Here is another thing I've learned in the last year:
It came to me like a lightbulb moment when I was in Brother Hinckley's office one day. I told him that I just wanted the "old Shahna" to come back. The girl that was perky and happy all the time -not this one that was somewhat cynical and jaded.
He grabbed my hand from across his desk,
held it in his hand like a loving Father,
looked me in the eye and said,
"listen to what I am going to tell you:
"the OLD SHAHNA is NEVER coming back."
I reacted with tears.
"We don't want her to come back either." he said.
I was confused.
"The new Shahna has learned some things through her last six years that the old Shahna never knew. We dont want to go back to that. We want to explore some of the things that you have learned that have made you better and celebrate those things."
I thought about that for a long hard while after I left his office. In fact, and he gave me a homework assignment to ponder upon that and study the story of the Fall in Genesis, paying particular attention to what Eve was like before and after the Fall.
Later that week I had lunch with a dear friend. I was a little disheartened because I had grown really fond of Teri and had the chance to work closely with her in the Stake Primary for the previous year. She had just been released to be called to be her ward's Relief Society President. For those of you who are not memebers of my church, this is a HUGE responsibility. Teri would now be responsible for all of the women ages 18 and up in her church congregation. She works closely with two other women in her ward that have responsibility for the sunday instruction as well as seeing after the temporal welfare of several hundred women. If there is a woman that has surgery or lost a job or is suffering through a chronic illness, or whatever the situation might be; the Relief Society goes in, assesses needs of the individual, and then calls on other women in the congregation to help her. Sometimes it might require you to be privy to things in families' lives that they might not want to be public knowledge and you have to keep matters confidential. Being a Relief Society President is a huge honor but it is not something any of us aspire to. It is a big job, a large time commitment and requires a great deal of compassion.
Teri and I were at lunch, talking about her new responsibilities when I started to say something that I have said a thousand times before. I laughed when Teri said that I would probably be next to be called to serve in this particular area and started to say "I feel sorry for any group of women I am called to be a Relief Society President for because I don't have any compassion...."
That is what I started to say.
But then the Holy Ghost came over me.
It stopped me in my tracks.
Before I could finish the sentence I heard a reminder in my mind that I was different now. After caring for Brent for so long, I now had compassion for others who struggled physically. After working through medical bills, and living on a shoe string budget, and working hard to save money and get out of debt, I had gained EMPATHY (not just sympathy) for those who might be struggling with the same thing.
Brother Hinckley knew what he was talking about afterall.
Over the last few months, I have become aware of other ways that my trials have changed me for the better. That being said, I have realized that I need to also be aware of the ways it has possibly changed me for the worse and try to prayerfully ask for Heavenly Father's help and my Savior's grace to overcome those weak areas.
I believe the Lord when he says,
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men (and women) weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is suffucient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then I will make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:7)
I feel like that has happened to me. I have become aware of my weaknesses. I have humbled myself, exercised faith in him (and replaced all of the fear I was feeling), and now I bear testimony that through His grace and power, I am stronger.