How I Overcame Challenges and Found Hope in My Life
I knew I needed to share my story, even though there were parts of my life that I didn’t want to relive.
Since I was called as a member of the General Relief Society Presidency, Sister Bingham has encouraged me to help the members of the Church get to know me. I felt strongly that I should share my conversion story—that I have a testimony that we can be with our families forever. But there are certain parts of my life that I wasn’t sure I wanted to look back upon. My family is whole now, and I did not want to focus on my divorce. However, I knew I needed to. I know that many people have been through something similar, and I want to give hope. I want people to know that there will be a brighter day—the sun will shine again, and things will not be difficult forever.
Going through the process of filming this video and talking about my experiences, I feel like there are three things that Heavenly Father taught me and I want to share with others.
The Lord will lead us where He needs us to be. In Esther 4, Esther is preparing to be presented to the king to plead on behalf of the Jews. Mordecai, who is Esther’s cousin and protector, encourages her by saying, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
There are many things in my life that cause me to marvel because I feel like Heavenly Father has led me to where He needs me to be “at such a time as this.” I met the missionaries at a time when my heart was open to their message. I felt drawn to my husband when the time was right for us to marry. Now, my husband and I run a small business that allows me the flexibility to serve in my calling and help with the welfare of my family. I believe that these opportunities did not come to me by chance.
Shortly after I was called to the General Relief Society Presidency I went to Argentina and Chile. I was surprised by the many women who approached me and thanked me for talking about my divorce. They had been through something similar. We have all experienced difficult times that can help us be more sensitive and understanding of others’ struggles. If we are willing, the Lord will lead us to where we can help, and in sharing our experiences, we can all feel less alone.
Hard times don’t define us—they refine us. My hope is that my sisters and brothers will understand that everyone goes through hard times. Everyone struggles. If we turn to the Lord, He will give us what we need to get through them. If we are humble, the Lord will use these experiences to refine us and help us to become what He wants us to become.
There is a lot of commotion in the world and a lot of things that are out of our control. Each of us has the power to be an agent of change starting where we are. No matter our circumstances, we can try to be the best person we can be. We can start in our families by being peacemakers, sharing love, and preparing ourselves for what is coming in the future. We can do that by being instruments in the hands of the Lord.
One lesson I learned from the difficult times in my life is to prepare myself and stay close to the Lord. It is good to have a plan, but sometimes plans change. There is much we can do that is unchangeable and will help us handle whatever comes our way. We need to live in a way that we are not tied to things that will limit us. We need to work and eliminate addictions, debt, and bad habits wherever possible. Overcoming obstacles is not easy, but the Lord is here to help us, and I know “I can do all things in Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). By doing the small and simple things that get us closer to Christ in our everyday life, we will be prepared for the storms we may face in the future.
Loss is not forever. Losing a loved one is hard—especially when you are not a member of the Church and do not know Heavenly Father’s promises that we can be with our family members again. When I lost my brother, I was not a member of the Church, but somehow I was blessed with the hope that I would see him again. I daydreamed often that I would find him on our doorstep and welcome him home. That knowledge came through the Light of Christ, which is available to everyone.
During filming of this video, I talked about my brother’s death, and I was thinking about the many people who have lost loved ones. Even if you have faith in and a testimony of the plan of salvation, it is not easy. We all have to go through a period of mourning and do our best to make sense of the situation. Because I had such a strong desire to see my brother again, the Lord was merciful and gave me an assurance that I will. That assurance is available to everyone who truly seeks it.
In my message I talk about a cathedral in Germany that was destroyed by war and later rebuilt. There are times when we may feel like we are being destroyed by circumstances in our life, but I believe that with the help of our Heavenly Father, we will be rebuilt. No matter what we go through in this life, we will be made whole again through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Even though I was hesitant to share my story, I did so because I want to bring hope to everyone, especially those who are struggling. Please watch this video, and please share it with those in your life who may need to be reminded that the sun will shine again and things will not be difficult forever.
Watch the full three-part series.
Reyna I. Aburto is the Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency. She was born in Nicaragua and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1989. She and her husband enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren. Find more messages from Reyna Aburto on her Facebook page.