It had an end

Posted by Matthew Watkins on May 14, 2017

Today is Mother’s Day. But instead of talking about the stripling warriors, Abish, or Sariah today, I want to talk about a few words I found in Helaman 1.

This year, my wife, my sweetheart, and the mother of my son is spending Mother’s Day out of the country on a dream trip across Europe with her sister and some extended family members. She is having a great time, and loving the enchanting sights and sounds of the countries she is visiting.

Leah in Switzerland

I’m excited for her trip. I love seeing her adventures. She definitely deserves every wonderful moment of this experience. I’m also excited that I get to remain home and really turn the father-son bond up to 11 for these two weeks.

But it’s a bit tough, too. I guess I’m getting a little taste of what is is like to be a single parent. It’s not nearly as bad as many families have it, of course. We only have one kid right now, I have 4 wonderful grandparents at my disposal, and I’m only on this solo adventure for two weeks. So all in all, I still have it really easy. But it still gives me a whole new appreciation for my wife who does this parenting thing every single day while I’m at school or work. And it has made me stand in awe of all the single/widowed mothers who have to rough it for years with no help. God bless them.

With my wife gone, I find myself staying up way too late at night binge-watching Doctor Who, drinking one too many cans of root beer, and letting the laundry hamper get a little too full. And I find myself postponing my bedtime later and later distracting myself from the fact that she’s not here. At the end of the day when my son is in bed, there is an emptiness and quietness to our house that just feels… wrong. I’m starting to experience some of the meaning of God’s words in the Garden of Eden: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18).

No, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s tough. I really miss my wife. Last night as I was simultaneously reading the Book of Mormon and missing my wife, I reached Helaman 1. Now, Helaman 1 is not a very uplifting chapter. The Nephites nearly fall into civil war over election results. Not one but two chief judges are brutally murdered. Corruption and promises of power lead to the seeds of the Gadianton robbers. Nephite dissenters lead the Lamanites on a successful campaign to terrorize the Nephite capital cities, slaughtering men, women, and children. Really nasty stuff, and not a whole lot of profound doctrinal lessons jumping out at you (which is probably why Helaman 1 is one of the few chapters in the Book of Mormon that has no citations from the bulk of General Conference addresses.

While documenting this time of terror and calamity, Mormon records these words:

And all this was done in the fortieth year of the reign of the judges; and it had an end.

Hel. 1:13

Right now we’re halfway through my wife’s 2-week trip. But that one week has felt like a month. And the day she returns back seems forever away. But what I gleaned from this scripture is that no matter what trials we face, be they big upheavals like the Nephites faced, or small matters like missing a spouse on a trip, we can take comfort in the fact that, whatever the trial, it has an end. The light at the end of the tunnel may so far away that it is just a pinpoint, but at least it’s there. No trial is endless.

The Lord said the same thing to comfort the Prophet Joseph while he was passing through the refining fire of Liberty Jail:

My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment… Thou art called to pass through tribulation[s but]… their bounds are set, they cannot pass.

D&C 121:7 and 122:5,9

That’s the great thing about the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation: every pain we experience, every tear we shed, every sin we commit, every cross we bear, and even death itself now has an end and a limit. On the other hand, all important things in life that bring us happiness and joy: families, friends, salvation, and even life itself is made eternal through the infinite work performed by our Savior on our behalf.

I will keep reminding myself that my wife’s absence has an end (specifically 6 days, 4 hours, and 17 minutes from now). And I will be forever grateful that our family has none.

Happy Mother’s Day.

This post first appeared on Power in the Book