Latter-day Saint Life

Ever felt like your ‘testimony bucket’ is empty? Here is some advice from a mother who’s been there

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Doorly Winegar
Photo by Jessie Boyd

Editor’s note: The exact moments the Savior shows up in our story may vary, but His role is the same. He comes to save. To save us from pain, stagnation, sin, fear—the list could (and does) go on and on. The Savior of us all offers to rescue us all from anything that impedes our joy or progress. And this precious Easter season gives us cause to celebrate and meditate on that beautiful truth. The mortal journeys of God’s children are evolving and complex, and they rarely feel to us like a straight line forward. But wherever we are or wherever we’ve walked, in each of our stories the comforting line repeats: because of Him, because of Him.

In this series, which first appeared in the March/April Issue of LDS Living magazinewe explore the way the Savior can help us take the unexpected chapters in our lives and turn them into something beautiful. The following comes from Doorly Winegar in Arizona.

My teenage son lay on the living room floor in excruciating pain. Nothing my husband or I did seemed to help. As I sat on my couch staring at him, as clear as day I suddenly heard, “Your son has cancer.” I thought that was the most random thing that had ever crossed my mind; I just thought he had the flu. I told my husband, “I really think Joey has cancer.” And to my total surprise, he said, “I just thought the same thing.” Within 36 hours Joey was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Joey and his mother Doorley Winegar.
Courtesy of Doorly Winegar.

Earlier that year, I had felt very inspired to set the goal of going to the temple every single week for the year. Within the first six months of setting that goal, my father-in-law passed away suddenly while snorkeling. And then my father passed away and I couldn’t get to the Dominican Republic soon enough for his funeral, which tore me apart. Then we ended the year with Joey’s diagnosis.

In addition to these trials, my husband has also been wrestling with deep concerns about things that happened in the early days of the Church. He asks me how I stay faithful, knowing all that I know and with everything we’ve been through. My answer always goes back to my relationship with the Savior. There was a time in my life when I made mistakes and couldn’t hold a temple recommend. And even though some of my friends walked away from me because of things that I did, my bishop, my husband, and, most importantly, my Savior were with me every step of the way.

The Savior gave me the inspiration about what I needed to do next to get back. I felt remorse, but He also helped me feel joy and peace when I needed it most. That’s an experience you can’t ever deny. The Savior compensates for every other worldly problem. He’s never left my side, and I just can’t ever leave His.

My husband recently told me that he feels like he has two buckets of testimony—one for Joseph Smith and the Restoration and one for Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father—and both buckets are empty. He said he doesn’t know where to start. I told him to start with his bucket of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, and I promised him with all that I am that his bucket is going to overflow, and everything will fall into place.

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The Winegar family in 2023.
Jessie Boyd

My faith in the Savior that I’ve carefully built allows me to confidently make a promise like that. My faith also gives me perspective and joy. As we went through Joey’s treatments, I felt deep sadness for him and was overwhelmed by the unknowns, but I never felt despair. I never felt alone or without hope. And it’s all because of Him. I know it sounds cliché, but I think I can do anything with Him by my side.

Just because I went to the temple every week doesn’t mean that my life was devoid of trials—on the contrary, I got every trial that you can think of that year. But I was able to overcome them better because of my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And I promise the same can be true for you.

▶ You may also like: Questioning if you’re good enough for your calling? What a 26-year-old bishop realized about God’s perspective

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