How My Ward Ministered to Me after My Divorce
September 2021

“How My Ward Ministered to Me after My Divorce,” Liahona, September 2021

How My Ward Ministered to Me after My Divorce

The author lives in Idaho.

As a single mother, I often felt alone and overwhelmed, but I felt the Savior’s love for me through the many acts of service from ward members.

author with her children

Photographs courtesy of the author except where noted

There is peace in Christ

When we learn of Him.

Feel the love He felt for us

When He bore our sins.1

Those are a few of the lyrics from the song “Peace in Christ,” which I played consistently in my home for a full year after my divorce.

My kids may have tired of me playing the same song over and over, but it helped bring me peace through the trials that the four of them and I have endured recently.

“Divorced single mother” is a title I never wished to receive. But life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect, even when you are trying to keep the commandments.

After 16 years of marriage, my husband and I got divorced. I was completely distraught and had to push away thoughts of devastation and worthlessness every morning as I awoke to my new reality. I often wondered if I could have done something differently to avoid this overwhelming course my life had taken.

When Family Isn’t Nearby

Because we had moved from Arizona to Idaho several years ago, I had no family nearby to love and support us. I often felt completely and utterly alone in my sorrow.

But I wasn’t alone. The Savior Jesus Christ was with me, even in my darkest days and nights. His face showed through the faces of my ward family. My bishop and his sweet wife met with me and were there the night I realized my husband and I would be getting divorced. They were heartbroken for me and for my children.

My bishop continued to call and check on me in the difficult months that followed that night.

Pumpkin Carvings and Priesthood Blessings

author with couple who ministered to her

Brother and Sister John ministered to me and my children in so many ways. They have been an example of Christlike love.

My ministering brother had been with us since we first moved to Idaho. He made many efforts to befriend my then-husband. Not only did this good brother visit us monthly, but he also called or texted to offer his assistance when I stubbornly told him I didn’t need anything.

After my separation, he and his wife became ministering partners, and they lovingly, and without judgment, met with me often. They invited us to sit with them at the local Independence Day parade and to join their extended family at a barbecue.

Our ministering brother found out my children’s favorite characters and carved them into plastic pumpkins for Halloween. They have helped us string Christmas lights, prepare our home for winter, spray our weeds, answer the children’s questions about electronics, and dig my van out of the snow. They brought me the softest blanket as a Christmas gift, which has comforted me many nights when I’ve been lonely and uncertain of what life would bring.

But the most important act of service was the many priesthood blessings this kind brother bestowed upon me and my children. He truly was an example of the scripture, “They did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness” (Mosiah 23:18). So many times, when my anxiety felt like it had reached its peak, he and his wife would come over to talk with me, and the conversation would end with my receiving a priesthood blessing.

He gave my children priesthood blessings before the school year started. He participated in my daughter’s confirmation. This loving couple’s generosity has been an example of Christ’s love for me and my kids.

An Unexpected Bond of Friendship

author with Relief Society sisters

My friendship with my Relief Society president (second from right) and other sisters in Relief Society has become one of the most amazing blessings in my life.

I also saw Christ in the face of my angelic Relief Society president. As soon as she heard I was struggling, she took me to lunch and let me spill my emotions and found ways to relate to me with her own life experiences. She texts me often to make sure my children and I are OK. She and two other women in my ward began inviting me to dinner, to go on walks, and to attend the temple with them. They’ve helped steam-clean my carpets and paint rooms. One of them taught me to dye and cut my own hair so that I could be more self-sufficient. The four of us have created a bond and friendship I never knew was possible during such a difficult trial. Their friendship has become one of the most amazing blessings in my life.

As Sister Elaine S. Dalton, former Young Women General President, said, “Your righteous influence and friendship can have an eternal effect not only on the lives of your associates but also on generations to come.”2 These ladies have made a profound impact not only on my life but on the lives of my children as well; they buoy me up and give me the strength to remain the mother my children need me to be.

We Were Never an Assignment

bishop with family of author

Our bishop regularly checked on me and my children.

Though the bishop, ministering couple, and Relief Society president were called to serve our family, it never felt like we were an assignment. And so many others, who had no obligation whatsoever, have shown love to our family.

Two anonymous parties delivered gifts to my children at Christmas. The young men have done yard work, a ward member changed the locks on my doors, and a few others helped with my computer. We’ve received coupons to the pool, been treated to fun at a local water park, and been invited to numerous dinners and movie nights where we could relax with friends and be ourselves.

One sister, while babysitting my children, took them to the store to choose birthday presents to give to me. Another sister did the same with my children at Christmastime.

We’ve also received flowers or treats from people even when there hasn’t been a special occasion; they just wanted me to know I’m loved, thought about, and cared for.

I can testify that what President Jean Bingham, Relief Society General President, says is true: “Sometimes we think we have to do something grand and heroic to ‘count’ as serving our neighbors. Yet simple acts of service can have profound effects on others.”3

Even a small gesture helps me know that Christ hasn’t left me alone to deal with the unpredictability my life has become.

They Kept Us Where We Need to Be

simulated scene of the resurrected Savior greeting Mary

Photograph of simulated Bible scene by Welden C. Andersen

There is peace in Christ. When we sincerely and selflessly care for those around us who are struggling with major life challenges, we really can help them feel the unwavering love and peace of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I know my Heavenly Father has blessed me and my little family as we made the trek away from family in Arizona to live among strangers in Idaho. Those strangers have become like family. Their Christlike love and examples have helped to keep us strong and where we need to be.

My children and I are eager to serve after seeing how much service impacted our lives. We are living testimonies of what can happen when disciples of Christ follow the pattern of ministering taught in Moroni 6:4: “Their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.”

I am grateful for my ward family, who remembered and nourished us so that we could keep our hearts turned to the Savior.