Thursday, June 12, 2008
This may come as a shock to some but for some reason I feel compelled to share my thoughts and feelings. For many years I struggled with the darkness of depression (for lack of a better word). Somewhere always lurking in the back of my mind were feelings of darkness and despair. I was never good enough, I always fell short. The harder I tried, the shorter I fell, or so it seemed. Even on my mission I continued to struggle. Some people feel that if you are doing what is right then life should be perfect. That is a HUGE misconception. Proof being that my mission is probably the most obedient I have ever been, and I still struggled. I remember flying home and feeling like a failure. A tender mercy came from my Heavenly Father during a sacrament talk after my mission when the Spirit bore powerful testimony that my mission was acceptable to the Lord. Nevertheless I continued to struggle. At times the battle was exhausting; I was zapped of spiritual, emotional, and sometimes physical strength. I did my best to hide my struggles. At times I was almost overcome by the darkness that enveloped me. I had moments of brightness when it seemed that the clouds were finally parting, but they still loomed in the distance threatening to overtake me. Yet, I always knew I had the power to choose, but sometimes I didn’t believe that I had the power to choose. When I moved to Georgia, I began to learn the lesson that “I can do hard things”. It became a source of strength and comfort. Not only did I now know that I could choose happiness, I believed it. For the first time I had faith that these feelings of darkness could be overcome. I recognized that I needed help and strength beyond my own to overcome them. With this realization and discovery a source of power came into my life. I began to see and believe that I was good enough, but still I needed something more. After counseling with a wise bishop he suggested that I attend the Church’s Addiction and Recovery Program. He said it wasn’t because I was an addict, but that the principles taught in the class would help me to understand and apply the atonement in my life. I balked at the idea at first, but nevertheless I attended. A transformation began to take place, a literal change of heart. For the first time in my life I was truly happy. I wasn’t putting on a happy face on the outside to hide the darkness inside, the light from within was now radiating out. My confidence soared, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I know who I am, not who I want to be or wish I was. I have tried long and hard to figure out what was the change? To this point I can only say it is a gift from God. I want to be clear on something that just because it’s a gift from God doesn’t always mean it is easy. He gave me happiness, I have to maintain it. I have to wake up each morning and still make that choice to be happy, which is easier some days and a real struggle other days. I still have to endure the storms of darkness because they still come at times, but I have the ASSURANCE that there is sunshine on the other side if I can just hold on. Back home in Vegas I don’t think anyone would classify me as a happy, sociable, outgoing person, but here in Georgia, that’s all anyone knows about me. In fact we were sitting at a Relief Society function and we were talking about mingling and making others feel welcome and wanted and needed. One of the sisters in the Relief Society (her and her husband are the couple assigned to the ward) commented on how I do a good job of seeking out those who are new and what not and making them feel comfortable and welcome. The wife of one of the counselors in the bishopric commented on how it is hard to reach out and that I was blessed because it came so easy. She then asked what the rest of us could do who didn’t have this natural ability. I interjected at this point, because it is not easy. Being social does not come to me naturally, I have to really work hard on talking to and introducing myself to those I don’t know. I’ve even had friends remark how they wish that they could be happy like me. I ALWAYS tell them that they can. Happiness isn’t something that just happens, it is something you create. I have discovered that although happiness can be challenging at times and some days it takes a lot of work, I would much rather be happy than be miserable. If I wanted life to be easy, I’d just be miserable because that hardly takes any work at all. One of my institute teachers said that insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results, or doing different things expecting the same results. If you like what you’re getting, keep doing what you’re doing, if you don’t CHANGE! I have found the closer I come to my Savior by doing the small things, the greater my blessings are. The wonderful thing about the gospel is that by small and simple things great things are truly brought to pass. It’s all about the simple things, the “primary answers” as they are called. The gospel is all about reading your scriptures, saying your prayers, attending and participating in your meetings. It is all about repentance daily, hourly and sometimes, as in my case, minute by minute. It’s about getting up every day and being obedient to even the smallest commandments. There isn’t any great or grandiose thing you have to do, it’s just the small every day things. If you don’t believe me, try it. Jesus taught that if any man would DO his will then he would KNOW of the doctrine. I didn’t think it would work, but it did, better than I could have ever expected. After all I had been doing all these things and I wasn’t happy. Nevertheless after enduring for at least 14 or 15 years, the blessings came pouring in. That may seem like a long time, but the sooner you start the sooner you will see the power of the Lord in your life and the sooner you will recognize that He has been there all along. I am so blessed. I know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. He patiently supports me and stands by me waiting for me to come home. I know the power of the atonement is REAL. It can and does cleanse me of sins and imperfections. It can fill in the holes and do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. I know my Savior lives. I am grateful for His sacrifice on my behalf. I love the scriptures; I know they are the word of God. Power can come into our lives as we study and apply their teachings.