For the past ten years of my life, things have almost literally been a roller coaster ride. There are times when I catch a break, and there are times when I just don’t. I have had to experience some serious trials, but through my choosing to be happy, I was able to persevere! Most people I know and speak with on a regular basis have no idea what I am truly experiencing in my day to day life. We all have our trials, there is no doubt about that, but I have been far too quiet for far too long about what is really going on in my head and in my heart. It has gotten to the point that I am becoming awkward in social settings (which is not normal for me at all). I just do not feel like I can relate to most the things people my age speak about. Recently I thought “You know what? That is okay, because I know what I am supposed to do with my stories. I am supposed to use them to motivate others – period. Dinner with friends is not the proper setting. I already know what the proper setting is. It’s social media. So, who cares? Be the quiet, socially awkward girl in the restaurant, and be the all or nothing courageous woman online!”
So, where do I start? What will be the trial I begin with? Well, I guess the most recent one will do just fine, as it is the toughest trial I have experienced yet, and the one that has brought me to the point to beg God to stop! I get it, I do. This time is the time for men to prepare to meet God, so tribulations are inevitable. But, when you’re crying on a phone call with your father who knows everything about your past ten roller coaster years, and he gives the only comfort he can by simply stating “You’re writing your story” and you reply with “It’s a novel, and I am only twenty-four years old!” you know you’re fed up. That does not mean I will not give every hard time that may come (because they will) in my future my all, but I definitely would appreciate a break.
Now, why would I be so brutally honest about all that when the word “perseverance” is in this title? Well, I would be completely lying if I said did not want my trials to vanish from time to time, because who wouldn’t? I mean, when you think you have it all, or at least all you think you will have, and in an instant it is all taken from you, you can’t help but to hope sometimes that you are in the most realistic nightmare you have ever experienced, and beg yourself to wake up! But, there is another side to all this: the spiritual side. It took only eight months for me to turn ugly hatred into submissive gratitude, and this is how it happened:
First off, you must know the actual trial before I inform you of how I completely turned my attitude around. For, if it were just hating someone for telling me my eyeliner wings were crooked or something to being grateful they did so, so I could change the way I did my makeup, it wouldn’t seem like all too big of a deal. But, that is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum in regards to my whirlwind of troubles. Well…here we go…
On January 29th, 2015, I woke up to a very loud knock on the front door of my two bedroom apartment. I looked at the time – a little after 6:00am. “Ugh” I thought “I am not answering that.” I had just become a mom for my first time two weeks prior, and had a rough night with my brand new baby girl, and I wanted to sleep! Well, the knocking persisted, and after ignoring it long enough, I finally heard “Sheriff! Search warrant!”
Um…what!? Yeah, being an extremely devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you don’t usually hear such a thing.
I could get into all the nitty gritty of the story, but I’ll probably write a book one day, so you can get the purest form of the story then. But, I will just say that four hours of questioning and a frustrated detective later, I found out that my husband had been arrested for murder. Once again, not something you normally hear when you are a very active “Mormon.” I guess you just can’t judge a book by its cover!
Unfortunately, that is all I knew. I went on with my day in shock. My two week old had a doctor’s appointment, and I had to go to a class that evening. I took care of my obligations, because I knew no matter what was happening, life had to continue on. Though, it was difficult to continue on without my cell phone…or my laptop…or my computer…or my printer. Apparently, regardless of if you had anything to do with such a serious crime or not, all the electronics, and whatever else may have evidence attached to it, is confiscated from a household.
Well, we lived in a smaller town where many people knew my husband most of his life – for he grew up there – and one of those people was the instructor of my Thursday night classes. As I walked into class that evening, my instructor paused in wonder of why on earth I was there after what had happened. Little did I know how many others knew more about what really happened than I did…
Once again, there are many details to this story, but who wants to read a novel when they are supposed to be reading a simple post? Trust me – it’s already going to be long enough. After class concluded, he immediately walked over to me, and started asking me some loving questions. After a short time, he could tell I still had no idea of what was happening. Remember, all the cops told me was that my husband was arrested for murder. Of course, as any wife would, I assumed they had the wrong guy. There was no way my husband would actually be found guilty of such a heinous crime! Once again, still in shock.
Luckily for me, not only did my instructor know more than I did about this situation, but my bishop did as well. Since this was a church class I was attending, it was at a church building. Things lined up just right, and my bishop was there for a meeting that night as well. So, my instructor asked me to hold tight while he grabbed my bishop for me, and then the two of us went in a room to talk.
And that was when reality kicked in… My…husband…killed a man. In cold…blood. Wow…
I was in tears. I was speechless. I…was…angry!! The only word that came to mind was “SELFISH!” What a selfish man to take the life of another! What a selfish man to lay that information on his sister for months! What a tough spot for her, who loves her brother, to be in! What a selfish man to include his little brother in the crime, and allow him to be arrested for something so horrible too! And…what a selfish man to give up his family…
Not only did he leave his wife, but he left his brand new daughter. Not only did he leave his family, but he left it up to me to figure out how to provide for not just myself, but a growing baby. Not only did he leave us, but he did so in the blink of an eye. One simply cannot prepare for such a thing. Sure the argument can be made that I could have been more financially prepared, but mentally/emotionally? No way. He was the provider, not me. I wanted so badly to be a stay-at-home mommy. And he equally wanted that for me – apparently not bad enough.
Once again, I had no phone, no laptop or computer or printer, which was all needed for my schoolwork at the time, and on top of that I had no income. Therefore, I had to move out of our apartment as well… And months later, I had no car. It is extremely stressful to try to come up with $400 car payments when you are putting your infant’s needs first. …You’d be amazed what material things you can do without…
Each and every time something would arise that wouldn’t have, had it not been for his selfish actions, my hatred grew. I hated him. I have never hated anyone before! That is simply not who I am. It was so bad that I would actually have to yell it out loud at times. “I hate him!” And to add to it all, I was angry at the one being you should never get angry at. I was furious with my Father.
“How could God do this to me!?” We hear that all the time, don’t we? Why? Why do we always blame Him when our life gets blown to pieces? I suppose it is just human nature. Well, I will tell you, I have not always made the best decisions in life, which of course brings consequences that are usually not too pleasant. But, never before had I ever been angry with God. And that was not too good for me.
I pushed God out of my life when I needed Him the most. It was my fault for having hatred towards my husband, and life, and anger at God. It wasn’t until a very inspired phone call I received (on the TracFone I had been given from a family member) from my aunt that something began to change.
I told her about my anger, and she very bluntly told me I needed to repent, because I cannot be the happy Tiana I always tried so hard to be, and have anger towards the one I owed my very life to at the same time. She sure was right.
I followed her counsel, and changed my attitude. I pleaded for forgiveness for being angry at Him. I more fervently prayed for my enemy – my
husband. I prayed for understanding. I even prayed for joy, and when that didn’t work, I prayed for more specific things that would help me experience the joy I yearned for. And, as I mentioned earlier, I am an extremely devoted member of The Church. No Sunday went by that I did not attend church. I already knew where I needed to be every Sunday morning. No life circumstance could ever change that (save being in a hospital bed, or death, or something). And because I am a devoted member, I have to state this part as well. I don’t know how many different denominations are reading this, but I have no shame in stating this. I know without a shout of a doubt that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is the truest book on the face of the earth, and I read from that book every single day of this otherwise unbearable trial. I would not have had the strength to make it through had I been leaving all those actions out. One more time, they were: praying (with meaning), studying my scriptures (namely The Book of Mormon), and attending church (every Sunday).
And yes, I honestly am grateful for this trial! I no longer have hate or anger in my heart. One of my friends, that spent at least forty hours a week with while my husband and I were engaged, told me recently that I am happier now, even in the midst of all this ugliness, than I was then (and what bride-to-be isn’t beaming!?). I do have upset moments, but I am still human. Overall, I am grateful for this trial because I would not have been able to fathom as easily the unconditional love my Father has for me, and all of His other children otherwise. I am grateful for this trial, because I would not be the person I am today without it. I am grateful for this trial, because I would not be sharing my stories and heartfelt words with as many people as are willing to click a couple buttons to view this if it had not occurred. I am grateful for this trial, because I know my daughter was meant to be born to me, through this marriage specifically, and have the person I am now as a mother. I can guarantee that I would not have been as good of mom to her otherwise. That can be elaborated more on at another time.
But, I do not tell you this story to tell you all the nuances of my crazy year of 2015. I tell you this, because no matter what…I will say that again…NO MATTER WHAT! You can be happy! Happiness is and always will be a choice; your choice. Please, if something is missing, if you are just not happy and you don’t know why, get on your knees, repent for whatever you need to repent for, and pray for guidance. And have faith. He really does hear your prayers, and He will not ignore you. So, it is up to you to listen and heed what He has in store for you. He does have your best interest at heart, so be brave, and just follow His counsel. And too, know that you’re not alone. Don’t think it, don’t assume it, don’t believe it. Know it. It is so unfortunate that many of us have no clue who our Savior is. I was there once too, and it was only about six years ago. Luckily, that is no more. You can find Him, and when you do – when you truly do – you will leave yourself no choice but to rejoice!
Be happy. You are blessed. We all are.