January 8th, 2013 by admin

58 Comments

An Unfinished Story

An Unfinished Story

Kimberly White

At A Glance

First married at age 18, Kimberly White emerged from an abusive marriage to earn a degree from BYU in philosophy and marry in the temple. She is the mother of five children, one of whom was stillborn, and currently lives in New York City. She shares her thoughts on the unfinished stories of women who struggle with suffering children, the death of a loved one or trials of every kind.

I was raised in the church. I have seven brothers and sisters. Many things about my upbringing were wonderful, and yet not everything was wonderful. There was a constant background noise of never knowing when I was going to be hurt or insulted or ridiculed because of family dynamics.

In my early life I had a number of times when I would feel overwhelmed by the sad part of my life, frustrated and helpless and very, very lonely. It wasn’t obvious outside the family that there was a problem. Nobody knew that it was rough. But I felt like everything was horrible, and I knelt down and said a prayer and He answered me, as a young child, with comfort and assurance that He was there and He was watching over me.

Then I became a teenager. The teenage years are complicated and you get stupid.  I ended up becoming bitter at my situation and I left the Church and I left my home. I ended up married to a person just like the mean people already in my life. It’s a cliché. I was continuing to play out those patterns of abuse.

I became pregnant with my oldest daughter at 18. She was born when I was 19, so I was very young. When I was about 7 months pregnant, I was in a car accident. I started going into labor and at the hospital they told me that if I delivered, the baby probably wouldn’t survive so they were going to try to stop the labor, which they ultimately were able to do.

But I was very scared. As I look back now with the eyes of an adult, it’s clear to me that the doctor who came into the ER to care for me was respectful and comforting and behaving the way a professional doctor should behave to a young mother in a panic. I really appreciated him, but my husband at the time decided that he was flirting with me, and he became so angry he wouldn’t let that doctor come back into the room and actually decided that he wasn’t going to let any male doctors anywhere near me. But at the same time, he wouldn’t himself take responsibility and tell the nurses and doctors, “I’m mad. Don’t let the doctor come back in.” He made me tell the nurse that I didn’t want the doctor to come back in, that I didn’t want to see a man. This is the sort of life I was living. I was afraid all the time. I was blamed for things that were not my fault.

The baby was born a few months later. That day my husband was mad at me for a number of things, so it was a very unpleasant experience having the baby. After she was born, my husband went home to take a nap, and there I was in the hospital, nineteen years old and alone with this baby that I didn’t know what to do with. I thought, “How did this become my life? I’m a smart person! I could have done other things!” It was awful.

For the first time in a long time, I remembered those experiences I had when I was young where I prayed and felt comforted, so I started to say a little prayer, asking God to help me out, and my prayer was interrupted. I felt or heard a voice, not a happy voice, but a stern voice, telling me, “This is not your daughter. This is my daughter. And you are in no position to take care of her.” And I realized that it was true. I was now responsible for another human being, one of Heavenly Father’s children, and I wasn’t in a situation where I was able to give her what she needed. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t living the gospel. I felt the full force of the decisions I had made. I felt what it meant not just to my life but to hers that I had chosen to become bitter about the problems in my life and had stopped turning to the Lord for help. This is what I’d ended up with.

I felt the full force of the decisions I had made. I felt what it meant not just to my life but to hers that I had chosen to become bitter about my problems and had stopped turning to the Lord for help.

That was it. In a matter of weeks, I left my husband and moved back home.

So quickly!

It’s a hard thing to do when you’re caught up in a relationship like that–it’s hard to get out of. But I just couldn’t forget that I was responsible for a human being and that I needed to get it right.

The divorce itself was difficult. My parents were very, very supportive of me. Everything they could think of to help me out, they did it. But, they didn’t have unlimited funds and they were in the process of moving an entire household across the country. A friend of a friend handled my legal work pro bono. On the other hand, my ex had a team of 4 lawyers. It was ridiculous. He wanted to take custody of this small child whom I knew wouldn’t be safe with him. It was a terribly lonely and frustrating experience.

This was one of the first times where it became clear to me that the goodness and support of other people is so important when we’re experiencing trials. There are many times in my life where the Lord spoke to me and comforted me directly. But this was a time when the Lord mostly spoke to me and did His comforting through other people.

My old Young Women’s leaders were so nonjudgmental. I had left the Church in a big dramatic show and then I’m back in two years divorced with a baby. Nobody said a word of criticism. It was just, “It’s so wonderful to see you here again.” I had been so afraid when I was going back to Church that people would treat me as the bad seed. But nobody did. The kindness and consideration of the people who were in my parents’ lives, and in my life, so blessed me.

Kim with her daughter

I was given custody of my daughter. My husband was granted visitation initially and it went very, very badly. The divorce dragged on for a couple of years. All I could do was wait around for the legal system. Finally, he lost all of his parental rights. It was very hard, but I never lost the sense that I was responsible for this human being, that she was Heavenly Father’s child and not my own. It was about what I needed to do for this child of God.

Had you gone to college before she was born?

I had not. I didn’t even graduate from high school. After she was born, I took the GED and enrolled at a community college. I was able to transfer to BYU after a while. And so I went through BYU as a young single parent.

My parents had moved to Salt Lake City. At first I just commuted to BYU. But I didn’t want to be the kid who got in trouble and moved back home and grandma raised her daughter. I didn’t feel like that was what Heavenly Father had in mind. I wanted to do it as much as possible on our own. I had to take out student loans, but we got our own apartment in Provo. A horrible, tiny, dark basement apartment. She was young enough she didn’t care and I figured, “Well, at least I’m going to college.”

I was able to pay for some daycare and I was able to take her to some classes with me. When those options were exhausted, my brother, who was a freshman, and his six pre-mission roommates in Helaman Halls would take this two year old girl. They would watch her for 6 hours or however long I needed. They were amazing babysitters. There aren’t a lot of nineteen year old boys who just think it’s cute and funny that they’re babysitting two or three times a week. And these guys did. It was a wonderful blessing. So I was able to make it work all of those years at BYU, working and going to school full-time. I eventually got a scholarship that helped, too.

It must have been a very small demographic, being a single mother at BYU.

Oh my goodness, yes. I loved BYU. It was a great place to be, but I had no peers. There is actually a single parent group at BYU, but it was mostly women whose husbands had left them after 25 years. I admired those women, but it was a very different situation than mine. I never met one other young single parent. I had friends, and I even had friends with kids, but they were all married. Having a social life was awkward.

My parents were always supportive of my single parenting. There were times when we were in the habit of their having my daughter every Friday night through Saturday so I could work or finish papers or do things that were hard to do otherwise. It couldn’t have been done without their support. I feel like I was really lucky to have so much support. But at the same time you can’t get enough support to make single parenting easy. You can’t get enough support to make being alone and without peers easy.

What did you study at BYU?

I studied philosophy. Not a very practical choice. But it’s my personality. I took classes about some of the more obscure points of doctrine. It was an amazing thing to study.

Philosophy brought into focus—though it didn’t solve—two big issues I had to sort through. One was the problem of evil. Life can be bad! And it’s not your fault. How does that mix in with there being a God? If you’re put in a family with an abusive person, you didn’t do anything to deserve it and yet you have the consequences your whole life. My daughter didn’t do anything wrong, yet she had some traumatic experiences in her early life with her visitation and now she was being raised by a single mom who couldn’t be there for her. I remember one time having to ask her daycare teacher what she thought she’d like for Christmas because I wasn’t sure. That’s terrible! It was my fault, not her fault.

The other issue was, what does it mean that the Lord had comforted me in my childhood and then I left Him? What kind of standing had that left me? Do you lose your salvation entirely if you do that? I knew there was a God. I knew that He cared for me. And yet I had left. What does that mean?

I felt that my behavior had probably disqualified from the highest levels of heaven, but I decided that would be fine. I felt the love of the Lord, and I was so grateful for whatever the Lord was willing to give me. I could be a ministering angel. I had no problem with that.

But then I started to think, as part of raising my daughter, I wanted to go to the temple, like an adult. When I went to the temple, I was taken totally by surprise. To be told that my sins were forgiven struck me so powerfully in my heart. Forgiven means forgiven. You don’t disqualify yourself. This is what life is for. Everybody messes up. I feel like I hadn’t understood what the Lord’s forgiveness meant until I was in the temple

It must have changed your view of yourself.

It really did. I’m not a person who could have been a good person and then blew it. A person who can be a great person can be a great person at any point. You never blow it! I feel like I had never quite understood the Lord before. Not just to know that for me the possibilities were still endless, which is a wonderful thing, but to know that the kind of God I’m dealing with is one who doesn’t keep score! He doesn’t say, “She’s pretty good, but remember when she was 18? She knew better.” He’s not doing that. He’s saying, “Repent, and we’ll get you right back like it never happened.” He’s not holding on, so we don’t need to, for ourselves or for other people. Among my biggest regrets in life is that I hadn’t gone to the temple earlier. I felt a powerful difference in my life afterwards.

It’s an inspiring story!

The inspiring stories we tell in Church, they’re all true. There is no miracle the Lord can’t perform, He is full of mercy. But often, telling things in the form of stories leads to this idea that if you’re keeping the commandments and if you’re a good person, everything wraps itself up neatly. Life doesn’t have the structure of a story. It just keeps going on and on, like a movie where they keep making too many sequels.

I thought at the time—this was so naïve—that my experience with the temple was so powerful that I would never do anything wrong again. Why would I ever go a day without reading my scriptures? And of course that’s not how we are. Life is less pretty than that. I’m still forgetting to read my scripture. Surely the Lord has done everything He needs to do to convince me that this is important, and I still forget.

Life doesn’t have the structure of a story. It just keeps going on and on, like a movie where they keep making too many sequels.

I feel like I want to talk to you about some of the things that have happened recently because they have had such an impact on my life. I feel like it would be unfair to leave them out.

So, thinking of the notion of stories, here’s mine: I had a difficult home life and then a crazy abusive husband, and single parented for all these years and finally, just before I finished at BYU, I met this wonderful man and married him. My husband adopted my daughter, and we had other children and we had a close, splendid family, and we all lived happily ever after. That’s a lovely end to the story, if that were the end. Those things did happen, but it wasn’t the end. Important things have happened since then.

My husband and I went to England for him to get a master’s degree a number of years ago. I was pregnant with my fourth child, our third biological child together. I cannot tell you how much it felt to me like I was living out the happy ending of a story in the Ensign: I went to the temple and I got married and everything was wonderful.  I had a wonderful husband, and two adorable little boys. Our oldest daughter loved her dad and was growing up so big and pretty. I was having another baby and we were living in England surrounded by wonderful people. I felt so happy and so blessed.

One day my husband came home from Church and said, “We had an elder’s quorum lesson today and it really struck me. The teacher said, ‘Bad times will come to everyone, and it’s hard to build up the Spirit when you’re struggling and suffering. When things are going well for you, you should devote time to the Spirit and build up reserves so when the bad times come, you have a lot to draw on instead of having to pick that moment to start reading your scriptures or start praying.’” We were both really struck by that idea because everything was so perfect in our lives. We had the time and energy, so we felt inspired to start getting up about half an hour earlier every morning to read scriptures together, which was lovely.

Right at the end of this pregnancy—I was a full forty weeks—I happened to have a regular check-up.  My boys loved going to the doctor, loved listening to the baby’s heartbeat. I chatted with the doctor, and my little boy climbed up on the table. He said, “I want to heaw the heawt.”

After a minute, the doctor said, “Why don’t you get down, honey. We’re not going to do that today.” Because there wasn’t one. There I was in the doctor’s office with two boys and no heartbeat.

It was very rough. The worst part of things like that, seriously, is that you don’t get to just respond emotionally. You don’t get to break down and cry. Because there are logistics that you have to work out. Someone has to reach your husband. Someone has to take care of the boys. Someone has to pick Caitlyn up from school. All of these mundane, earthly things that have to be dealt with.

I was very lucky. I’d just run into my neighbor so I knew she was home and wanted my boys to come over. So that was taken care of. I was able to reach my husband easily. I had a friend with a car so we could get to the hospital. So those things got worked out easily. But still, when tragedy drops into your life, you should be able to just faint like in the movies. But no, you have to work out all these little steps. It’s insulting. The whole world is falling apart and I have to find phone numbers and make phone calls.

I had called my husband.  I had dropped off my boys. I was in my house alone, sitting on the ground with my phone, waiting for my husband to come, waiting for the situation to resolve itself somehow. I remember having this distinct sense that since I hadn’t broken down and cried or responded emotionally yet, I was completely capable of going one of two directions. I could say, “This is not fair. The Lord has betrayed me. I didn’t deserve this.” And I would be fully justified. No one would blame me. That way was fully open to me.

But next to this there was an option that I could say, “I know the Lord and I trust him and I’m just going to bow my head and do this thing that He apparently has called me to do.” I decided that, while I might be justified in being angry and upset, there was nothing to be gained in that. It wasn’t clear to me how there could possibly be any purpose in losing a child, and in losing a child in this way. But I decided I was just going to give the Lord a chance to show me that it was OK.

And so, that’s what I did. I bowed my head and went to the hospital. They did the ultrasound. The child was dead. We hadn’t even known if it was a boy or a girl. With this sort of situation, you want to have a C-section immediately, but they only do C-sections when either the child’s or the mother’s life or health is at risk. When the child has died, the operation is a serious risk to the mother so you just have to wait and deliver the child in the normal way.

We were back in the hospital only about 24 hours later. It was a very difficult delivery. If the baby had lived two days longer, she would have just been delivered alive, without any other problems. It turns out there was a knot in the umbilical cord. Which is almost never a problem, but in this case, for some reason it got pulled tight, and cut off.

One of the really difficult things about having a stillborn baby is that church doctrine does not tell us anything about the status of unborn children. I know people walking around today who were delivered earlier than my daughter. They are alive! People I know who lost infants find great comfort in the idea that their baby got a body, that they got to see him, that he served his purpose. I, on the other hand, can’t get any doctrinal solace because doctrine doesn’t say what the rules are for a child who dies before he’s born. So in addition to the trial of losing a child, we couldn’t draw on gospel comfort because the doctrine isn’t there. I suppose that’s something I could have become very angry about.

But I decided not to get angry. Nobody said church doctrine tells us everything that is true. We have prayer and we have the Spirit when doctrine doesn’t answer our questions. It gave me comfort to know that just because something isn’t answered for the entire church, that doesn’t mean it can’t be answered for me and my husband. We can get revelation directly. Just because I can’t say to anyone else, “The spirit enters the body before birth,” I know what the Spirit told me. It would be nice to know that everyone in my religion agreed with me, but it’s not necessary.

When something like that happens, you spend years having up days and down days. As much as I think the Spirit confirmed to me that this fully-gestated 7 ½ pound human female was a real person with a real spirit who would be resurrected and saved like everyone else, other than having that assurance, I never, ever from the Spirit or from any other source got any inkling or indication or even foggy idea of what sort of purpose this might serve. It doesn’t make any sense. And frankly, if you gave me the reason, I probably wouldn’t like it. But, as it became clear that there just wasn’t going to be a reason given for this one, my husband and I decided that if the Lord was giving us a trial that wasn’t going to have an explanation, that it was up to us to find a way to get a benefit.

So we used this as an opportunity to think about things we wanted to change in our family, things we wanted to do in our lives, things we wanted to repent of, that we’d never been able to fix before. It has turned into one of the great blessings of my life to have made the decision to do that. When I think of Elizabeth, even though we never met her, I can say, “This is the positive impact she had on my life,” because of the things that we chose to do.

That attitude, that approach, has proven so useful in smaller trials: the trouble finding a job, someone’s having trouble at school, I don’t like my calling. It has given me the option in my own heart and my own mind to say, “OK, this is bad, but what can I pull out of it? What can I do in response to it that’s going to be a good thing?” It’s amazing, but you can always find something to make your life better.

I think often in the Church we talk about having trials as if there’s something about having a trial that makes us learn. But actually, that’s not true. There’s a lot of agency involved in how we respond to our trials.

There’s a lot of agency involved in how we respond to our trials.

I’d never say that I’m glad I went through that experience of losing a child. If I had a time machine and could go back in time, I would, and I’d change it. But since I don’t have that option, I have been very grateful that I learned to respond the way I did. I feel fully reconciled to whatever it was the Lord was trying to do because it has ended up being a blessing.

That would also have been a lovely end to my story: I had this big trial, and I got through it, and Kimberly White’s life just went on all lovely. It has not gone that way.

I would have loved it if the loss of a baby was the final difficulty of my life. As the years have gone by, more difficulties have arisen and not been resolved. We were able, about a year after Elizabeth died, to have another little girl, which was a great blessing for us. She’s been wonderful. We always thought we would have another child and never did. I know I’m not in any position to talk about that kind of pain when there are people who never have children at all.  But, when you want something and it’s a righteous thing and you know of no reason you shouldn’t have it and yet you don’t get it, that’s still hard. I cried a lot and suffered a lot.

Most recently, our sweet little oldest girl, whom I single-parented for so long and whom my husband adopted to raise as his own, has had difficult problems. Right now she’s in a psychiatric hospital.  I don’t know how it’s all going to play out in our family life. My daughter is struggling so much right now. It’s too raw. I can’t talk too much about it.

You know that there are things you could have done better, that you should have done better. And if your children grow up OK anyway, you can wipe your brow and say, “I guess it wasn’t too bad.” And if they struggle for any other reason, because of mental illness or other traumas they face at school, or just their personality, then as a parent you can’t pretend that it wouldn’t have been better if you had been a better parent. But at the same time, you can’t beat yourself up. Nobody’s a perfect parent.

If I could pass a law for the Church, it would be that nobody is ever allowed to say, “The reason my seven children all went on missions and got married in the temple is because we always had family home evening.” Or “I gave them a blessing at the beginning of every school year, and that’s why they’re all OK.” In my experience, that’s just not true. The world is more complicated. I never heard a prophet say, “Everything in your life will go OK if you have family home evening.” They say, “You’ll have more of the Spirit in your home. You’ll have more inspiration, be better able to help,” not that you won’t then struggle.

I’m actually kind of glad we weren’t able to schedule this interview earlier but are doing it now right in the middle of this trauma with my daughter. I wouldn’t want this interview to sound like a story that was finished. Life just doesn’t work that way. Or at least it doesn’t work that way for me. I think there are a lot of people who just never settle down to ease and happiness.

The Lord has this whole vast church to run and the people best equipped to be in positions of leadership are the ones whose lives are stable. Everyone has trials, but some people have fewer than others, and those are the people He should use as church leaders. They’re not going to be falling apart all the time.  We often see that our leaders have children faithful in the church, they have jobs, they have hobbies and big full lives. But it can be difficult for other people looking at that. They may think, “If you’re more righteous, if you’re good enough to be the Relief Society president, you also get this kind of a life.” That idea creeps into the Church sometimes. I just don’t believe that’s true. Obviously it’s not true. I mean, Abinadi got burned at the stake.

What might be a helpful way to tell the stories of our lives?

The way we frame the stories of our lives for each other matters. It‘s true that there are people who come back to the Church and people whose lives are saved by loved ones. It’s just that it’s also true that there are people who never come back and people who die and people who suffer from horrible diseases for years and years and years. We forget that for some of us, the happy ending isn’t going to come in this life.

In this most recent conference, someone told a story of his daughter-in-law who had had three or four children and then she was unable to have more. I really resonated with that story. Although I know it’s much worse if you can never have any children, I appreciated its being acknowledged that being unable to bear a child is a painful thing even if you already have children. But then the story ended that she went on to have two more children. Tell a story that doesn’t end happily! Tell a story where she just found other ways to be happy. For a lot of us, that’s what we have to do.

God puts us here, knowing we won’t be perfect. He gives us children, knowing we’re not always going to treat them right. He gives us callings, knowing we’re not always going to do them right. I’m not always the kind of person I wish I was. This whole messy, muddy business with all these complications and uncertainties, the grunginess of mortality: this is the plan! He sent us, fallen, to let us fight it out.

If this messy, complicated mortality with all its pains and miseries and unfairness is the plan, if all this serves a purpose for our Heavenly Father, how sacred and wonderful all of these messes and pains must be. There is something divine and purposeful about what it means for us to struggle through all of this darkness.

There’s one way of looking at the gospel that says, none of us are good enough to deserve the exaltation that the Lord has promised. Maybe only a very, very few of the most righteous will really deserve to become powerful gods. But I look at it differently. I think if we get out of this life, having made any kind of a consistent effort, with all of the noise that Satan throws at us and all of the difficulties of just being a person, what a wonderful thing that is! People who have done that have really earned great blessings.

Anyway, I hope so.

At A Glance

Kimberly White


Location:
New York, NY

Age:
38

Marital status:
Married at 18, divorced at 20, married at 25

Children:
5 total: age 18, 11, 10, 6 (our deceased daughter would have been 8 )

Schools Attended:
BYU

Languages Spoken at Home:
English

Favorite Hymn:
“Praise to the Lord”

 

58 Comments

  1. Tori
    6:35 am on January 9th, 2013

    Beautifully said, Kimberly. Thank you for sharing your story…so far.

  2. Valerie
    6:44 am on January 9th, 2013

    Wow! Stunning and very moving interview. By far the best interview I have read on this site. Kimberly, thank you for sharing the unfinished stories of your life. I have been living with an unresolved problem (a huge trial) for more than 25 years and have searched high and low and everywhere in between for answers, help, healing, miracles, and peace. I feel like I finally got an answer today by reading about your life. Thank you, thank you for this beautiful interview.

  3. Shelley Baum
    7:04 am on January 9th, 2013

    How wonderful to see you Kim and to catch up on your life. You are amazing and strong! My prayers go out to your daughter and to you.

  4. Rachel Pierce
    8:21 am on January 9th, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your unfinished story, Kim. You and your family are in our daily prayers. We love you!!!

  5. Lacy
    9:41 am on January 9th, 2013

    What a beautiful, honest, moving interview. Life is messy and complicated. Acknowledging that is a powerful thing–something I wish we as a community did more of. Thank you, Kimberly, for doing that here.

  6. Amanda
    10:43 am on January 9th, 2013

    What a beautiful and honest story! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Rosalyn
    11:02 am on January 9th, 2013

    I loved the honesty here–I think we do need to be more open about struggles in the church, since the truth is that everyone struggles with something. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Annette Pimentel
    11:17 am on January 9th, 2013

    From the Interview Produver: Kimberly’s words have rung in my ears ever since we spoke. I want to develop hope like hers!

  9. Becky Otteson
    11:24 am on January 9th, 2013

    Kim, I was touched as I read the family stories that you chose to share.
    I needed to hear some of your thoughts on the why and when of our trials, thank you.
    And thank you for… just the way you told your story, my story, everyone’s story.
    We love you all.

  10. hayley
    11:38 am on January 9th, 2013

    your story shows amazing strength, i can t find the words i want to say. I struggle with metal health issues i would n t wish them on my worst enemy , i pray that your daughter will get through her difficulties. thank you for sharing, god bless x

  11. Karen G.
    12:17 pm on January 9th, 2013

    I came into the church as a single mother. There is so much that makes us into who we are that comes before. It is a lifelong journey of accepting the forgiveness ourselves that helps to make us into who we can become. Still vulnerable and very much alive trying to figure out what unconditional love really means.

    Thank you so very much for sharing your continuing journey.

  12. Camille
    12:18 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Thank you for you story and perspective Kim; I really admire your strength and hope. Like Rach said, you all are in our prayers as you navigate this new challenge. xo

  13. Deb
    12:47 pm on January 9th, 2013

    I loved reading this… I loved the sense and clarity Kim shows. And I completely agree that we need to get over feeling like we need to appear perfect. The truth is that no one is. So let’s make it easier on everyone by not putting on that front. Thanks for sharing your ongoing story. Hoping for the best for you and your family.

  14. Heather Fortuna Bush
    12:58 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Beautiful.

  15. Anna K.
    2:27 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Incredible story. It’s an interesting thought that the reason our Church leaders seem to not have the trials that us mere mortals have is that they have the capacity to be leaders where others of us are spending our capacity coping with trials. It’s almost like at any given time some of us are called to be leaders and some of us are called to have a certain trial.

    I definitely know of local and Church-wide leaders who have survived and stayed faithful through awful trials, and in some cases I think it is their trials that prepare them for leadership. So I know it’s not always the case that our leaders have perfect lives, but at the same time I recognize the feeling of looking at our leaders and feeling like my life is so different in X way. I like your (Kimberly’s) thoughts as to one reason why that might be.

  16. Megan Mead Fife
    2:35 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Hi Kim,

    Loved reading your story. There is so much strength in sharing in each others lives, and your story strengthened me. Say Hi to Zac, and best of luck with your daughter…our prayers are with you.

  17. Kristin McElderry
    3:17 pm on January 9th, 2013

    What a raw, honest and inspiring story. I resonate with the concept that “happily ever after” may be imperfect in this life and that sometimes life is a chaotic struggle. I also love that you talk about how we have to use our agency to learn from our trials — that is so true!! Thanks for sharing your story.

  18. Jana Porter
    3:19 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Thanks for sharing these intimate details of your life Kim. Even though our trials are different I could relate to a lot of your feelings–but you were able to put it into beautiful words. I could especially relate to you wanting the world to stop when your daughter died but having to go through these awful mundane realities of life instead. I wish you the best on your continuing journey and in your current trials. I’m sure miracles will happen now as they have in the past.

  19. Jason Fletcher
    4:21 pm on January 9th, 2013

    I met Kim(bert) when we were 16 years old at a gifted academy, and when she says she was smart, that vastly understates the case. I’ve known her to be an extraordinarily insightful, vivacious, engaging woman and writer for years and years. My heart has hurt for her when she’s encountered the pain she tells about, and I have been glad that joy has poured back into her life. And she also has become not precisely wise (she would likely deny it, but humorously) but rather a container for wisdom so that others may drink the rich blessings which come from God.

    Thank you, my friend, for inviting me to read this, and happy birthday.

  20. Kristy Lloyd
    4:24 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Kim, I appreciate the honesty in your story. If more of us were honest like this, we would feel and show more love, judge less of our fellow Sisters and rely more in the merits of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Doug and I are also praying for your family and your current trials. We can all use an abundance of the Spirit, can’t we?

  21. Merralee B
    4:57 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Kim,

    This is so beautiful and so painfully honest.

    As parents, we never want to see our children or our grandchildren suffer. The way you have responded to your trials is an inspiration to all of us. You have blessed many, many lives by your strength and your example.

    Through all this, you have made our family times so fun!

    Love you lots

  22. Emily N
    5:04 pm on January 9th, 2013

    That was so wonderfully told. Kimberly, you are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts.

  23. Julie
    6:07 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Amen.

  24. Kate
    8:04 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Kimberly, thank you so much for your honesty and insight. You have a refreshingly realistic way of looking at things. While you have been through so much, I have no doubt there will be many joys (with the difficulties) to come. Love & prayers for you and your family.

  25. Shayla
    8:09 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Wow, Kimberly, what a beautiful & touching story. The last paragraph might be my favorite. Your experiences have taught you so much. So, so powerful.

  26. Hailey
    9:17 pm on January 9th, 2013

    I just read it for the second time and cried again! Kimberly, thank you so much for doing this!

  27. Stephanie
    9:17 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Loved it. Thank you for sharing. Love you!

  28. Rich White
    10:23 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Great insights of the wrestle with mortality we each must make and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ helps us to overcome.

  29. Claire
    10:39 pm on January 9th, 2013

    Kim, the church needs more honest, real people like you! Enough with how outwardly perfect everyone’s lives are! Your story has touched me deeply and I want to thank you for sharing your life’s lessons thus far. I consider your messy, unfinished story to be of much greater practical use than someone’s perfectly hidden story. I would appreciate being able to contact you via email.

  30. Audra N
    6:39 am on January 10th, 2013

    Wow! What can I say? Kim, that article touch me to my soul. Thank you for sharing and being so open. I appreciate it more than you know.

    This life is complicated and can be hard at times. My heart and prayers will be with you and your family. Thanks for sharing. Life isn’t perfect and it was great to read your words this day. I’m headed to the temple this morning and can’t think of a better way to have started my day than reading your interview. Thank you.

    Hugs and much love to Caitlyn and your whole family!

  31. Karen Burton
    6:47 am on January 10th, 2013

    Kim,
    I have loved you since I met you, and after reading this I have even more respect and admiration for you and your views about living the gospel. Thanks for your honesty and your integrity. Best wishes to you and the family, and esp your sweet daughter.

    Prayers,
    Karen

  32. Jen Galan
    11:30 am on January 10th, 2013

    Thank you so much for this. I needed to remember these things today. Thank you.

  33. Mishqueen
    1:52 pm on January 10th, 2013

    I totally agree with you about telling stories with a different ending. Don’t tell the story about how the Atonement made everything in their life perfect again; tell the story about how someone achieved happiness despite nothing in her life changing. I think there is a great need for examples of how to be like Christ in a very unChristlike environment. Sure, it’s pretty rough and not a very comforting story. But it’s certainly not out of the reach of the Atonement, and more people need it than not. :)

  34. Shasta
    4:06 pm on January 10th, 2013

    I appreciate your story. I really agree with you- life doesn’t give the happiest of endings. I love this and I do wish stories were told about the endings that needed to happen to change an attitude about something. I love my life, trials and all. I have also noticed that in my life, the trials I go through are only made worse by my negative attitude at times. Thank you for the reminder.

  35. Sabrina
    8:07 pm on January 10th, 2013

    Beautiful, honest story. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Life is messy and difficult.

    I do agree that most stories told over the pulpit at church or General Conference are ones with some happy ending already having happened. However, I do, very poignantly, remember President Monson telling a story in conference a few years back about a single mother trekking across East Germany, I believe (but don’t quote me on that and I am too lazy to look up the details right now), after the Russian occupation began after WWII. This woman ended up watching all of her children starve to death and had to dig their graves with a spoon. It was a horrific story. I was bawling. In the end, I believe his message was that despite going through something of that gravity, this woman still had happiness and hope through the Atonement. Anyway, a story like that is always memorable, but I think it stood out to me in the same way your message stands out to me…that mortality is hard and riddled with trials and we all stand in need of Christ’s grace.

    Thank you for that reminder once again. I wish you peace, comfort and guidance as you deal with the trial you are currently facing with your daughter.

  36. Rebecca
    10:11 pm on January 10th, 2013

    Thank you so much for your words. They brought tears to my eyes and comfort to my soul.
    xoxo

  37. Judi Main
    7:22 am on January 11th, 2013

    Kim, you have been precious to me since I first saw you and received a message for you. I miss you loads. I love and miss your daughter as well. Please feel free to share my contact info with your daughter. She is welcome to anything she wishes to know about my personal and family journeys with mental health. Prayers to you and yours.

  38. Carin
    9:36 am on January 11th, 2013

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story~

  39. Barb
    7:42 pm on January 11th, 2013

    Kimberly,

    Has it always been this easy for you to be so candid and transparent? You tell the truth very plainly, taking responsibility for your life without excoriating yourself. I love talking to you because you’re so honest and whole and healthy. You never point the finger – you just share your own life lessons. I’m always grateful for your insights and ever grateful for your friendship, which has been a huge blessing. Much love.

  40. Anna
    10:37 pm on January 11th, 2013

    I was thoroughly moved by this interview, primarily because I have said nearly those exact words about “life being messy.” I especially resonated with, “…how sacred and wonderful all of these messes and pains must be. There is something divine and purposeful about what it means for us to struggle through all of this darkness,” and the part about, “If I could pass a law in the Church…”

    I wanted to jump up and down saying, “I second that! I second that!”

    My grandmother recently passed away, and I feel her near me quite often. When I’m in the muck of messes and pains, I often think of her and how she would view them now that her trials are over. I imagine her being a type of hand-holding mentor, and it gives me just that little much to pull through. Mostly because I know there’s an end… even if it’s when we take our last breath. The messes will end. Things will get sorted out. I don’t know how, but I trust that someone does. And I WILL find out someday.

  41. Kim
    12:25 am on January 12th, 2013

    Thank you for sharing. One scripture that has always been a favorite of mine is Luke 1:41-44, because it clarified for me that just because a baby can’t live independently from its mother till it’s born, a baby is still a real little person with a spirit! This passage tells of Elizabeth who is expecting John the Baptist speaking to Mary who has revealed she is expecting Jesus, so the two boys are cousins. The scriptures say the babe leapt for joy at the news of Jesus. It doesn’t say he kicked or was just randomly moving his limbs about… It says he (John the baptist) leapt for joy…he understood spirit to spirit who the Savior was & the significance. I think he and Jesus were about 6 months apart, but I am not exactly sure. & the Holy Ghost confirmed to Elizabeth. These two women had such pivotal roles for eternity! I love that story. I feel it was an answer to prayer for me. I am sorry about your dear baby. Thank you again for your candor, you are helping others through your struggles and testimony .

  42. Michelle
    2:04 pm on January 12th, 2013

    Wow. This went deeper into my heart than anything I have read online for a long time. Thank you for showing that it is possible to express honesty and faith in such an accessible way.
    I just wanted to agree with another commenter that yes, there are non-happy endings shared, too. Remember Elder Bowen’s talk about the loss of his infant child. . . I loved how he even talked about his doubting and other negative emotions, so that I knew he really did understand.
    I had many of the same feelings when I lost my baby boy to an identical way of how your sweet Elizabeth died (and at nearly the same gestational age). I like your point that the story is not over yet for any of us. What gives us hope is to know that one day all will be well with the Lord’s covenant people.

  43. Terri
    6:13 pm on January 12th, 2013

    Beautifully told story of how the Lord will support and love us through our trials. And, yes … as I am experiencing yet another one I know HIS love will see me to the bitter end. Someday I know I will be able to look back and see the many times, ways, and people He used as He blessed my life. Thank you for your honestly. I also know that your sweet daughter has your blood running through her veins, in time all will be well with her.

  44. Jamie B
    8:43 am on January 13th, 2013

    Thank you, Kim. What you shared was very personal but very inspiring. You’re an amazing woman and a wonderful example of faith and hope and perseverance.

  45. Elizabeth
    4:13 pm on January 16th, 2013

    So magnificently true and powerfully stated. Thank you, fellow earthly pilgrim!

  46. Emily Milner
    7:47 pm on January 16th, 2013

    Kim, I read the interview and wondered if you were the same person I met at Benson finals spring 1993–someone in the comments called you Kimbert, so I’m going out on a limb to ask. I remember your being really, really kind to me–I don’t actually remember the circumstances, just that I felt your deep kindness and I was very grateful for it during that stressful time. Blessings to you and your children right now.

  47. B-Happy
    8:11 pm on January 17th, 2013

    amazing. thank you for your honesty.

  48. Melissa
    9:15 pm on January 18th, 2013

    Thank you for this interview and story. As one who has had a stillborn daughter because of an umbilical cord injury(at 39 weeks) this resonated. I love how you say you will never be grateful that it happened, but grateful for the lessons you learned. I so feel that way. I am blessed to have a 3 month old son now (He was born 17 months after my daughter), but will never forget or “get over” my daughters tragic death. The grieving continues and finding a space for that grief is difficult with 3 other little children to care for.

  49. Servanne Illien
    4:17 am on January 19th, 2013

    The true message of the gospel is about being wise in the way we live and treat others well as we would like to be treated… so in a true christian home all members have at heart the wellfare, happiness and wellbeing of others…… not about one having all power and others obeying orders…. it is about contributing to the preservation, happiness, wellfare and wellbeing of the family and all its members and it means helping each other, treating each other well, ensuring that there is no abuse and that everyone is taken care of and cared for properly and about fidely and love between the spouses…

    Otherwise, it is much better and safer to live alone

  50. Servanne Illien
    4:40 am on January 19th, 2013

    When you say that when you go through tough or sad times or are on a bad road, you need people around to help you go through the tough and hard times and/or help you get back on the right track….. you say it all….

    I never had such people around me with the exception of a sister who is nice to me and does not judge ….. so i know what you are talking about…

    People who go through too much alone, end up making more mistakes just to stop the loneliness and heal the abuse …. but things can get worse.

    Loving people is precisely giving support, being by their side and helping them out of the spiral ….. minimum…. otherwise love is void

    Your brothers were great and by looking after your little girl they learned what it means to be a parent and the responsibility and work it requires ….

    The greatest gift for a woman to have is a husband who truly loves you and will be by your side no matter what …. and wisdom in leading your life …

    My view about religion is not about the after life but about leading our life here the best we can …. and about protecting love and marriage and having balanced, healthy and wise family …

    I still am a religious person … but i am wary of religious institutions .. because they can mess up badly

    Good you found some support… and you have beautiful daughters…..but you are beautiful person yourself

    Hope all is right in your life now

  51. Servanne Illien
    4:49 am on January 19th, 2013

    By the way, even though you lost a child, you still had the others children who look like real darlings … so not everything lost ..; and a good husband, it seems….

    On another note, just because people makes mistake, does not meant they are not fundamentally good ….It depends what their heart was set on … and what life brought them … sometimes that can affect people in many ways…

    And there are very good people who dont go to church or temples … they are still good … and there are people who do go to church and temple but are bad…

    So we should not reduce the good of people to being part of a religion and/or going to the temple in the case of the mormon religion ….

    Some people do very nasty things in the name of religion… especially in the way women are treated by some … or members are treated by others because they may have different views …

  52. Rachel
    2:35 am on January 20th, 2013

    thankyou for sharing. This touched me for many reasons, I can’t share right now, as I am in the middle of my unfinished story, and I know things may get harder before they get better. I am trying to do everything I can to let the Spirit guide me so I can support my children. Thankyou again.

  53. JJ Abernathy
    5:42 pm on January 21st, 2013

    Thanks, Kimberly, for your poignant and moving story. I became rather emotional as I read your interview. Thank you for your faith, your strength, and your honesty.

  54. Cm
    8:15 am on January 23rd, 2013

    Thank you for sharing such a powerful story. What wisdom.

  55. Donna
    9:02 am on January 25th, 2013

    This unfinished story is beautiful. I love how much wisdom you have garnered from your trials. I love that you have chosen to learn from your trials and to deal with them positively. I understand what you mean when you say the church is run by relatively stable people, but sometimes I wish there were others that had had more trials in life in leadership positions because they are the ones that I learn from most. I love this quote “Life doesn’t have the structure of a story. It just keeps going on and on, like a movie where they keep making too many sequels.” Your story has really touched me and I admire your strength.

  56. Katrina
    7:47 pm on January 26th, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it would do us all a world of good if we would openly acknowledge the trials we are facing. It is when we let down these barriers that we are truly able to connect with others and see that we are not alone. I have a 3 1/2 year old and 2 weeks ago experienced my 3rd miscarriage. It has been rough and the future is uncertain. Life is hard and unfair and messy. It can also be joyous, wondrous, and beautiful. God bless you in the journey.

  57. Anneke Garcia
    8:18 pm on January 31st, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and especially the complex idea that stories don’t always have storybook endings.

    I recently lost my first baby before it was born. At first, I didn’t think I would survive the grief. Then I struggled with the fact that we don’t know anything doctrinally about what happened to my baby. It bothered me that some people thought it wasn’t real or wasn’t a person or didn’t count. It bothered me that I’m not really a mother, that going through all of that didn’t mean anything. I wanted a pamphlet or a chapter of scripture or something somewhere telling me whether my baby had a spirit or would be resurrected or any of that. I didn’t get any answers.

    But I really do think that in times like this the Spirit teaches us. And we don’t have to have an end and an answer yet. And it’s OK to keep going, and to keep going through hard things.

  58. Shannon Armstrong Smith
    6:13 pm on April 15th, 2013

    Our lives are so very, very similar. My journey as a single mother at BYU/UTC started in 1981. I wasn’t allowed to live in BYU “approved” housing which was challenging. I didn’t know anyone to tend my little girl and so I mostly took her to class with me. The professors at UTC were fatherly and saintly and welcomed us both into their classes. The girls in the Singles Wards treated me as though I was invisible, but the guys were enchanted by my little red-headed babe, and she became their focus at activities and during boring church meetings.
    Today she is a very devout, educated and happy mother of her own three little girls. I am so sorry your daughter is not doing well currently. We have more in common than I will write about here. If you would like to contact me, I would love to try to help. God Bless you & your loved ones.

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