January 14, 2014

Where can I turn for peace?

Emmett died on a Friday night. Sunday morning came, and the last thing I needed was to go to church in my regular congregation and try to comfort anyone. I wasn’t ready to hear anyone’s sympathy. I didn’t want to face the fact that the world found out at the same time as I, that my husband had been unfaithful. I was humiliated that I had not been enough for him. But I needed to go to church. I felt an urge. I needed to take the sacrament and feel the power that comes from it. I needed to slow down. I needed to think. I couldn’t handle my own emotions, let alone take my children among a group of people trying to find peace for their own grief. I didn’t want to take my kids out into the world, but I was going to go.

I asked my sister Abbey if she would come drive around with me to find a meetinghouse where we could just sneak in the back and go spend a peaceful hour listening to speakers. We didn’t get too far outside of our neighborhood. In fact, we actually stopped at the first church we saw, and decided to park and go inside.

We snuck in the back and found seats. We were a few minutes late, so we had to sit in the overflow section of the chapel. It felt good to be inside the building, and I was excited to listen to any counsel that came from the talks. We sat hand-in-hand. The bishop announced the program and after a hymn, it was time for the sacrament.

As the young men passed the sacrament, I just thought. I thought about my current status in life. I pondered about the years I had spent building my family. I thought about the pain that now damaged my hope. I fumbled for the words to pray . . . as I silently sulked in my grief.

After everyone had partaken of the bread and water, the bishop asked us to turn to another hymn. My heart skipped a beat. It was one of Emmett’s and my all-time favorites, a hymn which his cousin Becky had on one of her albums that Bostyn and Bailey had loved as little girls. I would play it on repeat, over and over, on long car trips when the kids were napping, to keep them calm. It was the hymn I found Bailey singing one day when she had been put in timeout . . . a hymn that would be sung later that week as Emmett lay in a casket. All of these thoughts and memories began to flood my mind. The music began to play . . . and my tears began to fall.

Where can I turn for peace?*
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.

*(Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985, Salt Lake City, Utah, Hymn Number 129, Text: Emma Lou Thayne, Music: Joleen G. Meredith.)

For every wall I had built around myself, and for each stone I had tried to use to cover my pain . . . that hymn somehow found a way of breaking down. Where can I turn for peace? I don’t know who picked the hymn that day, but they were on an errand for me. The words I needed to hear more than ever before, were sung by a congregation to comfort ME, and they didn’t even know I was coming that day. Each voice rang up to Heaven begging Angels to come and help me bear my grief. 

Sometimes, God sends a shimmer of hope just for us. He hand-directs people to help us. I don’t remember any of the words spoken that day, but the music sang to my heart. It was as if the Heavens opened up and cried . . . “Ashlee we are here . . . and we love you.”

That little glimmer of hope, that tender mercy, was given to me that day because I went to find it. Heavenly Father wants to bless us. He wants to show us that He will orchestrate the heavens to sing for us . . . but first, He wants to see that we have enough faith to believe in that power. He waits outside our doors, standing with His hands open wide, but we have to be the ones to let Him in.

For every pain we have ever felt . . . the Savior has felt it too. We are never alone in our pain. We are never alone in our fears. We are never the only ones with sorrows. Each one of Heavenly Father’s children will feel the pain of living. We cannot do it alone. That is why He sent his Only Begotten Son. The Atonement is real. He will send us the light we need if we seek Him. I would have never felt the comfort and strength that day, if I hadn’t taken that first scary step to show up at that church. But I did . . . and He blessed me with the message I needed to hear. Heavenly messages truly are sent to comfort and strengthen us when we cannot stand, and when all we have left . . .  is Him.

Emmett's cousins version on itunes:
Where Can I turn for Peace?


John and Anna said...

I love this song, and I love the message you shared today. That Heavenly Father is just waiting for us to take the first step, dull he can shower blessings upon us. Such a beautiful truth.

Steph said...

You don't know me, but your testimony and spirit have strengthened and uplifted me. I was just listening this morning to Elder Quentin L. Cook's talk from April's General Conference on Personal Peace. He quoted from this hymn as well. I am grateful for the Gospel, and the peace and comfort it brings in times of trouble. Thank you for sharing your experiences. May the Lord continue to bless you and your children with comfort, strength, forgiveness, and PEACE!

Stephanie Whitted

Hannah said...

One of my favorites as well. Your testimony is inspiring!

MEG said...

This is Meghan (wilkinson) Durham. I am so glad that you are writing this blog, it is so inspiring. I can't tell you how many times I have thought of you and wondered how you were doing and wishing I could reach out to you somehow. You are so strong and our father in heaven is so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing. I share some of the same kind of pain as you and reading your blog has allowed me to grieve and find faith again with you. thanks for sharing.

Chelsea said...

I love this story so much. My family's special song ever since my nephew was diagnosed with his brain tumor is Be Still My Soul. It was also sung at his funeral and we have had many experiences with it being played at just the right times. Heavenly Father does love us so much. Thank you for sharing your heart! It is beautiful (and heartbreaking)

Ashlee said...

I really find your blog inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing with us! What an amazing woman and mother you are!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I loved this post! It's sometimes the small things that let us know just how much our Heavenly Father loves us. He knows us by name and he knows what's in our hearts. He must be so pleased with you and the way your blog is helping so many!
One thing I keep thinking about is when you say you were humiliated that you weren't enough. That's how I felt when I found out about my husband's affair. But I've come to understand that men don't cheat because they don't have enough. It's not that they want more. At best, they want different. But usually, I think it's because they want less. A less righteous woman, less intimacy and more lust, fewer demands, lower expectations. Less real life and more fantasy. My husband wasn't looking for anything of real value. He wanted an escape and a good time. He got caught up in a very unhealthy relationship with a woman who brought out the worst in him because that's all she was capable of inspiring. It was like a dream, and when he woke up from it he was appalled at how low he'd fallen.
I always look forward to your next post!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add~don't ever think you weren't enough. It wasn't you who fell short, it was your husband.

Anonymous said...

Same boat over here. It isn't easy to share. It is humiliating. Something you don't want the world to know. I'm so sorry Ashlee that yours was made so public. That isn't right for the world to do that. But know you are not alone. Your posts have helped to heal my pain. And I agree, my husband did want less. The women he cheated on me with would never bring him up. Would never fill his heart of good and righteous desires. I'm not perfect, but I know the gospel and try to follow it the best I can. Only the gospel can bring us to our true potential. Thank you ladies for sharing. I was still so angry with my husband a few days ago, and reading this has allowed me to see that anger will not heal my pain. I feel closer to my husband now and I see how he is trying to change. Adultry is not an uncommon thing these days. It's happening everywhere. It's sad, but true. But we are not alone.

Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony and your story. It is full of strength. I am left with a feeling of hope, clearer perspective on this earth life and greater trust in Heavenly Father. I am so sorry for your pain and amazed at your wisdom.

Ashlee said...

Girl. I have thought about you guys so many times too. I am so glad you left a comment on here. I sure love your family and am so thankful for all the fun times we had. Thanks for your sweet words.

Unknown said...

I am teaching a youth Sunday school lesson this week about tender mercies and recognizing the Lord's hand in our lives. I am so grateful for this post. It has really helped me to focus my thoughts for this particular lesson. Thank you for sharing such a tender moment on your journey.

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