It seems the only phrase I’ve heard in my lifetime more than “cleanliness is next to godliness” is “endure to the end.” There have been seasons when to simply endure was the best I could manage. At one point, I was struggling with severe post-partum depression after the birth of my third son in four years, and attending weekly therapy sessions where I was forced to relive the trauma of my childhood experiences. It was a good day if I was able to keep the boys fed, clean, and safe…even if I spent hours curled up in bed crying. It was the best I could do with an almost non-existent support system. I didn’t want to endure, but considered it a commandment of God so I did my best.
After a year of trying to pull myself together by shear will, faith and prayer, I finally accepted the fact that I wasn’t getting any better. With a heart burdened by failure and pain, I sought medical help; the game of medical roulette began. During the process of trying different medications and dosages, I took the baby and went to visit my mother. One morning she saw me taking a pill and asked what it was. When I informed her it was a prescribed antidepressant, she replied, “What do you have to be depressed about? You married a returned missionary in the temple and have three healthy children! You’re a member of the one true church.” Then she hurled the clincher. “If you had enough faith, you wouldn’t need pills!”
There it was again. The look of disgust and disappointment in my mother’s face as the sting of her words pierced my already wounded heart. But in reality, she was only repeating the words I’d been telling myself for over a year. I was a disappointment to her, God, and myself for my lack of will power, faith, and happiness. I was a failure as a wife, mother, and daughter. And I wondered what more could I possibly do that would turn my life around? Ah, yes. Just do MORE of the same…more temple attendance, more service, more prayer, more time reading scriptures and conference talks. That should do it!
When I told my mother I was doing my best to meet the demands of every day and endure to the end in spite of the depression, she responded, “But if you aren’t enduring cheerfully, it doesn’t count for anything.”
At that moment, she spoke my death sentence…spiritually and temporally. All those long agonizing months of sleepless nights, breathing through the pain, praying for increased faith, caring for my family in spite of the exhaustion, and enduring minute by minute were counted as naught by God? All because I wasn’t smiling through the process? At that point, my hope for a brighter future dissipated. I would never be good enough for my family or for God. It was time to throw in the towel and admit defeat. If living each day to the best of my ability was of no consequence to God or my family, then I’d end the battle. But I failed at that, too.
Enduring to the end in Mormonism has five requirements:
First is the acknowledgment that Jesus Christ has the redemptive power that will make us clean enough to return to Heavenly Father’s presence. We must repent daily and take the sacrament weekly. This is a double-edged sword as one is only able to repent of a sin once. If the sin is repeated, not only will forgiveness be denied, but responsibility for the previously repented sin returns. Also, according to the Book of Mormon, one must be worthy to take the Sacrament or risk being damned.
“For whosoever eatheth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul…” (3 Nephi 18:29)
The second requirement is dependence on the Holy Ghost to guide and sanctify us. Third, serving others in the church. Fourth, sharing the gospel of Mormonism. And fifth, maintaining faith in Jesus Christ through fasting, prayer, and scripture reading. Of course, all this must be done “cheerfully.” That one word branded me as an utter failure!
Now that I am on a course of increased understanding in regards to the teachings of Jesus, I want to know what “endure to the end” really entails. What does that look like? I don’t have the answer to that question…yet.