Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Gethsemane

I believe there comes a time in everyone's life where we are required, as Abraham of old, to make the ultimate sacrifice. I believe that just as he was required to be willing to give up his only and longed-for son, the Lord will require that level of sacrifice from each of us...the "Abrahamic trial" as I call it.

The Savior, Himself, the greatest of all, was also required to make the ultimate sacrifice, giving all He had, all He was capable of giving. It was such a sacrifice, that none can be compared to it and no service or sacrifice we mere mortals offer will ever come close to reaching such a level. I don't assume to equate anything that I, or any of the rest of us, will ever encounter to that of the sacrifice that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, made for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. But, I do believe that our Heavenly Father does everything for a purpose and that there is an important pattern to observe in all of these examples. As a matter of fact, the anguish our Father felt at the sacrifice of His Only Begotten caused Him to withdraw and, thus, in the most final way, proved Jesus Christ that much further as He was left to suffer the end alone, which loneliness and abandonment He had never before suffered. Heavenly Father even said that He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. It was the love of our Father that required that great sacrifice. Thus, the pattern of the necessity of paying the ultimate price. Even our Father in Heaven and the Savior, Jesus Christ, have been required to give it all.

Abraham, Job, Ruth, Esther…the list goes on. To be proved, the Lord requires a sacrifice that is great. Most likely, greater than we think we are capable of. And since we may actually be unable to sacrifice as greatly as we are required, we have no choice but to turn to Him and draw upon His power, His grace, His atonement to make us more than we are. The required sacrifice brings us to our knees, shows us our weakness and humbles us because we know we cannot do it alone. Perhaps this life is for nothing more than to come to a full, intense and unmistakable realization that we need a Savior, a mediator, who can get us from where we are to where we can be; from who we are to who our God knows we can become. If this is the case, then Abrahamic trials are necessary. We must all come to our own Gethsemane. And once we arrive, we find that Christ is already there, waiting to carry the burden with us and for us all because of His own Gethsemane.

I believe that there can be small Gethsemane experiences, too. I think in each trial we encounter in this mortal probation, we will find that there will be one great sacrifice required. There are now two Gethsemanes in my life: one in the past and one in the present. I’m sure there are more to come as the Lord refines this imperfect vessel called me.

Tonight, as I rocked my baby girl to sleep I found myself in my Gethsemane. I knew it was coming. I knew every day was a step closer to my garden and here it is.

See, back in August when Ruslan was with us we had experiences that told us in no uncertain terms that Heavenly Father wanted us to bring him and his sister into our family. It didn’t make any sense on paper and was the furthest thing from any logical thought. But it was so clear that there was no denying this was the direction we were being asked to go. I don’t believe that spiritual witnesses come from the same place logical thought does. I believe that one is God and the other is man. I would much rather trust in an all-powerful, all-knowing God who only desires for my eternal welfare and the eternal welfare of all those I love than in man who is foolish, subject to Satan and temptation and can be so easily confused and tossed about by the world. Even if that "man" is me. So, beyond all human and temporal understanding we began this journey.

In the beginning, our main concern was money. We couldn’t do anything without the funds necessary to do them. However, that never really worried me. $55,000 seemed like an outrageous and completely unreachable goal, but I knew the Lord had asked us to do this and I know that He doesn’t give commandments without preparing a way to accomplish that which He has commanded. I knew He would provide that money because I knew He had it at his disposal. Six weeks later, our angels arrived in our lives and, through them, the Lord proved Himself and proved that He keeps His word when we follow Him.

But, I knew that was the easy part. As hard as that was, that was the easy part. I knew what was coming and though I looked for every possible way to NOT have to enter this garden, it was not to be. After a while, I realized that this was specifically being required of me. The Lord wanted this of me. That He was proving me. He wanted to see if I would be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, the thing that for me is the one precious possession I have never wanted to give: my children.

I never leave my children. One of the reasons I home school is because I want them with me. I love them dearly and want to be the one to experience every wonderful step of this life we have together. If we’re going on a trip, we take the kids. If we want an outing, we take everybody. We even go shopping together…however hard that may be with toddlers. The time I have with them is so short and precious that it doesn’t seem reasonable to either of us to exclude our children.
To leave them for three weeks is unthinkable…was unthinkable. When I realized I would have to do this, I cried for an hour. Then cried off and on for two weeks afterward. I started fasting weekly, petitioning the Lord for His peace for all of us and the strength my angel parents would need to take on the responsibility of caring for and home schooling six children…one of which is a toddler that was weaned specifically so I could go.

The reality is, the peace came. I never thought I would be capable of doing what I’m about to do. I never thought I would be able to fly half way across the world and leave my children for such a great length of time and be okay. I have a new understanding of the concept of "peace which surpasseth understanding".

Still, holding my baby for one of the last times in such a long time makes me cry. The tears are not painful, however. They are a mixture of newfound faith, greater eternal understanding and a foreshadowing of the longing a mother has to love and hold and comfort her child.

I have come to understand and internalize the reality that these are not my children but God’s. He can be there for them when I can’t. He can comfort them when I can’t. And this is one of the times when I can’t. Thanks to prayer and fasting, I can ask Him to be with them and He will be there. It is my stewardship to call on Him to comfort them and I know He will attend to it because He has proven Himself to me.

I have come to understand that to love my new children, I am required to sacrifice in a way that would be equal to the sacrifice I have been through for my others. For Ruslan and Nastia, the sacrifice has been one of time, thought, effort and emotion rather than a physical sacrifice as was given for my other children. It is interesting to note that has been almost nine months since Ruslan first came to us. As with a pregnancy, those entire nine months have been spent in preparation and anticipation for their arrival.

I have come to understand that the most incredible, miraculous and soul changing experiences happen when we exercise faith. I have a long way to go and know just from recent experiences that my faith is anything but perfect. But, now I can see what power perfect faith can have. My eyes and heart have been opened in a way nothing else could have opened them.

I have come to understand that the Lord is literally there, carrying us, orchestrating our lives to teach us when we are ready and willing to learn. I have come to understand that I can do more with Him than without Him. I have come to understand that my desire for control in my life is illusory and will profit me nothing. It is only a life guided by Christ that is worth living.

And that is what our Gethsemanes are for.


  1. Thank you for sharing your journey. In 2009, my husband and I also adopted a brother and sister with David's help. Reading your story, brought tears of joy to me and reminded me of that initial excitement when I knew I had just met my son. Your words also give me a renewed appreciation for the goodness and faithfulness of God in all things. This is an incredible journey that doesn't stop when you get home. You all will be in my prayers through your travels and adjustments.

  2. Your journey has touched many lives, and I am ever grateful for your personal faith. This is a heartfelt message you bring to a world needing that very thing!

    I will soon have two more grandchildren making a total of 26. thank you Marsh and Alisa.

  3. I feel the same way about my children and admire for you and Marsh for your sacrifice to leave them for a time even though it is for a wonderful reason. Thank you for sharing this hard thing that you are doing. I'll continue to pray that all will go well on your journey and I'll also keep your technology in my thoughts - that all will work well to keep you connected to your sweet family in Utah. Kirstin

  4. This journal entry felt sacred. Your journey has been absolutely incredible and I am grateful that you have committed it to the written format. Thank you. And bless you guys - so excited for what is to come :)