This Father’s Day, as it is most, was my birthday. A day for celebration. Depending on how old you are… or how young. Now if there were an elixir that provided eternal youth, what thoughts would each passing year evoke? Would we be more troubled, more at peace, or continue to live our life with careless abandon?
In youth, we are invincible. We can climb every mountain, overcome every evil ogre, and defeat any foe. That is the sum total of selfish thought. Me.
As a young man, I sought to know what the world would bring me. Who I would marry was one of them. But there were silent things that I did not mention. I knew that I would marry my first wife, as I was told by God she would be that woman. I waited for that voice to return – which did not happen for some 20 years.
I was confused because I knew I married for time and all eternity. Knowing one day I would be divorced was a part of that confusion. Knowing my wife would die of breast cancer was another. Though I never thought it would be a ‘second wife’ that would be taken.
In youth, we tend to think that our partner would never betray us. Never step outside the bonds of matrimony with another. Yet I knew that would happen. There is a certain stigma that attaches in youth, where forgiveness is sometimes withheld. Not knowing what to make of words that “it meant nothing” means when, to you, that covenant meant everything.
We tend to overlook our own faults. Maybe these could be dismissed because one person or another has been on medication, or traumatic injury has led to dependence on others of lesser character to fortify your thoughts. Then, why would I have known as a young man that my own children would be estranged from me – years before I ever had children? That I would endure any pain that they might survive.
There is a series of books that I would refer to called, “The Work and the Glory.” The Subtitle of Volume 3 is “Truth Will Prevail.” And the passage that most intrigues me comes near the end of that book. Page 529 is attributed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He states;
“And at the judgment bar, when the Savior asks why there are not any prayers of recorded on Joshua’s behalf, what will you say Benjamin? Will you tell the Man who suffered and bled until he bled at every at every pore, will you tell the Man who has had nails driven into his hands and feet and who hung from a cross so that people might be saved – will you tell that Man that Joshua hurt you so terribly, he does not deserve forgiveness?”
Your life is not determined by those who only pretend to live by faith in the word of God. The spoken whispers of the Holy Ghost are sometimes as strong as those of the adversary. Yet in expressing what has been made known to you (like the death of a spouse you do not yet know, estrangement from your children, and whom you should marry), is it wrong to tell your beloved of the dream where you see them beyond the veil with another by her side? That you know her decision to marry you was that of the youthful fancy of a desire to be married? Even if not to you?
When your children cannot accept a truth because it is too painful to bear, where are the qualities of faith expressed by the Savior? Those tenets and covenants we claim to hold dear.
What does a man do when his family has told him that they are better off without him? As if he had not existed? If he listens, the leaves, for what he believes is their sake – then when does his life begin again?
This Father’s Day, my son and daughter have given me great blessings by reaching out to let me know they appreciate me. A simple text of support. From children not born to me. Yet, still mine. They are the people that have no animosity toward me. They are a part of my support system which was terminated so many year ago from that first family.
Had I married their mother some 30+ year ago, we would probably have a dozen children by now. For in this marriage, she understands the loss of my second wife to cancer. She was an Emergency Charge-room Nurse. She knows of my tragedies and successes. And, while I may know of many more things than I would speak, I have one thing that can never be taken away: She loves me unconditionally. And I, her. It is amazing that we do not fight with one another. We listen and work it out together. Whatever the issue.
I now have five children that mean the world to me. Neal, Aletha, Jennifer, Patrick and Emily. All are precious. But three of which cannot overcome the reality that I was asked to leave for their sake. Abandoning the notion that, in times of trial, we must stand together to defeat any foe. In leaving, I remain unforgiven for truths that they will never know, or accept. They cannot conceive that I would come if they did ever need me.
So, what did that voice tell me when I heard it again? That is for me alone. For all things have happened I was told it would. Even if not the way I thought it might. There then is the truth of all things. That man’s folly is in believing he can control the fates. You may have a plan, but the Lord will always be there to assure your reality check.
The counsel I would give to my children now is, speak the truth. Even hard truths. Keep no secrets about your life and who you are (or your spouse). For betrayal comes when those truths are discovered. Even if you are the person betrayed. When someone starts accusing you of great wrongs, love them. For in their lives, they cannot reconcile their own actions. They must hide from the truth and remain apart from the Savior’s teachings.
Remember; “I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”
Only God knows a man’s heart. He is my defender. It is to Him I praise on this commemoration day of my birth, Father’s Day.
It just so happens that June 21st is, and for me, was, the longest day of the year.