And He Strengthened Me
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
The main reason I write is to encourage others who might be going through hard things. I will continue to talk about the Word of Wisdom, but my passion is to help people to overcome dark times. My life has been full of hard things, and I know that my Heavenly Father has not left me alone in those times. It can be difficult to see him when it feels like your world is caving in around you, but he is most definitely there and he loves you.
In the deepest darkest moments of depression, I thought that I was a joke and that God didn’t care for me at all. I felt like he had left me and that I was alone with no one to turn to. I thought there was no point in moving forward because I had no purpose.
What I didn’t realize then was that we can create purpose in our own lives, even when we feel we have none. In my darkest hours I felt powerless, and I can promise you that those feelings are not from God. Heavenly Father has created us as beings to act for ourselves. We are intended to work and create and play and innovate. We are not intended to sit around and wait for opportunity or purpose to come into our lives. Something that I have spent years of my life just waiting for. Our Heavenly Father has given us an empty canvas and we fill it or we leave it empty. The longer we leave it empty, the longer we live our lives without a sense of purpose. Purpose is not something that is just handed to us, it is something that we seek out and work diligently for. It might not be easy to see what it is that we are capable of at first, but as we begin to make an effort, our all knowing and all loving Father in Heaven steps in and makes something of us. We begin to flow into the person we are becoming as we diligently put forth effort to do something, anything. We have to give God something to work with.
Sometimes we miss opportunities, but we must keep pushing forward. We learn from our mistakes. Take note of what we did wrong and try again. That is the beauty of the Atoning Sacrifice of our beloved Savior Jesus Christ. He came because he knew that we wouldn’t be able to figure it out on our first or maybe even our fiftieth try, but he knew that if we are given a chance to try it again, and again, that we had the potential to figure it out. This is our playing ground, this is the learning center for our spirits. This is where we learn to become MORE. Don’t give up just because you didn’t get it right this time, there will always be a next time if you look for it and if you seek out more opportunities. In President Thomas S. Monson’s words “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.”
Satan wants us to wallow and languish in our failures and mistakes. He wants us to live in grief and fear. He wants us to believe that we are not capable of overcoming the current state we live in. I can testify to you that those ideas cannot be farther from the truth. I was living in the darkest most dismal mental state I could have possibly been in. I had already been to the edge of suicide years prior, and had the experience of learning that the Lord always provides a way. It might not be easy, but it’s always there. This, however, was a new low, and I could not see clearly in the state I was in. I began to pray and fast for guidance.
Asking God for help was like a drop in the bucket, I wasn’t giving God something to work with. I had to show him that I was willing to make an effort to make a change. When I finally made this realization and started pushing myself in a direction, God was able to redirect me to where I needed to be. It was essential that I put myself in motion if I wanted his help though.
For those of you who are parents, think of it this way; Your child can sing, not just sort of sing, they are really good. You want them to be successful, and so do they, but unless they put fort the effort to continually improve their skill, are you going to pay for voice lessons and drive them all over town (let alone the country) for auditions? Probably not. If there is something we are gifted at, I am more than certain our Father in heaven wants to see us succeed in it as well. I don't expect him to just drop amazing opportunities into our laps though, we must make the first efforts and attempts. We must show that we are willing to do the work, and that we are committed.
Here is another example; Sometimes your kid has a job to do. Maybe their bedroom has reached a state of disaster that they have never had to tackle on their own and they are overwhelmed. I am sorry, but I am not going to just go in and clean up their mess that they so perfectly created on their own. It is even likely that I gave them warnings as it progressed, letting them know that they were creating a problem for themselves, but they didn’t listen. How am I supposed to have sympathy for their situation if they aren’t willing to at least make the effort to start? Would I be doing them a favor if I just went and cleaned up their mess for them? No! They need to learn how to clean up their own messes. If they make an earnest effort am I willing to step in and give a hand? I am much more likely to step in and help if I can see that they are actually trying and not expecting me to come in and do all of the work for them. That is (in my experience) how our Father in Heaven operates too. If we are willing to put forth the effort, he will sanctify our efforts. Our efforts will be blessed. He will make more out of them than we could have possibly believed or done ourselves, but we have to be willing to take the first steps and be diligent and even persistent in moving forward.
Between already battling depression for years and experiencing a new traumatic event a couple of years ago, I was in a terrible mental state, I had found my new low. In addition, my health was declining, my family was suffering and I was falling apart. I had found myself in a state of hell. My fears overcame my faith and I ran to the nearest source of safety and boarded up the walls. I locked myself in. I stopped trying new things, I felt like I was paralyzed and couldn’t see myself accomplishing more than the basics. I was just getting by, and I had decided that instead of doing something, I would sit tight until the storm blew over.
In doing this, I damned myself to the state I was in. I wasn’t able to move forward, and I was in the worst condition of my life. I realized that the only person who could fix this mess that I had created for myself and my family (through my fear and doubt) was me and God. I began looking at where my life was suffering and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Not only had I put myself in darkness, I had placed my entire family in darkness. I realized that I couldn’t stay where I was, If I did, I would be hurting the people who needed me the most. I had to recover.
I began seeking out people who knew more about mental health than I did and asked Heavenly Father to help me find the treatment or the person who could help me move forward in my recovery. As I searched, I was lead to the right treatment and providers to help me overcome the post traumatic stress I was suffering from. Had I not made the effort, I would have remained where I was. But because I made the effort, not only did he provide those needs that I had asked for help finding, he provided a means for me to get the treatment I needed. I may have felt trapped in the living arrangements we were in, but had we been anywhere else, we wouldn’t have been able to afford the treatment I needed. He even helped orchestrate a way for my mother to be available to me most weeks during this treatment (she lived 4 hours away). This allowed me to focus on my healing rather than on trying to figure out how I was going to take care of the kids, so that I could take care of myself.
It was hard for me to see, but the light started to shine back into my life. I began to take notice of all of the seemingly small (now obviously huge) miracles that took place during this dark and miserable time in my life. God’s hand was in all of it once I began to make an effort to address what was in my power to change.
Satan would have us believe that we are powerless in our circumstances, but as we make the effort to seek change, God will help us see where we do have power, and he multiplies it. God is there and he does take interest in our personal endeavors. He does help us when we try to make a change. We are not alone. Don’t allow yourself to wait for power to come into your life, it will never come. Take the reins, and God will give you strength.