Don’t lose hope

I have been mad at someone or something for as long as I can remember. I was angry when my parents moved us from sunny California to snowy Utah. I got mad because of the racism we faced when we first moved to Utah. I was bullied because of my skin color in school, and some people did not like me because I have ADHD. If there was a reason, I found a way to be mad about it. As an adult, I had this major chip on my shoulder. When it came to going to events where I had to be social, I usually had a scowl on my face, saying to others, “I dare you to talk to me.” Then, I would complain to my husband that no one liked me. My husband would reassure me I was incorrect, but I did not believe him. At this point, I really did not like who I was becoming. I saw all the good things in my life. I had a wonderful husband, two great kids, a good job, and much much more.

I decided things needed to change, but I needed to figure out where to start. So I started on my knees. With the help of the Lord and the Holy Ghost, I knew what I needed to do. This required me to make amends to people I had hurt because of staying mad and blaming others for my actions. When I started the process of asking for forgiveness, I was surprised when, instead of making me feel worse, they responded with Christlike love to me. Without the Christ Atonement, I would not be the Mel I am today. There have been many bumps along the way, and I’m grateful for my Savior and for making the temple a priority in my life. There is no question that I am a work in progress. We are all a work in progress.

A little over a year ago, I decided that I wanted to have a bunion removed. I love to exercise and run. But it hurt to run, so I went through the surgery. It was one of the biggest mistakes I have made in a long time. I have had multiple issues and complications. As a result, I just had my fourth surgery to correct all the complications over the past year.

            When my doctor told me that we had to do another surgery, my instinct was to get mad. After all, that was my reaction in January when he told me I had non-union fractures that would require extensive surgery and four weeks of non-weight bearing. But this time, I chose not to get mad. Sure, I was frustrated and disheartened. But I decided getting mad would not solve the problem. I did a lot of praying and concluded that if I gave into anger, I was allowing the adversary to have a hold of my heart. I did not want that.

So, I looked inward and reflected on what I did not learn the past three times. What was the Lord trying to teach me that I had not learned yet?

Each time I had surgery, I tried not to have dinners brought in. I was so worried that I would look like a burden on the ward. I was upfront about it this time and let the RS know that I was having another surgery and was grateful for the dinners. It helped my family so much as I was recovering. I learned humility and charity right away. I needed to let go of my pride and allow others to serve me. It humbled me when multiple people took the time to check on me and my family. It isn’t that I didn’t already know those things, but I tried to push against them.

I also learned patience on a different level. Instead of thinking I was a superwoman and could take that extra step without my crutches or scooter, I used them even when it would have been easier to put a little weight on my foot. After a few weeks, my doctor told me to return to crutches and my scooter when the pain increased without warning. In the past, I would have ignored him and kept going because I thought I knew better. I listened to what my body was saying and didn’t try to push past my doctors’ orders. By doing this, the pain soon dissipated, and I could start putting weight on my foot again without increased pain.

I knew getting mad would not make this process go any faster, so I learned to enjoy the time not having to do dishes or household chores. I prayed constantly to ask how I could serve others around me despite my circumstances. I was shocked when it felt like the heavens opened, and I knew who I needed to call, text, email, or send some sunshine.

One of the things that I learned during my temple trek was no matter your circumstances, go to the temple. There were many times when I was at the temple that I saw people in wheelchairs, crutches, and many other issues that would make going to the temple difficult, but they kept going. They were facing trials just as I was and continued serving the Lord.

Life will never be without trials. As we walk through the refiner’s fire, we will become charred from those experiences. Elder Dieter F. Uchdorf said, “Because of Jesus Christ, our failures do not define us. They refine us.” I would add that our trials don’t define us; they refine us. We will be miserable and lose hope if we constantly focus on all the hard stuff. I can attest that I have lost hope more times than I would like to admit. Elder Even A. Schumtz said, “In God’s perfect plan, suffering with faith in Christ is linked to our becoming perfected in Christ.” Knowing this doesn’t always make things easier, but if we focus on what makes us smile and brings light to our souls, we will find the rainbow after the storm.

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