The stake leaders asked me to speak on how I was able to find the courage inside me to move on during this difficult time. The theme for the conference was the Wizard of Oz and more specifically the line at the end, "You have always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn for yourself."
Whenever it was brought up that I was to be speaking the reaction I got about 99% of the time was "I can't believe they asked you to speak when it is still so fresh for you." And I thought I should clarify how they asked me. They were so sweet and said they had been praying to know who should speak at this conference and felt like it should be me. The sister who asked me said she hesitated and prayed for 3 days before to make sure and kept feeling like it needed to be me. When she asked me to speak she told me that it could be this year, next year or maybe in 2 years; whenever I was ready to share. She also told me that if Saturday morning of the conference rolled around and I was just not feeling okay I could call and cancel and they would just be down 1 speaker and it wouldn't be a big deal. They gave me every out. So I decided I might as well try.
The thing that brings Bryan and I the most comfort about Jane dying is that it had a purpose. It gives it meaning and makes it feel like it wasn't all for naught. The purpose that brings us the most comfort is that her life and story are bringing people closer to their Savior. That she is bringing more love and peace and perspective to this world. And if speaking at Women's Conference would facilitate that, then I could do it.
I wasn't planning on posting this talk because I feel really pretentious doing so, but after several people asked I decided that I would post it. So, here ya go:
My name is Christy Clark. We have been in the stake for 8 months. We are in the Millcreek ward. We moved from Vermont in June. My husband is a resident at Loma Linda University. We have 3 beautiful children. A 6 year old son, a 3 year old son and a 1 year old angel daughter who is watching over us from heaven. Jane unexpectedly passed away just 2 ½ months ago on November 16th from what we believe to be meningitis. The stake has asked me to come speak to you today about how I found the courage inside me to keep moving forward during such an impossible time.
I have found that we have two choices in our times of trouble. Turn away from God or turn to Him. Both paths will still be painful at times, but only one brings hope in eternal salvation. Both paths feel dark and lonely at times, but only one path are we actually alone.
Losing a child is the trial I always said I couldn't handle. In my silent prayers I would plead to not give me this trial. The first few weeks after Jane passed through the veil were dark and sad. Yet at the same time filled with tender mercies. Those tender mercies are always there if we will seek for them.
Why would Heavenly Father give me the one thing I did not want to endure? I could barely speak above a whisper, eating anything was difficult, I cried all day and couldn’t muster a smile for anything. I tell you this not to be depressing, but so you know that I have been there. There may be some of you who feel like you are experiencing exactly what you cannot handle. You may feel like Heavenly Father has left you alone. I have been there. It is a terrible place to be. I pled with Him to help me out. Someone shared a quote from Elder Uchtdorf with me “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” So I prayed. I constantly prayed to have that calming reassurance of a testimony put back together. Because I had a strong testimony before Jane passed away, it withstood the storm. I found that the pieces of my testimony came back together easier than I expected. And they can for you too. I promise you they can.
One of my mantra’s through this trial has been a quote from Elder Holland: “Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good Things to Come.”
There is a common phrase I have used many times in the past “God won’t give you more then you can handle.” I’m sure some of you have said it too. I think we have formed this idea from 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
But I want to tell you that God WILL give you more then you can handle. It is part of our experience in this life to be tested, really tested. That scripture says that God will “make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” It no where says “You will be able to handle it on your own.” The scripture says He will give us a way to handle it. And through those incredibly scary and dark times we need to learn that the only way we can handle it, is through our Savior. “ And behold, I am the alight and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter bcup which the Father hath given me.” Jesus Christ is that light that can break through the darkness of our scary times. Turn to Him! He is the way to escape!
This quote by President Monson speaks so beautifully of how our Heavenly Father feels about us. He knows we will struggle, it’s why we are here. But He hasn’t asked us to struggle alone. He says, “Wherever we are in life, there are times when all of us have challenges and struggles. Although they are different for each, they are common to all. There may be times when you feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone. Fear replaces faith. When you find yourself in such circumstances, I plead with you to remember prayer. Your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you deserve love. It is simply always there.”
I want you to know what Oz taught the cowardly lion is true, “You have plenty of courage, I am sure, All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.” I think that is the courage we have inside of us. To just keep moving when we are facing danger, to just keep praying when we feel lost, to just keep hoping when we are afraid. In our darkest times, sometimes that is all we can do. It takes courage to realize that we cannot get through this life on our own. It takes courage to put our trust in God when we feel forsaken. This is from the Emma Smith movie, “Strength isn’t something you have, its something you find.” I want you to know you are a daughter of God, you have been given power to do all things asked of you in Christ. You can do hard things! If I can, you can!
Sister Sheri Dew says about You, “Noble and great. Courageous and determined. Faithful and fearless. That is who you are and who you have always been.”
I know all these things to be true. You are noble, you are faithful and you are courageous. God loves you. He wants you to succeed!