I wanted to share with you some comforting thoughts from Sister Neill F Marriott, one of the leaders in our church’s young women’s organization. She shared this at our most recent general conference, and it really made a difference for me as I struggle with the effects of abuse and mental illness and all that goes with them.
Sister Marriott told members of the church that her family has the motto “It will all work out”. She then told the story of her beloved 21-year-old daughter dying from injuries sustained in an earlier bike accident while Sister Marriott was traveling on a plane from a mission in Brazil to be at her daughter’s side.
She then said:
“Our family motto doesn’t say, “It will all work out now.” It speaks of our hope in the eternal outcome—not necessarily of present results. Scripture says, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.”
This doesn’t mean all things are good, but for the meek and faithful, things—both positive and negative—work together for good, and the timing is the Lord’s.
We wait on Him, sometimes like Job in his suffering, knowing that God “maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.”
A meek heart accepts the trial and the waiting for that time of healing and wholeness to come.”
Later, she said:
“In time and by degrees, we receive His gracious strength and direction—perhaps leading us to frequent the temple or to study more deeply the Savior’s Atonement or to consult with a friend, a bishop, a professional counselor, or even a doctor. The healing of our heart begins when we submit to and worship God.”
She ended her talk with this testimony:
“No matter what losses, wounds, and rejection we have suffered, His grace and healing are mightier than all. Truly yoked to the Savior, we can say with confidence, “It will all work out.”
I have never lost a daughter and cannot fathom the excruciating pain that brings to a parent. I have experienced other devastating trials though, including being abused and suffering from PTSD, OCD, and depression. It is so difficult to have the faith that things will work out, despite our current suffering. But just reading of the Marriott family’s faith and the peace it brings them, brought a little of that peace to my own heart.
I was really struck when Sister Marriott said “for the meek and faithful, things—both positive and negative—work together for good, and the timing is the Lord’s.” As I reflected on this statement, I thought of several negative experiences in my life that actually led to blessings that I don’t see could have come to me without going through that trial in order to reach them. I believe what Sister Marriott taught here. When we are faithful to God, He can even bring blessings from our afflictions. But, “the timing is the Lord’s”, and sometimes those blessings don’t come immediately. Often we only recognize them in reflection.
When we choose to trust God and submit to His will, rather than engaging in the futile struggle against it, we will be blessed with the understanding and healing we need to make it through that trial okay.
Another important teaching that Sister Marriott shared was about repentance. She said:
“I have found that after I pray for forgiveness of sins, it is instructive for me to ask Heavenly Father, “Father, is there more?” When we are yielded and still, our minds can be directed to something more we may need to change—something that is limiting our capacity to receive spiritual guidance or even healing and help.
For example, perhaps I have a carefully guarded resentment toward someone. When I ask if there is more to confess, that “secret” comes clearly to my memory. In essence, the Holy Ghost is whispering, “You honestly asked if there was more, and here it is. Your resentment diminishes your progress and damages your ability to have healthy relationships. You can let this go.” Oh, it is hard work—we may feel quite justified in our animosity—but yielding to the Lord’s way is the only way to lasting happiness.”
Later she said: “I have struggled to banish the mortal desire to have things my way, eventually realizing that my way is oh so lacking, limited, and inferior to the way of Jesus Christ. “His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.” Can we love Jesus Christ and His way more than we love ourselves and our own agenda?”
These teachings made me think of my own resentments. Anyone who is a survivor of abuse or domestic violence knows that it is so difficult to forgive. Even when we desire to forgive, and pray and fast and work towards it, we often find that bitterness is still there. Anger at injustice is not wrong. God gets angry at this too. This isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the hate of our abuser that can poison our souls.
I believe God gives us commandments for our own happiness and benefit. To do the opposite of His laws only hurts us. The commandment to forgive included. Like Sister Marriott taught, to not obey this commandments is “something that is limiting our capacity to receive spiritual guidance or even healing and help.” and that to continue to hate diminishes our progress and damages our ability to have healthy relationships.
She acknowledged that our animosity may feel justified, but emphasized that “yielding to the Lord’s way is the only way to lasting happiness.” This commandment is only for our own peace.
Yet it is still so hard. I have been working on forgiveness for years, and although I have made miraculous progress, I know I still have not been able to completely forgive my abusers. But we don’t need to give up, and we don’t need to beat ourselves up. I appreciated the comfort Sister Marriott gave:
“If we earnestly appeal to God, He takes us as we are—and makes us more than we ever imagined. Noted theologian Robert L. Millet writes of “a healthy longing to improve,” balanced with the spiritual “assurance that in and through Jesus Christ we are going to make it.”
I hope these thoughts of Sister Marriott’s can help some of you out there who are also struggling with the pains and trials of life. God loves you and will help you.