Mormon Woman : Behka

My name is Behka and I have been happily married to my husband for almost 13 years. Yikes! That sounds like such a long time! I have 7 children, but 2 of my sons passed away as infants to a rare genetic disease. My husband and I are carriers of the disease, so we like to refer to ourselves as ‘genetic mutants.’ So we are raising 5 children ages: 12, 10, 8, 4, and 7 months. And still hoping for more!

I was born and raised LDS, so I was baptized when I was 8 years old. I am from Auburn, WA, just outside of Seattle. Right now I live in Utah. I am in the business of motherhood – and have been for 12 years now. I love it! It’s the only career I have ever wanted. It is so fun watching these sweet children grow up. I promise it does get easier as they get older! In church, I serve as the 2nd counselor in the Stake Young Women’s organization, and it has been by far my favorite calling yet.

I live close to other LDS people, and every Tuesday and Thursday mornings I get together at one of our church buildings with other women and we play basketball. Most of us there have played college ball, so it is very competitive and very fun. We all bring our kids that aren’t school aged yet and they play together while we play. I have also found that as my children get older, whatever they are doing becomes my current hobby – I can’t count the number of basketball, volleyball and soccer games I have watched, cheered at, and coached the past year. I will never get tired of watching my kids play. I also enjoy running, reading, hiking with my husband, and spending time with the family.

I have always known that God is real and that Jesus Christ is His son. I have had many experiences in my life that have strengthened this testimony. The most powerful experience I had was when my second son was dying. I think it is in the most difficult circumstances that Jesus Christ is able to come to us and strengthen us because we realize that we cannot cope on our own, and so He can show Himself to us in an undeniable way. I would like to share a journal entry about this experience. To preface this, we brought our son Josiah home from the hospital on hospice care when he was almost 5 weeks old. They told us he wouldn’t survive the 1-hour car ride home, but I didn’t think it was his time yet. We got to spend 10 extra precious days with him. It was wonderful, but it was still very hard. Here goes:

There is a certain amount of energy required to prepare yourself for the death of your child. It is the most humbling experience to pray to Heavenly Father and tell him it is ok to take back His precious one. You have to give everything you are to Heavenly Father, to align your will with His, because accepting the inevitable death of one so dear is against all natural instincts of a parent. We want to fight it, to do something to make it all better. The times we thought Josiah was going to die and didn’t, proved to be the most exhausting experiences of my life. Partly because of the anguish associated with death, partly because of the spiritual exercise of stripping myself of all pride and selfishness, partly because recognizing if now wasn’t the time, it would be soon enough, and the stress of carrying on in life while death is knocking at the door is excruciating.

The Tuesday night before Josiah died was the worst of all, but was also the turning point in my true acceptance of God’s will. As I lay in bed watching Josiah’s ribs exposed and listening to the crackle of his lungs each time he struggled for a breath, I couldn’t contain my tears. Why does one so innocent and pure need to suffer so? His frail lungs weren’t strong enough to fight off the pneumonia. He wasn’t going to get better this time. I knelt down and from the depths of sorrow and despair I cried to my Heavenly Father. I was painfully aware of my weakness and inadequacy. I didn’t feel equal to the task of watching by as my baby son suffered bitterly, fighting just for breath. I didn’t feel equal to the task of losing him, either. I painfully realized that the only way his suffering would end would be for him to be free from his body. Each realization and admission stripped off the layers of my natural man, one by one, exposing my bare, broken soul. I knelt in a crumpled heap of darkness. In this moment of desperation, I gave everything I could to Heavenly Father. I even gave up my favorite sin of omission and covenanted that it would be a strength from now on, pleading with Heavenly Father that He would comfort Josiah and stop his suffering, knowing what that meant. The despair of death was overwhelming. I closed my prayer. “I lay this burden at Thy feet and pray thy will be done. In life or in death, Thy will be done. I pray for strength to go on, either way.” I climbed back into bed and pulled my son close as sleep overcame my exhausted body.

As it always happens, even after the darkest of nights the sun rises every morning, bringing light and hope of a new day. I sincerely didn’t think Josiah would be with us when I woke up, but he was. Peace and confidence surrounded me. Death still loomed near, but it was no longer a blackness of despair. The stress, strain, and despair were gone. I had given my broken heart to Heavenly Father and the Atonement of Jesus Christ bound it up and gave me strength and courage to go on. ‘I can do this,’, I thought, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” I would care for Josiah until his life’s mission is complete and then I would cope with his death because I had the strength of Christ in me. I had looked death in the eye and no longer feared it; let it come when it may. For the first time since his first surgery, I was able to enjoy Josiah living without fear of him dying. Time is such a sweet and precious gift.

I am so thankful I was prepared for Josiah’s death. Through the process of aligning my will with God’s, my natural self felt peace and my spirit was able to recognize spiritual things. If I was still afraid of his death and holding on to Josiah’s life, I may have missed one of the most cherished experiences of my life as he passed away.

I know that Jesus Christ lives because every time my heart has been broken, through disappointment, despair, sin, or whatever, I have prayed to my Heavenly Father that my heart will be healed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I have been healed. There is no power of man that can do this. It is only through the power of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have learned that it is possible to be HAPPY amidst the difficulty of life. Being a Mormon Woman does not mean I enjoy a life of ease and simplicity. But I love my life, with all the adventure and demands of a family, and I am happy!
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