The past few years Mothers Day has been really hard for me. It felt like I'd roller-coaster between happiness and grief. This year seems to have just been happy and nostalgic. Grieving is never really over, it just changes and this year I found myself enjoying memories instead of heart-wrenching pain from all sorts of triggers.
It has been 4.5 years since I lost my Mom to cancer. My husband, who also lost his Mother to cancer as a teenager, carried me through those difficult years of slowly losing her. Since then we have suffered 3 miscarriages. My miscarriages were early in the pregnancies so we never knew genders. I spent a long time trying to be faithful, to just accept God's will and didn't bother seeking answers to questions let alone thinking about what questions I actually had. I had researched different doctrine on miscarriages at various points, but found little consolation or understanding in that search. When does the Spirit enter the body? Is there even a specific moment? I think because of those unanswered questions, I avoided many others I felt were impossible to have answered. I would just trust Him and trust that someday I would see Him face to face and then I would be provided with answers.
One fast Sunday (fasting is a monthly occurrence in The Church of Jesus Christ) I awoke with the distinct impression that I should pray for answers to my questions, specifically about my children. I sat there and wondered what that even meant. I had started fasting and praying for some other reason, but in my continued prayer I asked for clarity and spent time pondering what questions I really even had.
At church the Relief Society lesson was all about prayer. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinkley, Chapter 6, How Mighty A Thing Is Prayer) Coincidence, I think not! As I sat through the lesson, some specific questions started forming, but I still wondered why I was feeling this prompting and how it would help when I already knew most of my questions were un-answerable. Wasn't trusting Him enough? But I listened intently to the lesson, searching for new clarity from it. When the teacher asked someone to read a specific paragraph it was like everything froze and my "Ah-Ha" moment arrived. President Hinkley taught:
"Pray to the Lord with the expectation of answers. … The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18)"
I sat there and realized I wasn't asking Him questions I wanted answers because I had already deemed them impossible to answer! I would never get answers if I prayed expecting that He couldn't answer them, or even closer to truth - just didn't ever ask them of Him, because it never occurred to me to ask Him!
A few hours later, I knelt at the side of my bed with my thoughts still somewhat jumbled and my heart chastened. I humbly asked him questions. Not every single question I had, but the ones I felt most important at the time. Of those miscarriages, were there any that had been spirits and continued on to the next life? Did I have children waiting in Heaven for me? If I did, what was their gender? And were they OK, were they being cared for? For the first time in a long time, I prayed expecting answers, I knew He could provide them, and I knew these were the questions He wanted me to ask. Then I sat and listened and waited. To my mind came the image of my Mom kneeling on the ground with two little girls running around her laughing and playing joyfully. Nearby stood my husband's Mom, smiling as she watched and in her arms was a precious baby boy. All my questions were answered by that one image in my mind!
Shortly after that I shared this with my husband and asked him to consider commissioning someone to draw it. I had an artist in mind but I told him I wouldn't go ahead with it unless I knew he felt right about it. Months went by and he never said a word about it. Last Christmas one very large gift arrived a day late. When I opened it I recognized it was a large 24x36" painted canvas then noticed grass, it hit me then. I looked up at my husband startled and said something like "You didn't!" By the time I could see the whole thing what hit me most was the fact that the scene was not only what I had seen but in our own backyard and behind our angel children and Mothers was the garden we had planted in memory of them! To say it brought tears would be an understatement. I sobbed. I turned away sobbing and was choked up for quite some time. He had sent photos of our Mothers and the artist captured them beautifully!
Painting by Abby Sanders of Abigail J. Studio
Often I choose not to share moments like this. Answers to prayers I keep sacred and private and close to my heart. For a long time I have kept His answer treasured up and only shared it with a few people. But as I have stared at this painting and pondered on this experience, I have known that eventually I would need to share it. Trusting Heavenly Father is essential and a very key component of His gospel INCLUDING trusting that He will answer our questions! Not all questions can be answered right away, but He will answer them. Do you have unanswered questions? Perhaps you have questions you haven't even thought to ask? Pray to the Lord with the expectation of answers. Meditate, contemplate, consider carefully what you pray about and for. Then converse with Him, not as you would a stranger, but a close family member. Let your heart spill over and allow Him time to answer. He can and will. I know it with all my heart.