Going through Liberty Jail moments

Lisa Kofford, a labor and delivery nurse living in Kansas City, Missouri, has found reflecting on Joseph Smith’s experiences in Liberty Jail provides her the strength she needs to overcome her own trials. (Sydnee Gonzalez)

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Lisa Kofford moved to Kansas City completely on her own — no family, no friends — but she soon discovered a link that would make all the difference in the difficult transition. 

It wasn’t until she started reading “Saints” that she realized she would be living in the same place Joseph Smith and the saints lived in during their time in Missouri: Clay County. 

“I felt like I was coming home a little bit, to a place where I can find that familial feeling,” she said. 

Lisa’s finding a connection to the saints didn’t mean the move wasn’t without troubles. For nearly two years, Lisa has worked the night shift at the local hospital as a labor and delivery nurse in a high-risk unit, something that leaves her emotionally drained and starved of social interaction. 

“I couldn’t see the good in life,” Lisa said. “I was just kind of feeling really stuck. My job wasn’t what I wanted it to be and that kind of affected every aspect of my life.”

Lisa Kofford shares a Liberty Jail moment in her life and how she got through it. (Andrea Cabrera)

She remembers trying to fight through feelings of ambiguity and being lost by trying to stay close to God, even though at times, the best she could do was just show up to church. To her, it felt like a “Liberty Jail” moment, similar to what Joseph Smith experienced during his imprisonment in Liberty, Missouri. 

I’ve had my moments where I cry, ‘Oh, God, Where Art Thou? Where are you hiding? And why does this have to last so long?’” Lisa said. “It doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me, it doesn’t mean that he’s not listening or he’s not there. It’s simply God wanting me to be where I need to be and that hard times are required.”

During these trials, Lisa has found comfort in the examples of Joseph and the saints, especially while she has lived where they once did. 

“I really identify with Joseph Smith,” she said. “I’m so grateful for what he went through.”

Just as Joseph couldn’t see a way out of Liberty Jail, Lisa has also struggled at times to have faith when the end plan isn’t clear. 

Historic Liberty Jail in Liberty, Missouri, where Joseph Smith spent four and a half month. Like Joseph, Lisa Kofford has had experiences that have tried her faith. (Sydnee Gonzalez)

“I know that staying close to God is the best way, but it was really hard when I felt kind of this ambiguous, lost feeling,” she said. “I was applying for jobs, I felt like I was doing everything I could, and jobs that I should have, by my qualifications gotten, but it was just dead end after dead end after dead end for a year and a half.”

Eventually, Lisa realized that she needed to “move forward a little bit in the dark” and have the patience and faith to realize God had something better in store than the timeline of her own plan. 

“Sometimes He allows us to be righteous in the dark,” Lisa said. “All this darkness and loneliness was my way of just needing to keep moving forward, despite not knowing the end or the way out.”

The answers to her questions or the solutions to her trials aren’t something that comes easily, she said. “It doesn’t come in an instant; it comes from patiently waiting and doing the work that’s required.”

Like Joseph, Lisa said she doesn’t always get to see the end result of her struggles. “But I keep moving forward in what I know is true within myself, regardless of what the world may say.”

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