Mormon Woman: Kathryn

My name is Kathryn and I recently emailed my fabulous meatloaf recipe to my only daughter, but I added a warning: “If you take off your wedding ring—especially during deer hunting season–put it in a safe place.”

When my daughter was in high school, we lived for a year in a town of nine hundred people. There were no streetlights in the entire county and you had to drive over two hours just to buy fast food or a ticket to see a movie. One day I slipped off my diamond wedding ring; mixed ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, vegetables, and spices with my bare hands; and popped it into the oven. I was exhausted by the time we had devoured that yummy meatloaf and cleaned up the kitchen.

The next morning I looked down at my left hand. Where was my wedding ring? I checked all the obvious places, but no ring. I wondered if I had set it on the counter, carelessly wiping it into the trash. I checked under the sink, but my husband must have grabbed the trash on his way to work. In this tiny town there was no trash pick-up at your home; a landfill truck randomly emptied a few black dumpsters located on the outskirts of town. I immediately called my husband at work and he offered to retrieve the garbage bag he had just thrown into a dumpster.

A few minutes later he called with the horrible news –the dumpster was empty.  However, my husband was not worried. He had seen a deer carcass in the dumpster, so if we drove to the landfill first thing in the morning, we could locate the deer carcass and the diamond ring was certain to be near by.

I felt optimistic because I believe in miracles.  I prayed fervently that I would find my wedding ring.

The sun had just barely peeked over the mountains when we pulled up to the landfill nestled in the middle of an isolated valley.  I saw a bulldozer already spreading the previous day’s trash. I began scanning the acres of shredded white garbage bags and bits of paper for some sign of a deer carcass–I saw one!  And then another and another … and another!  This was deer hunting season and we counted at least twenty deer carcasses poking out from the bulging waves of trash. The bulldozer guy thought we were crazy, but he pointed to the approximate area where our town’s garbage might be located. For one hour we rummaged through the smelly trash.

I sat in stunned silence on the ride home. I couldn’t believe it. I had lost my diamond ring.

When we got home, I threw myself on my bed and sobbed.  First I was crying for the lost diamond ring, but then I started mourning every loss in my entire life.  I cried because I lost my father in a storm when I was eight years old and because I lost my sweet mother in that same accident.  My mother suffered a traumatic head injury and I grew up with an angry stranger who barely resembled the woman who had gone sailing with her husband on date night. I cried because my ex-husband had decided he hated the Church and he hated me, so he divorced me. My three little kids and I lost our beautiful home in the divorce. I also lost all my friends when we moved to Utah to attend graduate school.

I cried because I had recently quit my full-time teaching dream job in order to marry a man who worked in an isolated town where the people hated outsiders, killed deer by the dozens, and where my children were treated like pond scum.

I wept for several hours and then I finally prayed for peace and understanding. Eventually, I realized we could survive all our losses, because the Atonement of Jesus Christ has the amazing power to heal all our wounds, to restore our peace.  I just had to ask…and so I did.

A couple days later we were eating dinner and my ten-year-old son said, “Mom, look–your ring.”

I said, “That isn’t funny. You don’t make jokes about something like that.”

He pointed to the pepper grinder sitting on the dining room table, “Look, Mom — YOUR RING.” We all leaned closer to look and sitting on top of the silver knob was my wedding ring.

I no longer live in that small town, but I still lose things. Recently I lost my good health– but just like when I lost my ring, it has become a tutoring experience. I also try not to seek for happiness in landfills anymore. When I believed that I could only be happy if I was the size of a super model–that was absolute garbage. When I believed that happiness came from having the acceptance and admiration of other people– that was like looking for a diamond ring in a stinky landfill; I only found failure and tears.

I have found happiness by seeking only to please God.  Through obedience and seeking to understand His will, miracles continue to find me.  I have also found peace by searching the scriptures. The Lord promises that “ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)  I have searched for the Lord with all my heart and I have found Him. His light and love is far brighter and more precious than any diamond ring.