Meet Candace Carlile. She is 29 years old and lives in Utah. I met Candace in my old ward, she was my visiting teacher for a time. Candace plays a key part in a memory that changed my views on visiting teaching forever. Candace and Kim were my assigned visiting teachers during a very painful time in my life, and unknowingly – a painful time in Candace’s life as well. They came to my home every month to teach me, to get to know me, and to be a friend to me. As the months progressed I became comfortable with them and willing to open up to them. One particular visit, Kim prepared a few words and shared THIS Mormon message about the currant bush and the will of God. I remember the message said: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth and now you’ve cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here? … Look little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I don’t intend for you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree, I want you to be a currant bush. And someday little currant bush, when you’re laden with fruit, you’re going to say thank you Mr. Gardener for loving me enough to cut me down.” Candace and I were in tears that afternoon. We both shared pieces of our hardship and how badly we needed that message. It was a message of hope – that life’s low experiences have purpose. And that’s what Candace’s story is all about – being cut down to become something more beautiful than she was before. My favorite part of Candace is her resilience – her ability to get back up and press forward after such a low point in her life. Her resilience is a clear indicator of her character and her devotion to God and his gospel. Here is what she has to say about happiness…
My journey to finding true happiness started about 3.5 years ago. I was at the lowest point in life and I cannot tell you how many times I remember saying, feeling, thinking, “how am I EVER going to feel happy again?” Hahaha dramatic right? Let me tell you a little about my story…
I was married in the SLC temple in Oct. of 2012 and divorced in Sept. of 2013. While my marriage was very short lived, it was full of difficult trials. I won’t go into all the details or claim that it was all his fault, but ultimately it came down to agency. I did not choose to end my marriage but was forced to accept the decision he made. He did not want to be married to me anymore. I was married to someone who had an addiction to pornography. It was hard to see that decision in his life destroy and skew his mind and spirit leading to paranoia, many false accusations, and backing away from the church. I have never faced such a difficult trial in my whole life. My world was crushed and felt over. But it happened and I had to accept it and find a way to move on in my life.
I spent a lot of time seeing a counselor (who was conveniently my bishop) during my marriage and for a little while after the divorce. He helped and challenged me in a way that allowed me to change the parts of me that needed changing. He helped me dedicate myself to the gospel and spend more time reading the scriptures and earnestly praying. The only way for me to get from day to day was my Heavenly Father and Savior. I was closer to my Father in heaven than I ever had been. I had developed a strong testimony of the Atonement through the hard parts of my marriage and I knew that the Atonement could heal my pain and sorrow. I knew that my Savior felt what I felt and could comfort me the way I needed. I attended the temple every week in desperate need to escape the world I now faced. This is where my happiness began to grow. The gospel. My Savior. The Temple. Praying. Friends. Family.
My Savior helped me get from day to day knowing that one day I would be fine, that I would feel happy again. It was a really really hard adjustment. When I started dating again, it brought back painful memories. It brought sadness, and many insecurities that resulted from my marriage. I didn’t feel that anyone could ever love me for me. That I wasn’t good enough for anyone to love unconditionally. After a while of not seeing a counselor, I started seeing a new counselor at BYU. I highly recommend counseling to anyone for anything. It’s life changing.
This was the next level of my journey to happiness. I have never had someone help me feel so worthy of love than Dr Smith did. He helped me see how much good I have in me, how it was ok to be sad, how I can control how I feel, and that it doesn’t matter what other people think. I struggled a lot with my confidence and he helped me build that up tremendously. The most profound conclusion I came to while seeing Dr Smith was that 1-there wasn’t anything I would say now to my ex-husband that I didn’t already say to him and 2-I can honestly say that I did everything in my power to save my marriage. Those 2 things brought me great comfort. This really sucky thing happened and I wished it didn’t have to, but I know I did everything I could on my part and that agency is a powerful gift that I must respect. I saw why this had to happen and knew it would be for the better in my life.
After I was done seeing Dr Smith I felt confident, hopeful, and ready for the next chapter of my life. I have wonderful friends and family who have always been there and supported me through my hard times. Although I wished that I would find someone new quick, I knew that I needed time to continue growing and learning, preparing myself for the day when I would find love again.
As more time passed, life went on and the pain and sorrow faded and faded. Every so often there would be little moments that still stung or moments of sadness and this drove me nuts. I thought I had gotten over everything and that I had completely forgiven him, forgiven myself, and left it all in the past. For the most part I had, but there was still something not completely healed. This was about 7 months ago. I know, I know, it took me a loooooong time to fully get over this mess! So I took action again. I prayed earnestly that I would fully allow the Atonement to heal that dwindling sorrow. I looked at things differently again. I think I had been viewing things wrong. In a way I felt that there was a hole in my heart and that to fix it I would need to meet someone new, but that wasn’t the case. What I finally learned was that there is no hole in my heart, just a scar. The Atonement is amazing because I honestly feel fully healed of my past trials. I do not need a new boy to fix my heart. I fixed my heart. My Savior healed my heart. That scar will remain there reminding me of all I have overcome, of how much my savior loves me, and how strong I can be through Him.
One thing I have been blessed with is hope. I have continued having such great hope for my future. While I do not know what lies ahead, I know that there is a perfect plan for me and that everything I have gone through was worth it.
This is the story of where my true happiness began and it continues to grow as I stay close to my Father in heaven and Savior. While I have not yet found my true eternal companion, I am truly happy with where my life is right now. Everything I have been through and overcome has helped me discover who I am, what is important to me, and how this life is about learning, growing, and becoming my best self. I have so much faith in the plan in store for me and know that I am promised everything as I remain valiant and faithful. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior so much and would not be who I am without them. They bring me more happiness than I could ever ask for.