Never Beyond His Reach

Sara grew up loving all the sciences so much that when it came time to decide what to major in at BYU, she chose their common language: Mathematics. She taught high school and middle school until her oldest daughter was born. Now, she spends her days planning YW and Girl Scout activities, avoiding housework, reading young adult novels, and debating how to raise her three daughters to be strong inquisitive souls. Her daughters are 7, 11, and so very close to 13.

Maggie and I were pregnant with our second children at the same time, with our thirds at the same time. We shared a lot of laughs, and playdates, afternoons at parks, hours in the nursery skipping Sunday School, with some tender moments mixed in. We were, perhaps, an unlikely match. I’d come from pioneer stock and went off to BYU. She was a new member with a checkered and difficult past of drug addiction, scrambling for the light. Her accomplishment overwhelmed me—to come from addiction to striving clean convert and devoted mother She and her family moved out of the ward for a year or so to help an ailing family member. While they were away, the stress of the difficult situation became unbearable and demons from the past resurfaced. She and her husband gave in to that old promise of a numbing release. Cigarettes, alcohol, one thing led to another, until they found themselves slaves to meth. There is nothing worse out there. It locks you away and steals your agency, horrifically and absolutely. I am thankful every day that I do not have to be her judge. The Savior has that covered and I am more than happy to step aside and allow Him to carry that burden. I knew her during a good spell when her intentions and hopes were so good and pure, and that is enough for me.

When Maggie and her husband moved back to the ward, we could tell that there were things going on that were being kept unsaid. They were struggling financially and their children were struggling. I had recently been called as Relief Society president, and the bishop and I felt a desire to help them through the church’s welfare system, but firm conditions and deadlines were set. Toward the end of this period, I passed her in the halls at church and the Spirit told me very powerfully that I must tell her that Heavenly Father loved her. I could count on one hand the number of times that the Spirit has told me something so specific so strongly. I grabbed one of my counselors, and we went to her home. We knocked. We knocked again. And again. We called the house. Finally, she opened the door just a crack and said it was a bad time. I can only guess at why it was a bad time . I am rather conflict aversive and I consider myself to be generally unassertive in most situations, but I pushed the door open and stepped inside. I knew that I had a message for her from her Heavenly Father. I gave her a hug, and told her of His love. And then we left.

Shortly after that day, the deadlines set with the bishop passed and their lives imploded. The police were involved, the children went into the foster system, their marriage disintegrated violently, and our hearts broke. But some months later, while she was at the beginning of a battle she will probably fight for the rest of her life, she told me:“that day when you came and told me that Heavenly Father loved me. I felt it.”

We are often told at church that to feel the Spirit we must keep the commandments. And we often assume that the reverse is true—if we are not feeling the Spirit, it is because of a commandment we have broken. But I know God does not keep a score card of when He can and cannot talk to us. He is much more merciful than that. I know now that Heavenly Father will always try to reach out to His daughters. He is always trying to tell us—all of us—that He loves us. Very much.

 

17 thoughts on “Never Beyond His Reach

  1. As I jogged through my clean, safe neighborhood yesterday, passing very modest but comfortable homes, I took the time to remember that my life is the minority: food to eat, money to spend, education, electricity, safety, freedom from addiction, warm and safe house, cars to drive, mostly functional and loving family, employment… The list goes on. I was so sad to read about your friend. I hope her life comes back together. It is amazing the blessings we don’t even realize we have until we meet someone who doesn’t.

  2. Lindsay – love your comment. I think it is easy to forget the many comforts of stability middle class living while you are currently enjoying them. When you don’t have them, life is HARD.

  3. As a social worker, I saw so clearly the destructiveness of some peoples choices….it is all too easy to put everyone into an us vs them category….but what I love about your post is that Heavenly Father only sees us in one category…His children…thank you for that reminder!

  4. Thanks for all your comments. Everyone. I love that I did not have to be her judge. LOVE it. Why do we ever choose to pick up that burden? But somehow . . . we do sometimes, and no good comes of it. It really is enough to know that He loves all of us.

    Jeannie, I think the line dividing “us” from “them” is very thin and constantly shifting and shimmering. We are all sinners as they say.

    Lindsay & Nancy, all too true. When our bellies are full, our bodies clothed, and our homes warm, it is all too easy to forget what luxuries those things are. I’ve found that service tends to be a rather effective antidote, even when I start out with an unwilling heart. Haha!

    And Grandma Honey, thank you.

  5. I have a dear friend who used to call me during some major struggles, not unlike Maggie’s. Just about every time I’d listen to her, I would feel the same STRONG impression–Heavenly Father LOVED her, and to tell her, which I did. This helps me when I struggle. I know the feelings I had about her were from the Lord and I know that if he loved/s her that much, then he feels the same for me. Just because I don’t always perceive it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

  6. Thank you for writing this. I had a similar experience with my sister. She basically left the church when she was 14. She is now 39. She is going through a divorce, she is a newly recovering alcoholic, and she is sure that when she dies she will turn into a butterfly. She doesn’t really think there is a God because there is so much yucky in the world. One day she was telling me of some things that had happened to her and all about her good karma. She was so happy about the way some things had just fallen into place and worked out for her. I felt an overwhelming feeling to tell her that what she felt was the love God has for her. I told her that I truly believe that our Heavenly Father is our Father, and He wants the best for us. We are His children here on earth. He wants to help us. He loves us. I shared my testimony of His love for us. Instead of her getting all defensive, and shutting me off, like she usually does, she listened. It led to quite a nice, long discussion, and has opened the door for more talks on the subject. Trust me, this is a miracle. The door is opening, just a crack. It is important to follow those promptings, even if they make us uncomfortable. Especially when they make us uncomfortable.

  7. Ana-I love that. I love that He loves ALL his children. In a very very real and substantial way. And I love that you had an experience similar to mine. ;)

    And magpie-I have a sister whose history sounds identical to yours! Thanks for giving me a little hope. We aren’t quite at that point yet, although I’ve seen Heavenly Father’s hand in her life too. Hopefully she will be ready to see it too someday.

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