mormon · testimony

Come What May and Love It.

I don’t share this story lightly. It’s something that is so personal to me that I fear putting it out there at all. But tonight I’ve felt a need to share it.

A little background for those of you who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, also known as “Mormon”). Twice a year, the leaders of our church meet in Salt Lake City and address the members of the church. We watch at home on the internet, on TV where possible, and in our church buildings. It’s called General Conference and I love these weekends. I eat them up. Church is hard for us. For the first 6 years of Casey’s life we walked the halls with him through all of the meetings. I didn’t get a whole lot of information out of it, but I’m sure I was blessed just for going.  Then we had Abby.  Her immune system is not great. Her lungs aren’t great either. At the advice of many, many doctors, we’ve been told to keep her away from such public places that are hard to keep people from loving on her. And breathing on her. So, our church attendance since hasn’t been what it used to be.  So being able to listen to messages from home is AWESOME. I don’t schedule anything else those two weekends. I love working on projects or crafts with Lance…mostly to keep awake. There’s something SO soothing about the brethren’s voices.

4 years ago was a very different time for us. We had three kids. We were pretty sure we were done having kids. Not because we wanted to be, but because I was two years into a chronic pain problem. It started out with a tumor on my right ovary. They removed the tumor, but the pain persisted. They removed the ovary. They removed scar tissue. Over and over again. I had several surgeries. I saw every specialist I could find. I tried everything from chiropractic care to getting x-ray-guided giganto-shots directly into my spine. It was the worst time of my life. Not having a diagnosis meant I had to explain to everyone what was going on. I felt like too many people thought I was faking. The pain I was in was terrible. I needed opiates for almost two and a half years. Being on pain killers for that long was a trial in itself. I hated them. They robbed the joy out of every piece of my life. I could not read books on them. I love reading books. I didn’t enjoy any of the usual things that someone my age would because of the numbing effect the drugs have on your entire life.

Carter was 3 when the pain began. Casey was 2. Peyton not yet 1. Having such tiny kids at home meant that I could never medicate myself to the point where I had no pain, because it would have been too much medicine to be able to take care of my children. I was in pain every single day. 

During this time, my faith wavered. A lot. I had received countless priesthood blessings. My family and friends fasted with me to find answers. To find a cure.  By the time Casey was four, I was still in pain and he was in the thick of the worst time of his life thus far. Four was a tough year for us. I felt truly abandoned by a God that I once loved.  October 2008 rolled around and I listened to conference.

This talk came:

 This is just a small portion of his talk.  To see the entire talk, visit:
http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/come-what-may-and-love-it?lang=eng&query=%22come+what+may+and+love+it%22

The entire talk is about how we face our trials. His mother used to say when faced with disappointment, “Come what may, and love it.”  He spoke about ways to get through our trials, the first of which is learning to laugh. Check. The second was to “Seek for the Eternal” and then the third was “The Principle of Compensation”   In this part of his talk, he started to speak about his grandson that has autism. It gave me pause. The tears rolled down my face as he said:

  “…My grandson Joseph has autism. It has been heartbreaking for his mother and father to come to grips with the implications of this affliction.

They knew that Joseph would probably never be like other children. They understood what that would mean not only for Joseph but for the family as well. But what a joy he has been to us. Autistic children often have a difficult time showing emotion, but every time I’m with him, Joseph gives me a big hug. While there have been challenges, he has filled our lives with joy.
His parents have encouraged him to participate in sports. When he first started playing baseball, he was in the outfield. But I don’t think he grasped the need to run after loose balls. He thought of a much more efficient way to play the game. When a ball was hit in his direction, Joseph watched it go by and then pulled another baseball out of his pocket and threw that one to the pitcher.
Any reservations that his family may have had in raising Joseph, any sacrifices they have made have been compensated tenfold. Because of this choice spirit, his mother and father have learned much about children with disabilities. They have witnessed firsthand the generosity and compassion of family, neighbors, and friends. They have rejoiced together as Joseph has progressed. They have marveled at his goodness.”

My phone buzzed. It was my older brother–in a text he said, “Lexi, are you listening to this?” Brother Wirthlin then went on to speak about his daughter who had been sick for some years. He said,

One of our daughters, after giving birth to a baby, became seriously ill. We prayed for her, administered to her, and supported her as best we could. We hoped she would receive a blessing of healing, but days turned into months, and months turned into years. At one point I told her that this affliction might be something she would have to struggle with the rest of her life.
One morning I remember pulling out a small card and threading it through my typewriter. Among the words that I typed for her were these: “The simple secret is this: put your trust in the Lord, do your best, then leave the rest to Him.”

That’s when I knew that the talk had been for me. The two things that I was struggling the most with in my life, laid out before me in the sweetest bit of mercy I had ever been extended. I listened to the talk again tonight. It’s been four years since he gave it, shortly before he passed away.

The pain lasted for several more months. In June of 2009 my doctor and I weaned myself off of all of the medicine. There were several factors that came into play that made the pain last for so long. Looking back, we think it was probably never reproductive in nature. I had caused damage to my psoas muscle from lifting and carrying my children. Damage that did not go away and then got worse over time because I was still lifting and carrying my kids–and they were getting bigger.  It wasn’t until my sister had felt impressed to force me to train to run a half marathon with her (a victory marathon of sorts–she had had lymphoma and we were running for Team in Training- for the Leukemia and Lymphoma foundation. My friend Meriah is doing this now; if you want to donate, visit her blog HERE) that things started to let up a little. Strengthening my core muscles helped. And, actually, so did getting off the opiates. The medicine had started to have an opposite effect. I had something called opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Basically, because I had been on medicine for so long, it didn’t work. It actually made me feel like I was in more pain than I actually was. 

By July I was medicine-free. In September we decided to start trying for another baby. In October I was pregnant.

The rest is kind of history. I look back at these last four years and think of all of the blessings we’ve been given. It still hasn’t been easy, but I’m not in pain. And that’s HUGE. I’m grateful every single day I wake up to regular aches and pains. But not “lower right side abdominal pain”. Every once in a while it starts to peek through; that’s when I know I’ve been too lazy for too long. It’s a good reminder.

I’m not sure how to end this. I am blessed. I’m so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I’m grateful for my knowledge that God watches over me and knows what’s best. That if I just trust in the Lord, do my best, He’ll take care of the rest.

He always has.