There are few of us, if any, who don’t walk the refiner’s fire of adversity and despair…Most of the heartache, pain, and suffering we would not choose today. But we did choose. We chose when we could see the complete plan… And if our faith and understanding were as clear today as it was when we first made that choice, I believe we would choose again. Therefore, perhaps the challenge is to have the kind of faith during the hard times that we exercised when we first chose…The kind of faith that…that for the righteous, all that appears wrong will eventually be made right”( Richard C. Edgley).
I have been burned and refined many times in life, but usually only in small doses. At least not until THE trial that changed me forever. I was burned and burned, for what seemed like eternity. Many nights I yelled and cried out in pain and agony, pleading with God to save me from the pain. Relief did not come. God felt distant and I didn’t know why. Why had he left me? I hadn’t committed any major sins, I had obeyed him and dedicated my life to raising the beautiful spirits he sent me. Why was he doing this to me? Satan seemed to have free reign from God to torture me. He was throwing a million lies at me. It seemed as if heaven and hell were both combined against me. My patriarchal blessing said I would be able to see beyond the veil and know that I was being watched over by unseen beings. I wondered many times during my spiritual anguish, where were they?
One night when the pain was especially excruciating, I went into my room and fell to my knees. Laying my head on the floor, I pleaded with God to take the pain away; I sobbed and offered up my heart to him. I felt completely broken. “Please, please stop the pain, I can’t endure it anymore, please”, I asked. I knew he was listening, but I also knew, for some reason, he wasn’t going to take the pain away. So, I began to pray for one of those “unseen beings” mentioned in my patriarchal blessing. I was grasping for any sort of help I could get…when finally my mind caught hold of a vision, an image inside my mind. I imagined a woman in a white dress, kneeling beside me, hugging me, feeling the pain with me. I felt an incredible amount of love. She conveyed the idea to my heart that I was not alone, that I was incredibly strong, and reminded me that I volunteered for these trials; they were part of the plan for the great things I was to accomplish in this life.
I wondered for many months about this. Was it my grandma Evelyn whom I had never physically met, but with whom my spirit had felt a connection to? I liked that idea and decided it was probably her.
Through the months that followed, I continued to endure sorrow and torment. I still needed to burn. But soon, and I’m not quite sure when, that little pile of ashes that remained of my heart, started to see new buds of growth. New answers and insights slowly began flowing in. After having a period of such deep darkness, I was able to glimpse and comprehend the light more easily, for it contrasted so starkly against the previous abyss of darkness. God began to give me glimpses and insights into the mission I am to accomplish in this life and some of the purposes for these trials. I look back at those painful times and feel immense gratitude for the Lord in saving me from such a dark place. I can’t help but think of that hell being my eternity, if not for Christ, and God in sending him and creating a plan to redeem me from such an awful state.
Through the past months as I ponder on what God wants me to do, I have been increasingly drawn to wonder about my Heavenly Mother. I began to feel a longing to know her. I always felt a deep love for my Heavenly Father. But recently as I try to discover the responsibilities God wishes me to fulfill, I am led to curiosity and the need to discover my womanhood. The spirit has whispered many times to my heart that these responsibilities have to do with helping women. So, my desire to understand the distinctly feminine ways of Godhood, the feminine identity of the divine, seemed necessary.
As I was praying one day, thinking upon these things and speaking with God about them, I began to feel an immense desire to know Her better, to remember Her, for I knew that we must have had a close relationship in the pre-existence. I told Heavenly Father I missed Her and wanted to feel close to Her, and asked him to show Her to me, to teach me about Her. I started to think of the women who I knew who emulated love; my sisters, my earthly mother, my close friends, my Grandma Mecham, my Grandma Evelyn. After the thought of Evelyn, my mind went to the memory of that evening when a woman knelt next to me and comforted me. I burst into tears as God told me that that woman was Her, my Heavenly Mother. Immense feelings of joy enveloped me as I remembered what it felt like to feel Her love. The veil indeed parted for me and I knew I was being watched over by an unseen being. I did not see with my eyes, but felt with my spirit, the memories of Her. Her love was so strong, Her understanding of my pain precise, Her soft embrace familiar and strong. I discovered that night that our Heavenly Mother is with us and if we ask she will make herself known to us.
by Jill Evans Opdahl