Finding Peace and Joy

by Debbie Allred
My journey of faith in Christ has been tested many times in my life. I know that there is not one person on this earth that has not had their faith tested at one time or another. We all have times when we struggle to find the faith to continue our journey here on this earth. I recall many times as a teenager looking to my parents and leaning on their faith in Christ when I didn't have a testimony of it for myself.

As I got older and moved away from home and began a family of my own that is when I found the journey to be a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. I had many challenges after having my first child with depression and physical illnesses that really challenged that faith in God and Christ. I never questioned the truthfulness of the gospel, but I did not have the firm and solid testimony that I knew I would need to raise my children in this world that is so full of hardships. 

That is when I really started my solid journey in searching for the kind of faith that I needed to beat my depression and also to become physically able to raise my children and serve the Lord in every way that I could. It has been a very hard journey but totally worth fighting for.

I started faithfully praying each day to receive strength from God and through reading scriptures, reading uplifting thoughts and quotes everyday, listening to good uplifting music (Paul Cardall) as well as going to the temple as often as I could. I found so much strength and peace when I would go to the temple. I looked forward to going there often. I love the temple so much; it has truly become a refuge for me. 

There is a quote my son had posted on his Facebook wall with many pictures of different temples around it that says, "The temples....are as a refuge from life's storms...Ever a never-failing beacon guiding us to safety (Pres. Thomas Monson)."  I truly have such a firm testimony that this is so true. I have no doubt that God knew we would need a place to go to strengthen us when we become weakened by the forces of life and this world that we live in. I know that my children have no doubt that I have a testimony of the temple and the great strength that temples can be to us.

My faith has been tested as I have had two brothers move onto the spirit world. My oldest brother Jeff passed away 14 years ago, but it was a blessing for him because he was handicapped and we knew it was his time to move forward and progress. I was struggling with depression at the time and had to dig deep to have faith in God and His plan of salvation. But I was able to find peace with his passing.

When my younger brother Chris died in March 2012 it was not so easy to feel that peace because he took his own life. I had never wailed and cried so many tears in my whole life as I did when I received the news and for months that followed. My son Brandon was also preparing to leave for his mission in April 2012. (His mission has been a true blessing to our family.) 

I know that God knows all because about eight months before Chris died I had the strongest feelings that I needed to go to the temple every week. I thought there was no way I could do that because of work, kids' schedules and just how busy life was. But I did as I was prompted to do. I also felt I needed to study every scripture on faith that was in the Bible dictionary, so I did. I know that God prompted me to do those things so I could make it through this very difficult time. 

I had such great support from friends and family, and I know that I had unseen angels helping me during this very difficult time of my life, when I thought there was no way I was going to make it through this trial. I could feel angels every day lifting me up. We are promised many blessings when we attend the temple, and one of them is to have unseen angels around us and our families to help us when we are too weak to help ourselves. 
"Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and unseen, and choose faith over pessimism."
It was a very difficult to lose my brother who was the most amazing person with a pure love of Christ for everyone he met and an amazing smile that would just light up any room he entered. I had to really look to God for strength at this time because I knew I could not face this challenge on my own. I looked forward to going to the temple even more than I did before he died. I knew that I would find the peace and refuge that I so needed in order to beat the opposition that I felt was working so hard to discourage me and trying to bring me down. 

I have a quote that is about choosing faith. It says: "Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and unseen, and choose faith over pessimism." It is not easy to do, but I have no doubt that through God we have amazing power and strength within us to overcome any trial or opposition that we facing.

I was really struggling and trying to deal with the loss of my brother on one particular day, so I went to the temple. I had an experience in the temple that because of the sacredness of it I can't disclose all the details, but I can tell you that my prayers were answered through a person that I did not even know that was there at the same time as me. Through this person it was confirmed to me that God knew the desires and worries of my heart and sent him to come talk to me to give me comfort and encourage me. 

We just need to have faith and trust in Him. Our prayers may not always be answered when we think they should, but He does love us and will send comfort and strength to us when we truly reach out to Him.

In this life we are going to face trials and difficulties, but we are never alone! I have been so blessed to have an amazing family who is always there to help lift me and give me strength whenever I need them as well as my amazing ward family and friends. 

We have a God who loves each of us so much as well as a Savior who so willingly suffered for all that we would go through in this life so that we could one day return to Him. I am so grateful for this gospel and the Plan of Salvation. I look so forward to the day that I will get to see my brothers again as well as all other family who have moved on to the spirit world. 

What a true blessing it is to have this gospel. I know this church is true with all my heart! We can find peace and joy because we have the truthfulness of the gospel.

My favorite saying I repeat to myself when I am faced with difficulty is: "Believe in yourself! Never give up! Never give in!" It gives me strength to keep going when times are hard and difficult!