Saturday, January 17, 2009

Inner Turmoil / Inner Peace

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I have been struggling lately with trying really hard to prove that I am being strong, but also feeling this turmoil inside of me because I feel like I am falling to pieces. It is still so difficult to be here alone in this life. Alone meaning... without the other half of me.
When I read my scriptures or even just think in my mind about what I need to do to prove to God that I can do this, I feel this sense of duty... the duty that I need to prove that I can find joy in any situation, through any trial. I wake up each day with a sense of renewed hope that the day is going to bring something new and exciting, something great that is going to bring me the courage to keep going... the hope that my life can be whole again.
Then each day goes like all the rest and I am sorely disappointed at the end of the day that my life still feels like it is hanging in the balance, like I am in limbo.
I emailed another widow yesterday to ask her how long she had been a widow and if she had remarried yet and how long it took for her life to start feeling normal again. The words she wrote back to me are exactly how I have felt for so many months. The feelings where you think you are doing great, but then you hit a bump and everything feels so wrong again, then you feel like you are doing pretty good for a bit, then once again, you feel like your world is crashing down around you yet again... and again... and again... and again... and again...
She said that she didn't feel like life was normal again until she found love again and was remarried. Then the routine of life came again and normal felt normal again. Of course these are not her exact words... but basically, this is exactly how I have felt lately. I have felt as though life can't feel normal again, until our broken little family becomes a complete family again... someday.
I am not trying to have a pity party for myself. I am just wanting to express some feelings that are deep inside of me that are complete opposites of each other... that seem to be driving a wedge inside that is tearing me apart. I feel like my emotions are in a constant battle and I can't seem to get a handle on the contention between them. I feel such turmoil and heartache, but then on the other hand... I DO feel peace as well and want so badly to show on the outside the peace that I AM feeling on the inside... but I feel like the turmoil is what comes out most of the time. It is so difficult to explain.
I don't even know why it is possible to feel them both at the same time. I guess the feelings of turmoil come when I focus my thoughts on THIS life and the elements of this life that scare me when I think of doing it all alone. But the feelings of peace come when I focus my thoughts on the life to come and the blessings and joys of eternity that I will receive when I get there.
Why is it so easy for us to focus our energy more on the here and now and so difficult to focus our energy on the wonderful things to come if we live worthy of those blessings?
It goes right along with a quote that I have loved most of my life... 'Don't give up what you want MOST, for what you want at the moment.' It doesn't mean that I am wanting something now that is going to ruin my chances at what I want most, but it does go along with focusing on the here and now instead of the blessings to come.
There is a scripture that I love. Ether 12:6 which reads:
'... ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.'
I guess I just need to increase my faith and trust in my Father in Heaven. I am sure He has great things in store for me. It is difficult for me to understand, but I know He does have wonderful blessings in my future.
My sister in law, Kristi, told me about an article in this month's Ensign that she thought I should read. I just read it and it opened my eyes again to the focus I need to have as I endure this trial in my life. Thank you Kristi. The author of this article was also a young widow. The title is 'Putting my Hand in the Lord's'. As soon as I read the title, I felt something. In the past, I have had a very personal experience regarding taking the Lord's hand and letting him guide me that helped me through another trial in my life. I need to remember the things that I learn.
Anyhow, in this article, the experience of Joseph Smith was talked about when he asks the Lord how much more he is going to have to endure. The Lord responds with this answer in Doctrine and Covenants 122:
'... if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?'

Basically, the reason I wanted to write this tonight was just to try to give myself a pep talk. I know what I need to do. I know what is expected of me. I know I am going through this trial to prepare me in this life for whatever else will be required of me. I know I need this experience to prepare me for what is to come. I am in the refiner's fire... being shaped and molded into what the Lord needs me to be. So, what does He need me to learn from all of this? That is what I need to find out.
And now, as I sit here sobbing, I am feeling the inadequecies of my mortality, but in a moment, I will pray and I will feel the strength that comes from trusting in my Father in Heaven. There is joy and peace and happiness and experience yet to be had and I want it all. I miss Aaron. I always will. There is a hole in my heart that can never be filled here, but I can endure it. I am being given strength that is not my own. The Lord wants me to succeed and that gives me courage and hope.
Now, the next step is to find out what I need to do to serve the Lord will all of my heart, might, mind, and strength... that is where true happiness will come from. I hope and pray that I can begin to seek for the lessons I need to learn from this trial instead of feeling like I am being tossed around by it.

'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'
-Philippians 4:13

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21 comments:

Kristin said...

Once again I am humbled by your strength. I wrote a post yesterday about missing my mom. It will post today because I also wrote a post about my son turning 4 months old and I didn't want to, in effect, steal his thunder. What you are going through, I can only imagine. I only lost my mom and while that is hard enough, you, who is going through something so much more difficult, remind me that the Lord is my shepherd and I should follow him. When it comes to the loss of my mom I have a hard time feeling peace. I haven't prayed for it much and probably should. I've just had this attitude... I can't quite explain. I feel like a child throwing a tantrum, unwilling to listen to the loving parent. I'm not sure why I'm being this way. I'm not even sure how to snap myself out of it. I think I need to go to the temple. Anyway, I'm just rambling now. I think you are on the right track and just want to encourage you to continue. However, their is nothing wrong with having moments of grief. In D&C 42:45 we are told, "Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die..." I know you've probably heard this all before and I'm probably not helping, but hold on (which you obviously do) and allow yourself those moments and realize they don't mean you are not strong or not having faith.

Anonymous said...

Leslie, I am a reader in Michigan who has been following your blog, but have never commented. I stumbled upon it thru a comment about it in another blog I read. I have been very touched by your posts. I learned a few months ago that my husband has Stage IV cancer. He is fighting it, and we hope and pray he will beat it. But it's very serious, and I have to face the very real possibility I might be left alone. We've been married 28 years, and our 3 children are grown. Our youngest is in college.

Love makes the world go round they say. I can understand why your friend said life didn't seem normal again until she remarried. You are young and beautiful, and you obviously have a lot of love to give. I have been hoping to someday read a post that you had found love again. But in the meantime....I've always counseled my children that we can't rely on someone else to give us happiness. We have to find that within ourselves. I love what you said about serving the Lord with all of your heart, might, mind and strength. That is definitely the place to start to find happiness! Anyway, thank you for your insight. You are an inspiration to your readers. I know things will all work out for you, and you will be happy again!

Tabitha said...

Sending much love your way Leslie ~ you are a wonderful person and I wish that you didn't have to go through all this pain.
Thinking of you ~
Take care ~ love and hugs Tabitha XXXXXX

Anonymous said...

Leslie-
We come down alone and leave alone, along the way if we are lucky we add to ourselves through love. But the truth is to really posses love is to find ourselves and stand strong with or without companionship. (We have to be the one's that complete ourselves.) If not one will always feel unhappy. God has given each individual the same ability to strengthen themselves and make there time down here full. You have to live you own life, and often do many things you don't want to do.

No man anytime soon is going to fix you or save you or make your family whole again. How anfair it sounds you have to work harder, run faster, and stand sure-er, than ever before.

You have to decide rather than hope...god can only work best through us and our acts of faith!

Live.
Live better.
Live different!!

Falling in love with another should come far after falling back in love with yourself.

Living better is how we honor the death and the ones that still grieve for that person gone.

Leslie choose the harder road, move above your own expectations!

me

Anonymous said...

My experience has been that when I have lost myself in the service of others(other than family) I have found true happiness. I hope this can help you. God Bless

Tawnie said...

Do you know Kristen above? I went to school with her. She lost her mom to cancer. but you probably already knew that. Hang in there. You are doing great. You are taking care of little Aaron and doing your best! Keep up the good work. You will be blessed!! Love you lots! And don't worry about what people say who don't understand. If it is really important, they will not hide behind anonymous words. They will come to you in love and try to put themselves in your place then share their feelings openly with you. There will be many more ups and downs. It's not easy to be alone. I haven't felt it personally but I've watched my mom and others go through it and it breaks my heart. Over and over again. Just do what you know to be right. Continue to go to the temple, read your scriptures, do the basics. If you read my last post, you'll see that I just wanted to pout and be miserable last Saturday. So I did. I'm human. But then I got over it and moved on. You really are amazing. I know you already are and will be an example and a help to many women who need someone to understand the same kinds of things they will go through in life. Heavenly Father is mindful of you and little Aaron. He is in charge and will lead you to where you need to be. Keep it up. Love you tons!!!

Anonymous said...

Leslie,
I read your blog on a regular basis. I pray for you often. I keep you in my thoughts often. Reading your blog, at times, is selfish, because you inspire me to be a better person and do things for the people that I love that I may not have done had it not been for your lesson in this life.
I see something in your post that I did not see months ago. You are seeing the future and you are looking for positive. You are growing. A lot of times in past posts, I worried that you would never come to terms with this new life you had. I can see your progression through the healing process that your Faith provides. I am encouraged that your life is getting better. I hope you feel it inwardly as I see it in your posts.
I will continue to pray for you and Aaron Jr.
Personally, I think you had independent peace in your heart that a person can only feel when they are internally complete while Aaron was here with you on earth, and I think the incompleteness that you feel now is a testament to the totality of your commitment to your marriage. I do not think you need to "get over" that feeling. I think you need to heal from the loss. And that takes a lot of time. You may never heal, you may just learn how to cope with it through Faith. But, you are on the right track with your desires to go forward.
I am sorry that you have to endure this difficulty in your life.
Rita

Until such time... said...

Leslie, please take it from someone who knows.

You are NOT a broken family. You are not an incomplete family. You are quite complete. You and your son. That is the makeup of your family right now.

I raised my son alone after my husband left us. I was highly respected among those with whom I was associated. They called me balanced, stable, together. (They didn't know me for the first two years after he left...)

One of the pieces of advice I gave friends that has helped them a lot I am going to give to you: MAKE GOALS THAT YOU HAVE CONTROL OF. You do NOT have control of when you will find love again. You DO have control of what you are going to do with your life. School? Volunteer service? A pre-school at your house? Learn to do woodworking yourself and make cabinets like Aaron used to make? You have so many options that you can control. You can't control your "future" as you call it. It would be best to not focus on that. You will find every day's end filled with disappointment and sadness. Let it come to you as a surprise! Please. Let go of what you can't control or you will never be happy. And if you DO find love but you haven't yet found happiness, your life and your new marriage will not feel right.

For the record, I don't think that one year is time enough to find that kind of happiness so go easy on yourself. It will come...you are right on schedule. :)

I love and respect you from afar. (And envy your tall slim figure and huge friendly smile!)
Sylvia
(I decided to not weenie out and be anonymous. Kinda scary. I hope you understand my intentions in writing what I wrote. And I hope you stop into my blog some time. Sorry for my directness. I've been a mom for a long time.)

dani said...

i don't have the glue to help you put yourself back together, leslie... but GOD does. you are looking in all the right places; but at the same time you are being way too hard on yourself. try to find rest in HIM. it's hard to let go and takes time... i know.
love,
dani

Brooke said...

((((Big hugs to you)))). I hope you realize what an inspiration you are. What a special daughter of our Heavenly Father you must be for him to trust you with this trial. Thank you.

Joann said...

Leslie, you are such a strength to me and everyone that reads your blog. Just know that I love you and appreciate everything you stand for. Our Father must have a special place for you in His heart. Why else would He guve you such trials and such a beautiful way of expressing your feelings. Love you!

Allred Mom said...

Leslie,
A hug to you! You can make it through this trial and you will be able to find the pieces that feel like they are bouncing around inside you in turmoil. You truly can do all things through the strength of Christ and His atoning sacrifice. He is going through this pain and sorrow with you. He also knows that you can do it!
May the small moments of peace you feel increase and may you know that all the Lord expects of you is to do your best and He will cover the rest! You are truly amazing!

Cloward Family said...

I know exactly how you feel, but for a different reason. I could never know how it feels to loose a spouse, but having a child with a disability has given me much inside turmoil at many times. There is a sadness so deep that cannot be explained, and although I know his disability is just in this lifetime, it is so hard sometimes to think about and stay focused on the "giant picture" and where we are headed after this life when I am dealing with the sadness, and hardness in this life. My heart aches for what I can't have in this life with him, but I know it is going to be worth it someday. I just need to stay strong, but that is easier said then done sometimes. I have learned too, that my strength comes from a loving Savior, who knows of my heartache. He loves me and wants me to endure. I know what is expected of me, and what I need to do too.

Thank you for this post. I really needed to hear this right now. Our trials are different, but both keep us focused on so much more than this life. As you look forward to the day when you can see your dear sweet husband again, I long for the day when I can see my child's perfect mind and body and hear him speak. I KNOW this day WILL come, so I keep breathing, and I keep trying. You are amazing and I am again so sorry for what you are going through. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Dear Leslie, I don't want you to feel all this pain. I just want to take it all away. I have not suffered like you do, but my friend has. It has been nearly 3 years for Penny and though she still hurts and grieves, she is making plans for her life and is slowly moving forward. It won't always be as painful as it is now. Just give yourself time. Wrap yourself in the love you have for your son, your family and your God. And slowly, slowly heal. Baby steps. Baby steps. You will get there...wherever it is.

Love. Love. Love.

Jane

Karey said...

Love you, Leslie, and I'm sorry for the pain you continue to feel. While you have ups and downs, I see more ups now and I see you thinking ahead and planning. It is such a good thing to see. Heavenly Father will look out for you. Just be patient (something we don't always find easy). We love you.

Seesalou said...

keep your chin up, leslie. you're doing so great. at the family christmas party, i glanced over to find you laughing...really laughing with that big beautiful smile, and truthfully it really touched my heart. i have been waiting for that for a long time. the world screams so loud that you need to love yourself, focus on yourself, 'fall in love with yourself'?. the world also wants us to think that this is a lonely world, we're in it all alone. but we know differently. we are never alone. not when we come, not when we are here, and not when we leave. what a comfort this is. you are never alone. ...and it is only by losing ourself, that we find ourself. i love you.

Anonymous said...

I heard the following at church today. It really touched my heart, and I thought of you, and also your reader above who has a child with a disability.

In a recent Relief Society meeting a sister shared an essay titled “Welcome to Holland,” by Emily Perl Kingsley, a mother who for five years cared so tenderly for her little child limited from birth in what he could do. Her experience adds for me a new dimension to “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). She writes:

“It’s like this … When you’re going to have a child, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip—to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Colosseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

“After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, ‘Welcome to Holland.’

“ ‘Holland?!?’ you say. ‘What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.’

“But there’s been a change in the flight plan. You’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

“The important thing is … they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place.

“So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

“It’s just a different place. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

“But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.’

“But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.”

This explanation helps me gain a greater understanding of being grounded and settled in where we are and in having hope in the gospel plan and the beauty of life. Hope is a precious commodity in our lives and a scarce one too for many, many people.

While being grounded and settled sounds so steady and secure, hope adds brightness and resilience. Hope—what it does to my soul when I feel it! Hope—what it does for the world when we act upon it!

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t faced discouragement at one time or another, and sometimes we have to defer our wishes and dreams. But there is very little that does not embrace some element of hope.

I cannot imagine life without hope. Hope is one of the traits of godlike men and women. Hope is not a fulfillment of what we want but an understanding and peace that comes from living God’s laws and valuing his ways. Little in life is sure. Hope holds us steady, firmly bound to our moorings, grounded and settled in our understanding. (article is by Elaine Jack, full article can be found in March 1996 Ensign--or by typing in "welcome to Holland" on lds.org)

Kristi said...

Satan wants you to feel miserable. Like you said, the Lord is rooting for you, as are many others. I am sure it is difficult to overcome these overwhelming feelings of turmoil. We will be praying that you will be able to choose to be happy and be able to resist the temptation of listening to Satan's discouragement.
We love you so much.

cynphil6 said...

Just remember that everything that you are feeling is OK. It's "normal", and you are surrounded by many angels on earth, and most importantly, in heaven.
xoxo

Anonymous said...

Leslie,

I've been there. I hope you find comfort just in knowing that others have been where you are. And you know what? Somehow we make it through...and have become stronger and more insightful than we ever thought possible.

One small thing that finally helped bring me peace was the realization that all the emotions I experienced, whether beautiful or painful, were completely NORMAL and even necessary. Remember that the Lord felt all the same feelings you're experiencing right now while He was in Gethsemane. He knows more than anyone how you feel.

Maybe one reason we feel turmoil is so that we will turn to Him. I usually take it as a sign that the Lord wants me to come to Him about something. Like He has something he wants to tell me, but I need to ask first.

Sometimes I felt guilty for wanting more in my life. That certainly brought turmoil. I used to think, "Isn't it enough that I still have four children? Isn't it enough that I found the love of my life and became sealed to him already?" And what would people think if I ever found someone else? Especially my husband's family and friends?

Eventually the Lord will help you to unravel your turmoil and help you figure out what's best for you and little Aaron. At least you know what true peace feels like...so when the Lord presents you with another chapter of your life, you can recognize His peace again.

Hang in there.

Kelli

Nancy said...

Leslie-

I stumbled upon your blog on accident--I just recently found out about Aaron (Hark's) passing and felt a need to search out about him and his family since I had not seen him since I left Utah in late 2001.

My heart goes out to you and your sweet son for so many reasons.

I don't think I ever met you, but Aaron was my apartment's visiting teacher along with his roommate at the time (2001). Anyway, he was so kind and thoughtful and a great teacher. I am so happy that he found you and had time on this earth with a wonderful wife and beautiful child.

I wish I could offer profound advice but I don't know exactly what to say--except that my grandmother lost her husband when she was in her late 30s, my grandfather was shot protecting his cousin from a man)--My mother and her siblings were grown, and so my grandmother was left alone after his death--her dog even died shortly after--she called my Aunt and told her that, "now I have no one"--understandably she was devastated--her love was gone and she had no one to pull her through the pain--not even her pet.

However, she somehow muddled through and found happiness in life--she chose not to remarry, but I think God will probably have other ideas for you when your heart has grieved and begun to heal--I guess what I'm saying is that you and your son can be whole together and you don't necessarily have to wait for the time that you find another part of your family --Aaron Jr. can be your strength and vice verse. I am sure some day he will remark on how strong his mother was during the difficult times and how he was able to look to you --and you know what...you will be everything he needs and eventually this pain will not be so strong and life will start to bring you joy again.

I hope you take my note with the understanding that I don't mean to pry--but wanted to say some kind things.

Lastly, this is something my brother always reminds me of when I feel like No one knows what I'm going through and I'm sick of the advice others place on me--that the Savior has felt all of this--yes, even this specific pain you are feeling right now--the panic, the worry, the hurt--he went through it during the antonement and so He knows--completely--and he knows just how to comfort you.

Many blessings, and you are in my prayers.

Nancy

p.s. If you would like my grandmother's email address, I would be more than happy to provide it--I'm sure she would love to share her life experiences as a widow with you--to give you hope and strength.