Finding Strength to Endure Trials
By Lisa Fullmer
I was standing in my laundry room sorting clothes one day when the floodgates opened. I heard myself say, “I can’t do this anymore, Heavenly Father. I can’t do this.”
This feeling wasn’t new to me. It was just the first time that I’d audibly acknowledged the fear, worry, and heartache that had consumed my mind and weighed on my heart continually for so long. Months earlier, when he had just turned 10, one of my sons was diagnosed with an illness that very few doctors know much about. The first doctor we saw, who was well-intentioned but lacked any significant knowledge about the condition, minimized it and reassured me that it would resolve itself in a relatively short period of time. Almost a year later, it finally did, but the resolution was short-lived. A few months later, we found ourselves once again battling for answers.
Our fight to find a long-term, effective treatment and to get to the root of the illness continued for another year, taking us out of state and even out of the country with the hope of healing for our boy. While his illness wasn’t life-threatening, it was definitely life-altering, and as it continued to progress, we were determined to find answers. My prayers were constant, it seemed, and I felt completely dependent on my Father in Heaven to just get me through the day, every day.
The most painful part of the journey was watching as my confident, charming, athletic, social boy began to lose the essence of who he was. Though he continued to show up for life with so much courage, perseverance, and sense of worth, we could see the toll his illness was taking on his heart. To this day, my husband and I marvel at how well he navigated something so difficult at such a young age. Still, the prospect of him living his life with this illness took my breath away multiple times a day. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by my mini-meltdown in the laundry room. It was a long time coming.
As I had my “moment” with God, I repeated over and over, “I can’t do this. Please don’t make him go through this. Please take this away from him. Please heal him.” While pouring out my heart, I could feel the weight of the burden become a little lighter, and hope began to mingle with the despair. Then a distinct thought came into my mind, that I felt I’d heard before, “You’ll be given the strength to endure the trial or the ability to escape the trial. It won’t always feel like this.” Though it had already been over two years since his diagnosis, I felt a glimmer of hope that it wouldn’t always hurt like this, that a healing of our hearts and spirits could happen, even if a physical healing didn’t. This was the beginning of me turning over my will to God and learning to trust that my son would be okay, no matter the outcome.
In a general conference address by Elder Christopher Waddell, he teaches about the afflictions of Alma and his people and the Lord’s response to their silent prayers: “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort…I will…ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs…that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (Mosiah 24:13-14) Elder Waddell goes on to quote President Dallin H. Oaks who taught: “Healing blessings come in many ways, each suited to our individual needs, as known to Him who loves us best. Sometimes a ‘healing’ cures our illness or lifts our burden. But sometimes we are ‘healed’ by being given strength or understanding or patience to bear the burdens placed upon us.” Knowing this, trusting this, accepting this is what allowed me to experience a sense of hope amid the heartache.
Not long after this, we miraculously found a wise and caring doctor in Connecticut who had dedicated her career to learning about my son’s illness. Though there isn’t a cure and it took time and patience to see improvement, the treatment she has provided him has put his illness in remission. Now, five years since his diagnosis, there are no signs of his illness and you would never know what he’s been through. Best of all, his full sense of self has returned and his zest for life is unstoppable. He has gained greater faith and empathy. The promise that I felt during my “laundry room low” came to pass. We’ve seen the hand of the Lord not just in my son’s physical healing but in the healing of our hearts. And although I know there is not always a happy ending to our trials, I’ve gained greater trust that “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions” (Alma 36:3) and that He will never leave us alone.