Yesterday I came across an episode of the “All In” podcast that really touched me. It was Jenn Knight talking about some experiences she has had and how she now looks at adversity (or challenges we have in life). If you enjoy this excerpt, you can look up that podcast episode and listen to the whole thing.
Her first few comments remind me of something I heard in a talk recently. A gentleman was talking about his friend who had gone through some very difficult mental health challenges over the past few months, and mentioned that it caused this friend to go from a very capable, independent man to “soft and squishy” and willing to let others strengthen him and encourage him. His heart became softer. His perspective changed. He was better as a result. It’s funny how hard we fight against challenges when it ultimately is what we want- because we’re here to grow and change and become more like our Father in Heaven. Change requires pressure- humans usually just don’t have enough motivation to make dramatic changes without some extra heat. None of us like the experience of struggling, but the jewels we get out of it are beautiful and lasting. Ok, enough of my musings. Here is the excerpt from the podcast transcript:
How would you say that this adversity and these challenges have changed you as a person?
Jenn Knight 9:21
Well, I think it kind of hit home to me, like the gospel that I’ve been living for my whole life, you know, we believe that this time is act two, right? It’s not act one, it’s not act three–it’s act two. And so there’s no resolution really here. And that’s part of the reason we came down here was to be tested and tried.
And I think it just kind of hit home to me that if I really believe what I’ve been living all these years, then this is what I signed up for. And I remember actually–this is recently–saying a prayer and saying, you know, help my friend to . . . She was having a really hard time with something, and I said, “Please help that to go away.”
And I just had this thought like, “If I did that, your friend would be so mad at you on the other side.” This is something that we wanted to go through so that we could get stronger and that we could, you know, really find ourselves.
I remember hearing a story about Truman Madsen and Hugh B. Brown, and they were in Jerusalem and Truman Madsen asked Elder Brown, you know, like, “Why do you think that Abraham had to go through all of these trials?” And Elder Brown said, “Well, Abraham needed to learn a little bit about Abraham.”
And I totally feel that. I felt like I got to know myself in a way that I hadn’t before. And I definitely got to know my daughter in a way that I hadn’t known before and couldn’t know if I hadn’t seen her like . . . majesty, during these moments of complete, like, disparity for me and for her. It was just an enlightening experience for both of us–for all of us.
Morgan Jones 11:14
I love how you said, “Her majesty.” I think–the little bit that I’ve read about Madi, she seems like such a special person, and you shared some of those special moments that your family experienced. And you talked about how her teacher had taught her to sing this kid friendly version of the song, “Hallelujah.” And as she lay fighting for life, she started to sing that song, and you wrote this, which I thought was so beautiful.
You said, “So much of what we celebrate of Christ and His mission on earth is joyful. But sacred are moments that allow us to capture a glimpse of Gethsemane and what that joy cost our Savior. It felt holy in that room as she sang, and for the first time that night, I cried. Not out of fear, but out of gratitude. The original song says that ‘Love is a cold and a broken Hallelujah,’ and after feeling this moment, I think that is just the most beautiful and poetic way of describing a love for Christ.”
Why would you say–and I was intrigued by that, so I wondered–why would you say a love for Christ is a cold and a broken hallelujah?
Jenn Knight 12:30
That night was so surreal, just for a little bit of context for people who haven’t read the blog–we had put our daughter on this new medication because the traditional chemo wouldn’t work with her genetic mutation, and so it was this immunotherapy, we knew it was a long shot, but it was the only shot we had. And one of the side effects was brain hemorrhage. Well–it could be.
So we had just come home from trick or treating, we were sitting there and all of a sudden, I saw that my daughter was like, not talking. And then she started talking gibberish and she didn’t know how old she was or what year it was, and then she started to vomit. And it was just–it was really terrifying, because we thought we were losing her, you know, again. And we thought her brain was hemorrhaging.
So my husband took her to the hospital while I gathered some of her stuff and tried to calm down the rest of my kids, which is another story as well, and a time–a moment in my life when I felt the help–the tangible help of the Savior in my home. Anyway, so got all that together, went to the hospital, and funny enough, her biggest fear–my daughter who had brain cancer–her biggest fear was needles, not dying. Not the brain cancer, it was needles.
And so we went to the hospital and she had to get this injection and like right away, so we could figure out what’s going on and help her and they could not find a vein. And so they took an ultrasound machine and they were trying to find one with the needle. And she was in a lot of pain and terrified.
And the thing that came to mind was . . . I’m sorry, it’s been so long since I’ve talked about this.
Morgan Jones 14:20
Jenn Knight 14:22
The thing that came to mind was this song that she had been learning with her voice teacher, Diane Pritchett, who was volunteering her time to come every week and help her, and so I said, “Madi, why don’t you sing the song? You can belt it out as loud as you want.” And she . . . so she did as they were digging this needle into her arm she started belting out “Hallelujah” and she was saying all the lyrics and she said, you know, “It’s a cold and it’s broken Hallelujah.”
And I just–it just hit me for the first time really like . . . that, you know, I think there’s a limit to how deeply we can really come to know the Savior if we’re only identifying with him in our moments of peace and love and happiness. Like, the real grit of our discipleship is reaching out to him when we hit the bottom. And when we recognize that our own limitations are holding us back, and there is no other way out, there is no other way we can go, and we call to Him, and we know that He’s the only one that could possibly understand or help.
And I mean, His–the help and the feelings that we receive are so hard to pin down, they’re so like oblique and tangible, but, but they come, right. Like it reminds me of that passage in the Book of Mormon from Alma, when he’s, you know, in his like, coma for these three days, and he just says that he’s wracked with torment, but then he remembers Jesus Christ. He remembers Him and he cries to Him and it’s like, he’s completely released, it’s like this hallelujah, you know, like, “Hallelujah, thank you.” Like, “It is cold and broken here and you’re the only one who can help me get out of it.” And it just touched me so much, watching my 12 year old sing this and like, you know, in her moment of greatest pain and anguish, singing–literally shouting–”Hallelujah.” You know, it was so profound for me. So, yeah.