Sometimes beating the odds is simply a matter of chance. Roll the dice enough times, win the lottery, whatever. More often than not, I think Divine Intervention and personal effort can affect outcomes. Today I want to recognize all the couples who beat the odds by remaining married through:
chronic illness or pain
a child with a chronic illness
the loss of a child
financial changes or bankruptcy
different cultural backgrounds
alcoholism or substance abuse
These stresses, and others, decrease the odds of a successful marriage, so if you have experienced any of these roadblocks and find that both partners have worked through things sufficiently that you are happily married to any degree, count it as a miracle.
We held a family fast this last Sunday for my son. He has finally shown the first signs of being ready to make some long overdue changes. The morning after we had fasted for him he shows up bright and early at our home to help his dad with something. That in and of itself could have been its own miracle as his sleep habits are wildly out of control and he has not felt a desire to help anyone with anything for at least a year. Miracle number two, he was smiling from ear to ear. Smiles are good. Again, he went at least a year, probably more without ever smiling. When I commented on the smile and downright cheerful attitude he just smiled back and told me he was having a great day. At 8 am he was having a great day? Unless I had seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed that one. I asked him if there was any particular reason he was happy, he told me he wasn’t quite ready to share or talk about it yet. (Now that was simply reassurance I really was talking to the same kid) He did tell me that he had spent a lot of contemplative thinking time the day before, and is simply very happy about some of the things he was thinking about.
We never told him he was in many, many people’s prayers and fasts that day. It seems to be working, however.
A few months ago I had an interesting experience. We were right in the middle of dealing with a serious mental health crisis with my son. As we were dealing with this particular issue, we found out that Pres. Jeffry R. Holland was coming to visit our ward. It would be a short visit and he would be very busy, but I wondered about the timing. If I really believed that he was an apostle of God, as were the apostles at the time of Christ, could he help our family? Throughout the scriptures are stories of children and families being healed by Christ and the apostles. I knew that I love my child every bit as much as the parents in ancient times, and I knew that I needed help. Was help being sent? Did I have enough faith to receive help? I had many questions about how to help my son that needed answering, that my local leaders were unable to address sufficiently.
I did a lot of praying and a lot of fasting. I didn’t know exactly what type of help I needed. I was not sure exactly what to pray for. I prayed that if there was any way that this apostle could help our family that we would have enough faith to receive that help. I was told that my prayers had been heard, and that it was taken care of. The visit came and went. I had no direct interaction with President Holland. We attended a dinner with him, my son declined to attend, but we brought others to join us. As far as I knew, my son avoided any potential contact the same way he has continued to avoid all potential help. Still, I was at peace that my prayers had been heard and accepted.
This last weekend was LDS General Conference weekend. The incident over the summer was pretty much out of my mind. Then Elder Holland stepped up to speak. He opened his talk by stating that he was going to address those dealing with serious mental health problems. He then proceeded to answer all of my questions that truly needed answering. It was a direct answer to my personal prayers and I can not question that the Lord heard and answered my prayers this summer.
View of Conference Center spire taken from south of the Center on North Temple St., Salt Lake City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We’ve had a rough week this week. It has not been a week that anyone would consider miraculous by any stretch of the imagination. What I can say though, is that each trauma, each disappointment, has worked out the best it possibly could given the circumstances. The promise never was that there would be no disappointments or heartaches. The promise instead is that we would be guided and directed through them if we trust in our Savior.
My oldest son has been in a cycle of poor choices, disgusting behavior, serious depression and mental health issues, and a general inability to function. Sunday he basically ran away from home again. There is nothing pleasant about any of that. However, I can see the Lord’s hand in each step of the way, both for us and for him. I will give some specific examples of what I mean.
As we were developing a plan to help him start functioning better, we realized he would need to leave the home. The last step we were hung up on was on how and when to actually kick him out. An hour after the decision had been made that we needed to act that day, he announced his intention to leave and become homeless. Same result, but there is no question that we were not the bad guys.
Homeless shelter the next town over (his choice), was full and he spent a night on the street. Ended up being the best thing he could have experienced. It was a tiny wake up call, but we live in an exceptionally safe area. There are no really bad areas of town, even around the homeless shelter. (In reality, the most serious danger he was in was probably from the 100+ weather that we have.) Where else can you be turned away from the homeless shelter carrying an expensive laptop and new cell phone and come away from the experience without any theft or incident? The plans I had come up with would never have been that drastic, but he really needed at least that much.
Although he will not be returning home, he has made arrangements to stay for a while a few blocks down the street. He is not in a place I would have lined up for him, and quite frankly not a place he would have thought of. It was interesting how that particular decision was made, but the more I think about it, I can not think of a better place for his overall development.
Our home has been so much happier the last few days. We are all disappointed and a little traumatized by the way things played out, but everyone here is more at peace.
Anyway, thanks for everyone’s prayers. I know they have worked mini-miracles in his life already.