning, my husband and I stopped finding the time to read our scriptures and pray. We were overwhelmed and exhausted. Nine months came and went, still no praying or reading or temple going or anything to progress our spiritual growth. But, life continued to be good. We were still happy.
Our son was born and we loved every second of this tiny new spirit – or so I thought. Each day that passed brought new challenges and I felt alone. It was frustrating because I didn’t understand why. My days were spent cleaning barf off a baby that wouldn’t stop screaming, chasing a two-year-old around, and trying so hard to still take care of myself physically and emotionally. I was exhausted, annoyed, and even angry. Days went by where I didn’t want to be a mom anymore and I grew cold with resent. No one knew. My happy face stayed plastered on as I did my best to hold it all together.
One particular Sunday I was feeling especially worn out. It had been a rough week, filled with lots of yelling and take-out dinners. I felt like a failure. Sitting in church seemed impossible. I didn’t want to feel loved. I didn’t want to receive help. I just wanted to play the martyr and pretend like no one cared or understood. Sitting there in my own bitterness seemed deserving – I had brought this on myself. But deep-down, I wanted nothing more than to be saved from my own self-destruction. As the sacrament was being passed, I decided to take the quiet moment to gain a true testimony of the atonement. It seemed strange, but I had faith that it could happen. I wanted to feel whole and new. I wanted to leave the bitterness and anger behind. This was my chance. But, just as quickly as I felt hopeful, self-doubt snuck in and I told myself that I didn’t deserve to ask the Lord for a miracle and maybe, I didn’t deserve anything good. Luckily, I decided to try anyway.
With a quick prayer in my heart, I prayed to know that I could start anew – that I could be the mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter that I knew I could be. I prayed to know of God’s love for me and for my family. I prayed to know that I wasn’t alone. I prayed to know that my sacrifices in life had placed me right where I needed to be. Naturally I expected nothing to happen. Remember? I didn’t deserve answers or hope. And as always, God proved me wrong. Instantly, I felt the love of our Father in Heaven wash over me. I looked around the chapel and instantly saw my closest friends, each wrestling their own children. I saw my own children, wrapped in the arms of their grandparents with smiles on their faces. The Lord was practically yelling at me – YOU ARE NOT ALONE and YOU ARE LOVED. And more than anything else, I knew tomorrow didn’t have to be a bad day. Heck, today didn’t have to be bad. So right then and there, I promised God that I would try harder to be a little better. I promised myself that I would try to be a little better.
Since then, life has continued on just like it always has. The Lord did not remove my trials, but he gave me the release from guilt and pain to look at my life with new eyes. He gave me perspective. And I think the truly amazing part is that he offered this to me with no strings attached. All I had to do was ask and he gave. Our Father loves us. His love is endless, real and free. Sometimes we have to cut down our pride to simply ask for a tiny smidgen of help, but when we do, it will be poured upon us.
As mothers it is too easy to get caught up in what we aren’t doing to realize the goodness that we provide to the world. Is it a sacrifice? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Absolutely times a million!! We will feel worn out, worthless, and cast aside, but we must press forward. God is waiting for us to take off our yoke of pain, sadness, and guilt. We do not have to carry that with us through this life because he is there to take our hand in his and help us every step of the way.
All we must do is ask.