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February 4, 2016
Day 3 of Love comes from my cousin Jenn. I’ve mentioned Jen previously – but her resilience and strength are things that have always inspired me! Like WHAT COULD SHE NOT DO, though. I’ve always thought she and her sisters were superwomen, but seeing them struggle and pull together through losing their dad, our Uncle Jeff, I have been just humbled. I’m so grateful we are family. I love Jenn for her enthusiasm to try and master anything new, her love for everyone, her desire to celebrate others, and her on point sarcasm. I really admire her courage in being vulnerable and sharing her hardest trial and experience with love here. Just ONE more reason I think she’s one of the bravest and best to grace this Earth.

 “I never imagined that one of the trials that I would be experiencing during this mortal journey we call life would include the tragic and sudden loss of a parent. I have had friends that have lost parents at young ages and I have always thought to myself that they must be stronger than I am because that is one trial that I would never want to go through. That is something I absolutely could never live through.

Until I did.

Saturday, June 27, 2015 my life changed. My mom called that night and asked if I had seen or heard from my dad at all – no one knew where he was and she hadn’t seen him since she had been home from work. I told her that I spoke with him that morning around 8:45, but not since then. About 20 minutes later, I got a call – my brother saying that my dad had been found and had passed away. I couldn’t breathe. I can still remember the feeling, like I was drowning and I couldn’t stop it.  I felt sick. Nausea hit me like a punch to the gut and stayed with me for days. I remember as I was driving the 20 minute drive to my parents’ house by myself I was crying and screaming at God – that He would let this happen – why did He let this happen?! I said, ‘Please, no’ over and over as if it would change the outcome. I wished it could have. I still wish it would have. The days following all blur together in my memory. Trips to the funeral home, crying, planning a funeral, making the programs, crying, going through pictures – which brought on even more crying, making sure my mom was never alone – it was hands down the most exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally, week of my entire life.

My experience with love that I would like to share is of the Heavenly sort. I grew up being told that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and we were sent to earth to grow and learn and to prove ourselves worthy to return to His presence where we can be for eternity. I knew this was true. I also knew that Jesus Christ was sent to earth to atone for our sins, sorrows and short comings. I thought I understood that love well enough. But as it turns out my basic knowledge only scratched the surface.

In the days and weeks following my dad’s departure from this mortal life, I felt lost. I was mad and confused and hurt and feeling so very abandoned and betrayed. The day of my dad’s funeral, Elder Henry B. Eyring posted this quote on his Facebook page:

“I testify that by the Spirit of Christ and by the Holy Ghost, you may walk confidently in whatever difficulties will come. Because you are so valuable, some of the trials may be severe. You need never be discouraged or afraid. The way through difficulties has always been prepared for you, and you will find it if you exercise faith.”
I remember reading that and immediately thinking that quote was meant for me. I was filled with a warm, burning feeling in my heart – I knew the words were true. The way through this trial was already prepared for me. I just had to have faith and find it. I started studying the scriptures and past conference talks, I wanted more than anything to find a way out of this bad dream I was stuck in.

In my searching I came across the following quotes that touched my heart and have stayed with me the past 7 months as I have struggled with this new burden that I have.

President Thomas S. Monson said, “At times… we feel surround by the pain of broken hearts, the disappointment of shattered dreams, and the despair of vanished hopes… We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. If you find yourself in such a situation, I plead with you to turn to our Heavenly Father in faith. He will lift you and guide you. He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.”

Richard G. Scott said, “To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. When you pass through trials, as you trust Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit.”

My experience with Heavenly love has quite literally saved me. I know that my Heavenly Father is aware of me and my circumstances. I know that he loves me. I know that as I exercise faith and trust Him that He will help me through the tragedy of my loss. I have been shown so many tender mercies, ranging from experiences in the temple, to overwhelming feelings of peace and comfort that things will all work out, to silent prayers being answered in ways only possible by an attentive and loving Father in heaven.

When I think about the Savior and His mission on Earth and what He willingly suffered on behalf of mankind – of me – I am so deeply humbled. He did nothing wrong and yet He willingly suffered an accumulation of the world’s guilt, pain, torments, sorrow, struggles and grief so that He would know how to give comfort and relief to all, in every circumstance.

He did this for me. For you. For all who will turn to Him and lay their burdens at His feet. He will give us strength to bear it all.

Because He loves us irrevocably.

This love is incredible to me. I am in no way, shape or form perfect. I make mistakes – more often than I would like to admit – but that heavenly love – that perfect love, does not change or end. I have a Father in Heaven and a Savior that love me, no matter what. There is no struggle, burden or circumstance that will ever change that. They love me, They love you, perfectly.”

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