Faith Through Grief
There are times in our lives where faith is strong, and where faith is weak. Grief can have a way of making our faith weak. I grew up in a strong Christian family. Both of my parents were active in the church, and our religion was a daily part of life. As a child, just about every day had an involvement with our church and a fellowship with its’ members. Of course, Sundays were the foundation of what the week was to bring.
Preparing for Sunday took place the night before as each of us children laid out our best clothes, and took our baths before going to bed. Mother was organized and knew what had to be done for her family to be to church on time.Every Sunday mom would call upstairs for her five children to get up and get dressed for church while she put the Sunday dinner in the oven to cook while we were gone. She was already up and dressed in her apron, while dad occupied the bathroom shaving and getting ready for services. Pop would supervise and corral each of us out of our beds when the call came up!When ready, we would leave the house as a family, and pile into the beach-wagon and drive the back roads of Franklin, Massachusetts to go to church in Foxboro. The trip took 20 minutes and we were always on-time! After church services, dad would invite the missionaries over for Sunday dinner, the dinner that mom had put in the oven just before leaving that morning. We always had guests for dinner on Sunday’s! It was either missionaries or a new family or students home from college. Our doors were always open and mom was always ready!
Dinner time was a social time on Sundays. After sharing a meal with guests, dad would organize a walk through the many acres of woods and garden that surrounded our home. This was always a fun time for us kids as we ran ahead of the walkers and raced each other as children do! Mom and the other ladies who didn’t go for the walk would clear the table and set up the deserts or sit and relax in the living room until the walkers came back. Once everyone was back, after dessert was served, and tables were cleared, it was time to return to church for the evening services. This was a typical Sunday at the Evans’s.
The rest of the week incorporated our faith and religion in various ways: Monday nights were family nights. After the evening meal, we would all gather around the table or be in the living room and have a specially planned family event of either a board game or a movie. Tuesday’s was boy scouts at the church. Wednesday was children’s day (primary) a time when children interacted with each other while learning about the Gospel stories. Thursday’s was for the ladies (Relief Society) a day where the church ladies would meet and plan events for the month, decide where their social services were needed most, and socialize. Saturday’s were building fund days. The whole church would meet, the children played games, the women had rummage sales, and the men roasted peanuts to sell at neighborhood businesses throughout the week and hold a weekly Bar-B-Que opened to the public for a small cost. The monies raised from peanut sales, Bar-B-Ques, and rummage sales were given to the church for the building fund. The work involved was not work at all, but a time for singing, playing and building a relationship with fellow churchgoers. It strengthens families and afforded a lifestyle of fellowship, selflessness, dedication and gave people a feeling of belonging.
This foundation is what sustains me in my faith through the tough times of today. As I got older and began my own family, I tried to incorporate the same values that my parents instilled in me. The special family times spent together, the Sunday meals, the sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves so we could meet the challenges that befell us.My marriage didn’t last. I had to go to work to support my children, our church consolidated their meetings to save money on families, so our meetings were held on Sunday’s only and in the mornings. Life changed, and the feeling of security was fading quickly. My children were growing up and going off to college, or beginning their own families. My parents were aging, and my brothers and sisters were moving away.
Dad passed away within days of my grandson's birth. It was difficult to grieve a life and celebrate a life at the same time! This emotional roller coaster tested my faith, but the knowledge of a pre-mortal life and an eternal life after death helped to quiet the pain. My newborn grandson had a quick moment in Heaven with his great-grandfather, and that thought sustains me to this day. I can only imagine the advice my dad gave this precious little boy as he was about to start his earthly journey. What a sweet, loving moment that must have been!
I see God’s blessings every day in my grandsons, in my own children, in my parents’ examples, and in the goodness of others. I have learned to slow down, enjoy the beauties around me, embrace the challenges which befall us and to offer services to others who are going through their earthly trials.