Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Know that he Loveth his Children

When many people think of Latter-day Saints, a particular word pops into their heads: “perfect.” Sometimes, others think of Mormons as people who are perfect and have always been perfect. Sometimes, this scares people away from the Church, because they think they can never be this “perfect.” Well, I definitely know that I’m not perfect, and I also know that you don’t have to have lived a perfect life to be an excellent member of this church. All you need is a firm testimony of Jesus Christ and a willingness to be more like Him. This week, I’m sharing the story of someone whose life has not always been perfect, but who showed exemplary faith and strength through some exceptionally hard times. I hope her story is as inspirational to you as it is to me.

Kristine Case was twenty-five, living what she calls “a rough life” as the wife of an alcoholic with substance abuse issues of her own. From time to time, LDS missionaries would knock on her door, but Kristine always turned them away, saying she was happy with the Christian church she grew up in, although that wasn’t exactly true.

“I always felt like there was something more,” she says of her life prior to her conversion.

One day, yet another pair of missionaries knocked on her door, and this time she decided to let them in. From that first meeting, she says, “I just felt really warm about what they were saying to me. I wanted to hear more.”

She continued to meet with the missionaries, bringing her questions to them. For Kristine, one of the most important aspects of the Gospel at that point was knowing that she could be forgiven, that even though she had done things in her life that were contrary to the nature of God, they could be taken away from her, as if they had never happened.

“Initially I used the Church as a crutch,” she says, “and eventually developed my own testimony.”

The road to baptism was not an easy one for Kristine. One of the greatest obstacles for her was obeying the Word of Wisdom, a health code that Latter-day Saints adhere to, and a requirement for baptism into the Church.

“I put No Smoking signs all over my house. I quit drinking and drinking coffee,” she says, certainly no easy task.

Even after her baptism, Kristine still faced trials every day. During her first few years in the Church she relapsed into alcohol use several times. Her husband was also still addicted to alcohol and drugs, and the marriage eventually ended in divorce.

“Trying to raise my two children by myself in the Gospel was really, really hard,” she says. Kristine kept trying, even though she entered into what she describes as, “a really, really, dark, dark period” of her life after falling away again after her divorce.

But, as we all know, things are usually darkest before the dawn. Drawing on the firm foundation in the Gospel that the missionaries had helped Kristine to build, perhaps relying on that first knowledge about repentance and forgiveness that had led her to baptism, she was eventually able to pull herself out of that dark place.

“I think eventually I got tired of having to repent, and I said, ‘you know what? I just need to live the Gospel.’ So I did, I lived the Gospel.”

Now with nearly six years of sobriety under her belt, Kristine revels in the blessings that have come from her membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I’m a pioneer in my family,” she proudly states. She relishes the safety, security, peace, and “overabundance of love” that staying true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought her. Being able to teach her children about the Gospel and what it means to her and the strength it gives her even on her hardest days is also a great privilege for Kristine.

Perhaps the greatest of all, Kristine remarried several years ago and is now sealed for time and eternity to her husband. She knows that right now it is not possible for her to be sealed to her children, but as she puts it, “I’m not worried about it…I know it will all work out.” Then she quotes a scripture very dear to her heart: 1 Nephi 11:17.

“And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”

To her, this simple sentence from the Book of Mormon reminds her that, “we don’t need to know the answer to everything, we just need to know that God loves us, and that he has a plan.” It’s a truth she finds herself referring to often, an answer for any adversity that might come her way.

When I met Kristine, I would never have guessed that this was her story, because truthfully, she seems to be pretty perfect. She’s the person in our ward who is always complimenting others, always smiling, always giving hugs. Her eyes shine with a clarity and a strength that tells you even before you speak to her that she is a woman of faith, and she is a woman who has learned from her past experiences and now uses that knowledge to help others, even if only by sharing her story on a friend’s humble blog.