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Healing Stories: Cultivating Resilience and Wisdom for Future Generations

Tonya Cox

April 29, 2024

My grandmother had a love for gift-giving. I cherish memories of Christmas at her house, unwrapping presents that felt just right, and seeing the joy on her face. Her love for giving gifts deeply influenced me, but perhaps the most precious gift she gave was the gift of stories.

She meticulously compiled and organized the stories from her own life, my grandfather’s experiences, and the collective history of our family. Reading through these narratives was like stepping into a time capsule – I laughed, I cried, and most importantly, I felt profoundly connected to my roots.

Among these tales were the letters my grandfather wrote to her during his five-year service in World War II. They spoke of love, longing, and resilience amidst separation. My grandmother’s own life story, woven letters and her experiences as a wife and mother, taught me invaluable lessons about faith, resilience, and courage.  

While my grandmother is no longer with us, her voice lives on in the stories she left behind. These stories not only connect me to my family’s past but also inspire faith in the future and the strength to overcome life’s challenges.

There are also untold stories, ones that remained hidden within our family, not recorded on paper but revealed to me over time. These narratives, often kept as family secrets, have taught me the significance of vulnerability and addressing the pains that lie beneath the surface.

We all hold stories close to our hearts, tales that have etched themselves into the fabric of our lives. Some are cherished, ready to be shared with generations to come, while others linger in the shadows, bearing the weight of pain. Yet, in facing these stories with courage and introspection, we uncover not just pain but also profound wisdom, transforming our struggles into lessons of growth and understanding.

It really is through bringing the lens of eternal perspective that we can live in more wholeness, happiness, and freedom with the stories of our lives. I was reminded of this recently at a Stake Conference, surrounded by familiar faces that have been part of my life’s tapestry for over two decades. As these men were sustained as leaders, my heart swelled with love for them and gratitude for their roles in shaping not just my story but also that of my husband and children.

Returning to the area after four years away, I found myself pondering the twists and turns of my journey.  So many hard things!  And it felt like my life was out of line with what I wanted and imagined it would be.  I cried in my heart, “this was not the plan!”  Yet, in that moment of vulnerability, a whisper of the spirit brought to mind a cherished Primary song: “My life is a gift. My life has a plan. My life has a purpose. In Heaven, it began.” This simple truth resonated deeply, reminding me that even when life doesn’t unfold as we expect, there is a higher purpose guiding our experiences. I am not living the plan I imagined or laid out in my mortal mind, but in that eternal perspective it is the perfect plan for my eternal learning and growth and that of my family as well. Then I remembered my niece’s counsel to incoming missionaries as she returned home from serving her mission. “It’s God’s work and you can’t mess it up!”  “This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the exaltation and eternal life of man” Moses 1:39. It was the spiritual knowledge, that new information, that began to change my story and to heal the pain in my heart. Truth and wisdom took its place. 

In my earthly understanding, I wouldn’t have chosen many of the experiences in my life. However, I believe in the eternal nature of agency—it didn’t start with my birth and won’t end with death. I trust that I counseled with my Heavenly Father to create a life plan guided by His wisdom. While some aspects of life are inherent to our earthly existence and the challenges of a fallen world, others are specifically tailored for my growth and spiritual evolution. By viewing my life experiences through an eternal lens, I can uncover the deeper purpose and meaning behind them.

Now you may be saying there are horrible things that happened to me and there is no way I chose them or that they could bless my life!  I hear you!  And that’s where the healing work needs to take place first. There has to be some healing for those wounds bringing in the balm of Gilead through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  That healing takes time and tender care.  

I have a friend that recently had knee replacement surgery.  After the surgery she had to take time to heal.  She couldn’t just jump right back up on her knee and use it.  Her knee was hurt and harmed, but for a good reason. The healing process was painful and she needed time, rest, medications, and support to heal.  It is only after the healing that she can begin to experience the gift of the surgery.  

The same is true for each of us—we must first seek and embrace the healing process. As we navigate our stories with courage and openness, we not only discover profound wisdom but also cultivate resilience and gratitude. This journey creates a legacy of strength and authenticity, inspiring future generations to embrace their own journeys with courage and resilience, knowing that it’s the gift of wisdom gained from our experiences that sets us free.

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