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When Steve Mikita was 18 months old, his parents received the horrifying news that their son would not live to see his second birthday. Afflicted with an incurable neuromuscular disease, he has never walked, never ridden a bicycle, never driven a car. He has never married, never had children, never knelt to pray. But the story of his life is not about the things he has never done or will never do.
The story of his life is about reaching our possibilities in spite of our imperfections. It is about living rich, meaningful lives despite trials and tragedies. More important, it is about the undeniable influence and power of a mother_ã_s love_ã”a mother who was told to prepare for her son_ã_s death, and who, instead, raised him to become a self-sufficient adult.\r\r\r\r
- Foreward (by Carole Mikita) \r\r
- Introduction \r\r
- Chapter One — “My Son, Peace Be unto Thy Soul” \r\r
- Chapter Two — “In the World Ye Shall Have Tribulation” \r\r
- Chapter Three — “We Do Not Doubt Our Mothers Knew It” \r\r
- Chapter Four — “Bow Down Thine Ear, O Lord” \r\r
- Chapter Five — “The Tender Mercies of the Lord” \r\r
- Chapter Six — “If Any of You Lack Wisdom, Let Him Ask of God” \r\r
- Chapter Seven — “I Am Jesus Christ, Whom the Prophets Testified Shall Come into the World” \r\r
- Chapter Eight — “He Will Take upon Him the Pains and the Sicknesses of His People” \r\r
- Chapter Nine — “Peace I Leave with You, My Peace I Give unto You” \r\r
- Chapter Ten — “That Your Joy Might Be Full” \r\r
- Postscript \r\r
- Sources Cited
- Size: 5½" x 8½"
- Pages: 128
- Published: 03/2011
About the Author
Steve Mikita graduated magna cum laude in Political Science and Religion from Duke University and received a juris doctorate from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. He has served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Utah for more than 20 years and has appeared more than 40 times before the Utah Supreme Court.
“In the World Ye Shall Have Tribulation”
By the time I was twelve years old my body resembled a pretzel. My spine was twisted and contorted into a severe S-curve. My doctors called it scoliosis—a curvature of my spinal column. Because my lungs were being compressed and breathing was difficult, I could not sit for long periods of time in my wheelchair. Due to lack of physical activity, I gained quite a bit of weight in the ensuing years. I weighed more than 150 pounds, and that was a prescription for an impending disaster.
Something needed to be done, but there were very few options. As a temporary stopgap to stave off my growing discomfort and pain, my physicians in Cleveland, Ohio, demanded that I wear a rigid corset, which was annoying beyond belief. Since I sat in my wheelchair in a way that already pitched my upper body forward, the stays of the corset would dig into my thighs and back. Each morning when my mother cinched the corset into place, I would plead for her not to pull the straps too tightly so that it would not hurt so much.
She hated having to hurt me. Even at that age, I knew how hard it was for her to cinch up those stays. My curved spine was causing both of us a lot of pain.
We all knew that the corset was not arresting the curvature of my spine. The only remedy for straightening my spine was surgery, and that was a hard reality for me to accept. The doctors called the operation a spinal fusion. But what that meant was that my spine would be straightened and lengthened by the insertion of a long metal rod that would be reinforced and buttressed by—believe it or not—horse bone. I would have to spend six months in a spica hip cast.
The cast would extend from the back of my skull down to my knees and would enclose my shoulders, chest, stomach, hips, and thighs. The only openings would be openings for my arms and to allow for my bodily functions. Additionally, there would be an eighteen-inch rod to keep my knees separated. To me, the prospect of such surgery sounded like a punishment introduced in the Middle Ages.
Additionally, I would have to lie in this froglike position, completely immobilized, and would not be able to sit upright for six whole months. That is a long time, especially for a twelve-year-old who was so busy being a boy and playing with his brother, Billy, and sister Judy that he seldom saw himself as different or disabled.
It was a frightening prospect. What made it even more terrifying was the fact that no child in America as disabled as I was had ever undergone this radical operation, and no one with such diminished lung capacity as mine had ever survived it. In order to evaluate my chances of survival, I had to breathe repeatedly into a machine prior to the surgery to demonstrate to my doctors that I had the strength to take a deep breath. Those tests had not gone well. In fact, the results caused more worry than they provided promise, and my parents were told there was only a fifty percent chance that I would wake up from the surgery.
But the results did not discourage my doctors to the degree that surgery was taken off the table as an option to save my life. We reached a conclusion: surgery was the only remaining hope. The procedure was scheduled for July 1968.
As we were riding home from that last doctor’s appointment, my father said to me, “Son, we have to do this. This is the best choice we have to lengthen and save your life. If we continue what we are doing, you will live a short and painful life.”
That is a lot to absorb, especially when you are in the seventh grade. I did not want to think of life-altering experiences. I was excited about going to a new school and continuing to follow baseball and meeting new girls. In many respects, I was just like any other seventh grader. I did not know just how risky the operation would be.
The night before surgery, I had to say good-bye to my mother and father. I could see the concern on their faces and feel the worry in their hearts. I remember my mother saying, “I am sorry you have to go through this. If I could go through it for you I would, but I can’t. You have to have faith and be our brave boy. God has not brought you this far to fail. Try to get some sleep, and we will see you in the morning.”
And then they left. I was alone in the dark of a Cleveland hospital with only my fears.
An orderly came in and shaved my entire body. He was very nice, but I felt even more afraid and vulnerable after he left. I think I might have been the loneliest boy in America that night in 1968.
But I was not left alone. There was someone worried about me and concerned about me. There was Someone watching over me.
My mother could not teach me how to walk or how to ride a bicycle. But she had taught me something even more important; she had taught me how to pray without kneeling. Our family had some experience with rote prayers, but Mother had taught me that I should not always say the same prayer in the same way to Heavenly Father, and she encouraged me to be frank about my fears and concerns as I spoke to Him. But more importantly, she taught me to believe that God answers prayers.
So on that hot July night in Cleveland, Ohio, I offered a simple petition. The man in the bed next to mine had been sleeping for hours, and I said, “God, if everything is going to be alright tomorrow, would you please make the man lying in the bed next to me cough or turn over?” And then I ended my prayer.
I knew I was asking a lot because my roommate had been unconscious for hours. He had not made a single movement or gesture. He had not turned. He had not coughed or groaned.
I testify to you that within ten seconds after I uttered my simple prayer, the man who had been in a semi-coma in the bed next to me sat bolt upright in his bed.
He was fully awake!
He turned his body and faced me. And then he said, “Stevie, if you need anything during the night, just let me know. I am here for you.”
Then he immediately fell back to sleep.
I had received my answer.
I learned that night that God knew my name. That God was aware of my life and that He was involved in my life. He was concerned about me, just as my earthly parents were. He was there for me, just as my earthly parents were. He loved me, just as my earthly parents did.
I was alone. But I wasn’t.
I felt as though I had been forgotten. But I wasn’t.
I felt as though I had been forsaken. But I wasn’t.
God was on my side.
God was at my side.
Indeed, I was His child.
I was in His care.
I was in His arms.
I had faith that He would be with me in the operating room the next morning. I had faith that I would live. I had faith that I would see my parents again. I had faith that I would regain my health.
I could not envision the end. I could not experience everything beforehand. But I had the faith that I could press forward. I could hope and I could believe and I could have faith for a better tomorrow.
Of course I would still have to submit to the operation. My spine was not miraculously or painlessly straightened by an angel. There would be much pain and discomfort in my immediate future. I would not be spared the exquisite agony of having my crooked spine fused and straightened through a six-hour operation. But that is not the importance of the answer to my simple prayer.
The answer was that I did not have to go through this ordeal—any of it—alone. Even though my parents would not be in the surgical suite, there would be Someone watching over me.
During His mortal ministry, Jesus explained to His disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Somehow, many of us believe that Jesus was talking generally and not specifically. Somehow we want to believe that He was talking only to them and not to us.
But I know He was talking to us. All of us. He was talking to both you and me.
He did not say that in the world we might or may have tribulation. He said that we shall or will. This means we must experience tribulation.
None of us can escape trials, tribulation, and sorrow. Not one of us.
We hope we can. We think we can. We are sometimes even sure we can. But that is not what He said.
Trials and tribulation are a necessary part of life on this earth. It is an irrefutable, unequivocal fact of our mortal lives that adversity is to play an integral role. That is a given. Of course we all wish that we could escape heartbreak and agony. We cannot. We are not supposed to. Adversity is our universal affliction. It happens to each one of us, and often it happens when we least expect it. Most of the time it happens more than once. And it always causes us physical or emotional or spiritual anguish.
Adversity also consumes us; when it comes, it is very difficult to think of anything else. It is overwhelming. It has a great deal of power over what we think about and how we feel. Tribulation visits us wherever we live and wherever we work. It does not matter how young or how old we are. It does not matter how much we know or how much we earn. It does not matter how learned or wise we are or how many degrees we have obtained. It does not matter if we have faced previous challenges or overcome earlier hurdles throughout our lives.
Trials and tests seem to accompany us. Sometimes we cannot see them coming, and they arrive abruptly. Sometimes they linger. They are life’s unwelcome guests.
When we are facing and dealing with trials, we often feel as though the peace and serenity of our lives will never return.
Trials come to both the strong and the weak. They find us. There is no disputing that.
Adversity is a necessary part of the plan of salvation. It is more of a question of how you and I will respond when adversity or sorrow enters our lives. What choices will we make? Where will we turn for answers? Where will we look for relief?
We sometimes forget that Jesus faced trials. And those trials did not occur only during the last critical and agonizing hours of His earthly life. The challenges He faced were frequent and recurring. They were part of His life. He did not escape them. He did not avoid them. What He did is pass through them. Most important, He overcame them.
The trials began in the humble circumstances of His birth, which were the epitome of privation and lowliness. They continued in Herod’s attempt to kill Him. At the beginning of His ministry, following His forty-day fast, He was tempted in the wilderness by Satan (Matthew 4:1–11). He was offered nourishment and worldly power if He would succumb to the devil’s self-serving, malevolent designs, which had already been rejected by two-thirds of the spirits in the premortal world.
The Jews attempted to stone Him after He declared Himself at the synagogue as the Messiah (John 10:23–39). Later, three of the eleven disciples—Peter, James, and John—slept in the olive orchard despite His admonition that they “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38) as He began His lonely descent into the despair and agony of Gethsemane.
Even more galling was the blatant betrayal from one of His closest confidants, Judas, who rushed out of the upper room of the Last Supper to concoct the specious charges that the Sanhedrin leveled against Jesus, and who led the bloodthirsty Jewish mob into the Garden to seize the Innocent One. Astonishingly, Peter—for reasons that are still not entirely understood—issued three separate denials when he was questioned concerning his knowledge of and relationship with Jesus (Matthew 26:69–75; Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:54–62; John 18:15–27).
So what is the purpose of adversity? Why is it all around us? What is its role in our lives? Why must we go through such hard, trying times? Why is adversity such a central part of the plan of salvation? What do sadness, sorrow, and grief have to do with the plan of happiness, as Alma described it (Alma 42:8)?
The Lord is clear that the purpose of trials is meant to test our faith in Him and our obedience to His commandments. “We will prove them herewith,” He said, “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25).
Is it possible to be happy during bad times or sad times?
Of course, there is no expectation that adversity and affliction will bring an immediate smile to our faces or laughter into our lives. That is simply illogical, unrealistic, and, in most circumstances, impossible. Adversity brings tears, pain, uncertainty, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, depression, grief, and mourning.
Yet it is important to note that the Savior stated, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33; emphasis added).
When Jesus promised that trials and tribulations would be part of our lives, He did not exhort us to celebrate them or to take them lightly. Instead, He draws our attention to them—and to Him. That is a very important connection that we too often forget when we are going through difficult times in our lives.
He declares that it is through Him that we can find peace in the midst of affliction and troubles.
He then says that we should “be of good cheer” because He has overcome the world. But being of good cheer does not necessarily mean being jolly or silly or giddy during our tough times. There is little that is fun or funny about the tragedies we are asked to endure.
So what exactly does “good cheer” mean? To understand, we need look no further than the next phrase: We can be of good cheer because He overcame the world. Consequently, I believe being of good cheer means focusing on His power and His love. We may approach, pass through, endure, and, yes, even overcome our challenges by focusing on Christ.
It is His power that overcame this life, this world, and even death. Why did He do it? Why did He overcome? Because He loves us. He will see us through the tough days and challenges. He has promised us that. And He does not break His promises. Not ever.
He is our Savior, our Friend, and our Advocate. He is our promise keeper.
As a result, the cheerfulness that you and I are encouraged to exemplify during difficult times is a quiet, serene confidence that all is well or that all will be made well because we are His followers and the sheep of His fold. We have not been forgotten or abandoned.
Jesus Christ is therefore both the Good News and the Good Cheer contained in and defined by His gospel.
As Alma observes in Alma 7:11–12:
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
In an unfathomable way, Jesus, while in the Garden, took upon Himself every pain, every affliction, every temptation, every doubt, every disappointment, every loss, every grief, every illness, every disease, and every agony that anyone has experienced or will experience in this life. It is difficult to comprehend it all!
Jacob reaffirms this truth:
And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. (2 Nephi 9:21)
Jesus suffered not only for our sins, but He also suffered the pains of every man, woman, and child. No one is excluded from His love and mercy. No one is left out. No one is abandoned. No one is forsaken. No one is ignored. No one is forgotten. No one is left alone to suffer. No one.
The Atonement is as intimate as it is infinite. In some incomprehensible way, Jesus knows and understands everything about us. He understands us perfectly. He knows what we are asked to live with, experience, and endure.
In some inexplicable way, Jesus has already faced our fears and cried our tears.
Consequently, Jesus asks us to pass through nothing which He Himself has not already experienced, and, more important, nothing which He hasn’t already overcome for us.
No matter how difficult or painful our adversity, Jesus remains the Christ. He still loves us. His peace can still envelop us, and we can still access His love. We can still have confidence and hope and faith and love that no matter what is asked of us in this life, comfort and peace come by and through Him. He stands firm. He has not gone anywhere.
He is the source and the light of truth, comfort, and good cheer. So the answer to the question of how we can maintain good cheer during trials is that we can have confidence that Jesus is there for us and will help us through. Jesus is good cheer. We can trust that He will give us the strength to endure.
He will never let us down. He never tires of listening to and loving us during the times when we feel alone and sorrowful.
Adversity comes, but so does He!
That is why we can have confidence and hope—He is there to help us through our trials. That is the promise. That is the truth. He sees us through the dark times and shows us the way through His light, life, and love.
As He promised both then and now to all of us, “Be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you” (D&C 61:36).
Again He says, “Be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours” (D&C 78:18).
This is not an understanding I had at age twelve when confronted with the reality of my physical condition. What I did understand at that point was that God knew me, that He knew my name, and that He would not abandon me. My testimony of these additional truths would not fully develop for several more years.
I have discovered that the Lord often meets our needs and comforts us through other human beings. And when I awakened from my six-hour spinal surgery, I saw a beautiful, smiling face. My mom’s face. When I saw her, I knew I had lived through the surgery. I had survived. My prayer, and the answer to it, had given me the confidence and hope that I needed to face the next day and the next months. I focused on her face and her faith.
I remember thinking it was a little strange that my father was holding on to her so tightly in the recovery room. Later I learned that she had nearly fainted when she saw me lying in the bed of dried blood that I had lost during the ordeal. He was holding her so she wouldn’t collapse. She and I were both in shock about what I had passed through.
But she was focused on me. And I was focused on her radiant smile, which was always there. Her smile and her constant care and love sustained me then and would be my strength in the years to come.
My spine was straightened. My heart was comforted. My pain was bearable. And because of the answer I received from my prayer and the constant love lavished on me by my mother, my life became more cheerful.
by Dan - reviewed on February 21, 2011
I could not put this book down. It is a powerful personal story of a man who has overcome tremendous physical challenges to make a positive contribution to the world. His positive attitude, humor, compassion and determination, as well as his deep love for his mother an family, are present on every page. His insight into the teachings of the Savior and their meaning for our lives are truly revelatory. I was profoundly inspired by this book and highly recommend it.
I Read All AMAZED!!!
by DD - reviewed on February 24, 2011
I have never read a more powerful book than this one. Every single page is powerful. I was deeply moved to tears. I am more grateful, more loving, more caring, more understanding, more humble, because of this amazing man and his heroic mother. I love this book and recommend it for anyone facing trials in their life.
A very inspiring book!
by Gretta - reviewed on February 03, 2011
I have known Steve for many years, and I found his book so compelling that I read it straight through in one afternoon. It is a wonderful combination of personal experiences and Steve's testimony. I finished the book with enormous admiration for Steve's courage, as well as for the love and commitment of his family and friends. I especially enjoyed the chapter about Steve needing to be independent and go to college on his own, and his mother putting aside any fear and regret she felt to help him be his "own man."
Moved me to tears
by Ashley - reviewed on January 19, 2011
This is truly an extraordinary book. I read this book in three hours last night - I didn't want to put it down. I'm not a mother yet, but I hope to be someday. If I can be half the woman Steve Mikita's mother was, I will have succeeded at being a mother. Definitely going to purchase this book for my mother and sisters for Mother's Day.
There is power in his pen!
by Mike - reviewed on February 03, 2011
I have known Steve Mikita for over 30 years. We met during law school. I remember lifting Steve's weakened body out of his wheelchair and carrying him down flights of stairs during a law school fire alarm. I remember him telling our Criminal Law Professor, Woody Deem, that he would be more animated in his presentation, but he "could barely lift a pencil." Yet, Steve has always been powerful man in my eyes. I am grateful he has captured on paper with his powerful pen the events and people, and his own muscular resolve, to thrive rather than just survive. Nicely done my Friend.
Someone I hope to meet
by kerry - reviewed on February 20, 2011
As a mother of six and one who would lay her life down for her own children, I recognized a kindred spirit in the life of Mildred Mikita. Thank you Steve for sharing this tender and moving account of the determination of great parents to inspire and lift their children to be the best they can be. I have known Steve and he has always been very open about his love and gratitude for good parents who set the standard high. In a day rife with scandal, gossip and perverse language it is refreshing and truly inspiring to read such a beautiful account of love and gratitude a son has for his mother. Everyone needs to read this book. In fact, it needs to be made into a movie. Well done Steve.
by Customer - reviewed on March 04, 2011
What an inspiring book this is! Steve is a wonderful example of living a life of love and service in spite of his physical challenges. When I read about him having to spend six months in a body cast at the age of 12, and then getting pneumonia after that, it put into perspective my impatience with illnesses I've suffered in my life, which are nothing compared to what he has endured. What a tremendous tribute this book pays to his angel mother who devoted herself to him with such unconditional love. Her words of encouragement, "God has not brought you this far to fail" show such faith. In spite of doctors' predictions to the contrary, he did not just survive, but he thrived! The life he lives proves that a person does not have to be able to stand or walk to make a difference to the world and make a positive contribution to those around them. I'd recommend this book to anyone who needs inspiration and encouragement.
This book demonstates "Think Abiltiy" every step of the way.
by teresa - reviewed on March 29, 2011
Thank you Mikita family for illustrating the need for all of us to “Think Ability” when faced with life’s difficulties. What a marvelous example of the sweet acceptance of God’s plan for us and dogged determination to help our children reach their full potential that can coexist in our lives. This book proves that mothers can change the course of a family and the individual lives of children. Mildred Mikita’s lesson of personal responsibility for our challenges will never be forgotten and Steve Mikita’s sheer and utter courage will be an inspiration to me always. I only wish I had read this book when my children were younger.
Perfect for MOTHER'S DAY!!!
by Customer - reviewed on April 23, 2011
I bought 10 for my family. I love this book. What an inspiring story. I keep it by my side and look at it when I am having a down day. What an amazing man... and mother!
by Rodney - reviewed on February 19, 2013
I could not write anything more than life changing. Have tissue ready, you will need it. If you want to better yourself, change your ways, eliminate addictions, make it through lifes vicissitudes, learn how to manage this worlds potholes, this is a perfect user manual.