An unknown author said, “Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it.” One of my good friends Samantha* (name has been changed) follows this quote to the T. When I was waiting with her at a hospital for an MRI appointment I remember how astounded I was at her optimistic attitude despite the fact she couldn’t move her leg. When she went to go get her MRI done, I told her, “Good luck. Don’t cause any trouble.” She smiled back at me and said, “I really hope I pass.” That joke made my day and inspired me. It’s really quite something to see someone like Samantha face an unpleasant task ahead with a smile and humor.
When you meet Samantha, you find her to be one of the sweetest and most optimistic girls you’ll ever come across. I had the opportunity to talk with Samantha about what life experiences led her to become who she is today.
Samantha comes from a rough family background. Samantha’s parents divorced when she was only twelve years old. Her Dad was kept busy as a local firefighter so he didn’t have custody over Samantha. One of the main reasons Samantha’s parents divorced was because her biological Mom was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Samantha’s Dad waited till Samantha was twelve to divorce her biological Mom so Samantha would be able to endure and understand what was happening. Samantha had no idea of her Mom’s outside behavior till she was thirteen when her Mom’s behavior became more prevalent. Her Mom would often come home under the influence occasionally bringing boyfriends. Surprisingly, Samantha’s Mom would drive her while under the influence. Her Mom was also emotionally abusive to Samantha. Samantha was told by her Mom frequently that she didn’t love her and hated her. She made Samantha come with her to “Narcotic Anonymous” meetings after Samantha’s Mom had her nursing license revoked from stealing drugs. Her Dad had Samantha keep a journal to remember all of the abuse so Samantha could testify accurately before a judge.
“I understand now that she wasn’t in her right mind because of the drugs and alcohol altered her so much,” said Samantha.
Samantha’s health was directly affected by her Mom’s actions. Samantha had to venture outside of her home to find food for herself at the grocery store. Her diet often consisted of ramen and pickles for dinner since that was the only food in her Mom’s house. Her Mom kept cats in the house despite the fact Samantha was allergic to them. Her Mom kept Samantha mostly because of the money she was getting from her biological Dad. Samantha described the relationship with her Mom as not loving, violent, painful, and not ideal. At times, Samantha feeling like there was no escape, contemplated taking her life than endure another day of emotional torture from her Mom. One time, Samantha was kicked out of the car by her Mom, had her cell phone taken away, and was worried her Mom was going to hurt her.
“I just sat there. I remember leaning up against the wall sliding down and I just remember saying, ‘I don’t know who is listening. I don’t know who is there. But I need help. I can’t do this on my own,’” said Samantha.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God sends his spirit down to us by means of the Holy Ghost, a part of the Godhead, to bring us comfort and peace during times of trial. We also believe that through this we can achieve healing from horrific trials. Samantha talked about how she felt this peace during this humbling experience.
Thankfully, Samantha was able to get away from her biological Mom when her biological Dad got full custody of her and married a more loving woman.
“At that time I needed love from anyone. So he placed my stepmom into my life who is first and foremost my best friend. Heavenly Father let me be super lucky because He let me see how a Mother should love her daughter. He let me see that it’s okay to trust someone else and to call them ‘Mom’. You don’t have to be afraid every day. You really can put all your trust in someone conditionally,” said Samantha.
Samantha credits the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the peace, happiness, and healing it has brought her since becoming a member in 2009. She also credits a seminary teacher and church leaders who helped teach her the true meaning of forgiveness. Samantha called her biological Mom completely forgiving her and telling her Mom to not let the past stop her from reaching her full potential. Samantha described how she felt a great weight lift off her during that phone call and how that trial no longer was suffocating her. Since then, Samantha has never heard again from her biological Mom. Samantha plans on pursuing a psychology career at her university to help others that were in similar situations like her in her middle school years. “I can now help others overcome that same trial and let them know that they can be more than a victim of circumstance,” said Samantha.
What makes the Samantha the way she is today? She said simply, “When you allow Him (God) to work in your life when other people have wronged you that is a true miracle. I got my reward. I don’t have to be angry anymore.”
As Samantha said, you do not have to be a victim of circumstance. Each of us has memories we grimace at the thought of. Some of these memories even try to ruin our lives and stop us from reaching our true potential. It’s all up to us how we treat these memories. The road is not always easy but it is worth it. Are you going to be a victim of circumstance? Choose to follow the example of Samantha and show the world that your past will not ruin your life.