It's pretty much the end of the year. If I'm honest, 2015 was a more difficult year for our family. I won't go into all the gory details (no one wants to hear a whine fest out of me), but things have been financially, emotionally, psychologically, physically, repairy, family-y, and scheduly tough.
We have been spread thin this year like never before ("like butter scraped over too much bread," I love that quote).
And, as long as I'm being honest, there have been moments when I have really felt the strain of it all. There have been moments when I felt like I might break in two and I wasn't sure how to keep going.
And it was in those moments that Satan came at me.
He does that. He isn't nice.
When he could see that I was weak, he dashed in to poke my pain.
And, unfortunately, sometimes I let him get away with it. Sometimes I would wallow or sink into despair and sometimes I let hope fizzle a bit as misery and desperation washed into my soul.
But it was in one of those dark and heavy moments that Satan really screwed up.
It was a Sunday morning, several weeks ago. I was spent.
Josh had been working a second job for months which took him away from our family nearly every night until 11 or 12 (we did get Mondays and he had Wednesdays for bishop appointments) and all day Saturdays (seriously, all day -- he left by 7am and didn't get home until close to midnight which meant after Wednesday we didn't see him again until Sunday afternoon). And because he was gone so much, that meant I had to do everything family and home related on my own. That meant running six kids to all of their classes, activities, events, and meetings while still trying to be home enough to cook dinner, do laundry, and manage repairs and messes. I also started a job at the elementary school in August which meant I was no longer at home during the day to take care of things.
I'm not claiming that my life was harder than anyone else's, but it was difficult for me. It was hard to stay positive and keep smiling for my kids when I felt very alone and very stressed and very tired ALL the time.
Anyway, that Sunday morning I suddenly realized I hadn't printed the handouts I needed for my primary lesson, I forgot to buy a snack to take to sacrament meeting, and kids were not cooperating when it came to getting dressed and ready for church.
I felt like I couldn't take any more.
I locked the door to my bedroom and I fell down on my knees beaten and overwhelmed and that's when Satan meandered in, almost gloating.
"You shouldn't have to do this," he seethed at me. "You have been faithful and good. You have worked hard to bless the lives of the kids at school and be a good mother to your kids here. You live on a tight budget and you don't spend money on frivolous things. You count every single penny and you make do and go without a lot of things. You are devoted to the gospel and you try to live righteously. You pray and read your scriptures. You try to serve others and do your best to be aware of the needs of people in your life. It really shouldn't be this hard when you are trying so hard."
And he had me. I was nodding my head and stepping up into his dark and loathsome bandwagon.
But that's when he made his fatal error.
"You have done so much, soooo much. You deserve better. God has turned His back on you, it's about time you turn away from Him."
And that did it. That was too much. Something inside me snapped.
I stood up, ramrod straight, and I (no kidding, it was probably a moderately humorous sight) pointed my finger at someone I couldn't see and I shouted words that came from my very core, "Never! I will NEVER turn away from my God!"
And suddenly I could see the trap I had let myself start to fall into and I knew I needed to get away NOW!
So I kept going, and I meant every word, "You can go ahead, you can keep piling it on. You can bring me financial ruin. You can bring me heartache and pain. You can attack my children so I am fighting for their souls every day. You can make my house fall down around me. You can try to divide me from my husband. You can turn my neighbors and friends against me. But nothing you can do -- NOTHING you can do -- will make me turn away from my God. He is all I really have and I will not lose Him no matter what you say."
And I threw on Sunday clothes, gathered my brood of littles (some more scraggly looking than I like, but oh well), scraped together some crackers and quick printed a coloring page for my primary kids and I headed to sacrament meeting. And I sat there soaking in absolutely zero of the message that was shared because all I felt was peace and comfort and a deep, soothing sense that all would be well -- not that all would be easy, not that all would be fixed, but all would be well.
Because what matters in our lives is not our moments of weakness exist (they happen to all of us). What matters is where we go from there. Do we hand ourselves over to the Master of Lies and let him lead us into a prison of discouragement and doubt. Or, do we grab on to whatever shred of love and hope we have in the Savior and let His power, His Atonement, pull us out of the mire even if our link to Him is worn down to little more than a thread.
The choice is ours, and it will be ours time and time again in our lives. Satan will never leave us alone.
But neither will God.
Especially, neither will God. We are His, and He will not willingly let us go. The only way to separate ourselves from him is for us to choose that.
And that is a choice I refuse to make.
I fall short in so many ways. I am weak and judgemental and emotional and unkind and selfish and I have a ton of things to fix. I know that. I am very aware of my many weaknesses.
But I also know this. No matter how hard life gets, life without the guidance and support and love of my God would not make things better, it would only make things infinitely worse.
I will not choose that.