That We Might Have Joy: Sarah's Story

When I was about 10 years old, my parents got divorced. From then on, my childhood consisted of flying back and forth to spend time with each parent, splitting up holidays, and trying to avoid “picking sides.” My dad lived on the west coast, and my mom lived in Missouri. I lived with my mom up until the summer after my eighth grade year. It was then that I decided I wanted to try out living with my dad. I had friends where he was, and it was nice to have a fresh start. It worked out really well... until the middle of my sophomore year. I’m not going to go into very much detail, because to be completely honest, it’s painful to revisit those years. I’ve moved on, and it’s not fun to go back there. It was a living hell. I ended up hating my mom. Don’t worry, she knows how I felt back then, and we’ve had some good chats about it since. But to make a long story short, my dad was married to a woman, she started telling lies about my dad, my mom got word and believed said lies, and I got stuck in the middle. I struggled a lot during that time of my life. I felt like I lost everything. I questioned a lot of things-- things I knew to be true, relationships, and just life in general. I didn’t think there was any way to be happy.

It was an EFY counselor that helped me realize that Heavenly Father loves me, cares about me, and hears my prayers, and that was what helped me slip out of my depressive state. I was 15. My mom sent me to EFY thinking it would help me. It did, but at the time I was not about to admit that to her. While I was there, I got word that my grandpa was not doing so hot and probably didn’t have much time left. I wasn’t very close to my grandpa, but for some reason, I was struggling with that. My counselor was talking to me the night I found out trying to comfort me. I can’t remember what exactly happened that night so many years ago, but I will never forget the feelings that I had. It was as if Heavenly Father Himself had wrapped His arms around me and was giving me a hug, telling me that everything would be okay. I knew that the feeling wasn’t just referring to my grandpa’s situation. I knew that the Spirit was comforting me in all the aspects of my life at that time, including everything that was going on with my mom. That feeling was so strong that it was undeniable that it came from God. I will never forget it. I have felt that feeling so many other times in my life since as well.

Fast forward to now… I can look back on those experiences I had in my teenage years and know that I would not be the person I am right now had I not gone through that. I’ve had many struggles. I still, even to this day, have fears of marriage and worry about ever being in any position where my kids or anyone I love is put through anything like that. I’ve struggled with the thought of getting married, then finding out the man I married is not the man I thought he was. I’ve struggled with the thought of never getting married at all. I’ve struggled with the unintentional pressure that people have put on me when it comes to the topic of marriage. I’ve come so close more times than I would like to admit to “settling.” I’m not perfect, but I know what my weaknesses are. I’ve been working on them. That’s all that is really asked of us-- that we try our hardest.

I had a dream a few weeks back where a really good friend that I haven’t seen in years was asking me how I deal with everything. I don’t remember what specifically we were talking about, but I remember replying to their inquiry with, “I just choose to be happy.” And it’s as simple as that! I’ve had to learn this over and over in my life that being happy is an internal choice every single moment of every single day. Yeah, crappy things happen all the time to people, but if you choose to focus on the good things and stay positive, your life is so much better! And not only that, but you attract people that are also happy, and life is so much better!

Another thing that has helped me find joy is the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was definitely not the easiest thing to not only forgive my mom, but to forgive other people that were involved in that situation. But I know, through the power of prayer, that Jesus Christ suffered for me. He suffered for everyone that has ever sinned or done wrong. And the amazing thing about the atonement is that it doesn’t just cover our sins. It covers our grief, it covers our loneliness, it covers our hurt and our pain, it covers every single thing that we have and will ever go through! Christ know us perfectly. He is the one that helped me get through that hard time in my life, He is the one that has helped me find peace through forgiveness, and He is the one that helps me fight my fears every single day!

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