At this time of year, we think of joy and of our Savior’s birth. We think of serving others and the joy that it brings. But times are hard sometimes. So how do we maintain that feeling of joy when things are stretched tight or we are struggling with other things in our lives? I’d like to share you my story of faith and joy and the blessings I’ve gained from looking for the good in the dark tunnel.
I will first take you back two years ago. My husband and I lived in a nice home in Wyoming with our three young girls. We had two bedrooms upstairs and two bedrooms down. All three girls were squished inside one of the rooms upstairs next to mine and my husband’s because they were too afraid to be by themselves downstairs. We decided that we needed to sell our house and look for something else; not bigger, but something with a different layout.
The market was slow and our house was on the market for five months before we received an offer. The day we got the offer, my husband was made aware of a job position in Idaho that was possibly opening up. It was in his field of study and something he was eager to look into. So, rather than buy a brand new home near many of our friends, we decided to move in with my parents until we knew if we would be moving out of state.
While we were there, we anxiously awaited word about the job in Idaho. One night, my husband woke up and rolled over. He said, “I think I need to go back to school and get my PhD.”
I inhaled slowly. “Okay. Where?”
“The worst place imaginable.”
“BYU.” It wasn’t a question. I already knew.
Eight years previous to that, we were driving through Provo, Utah on our way to get married in San Diego and my husband said, “We will NEVER live in Utah.”
So you see. I knew where we were headed!
Anyway, we talked about it and prayed about it and it felt right. So, my husband went to Utah and looked for a house and made an offer. (I’d seen it online and okayed it.) Then, we packed up our things and moved. During the next month, my husband was still working in Wyoming and would commute the six and a half hours every week. I was alone with my kids in a strange town and no husband. It was a very challenging time.
After a month, my husband quit working in Wyoming and came to stay in Utah, but he had no job. He looked and looked. It is difficult to find work in a college community. Even with a Master’s degree. He finally applied as an assistant dean at UVU in Orem (strangely unrelated to his Counseling degree.) He interviewed but they wanted someone else.
By this point, I’d been in Utah for two and a half months and funds are running low. I began looking for work too, but with no more luck than my husband. He finally found work as an auto mechanic in American Fork (about 15 min. north of Provo). That’s how he put himself through school, so this was no big deal. But he had no credibility here, so he had to start from scratch. But at least he had a job.
About two weeks after he started working as a mechanic, the University called to see if he was still interested in the assistant dean position. The Dean didn’t like any of the applicants the committee gave her and wanted to interview my husband personally. We were thrilled!
A long story short, he got the Assistant Dean position at UVU.
That was a difficult year for our family. We felt right about the move, but it was pure faith that held us together. Faith that things would work out. Faith that we wouldn’t starve or go bankrupt. And with some elbow grease, and a lot of prayers, things worked out.
Things aren’t a ton easier now, just because he has a job. He doesn’t make enough money and the cost of living in Utah is higher than Wyoming. We are looking into me going to work too just to make ends meet, something we hoped I’d never have to do. Now, I can either curse God or my husband for bringing me here, or I can look to the things I love and enjoy to bring me happiness.
I am grateful that I was able to make new friends here! I’m grateful the wind doesn’t blow, that it’s warmer here, and that we have better fruit here. I’m grateful that my children go to a good school and that they are happy and we are a family. I am also thankful that I am able to write, if only sporadically. It brings me peace and happiness.
Being here in Utah and struggling through things has forced me to look on the bright side of life. And there is always a brighter side.
I hope that as you go through this holiday season, you will look on the bright side of your situation. Things could always be worse. Last month my brother was in a car accident and totaled their car. They don’t have much money for a new one because they are in school. But at least they are alive and well. So think of the things you are grateful for and share them with someone you love. It will brighten your day and theirs!
“May your days be merry and bright…”