Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

"Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also", by Shayne M. Bowen
Of the Seventy

I have four children ranging from two to eight years old. When they were each small children, I would find myself abruptly waking in the night, filled with the desire to check that the baby was still breathing. Gratefully, they always were, but I still haven't overcome the sporadic feelings of panic over the vitality of my children. If I see them deep in sleep or if they sleep in, I feel the need to compulsively check that they're breathing.

My feelings of fear over my sleeping children is likely no comparison to those who have experienced the great loss of losing a child. Some of the hardest conversations my wife and I have had were the what-if conversations regarding the potential death of our children: what would we do, how would we help the surviving children understand, where would the child's body rest, etc.

During Elder Bowen's talk, my wife and I held each other close, our faces in a near-constant sad frown state. I imagine that her thoughts were where mine were: on our children. As I listened to his experience of losing his eight-month-old son, my heart felt like it was going to tear in half. These feelings persisted until a specific point in his talk. The change started to occur, for me, during this paragraph:

Sometimes people will ask, “How long did it take you to get over it?” The truth is, you will never completely get over it until you are together once again with your departed loved ones. I will never have a fullness of joy until we are reunited in the morning of the First Resurrection.

Here's what I think happened: As I listened and empathized with Elder Bowen, I imagined a poignant sense of loss over a loved child. In the moment, I felt such sadness that I forgot the end of the story. Elder Bowen beautifully reminded me—because he is experiencing it—of something higher:

I have learned that the bitter, almost unbearable pain can become sweet as you turn to your Father in Heaven and plead for His comfort that comes through His plan; His Son, Jesus Christ; and His Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost.

What a glorious blessing this is in our lives. Wouldn’t it be tragic if we didn’t feel great sorrow when we lose a child? How grateful I am to my Father in Heaven that He allows us to love deeply and love eternally. How grateful I am for eternal families. How grateful I am that He has revealed once again through His living prophets the glorious plan of redemption.

The next time I feel a sharp fear when one of my children sleeps particularly well or deeply, I want to remember that my feelings of fear come from love, and that the Love of God can ease the deepest of pains if fears ever become reality.

I'm grateful for the gospel, and I love my family. I'm grateful that Elder Bowen's words spoke so personally to me. While I pray that I never have to experience the pain and loss he described, I'm grateful for a loving Father whose plan can comfort and relieve pains now and forever.

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