After graduating from high school, I started attending college. I always enjoyed learning and getting an education. However, over the years, the situation in Nicaragua was just getting worse. I decided to marry a young man that I was dating, and we left the country shortly after. We arrived in San Francisco in October 1984.
My first months in the United States were hard because that first winter felt very cold, coming from a warm climate. I also had to get used to a new culture and a new language, and my family was still in Nicaragua. However, I was extremely grateful to be in this magnificent country. I felt greatly blessed because I had a job that paid $3.35 an hour and a place to live. I had the desire and means to help my family move in with me. After some time, my mother and two siblings arrived in San Francisco.
I would attend school at night, first to an English-as-a-second-language school and then to the City College of San Francisco. My son Xavier was born two years later. He brought immense joy for me and my family. He was a healthy and sharp little boy who gave me a beautiful reason to keep going and to try harder.
However, my husband drank alcohol and used drugs. Over time, his addictions worsened. He stopped working and sometimes he would be gone for days. The situation had become unbearable for me. I started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and seeing a therapist to find out how I could help him. I learned that I also needed help.
After a series of events that clearly showed me that both my three-year-old son and I were in danger, I took the painful and yet liberating decision to permanently separate from my husband and get a divorce. Even after he was gone, I still did not feel at peace. What if he came back? How would I raise my son so he could be a good boy and become a good man? Where would I find solace for my soul? How would our future be?
I know that sometimes things happen in our life over which we do not have control. Other people make decisions that may hurt us. We have longings, we have questions, things happen to us that do not seem to have a reason. But if we listen to the Lord, He will “speak peace to our souls . . . [and] cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him” (Alma 58:11). If we are patient, if we put our trust on our Savior, if we wait on His timing, and we try to follow His commandments, answers will come one day, and we will finally have that peace that we are looking for.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf once told the story of a magnificent Lutheran church in Dresden, Germany, which was destroyed during World War II. Years later, the church was rebuilt using many of the original bricks that were burnt during the bombing, and that is why some of the bricks are black.
I feel that my life is like that church. I have gone through hard times. The scars, the consequences, and the pain are still there. However, the Lord Jesus Christ has rebuilt my life and has allowed me to have joy through His tender mercies and through the enabling power of His Atonement. I know that He is our Savior and our Redeemer, that He is the source of peace and healing. I have felt “encircled . . . in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15). He is always extending His arms of mercy and love toward us so we can turn to Him and have a better life as well as eternal life.
Like Elder Uchtdorf said referring to that church in Germany: “If man can take the ruins, rubble, and remains of a broken city and rebuild an awe-inspiring structure that rises toward the heavens, how much more capable is our Almighty Father to restore His children who have fallen, struggled, or become lost?
“It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt. Save those rare sons of perdition, there is no life so shattered that it cannot be restored.
“The joyous news of the gospel is this: because of the eternal plan of happiness provided by our loving Heavenly Father and through the infinite sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, we can not only be redeemed from our fallen state and restored to purity, but we can also transcend mortal imagination and become heirs of eternal life and partakers of God’s indescribable glory.”1
We all go through hard times, we all have tribulation in our life, we are all in need of healing, and we are all in need of redeeming grace. Part of our mortal existence is to go through trials, big and small, at different times of our life, but Heavenly Father will “consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2). Those tough times make us stronger and allow us to be sensitive to others. I am grateful for the hardships I have gone through because they have shaped me, have allowed me to know what I know, and have given me humility to acknowledge my dependency on my Heavenly Father and my Lord Jesus Christ. They have also given me a chance to feel Their love and concern for me, individually. I know that our Heavenly Father and our Savior are mindful of each of us.
If you are going through a hard time in your life, please do not give up, please keep trying, please keep reaching to the Savior so He can heal you. I know that we can all be healed by the soothing balm that our Master Healer, Jesus Christ, offers us in His infinite and perfect love.
I know that Jesus Christ will one day come back to this earth “clothed with power and great glory” (D&C 45:44). At that time, His trump will sound, and every ear will hear it, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess before Him (see D&C 88:104; Mosiah 27:31). We will then rejoice collectively, with everlasting joy.
Lead image: Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Drawing upon her unique life experiences, Sister Reyna Aburto invites readers to join with her in strengthening Christ's Church. Through her relatable style and humble approach, Sister Aburto shares her insights about growing up in Nicaragua, losing her brother in a devastating earthquake, having a spouse struggle with addiction, dealing with divorce and single parenting, joining the Church, and developing a deep conviction of the Savior's love and the transcendent power of His atoning sacrifice. Each chapter addresses a specific way we can reach for the Savior, from studying the Book of Mormon to temple worship to strengthening our wards to ministering and more. Through trials and difficulties, personal darkness, and mental and emotional struggles, we can find small and simple ways of drawing closer to God in Reaching for the Savior. Available now at DeseretBook.com and in Deseret Book stores.
1. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home,” Ensign, May 2016, 101–2.