This morning, I awoke to the sound of birds chirping.
I stretched and walked to the window.
I watched as they fluttered and sang while the beginnings of a nest was starting to appear on the branch of a tree in my back yard.
The sun was shining and my soul was filled with the hope and excitement that this long winter will soon be over.
It is still freezing outside.
It has been a hard winter, the blues have hit everyone I know, all my achy joints have struggled to move as the temperature drops, our cars and yard have suffered and the kids have missed too much school this year.
But it is just a season and it WILL pass.
We are closer to more sunny days than we are to more cloudy ones.
I've been thinking a lot about how this winter has affected my family, it's been rough on everyone, not just me.
I've noticed all of my kids are struggling and things that seemed manageable before, have just become almost too much to bear and none of my children can quite figure out how to make it better, either. Nothing seems to work and everything hurts. The stress and strain on them is similar to what I have been dealing with. As a mom, I want to fix it, I want to protect them from suffering. I have felt horrible with my inability to fix this.
Yesterday, I sat in my living room after a craptastic 3 hour dentist visit and pray-cried.
You know the prayer-cry.... where it starts off as a prayer and quickly turns into a slobber faced mess where you tell Heavenly Father you are a great big failure and you don't know what to do and please just let the kids be happy and okay. If you don't know that one, you probably have your own, where you tell the Lord you are basically failing at doing things that were His job in the first place.
As I prayed, I remembered something.
Matt and I did not get married in the temple, we had a civil wedding first. When you have been divorced, the process can take a LOT longer and Matt and I made the decision to have a civil wedding first, and then get sealed a year or so later. For us, it was the right decision.
When the time came to plan and prepare for our temple sealing, things started to go crazy in our home.
About 6 months prior to our sealing date, seriously, the Gates of Hell opened up. We encountered major health problems, work problems, children experimenting with Word of Wisdom issues, my parent that did things that caused the relationship to have to end, Matt's ex, who was always suing us, decided to target me in her latest lawsuit and we had to hire an expensive attorney just to deal with that, we were being stalked, everyone was fighting, especially Matt and I. We had car problems, financial problems, everything we worked on with the house, even simple things cost three times what we'd budgeted and being even more work. We had a principal at school decide that she didn't 'believe in autism' and we had to pull our kids out of school and move them to another one. A person at church had become so full of pride that working with him was horrible. I was often offended and sometimes vowed to never speak to that person again.
The list goes on and on.
Life was a nightmare and all we knew to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other and move towards the temple.
It may sound cliche', but when the day came, when we went to the temple to be sealed, we walked out those doors and the world was brighter.
It felt as if all of the stressful and terrible monsters we'd been fighting had just faded away. Everything we had been so burdened with cleared up and resolved itself within days of our going to the temple. We still had hard things to deal with, but the feeling like we were at war ended.
That experience taught me that the Adversary is real.
I knew he was real, but he was always this small, ugly thing that tempted me, I was always in the driver's seat.
The season before we went to the temple was very different.
Satan was absolutely behind the wheel of his own Mack Truck, and he and his kind were hitting us full speed, day and night. We were being battered and beaten. Satan was real. The power he has was real. I knew that Satan had tried to stop us from going to the temple. Satan had preyed upon our weaknesses and soft spots, and he had done the same with the people in our lives. If there was a way to do something that uplifted and felt good, Satan was pushing and nudging everyone to do it in just such a way that it caused hurt and made things harder.
So as I pondered yesterday, crying and telling God how much I suck because I can't get life to work, I remembered this and I knew.
I knew it was happening again.
The Adversary has declared open war on my family again in order to keep someone out of the temple.
Zane is preparing to go on his mission this summer and he has been struggling and suffering to a degree he never has before. All of my kids are struggling in new, hurtful ways. I am drowning and angry at myself because I shouldn't be. I find myself thinking that I just want to be left alone, I don't want to 'deal with' church or anyone there. I don't want to 'deal with' family, I cannot handle anything and everything in life bites and has sharp edges.
But I am wrong about this being about me.
This is about Zane and where he is in his journey. This is about Satan trying to keep him from going to the temple. We are all being attacked and tried and harmed as Satan steps on the gas and rams that Mack Truck of ugly into the sides of everyone who would be supporting and helping Zane.
For some reason, this knowledge helped tremendously.
I am not having a hard time because I am bad or have failed, I am having a hard time because our family is close to a blessing, close to an important and amazing thing that will provide safety and peace. Zane is close to having reached a life long goal and Satan is using every one of us to try and stop that. He is using our weaknesses to break us all down so that we are so focused on our failures and hurts that we stop doing the thing we need to do- which is moving forward to the temple with Zane.
I understand now why all of this crap is happening.
I know how to make it better and that when we work together as a family and help Zane to reach the temple doors- that this terrible long winter in our souls will end. The sunshine, light and joy await us all in this crazy family, if we just keep moving towards the temple. For Zane and for each of us.
We are going to the temple.
I thought I was at war with myself, I thought the enemy was me.
I see who my enemy is now.
I see him and he's not going to take one more day away from my son and my family.
I know how to defeat this enemy and I have the Lord, my loved ones and the gospel to help.
We are going to the temple.
I will follow the sound of the chirping birds, outside in the bright day, even though it is cold right now.
We are going to the temple.