March 23, 2016
Janet Bernice was not someone most would consider fortunate. From being adopted into an “unhappy” family at a very young age, to a divorce, and to the tragic loss of her son and daughter — Janet Bernice hasn’t exactly had a fairytale life. But instead of letting these circumstances define her, Janet has found solace in the teachings of the gospel, in her Lord Jesus Christ, and in sharing her blessings with the PathwayConnect students she teaches in English 106 Basic Writing as an online instructor.
A Troubled Past
Janet’s childhood was hard. She suffered a terrible relationship with her adopted mother and grew up without the gospel. The only happy times for her were with her grandmother, or “Grandy,” but she passed away when Janet was just 10 years old.
At age 18, Janet set out on her own, turned to a “hippie lifestyle” in Portland, and married her boyfriend, Darrell. It was when their first child was due that things changed for Janet.
“I told [Darrell] that being a partying hippie was okay for us, but not for raising children. I almost left him, but, after some heated discussions, Darrell asked me what I wanted to do. I told him that I wanted to go to church.”
To Janet’s surprise, Darrell was a less-active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the only church he was willing to attend. After some brief contacts with members, Janet took the missionary lessons and was baptized in 1972.
My testimony did grow as the Lord guided and rescued me from poor choices.
Discipleship in the Midst of Pain
Despite the joy of finding faith in Christ, Janet’s challenges only intensified. “Through my years of marriage, we experienced the loss of jobs, moving every two years, and in 1979, the death of our two-and-a-half-year-old baby girl. That year Darrell also left.”
After her divorce, Janet was left to raise her four sons on her own and struggled to balance the need for education, employment, church, and family. While it was a time of great strain for Janet, she slowly continued on her path back to Heavenly Father. “My testimony did grow as the Lord guided and rescued me from poor choices,” she said.
Janet faced her greatest heartache when her son Ben left home at age 18. “We had contact a few times but lost track of him. After several unsuccessful attempts, I felt impressed to try to find him again. After a year of searching, we learned that Ben had been murdered in Texas and was buried there.”
Janet struggled deeply with her loss, and it was only through the Lord that she was able to find peace. “After a time praying for comfort in the celestial room of the Bountiful Temple, I felt Ben’s presence and the understanding that he was well, happy, and busy.”
To this day, Janet sees the challenges of her past as a way to help others in need — specifically the students she interacts with as a PathwayConnect instructor. “Many of my students have had major challenges — students who have gone through a divorce and even students who have buried a loved one,” she said. “With my personal background, I have been able to identify with those in PathwayConnect, many of whom are trying to change their lives for the better. I know Heavenly Father has allowed me many struggles and challenges for my own growth, but also to give me the resources to give encouragement to others.”
Today, Janet testifies of the love Heavenly Father has shown her throughout her life. “The Lord loves those to whom He gives challenges. How grateful I am for the healing influence of the gospel. I know the gospel is the answer to all of life’s challenges. It is true that the gospel meets every need if we will seek it, are willing to change, and dedicate ourselves to being disciples of the Savior.”