In the third book of Nephi, the people of the Book of Mormon experience complete and utter destruction and total darkness, “And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so there could not be any light at all” (3 Nephi 8:20). This destruction corresponded to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. After facing this complete destruction and the accompanying absence of light, a voice from Heaven is heard, and then is followed by complete silence “for the space of many hours.” Gradually, the light came back, and some time passed before the people heard another voice, not a loud voice but one that did “pierce them to hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn” (3 Nephi 11:3).
Then Jesus Christ appears to them and announces, “I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given to me, and I have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning” (3 Nephi 11:11).
When I read these chapters a couple of weeks ago, they hit me hard. Because that description of complete destruction and darkness, followed by silence, is exactly where I felt in my life. I felt like it made sense why I had to feel my heart break so many times in my adolescence and post-adolescent years, because the loss that I now felt equalled the sum total of all prior heart-breaks multiplied to the 10th degree. Sure, some days I could fake being normal, but it would take nothing for my veneer of normalcy to crumble, and it would do so at the most unexpected moments leaving me running for a private space. People reached out to try to make me feel better and talk to me about how they overcame similar situations, and I didn’t want to hear it, because I hadn’t overcome it; I was still in it. I am still in it now. I still don’t really know how to talk to people about it. I don’t know what to say. I find more solace from watching an episode of Downton Abbey and finding solace in the fact that after several months of marriage, Lady Mary and Matthew still haven’t conceived a child either causing me to speculate that they are setting up some infertility plotline for the two of them (sorry for the non-spoiler alert since technically season 3 isn’t airing in the US yet, but everyone seems to be watching it already, anyway). Yes, that does make me somewhat pathetic to find more comfort in a fictional character from the 1920s than in the stories of real people who have actually lived through and overcome the pain of infertility, but that is where I am right now identifying with the characters in the thick of it facing an uncertain outcome, not the people who are looking at that struggle in the review mirror. Furthermore, I always did get that I was most like Lady Mary on those Downton Abbey personality quizzes, anyway.
But that isn’t my point. The point for me is that right now, I am in that moment of silence, waiting for the voice to come that pierces me to my soul and announces my salvation. I am still waiting to see the delivery mechanism for that promised salvation. Will it come from the five figured sum that we put down last week and the $5,000 worth of fertility drugs that we just ordered since we are finally about to start IVF? Will it come later if IVF doesn’t succeed when I am able to find some point as to why I am unable to have children? For me right now, I don’t know how that message will be delivered, but I do have complete faith that it will be, in some way, as it was in the stories of the people in the Book of Mormon. And ultimately, I believe that assurance comes from the source of the assurance in the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ.
Even though these past few months have been rough, and going to church right now only has made it worse, not better, due to the particular circumstances of our ward, I remain optimistic that this will all make sense to me someday. Although past moments of crisis pale in comparison to this, I know that the assurance of the ultimate understanding and empathy of Jesus Christ is what has helped me through those moments. That assurance will help me through this crisis too, even if the rest is just silence. For non-believers, this is what makes me a fool, but for me, this is what helps me continue on despite my complete insecurity about what comes next. Though I cannot predict the outcome to our IVF attempts, I can be well assured of a loving Savior who will announce to me one day, “Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.”
I am learning to be grateful to exist in the time of silence and quiet.
And now, because he always says it better, here is some Paul Simon.