Many ask, “What is this life about? What do we want from it? What are our hopes?”
For Courtney and Rachelle, those questions drove them to make extremely difficult decisions.
Courtney and Rachelle
Courtney grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where the main teaching of Church is that marriage is between a man and a woman. For her, she felt something on the inside that was conflicting those teachings. Inside, she was holding desperately onto a secret, “where Satan lived in this secret,” according to Courtney. Her life was in opposition.
Rachelle came from a family that knew of a god but was not religious. When she met Courtney, they fell in love. Rachelle knew of Courtney’s life as a member of the LDS Church. However, their love surpassed what Courtney knew. It wasn’t until attending Courtney’s sister’s wedding, when their feelings about their life together began to change.
They knew what needed to happen after meeting with missionaries for several months and having read to the Book of Mormon. They faced the most difficult decision in their lives, filing for a divorce. It was through meeting, marrying, and divorcing that Rachelle joined the Church. They both have felt a great love from their Heavenly Father and knew they wanted to do what they felt was necessary to do His will.
My heart ached for Courtney as I continued to get wrapped up in their story. I related to how desperately she wanted to feel love from her dad. While watching, I reminisced on my relationship with my own dad. I thought about the support I didn’t get from him when I joined the Church, prepared for my mission, and eventually was sealed to my wife in the temple. Though our experiences are different, my heart rejoiced for Courtney when she reconnected with her dad. I felt of the love and great compassion.
Being a convert, I could also relate to Rachelle. Growing up we each only had an idea of religion and a belief in a higher power but not much more than that. I felt excitement for her when she was willing to listen to the missionaries, knowing a change was coming. I also knew that the willingness to sacrifice things in her life would be required as well.
For me, I didn’t have much to change, but taking on something new was difficult. It is hard to imagine what she felt. I was deeply moved by the choice they made. I sensed the deep emotion and heartache they must have has when they made the ever so personal decision to divorce. They were giving away what they created. Soon after their divorce, Rachelle took upon herself the name of Christ. They felt God’s arms wrap them in a loving embrace. This was their confirmation that they made the right decision for themselves.
I believe (not doctrine, but my own view of life), that our Father in Heaven has created multiple paths for us. Through our moral agency we are left to choose for ourselves. Whichever path we take, He already has planned out the result. It is what we do to obtain it, that is up to us individually. We must remember He loves us unconditionally. We are His children. It is a commandment to love one another, regardless of the circumstances.
Watching and listening to their story unfold my heart opened and I felt great love for them. Their choices were their own. I am not promoting either side of this story. We are each given the ability to make those choices for ourselves. Whatever your stance is on this topic, I find great strength in seeing their willingness to make sacrifices to do what they saw was right for their situation. As they put it in their story, it is His will and we must submit ourselves to it in order to receive all the blessings He has in store for us.
The more I thought about this story and the underlying principles that were taught in it the more I thought about the sacrifice that both Courtney and Rachelle had to make. LDS.org give this definition of the word sacrifice: “To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater purpose or goal. Sacrifice has always been a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a reminder of the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all who have lived or will live on earth.”
Each one of us are asked to sacrifice things in our own lives. For some it may mean giving up something we love or enjoy, for others it might be our time or monetary sacrifices. Regardless of what each of us is asked to give up, if it is for a greater purpose or goal, and more importantly, if it involves the gospel of Jesus Christ, then the reward is well worth it.
Sometimes, however, the sacrifices we are asked to make don’t necessarily seem so clear or easy. These sacrifices are the ones that I often feel are the hardest. It’s clear to see that giving up alcohol or coffee has blessings attached to it, same goes for tithing. What happens when you can’t see the reason for making the sacrifice though, or when it doesn’t make sense? In the end it is important to remember that it is not our place to judge others on the decisions they make in their lives. Our purpose is just to love and strive to understand one another.