Dave and Julie Grygla: Accepting What God Is Willing To Give
Dave and Julie had six kids in three years: triplets, twins, and a baby boy. As parents, this couple's journey has been filled with joys and triumphs—many of which they struggle to remember in the blur of it all—as well as tears and feelings of inadequacy. But as their triplets turn eight and are baptized, the couple reflects on one of their greatest learning moments: that of true submission to what God is willing to give.
God does not care about my identity as a former runner, as a former professor, or any of those things. The identity that He cares most about is, Am I a follower of Jesus Christ? Do I take care of my fellow man?
Deseret News feature that Morgan wrote in 2014: “Couple with triplets expecting twins: ‘We’re just going to have a lot of fun’”
All In episode that Julie referenced: Samuel Brown and Kate Holbrook: The Evolving Story of a Marriage
2:34- As Many As He’ll Send
6:34- 6 Kids In 3 Years
13:03- Sent To An Extended Family
18:50- Get Behind Me
25:44- Converted To Motherhood
31:02- A Mother’s Presence
36:32- Forever Changed
48:31- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00
In 2014, as an intern, I wrote my first feature story for the Deseret News. That article read, "When Julie Grygla found out one year ago that she was expecting triplets she proceeded to cry for what felt like four months. When those triplets were five months old and she found out she was expecting twins, she laughed all night long. Julie and her husband Dave once thought they would never be able to have children because of fertility issues. In May they will have five kids under 14 months old. Julie says that the knowledge that these children were meant to come to her family is what keeps her going.
"Dave once said in his prayers, 'We'll take as many spirits as you will send to this home. We will teach them the gospel and we will raise them up to you,' Julie recalled, we must be serious about that because He's sending us all these kids. We really couldn't be happier about it," end quote.
Today's episode is bringing my career full circle in a way as I catch up with Julie and Dave in celebration of their triplets eighth birthday. Prior to meeting her husband, Julie was a professor at Brigham Young University. Dave was a family medicine doctor. Today Dave works as a hospitalist at a St. George Hospital. The Grygla's lives are now the parents of six children.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson, and I am so honored to have Julie and Dave Grygla. On the line with me today, Julie and Dave, welcome.
Julie Grygla 1:38
Dave Grygla 1:39
Morgan Jones Pearson 1:39
Thank you so much for being willing to do this. So I'm going to tell people before we get too far into this, that in 2014, I wrote a feature story and I interviewed Dave and Julie for that story. And it was the first feature story that I ever wrote at Deseret News, and so I have this very tender spot in my heart for Dave and Julie, because I'm like, you guys didn't make me feel like an idiot for having no idea what I was doing at the time. And hopefully, this will be a better experience for all of us, we'll see. But I–at the time, you had just given birth, Julie, to twins. And so you had had triplets, and then you had twins. So you had five children under what age?
Julie Grygla 2:28
What were they?
Dave Grygla 2:28
Under 13 months.
Julie Grygla 2:29
13 months. Yeah.
Morgan Jones Pearson 2:32
Unreal. Unreal. Um, so I want to back up, though a little bit, and this is the part–if there's any part of that interview that I did with you all that has stayed with me and stuck in my mind. You talked about how you initially struggled to have children, and then you prayed and told the Lord that you would take as many children as he was willing to send you.
And it's interesting to see how the Lord works but I've thought about that so many times and about how important our approach can sometimes be in prayer. So I wondered for you, when the two of you look back on that prayer that you offered, what do you think brought you to that place of submitting to God's will? And what led you to take that approach in talking to Heavenly Father?
Julie Grygla 3:19
I asked Dave, because I read your question and I thought, what did get us to that point? Were we just . . . naive? Was that like, our way of expressing faith and then like it opened the floodgates? Or, you know, I was sort of being cheeky about it. But Dave actually gave like a really wonderful tender answer about . . .
Dave Grygla 3:42
I really feel like for me, before I was able to find Julie and get married, I had had periods of time where I was sort of away from the light. And I was in such a lonely, empty feeling. And so in the period of probably a couple of years before I found Julie, I had found my way back to the light.
And that's part of what I think you're talking about is submitting. And without those experiences that went before that then it seems getting back to the light is submitting. It seems like a strange way to say it, to me, it just feels like pulling close to my Father in Heaven. And I had such confidence based on my feelings and what it felt like to be away from Heavenly Father that whatever He asked me to do was going to be for my best. I sort of just persisted in that and it's continued to be true.
Julie Grygla 4:35
And really, it's one of the things that drew me to David was that, you know, we were older, I was 30 and he was 41 when we met. And I was . . . I was dating in a pool–I mean, you know how it is when you get older, Morgan, like it's just different. It's not the college pool that you're drawing from and a lot of the men that I was coming across, they were not very valiant in the gospel.
And it was–that was what I was looking for. I, I had had my own struggles through my 20s and had decided that I was in, whatever the rest of my life looked like, I was in. And when I met David, and he was serving in the Elders Quorum presidency in his ward and he was active in his community, and he was a good friend to people. And I mean, I'd never met anybody really more giving of themselves and I thought, oh, well, that's different.
And you know, I think that when you sort of depart from the light for a little while, as both of us have had–I think everybody has those periods in their life, and when you draw close to it, you think, yeah, I don't think I ever really want to do that again. And so I think Dave's right that it was part of our journey of like, "Heavenly Father we're not going anywhere. We want to have a family. In theory, we don't really know what it looks like, but we're old, so if you want–however many kids you want to take, like, we'll just, we'll take them."
Morgan Jones Pearson 6:10
Yeah, well, and I think that that is applicable to so many different situations in life, where, you know, we come to God. And it's kind of like, to your point, you don't know what it's gonna look like, but you ask for something, and tell him that you'll take whatever he's willing to give. And I can honestly, I've thought of it so many times in the year since we last spoke. So you all had six kids in three years, triplets, twins, and then another baby. And I have to tell you that when I sent you a friend request on Facebook recently, I was like, where did the sixth kid come from? I had no idea that had happened. So when did when did or how did you reach the decision to have a sixth child after having triplets and twins?
Julie Grygla 7:00
Oh, well, you know, it was that prayer of, "Heavenly Father we'll take however many you want us to have." And I don't know, I don't think I shared this in the interview that we did back in 2014, but I had this–at the time we thought it was just a crazy dream, because I have really, really crazy dreams. I have my whole life. And I was pregnant with the triplets. And I had, I had a dream that we had twin baby girls, and the triplets were just barely walking around.
And all of a sudden Dave's waking me up and it's the middle of the night. And I was so angry because falling asleep and staying asleep pregnant with triplets is like a real challenge. And I'm like, "Why? Why did you wake me up?" And he says, You were yelling? "No! No! No!"
He says, "What were you dreaming about? I've never heard you like, yell in your sleep." And I said, "David, I just dreamt that we had twin girls when the boys were like 14 or 15 months old." And he says, "Honey, that's not a dream, that's a nightmare." And we laughed about it. And I was still had enough time during the day that I was journaling regularly and I wrote it down in my journal.
And the triplets were like six months old, and I wasn't feeling very well. And I was like that's strange and Dave came home from work and he says, "Honey, you're just glowing tonight." And I'm like, "No. No, no, no, no, no." And I had an extra pregnancy test leftover from the many, many that we had taken trying to get pregnant with the triplets. And I was like, there's no way this is going to be positive. How many times have I sat and waited for this test to come back, just for it to be negative?
And so I–but you know, whatever. And when I looked down and it was positive, I just stared at it. And I was like, "Oh, no, we're having twin girls." And I took it out and I showed it to Dave and he thought it was a joke. He thought it was one of the tests from–the positive tests from the triplets. And I said, "Honey, I'm really sorry. This is not a joke."
And he just looks at me and I'm shaking. And I said, "You know what this means right?" And he goes, "Twin girls, right?" And so, the twins were just this miracle and you know, the boys took their first steps right after they got home from the hospital. It was, it was exciting. And but we really thought, my gosh. We got five kids in one year. Like that's got to be some kind of record.
And we went to a big family reunion his family is part of the Jonathan Heaton family out of like Moccasin, and Alton Arizona. And so we went to this huge family reunion that his mom–multigenerational–his mom had organized. And I was wearing the girls, one on front, one on the back. And we had the triplets in our triple Radio Flyer wagon.
And I just–I will never forget this. The twins were how old? . . . May, June, so like two months old? Two or three months old and the triplets were like 15 months old, and we're walking down the main street of Moccasin all these people, Spirit of Elijah, so strong. I mean, this event that his mom and her cousins planned, it was amazing. And clear–I mean, I don't even it is maybe the only time I've ever had this experience.
And it was not–people say this all the time. It was not like words that I could hear audibly, but it was specifically these words, "There's one more. It's a boy. And his name is Jonathan." And I just started bawling. Because I'm like, "Oh, my gosh, I just had five kids in one year. Why are you telling me this?" And Dave looks over and he goes, "Honey, what's the matter?" And I told him and he said, "Okay."
I'm like, "What do you mean 'Okay'?" And he says, he says, "Well, not right now." I'm like, "Oh, thank you." And I said, "Well, when?" He goes, "Honey, I don't think we need to worry about that right now. I'm pretty sure God's going to tell us when it's time, if we're open to it." And so we're laughing, walking down the street a little bit further. And then he looked at me and very seriously said, "But honey, I don't think he's going to come on our own. I think that you have to be prepared that if we really want him, it's going to take help, again, like we had with the triplets."
And that was really scary for me. Before we went through that–and it was true, I couldn't get pregnant again. And I really had to come to grips with, "What if it's more than one baby?" Our track record was that we dealt with multiples. And finally, I just had to get to the place where I said, I remember that voice like it was yesterday, that there was one more. And if God wants to send me another one–more than just Jonathan, we told Him we'd take them and find a way. And–but thankfully, it was just one and it was a boy. And we named him Jonathan, and he's basically the best.
Morgan Jones Pearson 12:40
Well, I admire your faith so much. And I think–I just think it's remarkable what you have been able to do. My uncle and aunt have triplets. And they are, what–18 months old? And I go over there and I'm like, "I have no idea how you've done this." So, you wrote when you found out that you were expecting triplets, you wrote, "God does not give us things we are not equipped to handle. Clearly he believes Dave and I could do this."
And I wondered how have both of you felt God's belief in you? Because I think that is one thing that lately I've been thinking a lot about how when somebody believes in us, it changes the way that we see ourselves, and it makes us want to prove that person right. So I think when we feel that God believes in us and thinks we're capable of something, we want to prove Him right. How would you say you've felt God's belief in you? And how has that changed your approach to life?
Dave Grygla 13:44
I mean, it's the same lesson that you learn so many times, that doing it alone is not as good as doing it with Him. And we have, we've tried it both ways, tried to do our own ideas about how things ought to go down. When you think you want a thing and it's more important than asking Heavenly Father for guidance and direction, and you do your thing and it comes out, it's a mess, and then you repent and you come back again.
So for me, it's . . . you can do amazing things, incredible things, but it's not going to happen with just you. You have to be able to remember who knows everything and who loves you and wants you to not only serve but also to grow.
Julie Grygla 14:31
And, you know, it's so interesting, because so many things that we talked about in that interview was all theoretical at that point. I mean, they were–they were still so little. They couldn't talk back, they like–I mean they . . . we were just keeping them alive, you know, and loving on them.
But I think I thought, "Well, God's not going to give Dave and I anything more than we can handle." And I think that's true, but I think God also knew the family that he was sending them to. And I mean like the greater family of both Dave's and my family, but also our word family. With our family . . . my dad, so you know, I lost my mom a couple years before I got married. And Dave convinced my dad to build a house up here and live up here so he wouldn't be alone.
And my dad–when I was pregnant with the twins, he showed up every morning at nine o'clock. Dave was still doing clinic back then and I was so sick and I had these little babies that needed me and I just wanted to die from morning sickness. And my dad would show up every morning at their morning nap time at nine o'clock, and he would load them into the triple jogger that I had–rain or shine, didn't matter. He'd show up in a full poncho and like rain boots on rainy days.
On hot days, he had like, come up with this sun, car window shade thing to put over the front and like a wet towel so that they would stay cool. I mean, he–and he loved it. He would come get them and they would get excited they'd know they were getting in the stroller.
And he would walk the six-mile Mayor's Loop around the river every single morning. And I would go back to bed. And then he would–and they would take their nap in the stroller, and you know, and then we'd made it through the rest of the day until Dave got home from clinic. And I think about what would have happened if my dad hadn't been here it would not have been pretty.
And as the kids got older and we tried to do Church, oh Morgan, it was so painful. They were everywhere. I mean, I'm sure you've seen with your–with your aunt and uncle's triplets. Like, they just–they go in every direction! And they use their numbers against you. And we–I was just like, why are we even doing this? And Dave's like, "We're going to Church!" I'm like, "We're going to Church."
But our Relief Society President saw how hard it was for us. And so they started assigning our kids a sacrament meeting family. And my kids, they knew exactly where their family sat. And during those really, really hard years–because you know, if you get a kid one at a time, you teach one kid how to sit through sacrament meeting and be reverent, and then when the next one comes along, you're like, "Okay, you too, like show your younger sibling how to do this."
But it was just sheer chaos on our row. And so we sent them, they–it was hard for me to let go. But I saw how good it was for us and how much those other families enjoyed having just one of our kids with them for sacrament meeting.
And my kids, they are so good during sacrament meeting. And it is not because of me. It is because of my ward family. They just took our triplets as their own. And Dave's parents have given us nights away when they see that we're at our breaking point. And so I–and they, I mean, they do so much for us. It's incredible to me. And I just think–I think that we thought that God was just sending us these children, but he really has sent them to like everybody in our sphere. And I'm like really grateful that I was not too proud to–I think God had to send me enough that I was like, "There's no pride in this, it's survival. I, yes, I will accept your help."
Morgan Jones Pearson 18:49
Yeah, well, I think that's so beautiful too, like the idea that we, you know, they say it takes a village and the idea that children can be sent to more than just their immediate family.
You wrote this about one particularly hard night during your pregnancy with the triplets and how your husband comforted you. You said this about Dave, "He woke up rubbed me, prayed with me and read me Moses 1 which we had just studied together last week. He said I was standing face to face with the adversary and needed to tell him to get behind me, that we have a greater work to do. He talked me through it again and again until I calmed down." Julie, you've written about how grateful you are that Dave is the person that you get to have this experience with. I wondered what have the two of you learned about caring for one another and not just your children through this experience?
Julie Grygla 19:51
You made me cry. Dave is my person. I . . . oh, that pregnancy was so terrifying. So I went into labor at 19 weeks and the twins, Brady and Christian are identical twins and they had twin to twin transfusion syndrome. And we went to LA to have surgery. It was really, it was really dicey. And they survived the surgery, but then I was on bed rest.
And I was basically in constant labor for the next 10 weeks and was on a lot of drugs to keep it at bay. And, and I was just always in a lot of pain. And I had a lot of time on my hands because I was alone and while he was at work. And I've always been really prone to discouragement. And Dave is this, like ray of sunshine. And he does not let me wallow in that discouragement for very long.
Sometimes he just jokes me out of it, and I let myself get joked out of it. But on nights like that night, you know, he knew that I had to keep my head in the game to keep those babies in me. And his faithfulness in telling me like, "You got to do more than just buck up little camper. Like you're staring right down the barrel, he wants you to fail, are you really gonna fail?" And he really like . . . he really just looks out for me and makes sure that I stay healthy. He makes sure that I eat, he makes sure that if I look like I'm ready to throw somebody in the garbage, "You know, why don't you go take a walk?" "Why don't–why don't you go down to–" his sister lives down the street from us, "Why don't you go see how Kelly's doing?"
Hopefully I–I feel like he takes better care of me than I take care of him, honestly. He's shaking his head, but.
Dave Grygla 21:55
I think–I think the point I was trying to make, and it's just gets truer and truer the more experiences I have, is that Satan–he hits you in your soft places, when you're the lowest. The adversary is–does not fight fair in life. And if you can recognize that he's working against you in those low moments, then you can also say, "Well, why? Why am I allowing him to have this effect on me or to be effective? Why am I losing this battle? Oh, yeah, I can't cast Satan out, but I know who can."
And if you exert faith, and optimism and hope, and you know, after a while Satan's deceptions and his power sort of fades away into the background and the real powerful things, love and feeling connected and a part of something important and feeling God's love for you, just sort of like all of a sudden, all those beliefs that came from Satan's effects sort of fade behind. And they're like, so unimportant and so trivial. But in the moment, it's like, "Oh, my gosh, he's right. I am going to fail. This is too much. Let's give up." So it's not–it's not a small thing to cast Satan behind you and to recognize that his power comes from deception and–
Julie Grygla 23:17
–and isolation. I mean, I mean, really, probably . . . again, I just thank my lucky stars every day that I married somebody who was older and more mature than I because he brings this like really wise perspective to our relationship.
And he is somebody who does not tolerate disconnection between me and him. Like, I was really good at, like, checking out when I was single. I'm like, "Yeah, this is too hard." And I'd tap out of social, whatever, until I could build my, you know, my battery back up or whatever. And when you get married, and all of a sudden, somebody's in your emotional space 24/7, and you start to realize all of your bad emotional habits, that's like really hard, and to have him right there saying, "What are you doing? Why? Why are you–why are you disconnecting?" "No, we're not gonna fight. This is dumb. We're on the same team."
Like, "It's not you against me, it's like us and the world. Like, you and me. That's what we did. We got married." And it took, it took a little while for me to realize, to internalize what it was that he was saying. But he is so good at saying like, "Honey, we're starting to feel like roommates. Can we go on a date? Can we like, can we find a babysitter? Can we, you know, can we just get out and away?"
And I'm like, "Oh, but the kids," and he's like, "The kids are going to be fine for like two hours." Like we . . . and I thought, 'Yeah, you're right." You know, it's hard. The kids are chasing you down the driveway, "Don't go mom!" And I'm like, "Are you sure?" And he's like, "Yes. We're leaving." And he's always, he's always right. It's always the right thing to do for us to connect with each other. Because if we're not on the same page, and if we're not actively working towards being on the same team, then when like things really come to a head at home with our kids, man, if we're not on the same page, the kids know it, and they . . . it is not good.
Morgan Jones Pearson 25:30
Yeah. Well, and when you have a situation where you cannot play man to man defense–
Julie Grygla 25:35
No, no, it's all zone all the time.
Morgan Jones Pearson 25:38
Yeah, that's bad news. I wanted to ask you, Julie, one thing. So one thing that we talked about back in 2014, was your mom's passing. And you mentioned that your mom had passed away, and that prior to her death, that the two of you had kind of butted heads, and that you weren't sure you wanted to have children and that you gave your mom a little bit of a hard time about devoting so much time to her family, rather than other endeavors.
And, and then you said this, "She got really hurt one day when we were having one of these conversations. And she said, 'This is the best thing I've ever done with my life. And to hear you talk so negatively about it really hurts my feelings.'" And I think this is so interesting, and I appreciate your humility in sharing it, but I think this is so interesting because of where you are in your life now. And so I wondered what you would say to your younger self about that, now.
Julie Grygla 26:46
A knee jerk reaction is to be a jerk to myself. Like, "Oh, you don't know anything." And I sort of said as much to Dave. And he's like, "Julie, you don't get to where you are right now without being the person that you were back then." And I . . . I think he's right.
I have apologized to my mother many, many times in prayer over the years, especially the last couple of years for having that attitude towards her. Because I think I thought that maybe she became a mother because she didn't have anything better to do. I don't know, I was such a jerk. I had all these dreams for myself and things that I wanted to do and thought, "My mom's a smart lady. Why didn't she want to do any of these things?"
And it wasn't that she didn't want to. I realize now it was because she . . . she knew where the real value was. And I tell you what, she was converted to motherhood I think from the moment that she came into this world. I think she–I think she had such a testimony of it. And for me, it has been a harder . . . has been a really hard and painful journey to truly be converted to the divinity of motherhood.
And sorry, I'm like super weepy about it. I'm like, in the middle of some, like really–learning some like really hard things about myself about things that have kept me from like really enjoying–really enjoying motherhood and I feel like every day I learn something more, but boy it is not for the faint of heart.
Morgan Jones Pearson 28:45
Well, having six kids three and under I think could affect the enjoyment. I don't know. That's just a hunch. But something in my heart tells me that that could have–bear sway.
Julie Grygla 28:57
Yeah . . . yes, yeah. Yeah, I guess that's fair. I mean, I cried the other day, my um, the nanny that we had, we had a full time like helper for about four years, four or five years and she sent me this video that popped up in her memories of two of the boys pointing a shovel at me and saying, "You will board my boat. You will board my boat." And I just started bawling. And Dave's like, "What is the matter with you?" And I'm like, "I don't remember that at all!"
Morgan Jones Pearson 29:37
It's all a blur.
Julie Grygla 29:41
"I don't remember any of that! Look how cute they are. And it's on my nanny's phone, not my phone." And so, you know, there's been some grieving of not having some of the mother–let's be honest, Morgan, not one piece of my life has played out the way that I expected it to. And so I've had to learn how to like, let myself grieve what I expected it to look like and then like, and then get on with it. Because there's like–it is what it is. And it's beautiful. And is it is as God intended. And I don't know, maybe someday I'll get to sit in a room with a remote control and watch all those memories that I don't have right now.
Morgan Jones Pearson 30:28
Yeah. I wanted to ask you about you've shared multiple times over the course of the last eight years about times where you felt your mom close to you, and her concern for you as you have been on this adventure. And I wondered if you could speak to that?
Julie Grygla 30:48
Yeah. I think that our family that is on the other side of the veil is so much closer than we realize. And I think that . . . I sort of–I think early in my motherhood years, I looked towards women that I felt were mentors and sort of asked them for their advice and looked to them for, you know, am I doing a good job or not doing a good job? And, you know, I think that helped fill some of the gaps sometimes but I have found, especially over the last–probably the last six or eight months, especially as I have just decided, it doesn't really matter what any other moms are doing.
It's–including what my own mother would have done. It really matters what God wants me to be doing as a mother. And the things that he's asking me to give up to be the mother that my children need is not the same thing that he's asking other mothers to give up to be the mothers that they need to be to their own children. And I think that that's really what my mom was saying to me all those years ago, was, "I've given up all of–I've given up a lot of my dreams that I had as a young girl to do this greater thing, which is motherhood."
And God did not ask me to sacrifice my education or a career that I loved. That wasn't–He let me, He allowed me the opportunity to do that. It was good for me, it was good for my family. But there are other things that I have loved that he has asked me to give up that have been really hard. But I realized that as I, as I put those things on the altar and resist the temptation to snatch them back off and sneak them away hoping He won't notice, that conversion to motherhood of realizing if I can let go of those things, I feel like that's when I have felt the closest to my mother is when I realize the level of consecration that she was at.
It didn't mean that she didn't have interests and that she didn't have fun and she wasn't her own person. But those things–they couldn't become . . . they couldn't become false gods to her. Things that she wanted to do more than doing what was best for her kids. And I think I really felt her presence so completely.
Our triplets just turned eight last Friday. And I don't think that Dave and I gave birth to one shy child. Do we have any shy children? No. In fact, we had a stranger once when we were on vacation say, "You know, you really should teach your children about the danger of strangers."
And I'm like, "Did they call you brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, friend?" And they're like, "Yeah, they called me their cousin." I'm like, "That's how they view the world. I don't know what to tell you." And as a result, I have given them each 10–they're all in different classes, and I'd given them each 10 invitations. I said please just quietly invite 10 of your friends, we'll have a pool party. We have our bouncy castle. We'll just have a good time cake, pizza," whatever.
Well, my kids were like, "10? I have like 25 kids in my class." So they handed out all of their invitations. And then they started handwriting the invitations on pieces of paper and giving them to these kids. And I had parents RSVP and I had no idea who my kids had invited. I only found out afterwards from the teachers that this is what they had done and I had over 60 kids in my backyard.
Our pool–I was like, "Oh my gosh, what am I gonna do?" And I have the best friends in the world they sat up their chairs along the side of the pool they're like, "We've got this, we'll lifeguard." And I only had to break up one fight, we had zero cake leftover. I mean, it was amazing and I could not stop laughing the whole time. And I just kept thinking, "My mother would love this." And, and I just felt like she was right there standing next to me laughing with so much joy at the chaos.
I'm one of 11 kids and I have nine brothers and for her it was like the dirtier the messier and the more rowdy it got, the happier she was. And so I felt like last Friday's party was like a culmination of this journey that I've been on to have like motherhood be the focal point of my life, if that makes sense.
Morgan Jones Pearson 35:57
Yeah. Along those lines, I'm curious for both of you, because you both have, you know, impressive resumes, educational background, and you wrote Julie, on the blog once, you said, "I'm trying to cherish this time by focusing on the good, while also trying to find just slivers of time here and there to remember who I am. And what I love to do so that when they do start to go their own ways and not need me quite as much, I have no regrets about wishing this time away. But I also have a good hold on my own identity."
I wonder for both of you, how have you been able to maintain your own sense of identity, while also becoming parents to a lot of children?
Dave Grygla 36:50
I'm not the same person.
Morgan Jones Pearson 36:53
He's like, "I have completely lost my identity. This is a terrible question. Next."
Dave Grygla 36:59
It's really interesting to try to go through this experience and pretend that you haven't been like really fundamentally changed by it. I'm not–I don't have the same interests I had. When Julie and I married our first date was in my airplane because I was a pilot and we flew from Spanish Fork up to Midway and went to have lunch and it was fabulous. And we flew the airplane for our entire court ship. And it totally disappeared. It went out of my life. Just because, you know, the children started coming. And I haven't figured that out yet. Right now, being a husband and father is my thing.
And my work at the hospital, especially during the last several years the work at the hospital has been sort of a calling for me. So I appreciate–I appreciate the question, but I'm not sure, I'm not sure the premises works, like how do you go through the, how do you go through the crucible and be unchanged by the experience?
Julie Grygla 38:06
At the risk of like, exposing too much of our personal journey. What I thought about when I read your question and thought about it, I–my answer was, "Oh, so foolish of me to think that I could retain this sense of identity."
Because–not because like my kids have sucked my life out of me but because I don't feel that way at all. So I recently suffered an injury that took me out of running. And I thought, "Oh, I've had six kids. Johnny's four years old, we're not having any more children, I can get back to running."
And I found this really great group of ladies to run with and I just loved them so much. And I felt like oh my gosh, I have friends again and I kept feeling the whisperings of the Spirit of, "You're running too much." And I'm like, "No, I'm running at like five o'clock in the morning. It's not hurting anybody." And I kept hearing the whisperings and ignoring them. And finally I had an injury that I couldn't run through anymore. And it was devastating.
I mean, it's been my identity since I was a teenager. And I really, I mean we did everything. We did steroid shots. We did–we did PRP injections and it wasn't getting better, it was getting worse and I really struggled with my identity. And incidentally, my friend–one of my best friend–she sent me the All In Podcast, where you had Sam Brown on and he's talking about his book of essays that he had just published and I listened to the podcast and I thought, this is a book of essays I need to read.
And one of the essays he writes about, I can't remember exactly the title of it, but it was something about like the lie of living like the authentic life, you know, or the problem with it. And the most powerful concept in that essay that really changed the course of my life is basically–God does not care about Dave's identity as a doctor and my identity as a former runner, or as a former professor, or any of those things, the identity that He cares most about is, am I a follower of Jesus Christ? Do I take care of my fellow man? Does everything fall away in the face of following what Christ has asked us to do, which is to love God and to love our neighbor?
And that's been a really, it's been a long journey over the last six months–I guess it's been more than six months, probably eight months. Since then, we discovered I've got an autoimmune arthritis . . . that–we're getting, we're getting there. We're figuring it out, but been a lot of pain and trying to make sense of all of that.
And recognizing that, God's like, "You know what? Running is really great, Julie, but what I have for you is so much better." And when I was first grappling with this concept, without walking on the trail, because that's all I could do was walk and I literally said out loud, I said, "How could anything be better than how I feel after a run?" I mean, that literally like that came out of my mouth. But I meant it, and I let myself feel it.
And, and I just continued to ask the question, "Okay, God, if there really is something out there that's better than this thing I've loved my whole life, I'm here for it." And there have been miracles that have happened in my life by walking that journey. And I, I think I can more confidently now say, than ever before that my aim, every day that I wake up is to do what the Lord wants me to do, to be the wife and partner that Dave needs. To be the mother that my children need. To be the daughter that my dad needs. To be the friend that my neighbors need. And you would think that that might be boring, or look, I don't know, I thought it was going to look sort of Stepford wife-y. I mean, this is like really the arguments that I was having with God out on the trail, walking–to my disgust.
And He just taught me and He showed me and my life is so much better as a disciple of Christ than it ever was, as Julie the runner, Julie the musician, or Julie the teacher, because all of those things, they'll come and go, but the love of my Savior doesn't ever go anywhere. And following His example and His words, I mean, you–my gosh, is there anything, is there any reward sweeter than than feeling the spirit testify of His love and His gratitude? I mean, I don't know. Maybe that sounds cheesy, but.
Morgan Jones Pearson 43:52
No, I don't think that it does. And I think–I love that because it kind of goes full circle with what we talked about earlier about submitting to God's will for us. And I think it's something that's a lot easier said than done. In practice looks a lot different than it does when we like read in the scriptures. And it's like, "Oh, yeah," like, "I can submit my will," but it's a lot harder in practice.
I want to come back really quick, though, to what Dave was saying about, you know, being fundamentally changed by this experience. And it reminded me of something else that you said on the blog, you talked about how you kind of had to reframe your thinking regarding the value of being a mother and you've recounted several milestones in the lives of your children.
And then you wrote, "These things didn't just happen, I have to keep telling myself that. I prayed, I listened, I acted, and I worked and worked. It came at the expense of my comfort, my freedom and the interest I developed during my 33 years of non-motherhood. But it also has knocked away the rough edges I developed with that comfort and freedom. I'm a better person today than I was six years ago." So I wondered now, two years after writing that, and Dave, like you said, you know, recognizing that you're a different person, how would you both say that you're a better person as a result of this experience that you've had over the last eight years?
Dave Grygla 45:23
Well, one surprise is that things seem just as hard as they ever did. Like, you face difficulty, and you're like, why is everything so hard? It never stops being difficult, because it's always new stuff. And you're, and you're facing it from a different point of view. I guess, to me, the confidence that the way of life that I've chosen keeps working and keeps bringing me closer to Heavenly Father continues to grow. And so I'm going to persist in that, that's pretty much it for me.
Julie Grygla 45:58
I am probably much less of a loose cannon than I used to be, I used to have–my gosh, I would pop off at the mouth so quickly. Oh, I had a comeback for everything. I was quick to anger, I was quick to cool down, but you know, you leave like, you leave a lot of destruction in your path. And seeing like what that does to a kid who, you know, Dave's like, he can take it, it's not fun. But he like, you know, he knows that I love him.
But, um, but to see what my sharpness would do to my kids, I have really–I've had to grow a lot in my character. It's true, I mean, you really have to be thoughtful about how was reacting this way gonna affect my child? You know, and just because I haven't bothered to feed myself today, or, you know, or I'm feeling tired, or I'm feeling overwhelmed. You know, do they deserve to be at the sharp end of that?
And I mean reality is everybody's going to be on the sharp end of everybody at some point. But, but definitely, I think a lot of those rough edges have been knocked off by having to really think about–I think about the times that adults were sharp with me as a child, and I remember those, and they're so painful. And I do not want my children to have core memories of that. So I think that's one way that I have become a much better person than I was eight years ago.
Morgan Jones Pearson 47:39
Well, I appreciate both of you so much. I appreciate your honesty. And I think that's what we need. That's one thing that I–anytime somebody is on the show and they're honest, and share their experience, I think there's a lot of value in that. So my last question for you is, what does it mean to you, to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Dave Grygla 48:05
For me, it means keeping my spiritual life alive in all the different parts of my life–professional, with my spouse, and my church service, and as a father, trying to keep that constant and treat people like I've been given the opportunity to treat–to be as if the Savior were there taking care of them. Thinking about my professional life, especially as a physician, that's a great responsibility. And I just want them to feel cared for and loved. And so that's what I try to do.
Morgan Jones Pearson 48:42
Julie Grygla 48:45
I mean, I've talked a lot about my, like, my spiritual feelings about what it means for my heart to be all in. But . . . gosh, and I've heard you ask this question to so many people and I, at the end of every episode, I think, yeah, what does it mean for me to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? And it's a great, it's like my Wednesday, my Wednesday writing prompt, you know, but today, I feel like the thing that comes to my mind is when Dave and I flew off to our honeymoon, we . . . like the sort of type A oldest children vibe that we had, sat down and wrote, you know, the goals, the pillars that we wanted to build our family on.
And the one that has persisted is that we always wanted our home to be a safe haven for people who are seeking refuge from the storm. And that meant being real with people. And when people asking us how we're doing, I mean, we just went on spring break with our kids. It was a total dumpster fire, like it was not fun. And it was–it was not fun. And people are like, "How was your week?" I'm like, "Oh my gosh, it was the worst," and they started laughing and they're like, "Oh, I'm so glad somebody else had a horrible spring break."
You know, and we've tried to make a home where when people walk through the door, they can feel the Spirit. They know that they're welcome here exactly how they are. And it doesn't matter what path they've walked or where they are in their journey that they're safe here. And I think that that's–that's sort of the approach that Dave and I have taken in him and his professional life and me in cultivating, and really curating our home.
Sometimes the kids will be like, "Mom, why are we listening to gospel voice today? It's Tuesday." And I'm like, "Why do you think?" My six going on 16 year old daughter, she goes, "Oh, because you're trying to feel the spirit?" And I'm like, "Yes, I'm trying to feel the spirit," you know.
But they know, they know that when I don't feel the Spirit that I'm going to actively do things to try to bring that back in, because . . . and I think that they don't necessarily have the words for it right now, but I think that they sense it and they can sense when the Spirit leaves and they're very sensitive to it. And so for me to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ is to live in a way that the Spirit can always be with me and that the people around me can feel the safety of that spirit. Not that they feel safe around me but that they can feel the spirit of Christ's love and feel that safety there.
Morgan Jones Pearson 51:48
Thank you both so much. This has been such a treat to catch up with you again and I am rooting for you always.
Julie Grygla 51:56
Morgan Jones Pearson 52:00
We are so grateful to Dave and Julie Grygla for joining us on today's episode. A big thank you to Derek Campbell for his help with this and every episode of this podcast and thank you so much for listening. We hope you have a wonderful week and look forward to being with you again next week.