I recently started following an Instagram account, mormonfaces, that posts pictures and quotes from different members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes the quotes are funny and sometimes they take you back with how profound they are. The other day, one reminded me of a truth that I have been learning since James' death.
I love her thought about how much more difficult it is once everyone steps away and you have to start finding your own footing again. I remember remarking to a friend at one point that I was constantly reminded of the parable of ten virgins and the lesson I always learned was be prepared for when you need that oil, be prepared for the lights to go out so that you aren't stumbling in darkness but can still see the path to walk on. The problem I remarked to her, was that I felt like I had used up all my oil. That is when things got much more difficult for me.
At times I felt lost and alone and I wondered why the pain and heartache had to continue and yes, I would get mad at God for all of it. There were days where I wanted nothing to do with Him, but ultimately my heart wanted that peace that I knew had been provided before. It wanted that peace that was there waiting to be received not just for my benefit, but for my family.
It actually reminds me of another scripture story. In the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarepath, the widow is about to use up the last of her meal and oil. She is collecting firewood to prepare a last meal for her and her son, expecting death to come soon, when the prophet Elijah approaches her (directed by God) to ask for food. In a test of faith, she is asked to make a bit of bread for him first and if she does, she will never be without meal and oil again. I can only imagine her internal dilemma deciding to obey this prophets words. I can imagine her pouring and preparing the last of what she has for someone else, for her to light the small fire and cook this food, hoping that this man's words will be true. I think of her often in that moment when she is encouraged to trust that there is more oil in the container, that it is not all gone. What astonishment and relief must have passed through this mother's heart as she discovered that there was more oil! How her faith must have been strengthened in God's ability to provide as she put her faith and trust in a promise from one of his servants!
When I chose to trust and obey, my lamp is full for the day. When I did what I knew would bring that peace day to day, the peace was always there. Reading my scriptures, getting outside, praying, and writing in my journal were all crucial to help me get through each day. Not only that, but when I choose to do that which "fills my lamp," I see and experience much greater joy with my husband and Max. It is hard to parent after loss and grief can rob you from feeling joy with what you do have. As my lamp is lit, I see and notice the beauty of my child and I feel more deeply the love that exists between me and my husband.
That obvious community support always feels like it goes away but God's support and concern for me never did. It was always there. Eventually, I realized the support of friends was always there too. Learning to let Him replenish my oil, I just had to recognize it, I had to show that I was willing and ready to receive it.