Category Archives: Trials

Gratitude for Trials

As hard as it is to talk about ourselves or give personal details, sometimes we need to tell the stories of our lives to show “how great things the Lord has done” for us.

This past year, I went through some difficult trials. It was hard to have hope during these times because things were not improving. Every time life started to get a little easier and manageable, another trial would come. But I held on to faith and hope and love. I clung to them because they seemed to be all I had left. Although the trials have not ended completely, and I am still navigating the aftermath of some trials and struggling with other trials that will likely never end in this life, I have been able to see some reasons for what I went through.

I began 2016 with the scheduling of an endoscopy and CT scan because I had been in severe pain for months. I was not finding relief, even though I had tried to eat healthy and limit my intake of acidic and fatty foods. There were no answers from either procedure, and I had little direction about what I should or should not eat. After a few months, I was finally referred to an allergist. She told me that I had no allergies but probably just had trouble processing certain foods, and gave me dietary guidelines to follow.

Meanwhile, my doctor had put me on medication for anxiety because he said that anxiety contributed to acid production and it might help with my stomach issues. The medicine did help with anxiety, but it also made me more depressed. In fact, it made me so depressed that all I saw was darkness for months. I couldn’t seem to smile, and getting out of bed every day was exhausting to the point of being painful. I did not realize that it was the medicine that caused these feelings, and calling to schedule an appointment with my doctor was more difficult than I could handle. So, this went on for about 6 months. When I finally was able to call the doctor and get off the medicine, I felt that a great weight had been lifted off of me. I started taking another medicine soon after that helped relieve my anxious thoughts, and I felt like all was right with the world again.

A week later, I was going to pick up my friend from the airport when a car made a left turn in front of me. The crash totaled my car and deployed the airbag, which broke my thumb. I got a rental car and within a week, I had a flat tire. At this point, I just laughed. It seemed only appropriate that after all I had been through, I would have the luck to get a flat tire on my rental car.

The point of all of this is that about two years ago, I said a very important prayer. In that prayer, I told God that I was incredibly happy and that I was so grateful for the happiness and joy I had found, but that I was willing to give it up to become better. I was willing to give up my happiness and the easiness of my life to draw closer to God and to become a better person. I did not expect all of the trials that followed, but when they came, I knew in my mind that as bad as things were, my prayer was being answered.

Last week, my brother backed into my car while pulling out of the driveway. A year or two ago, I would have been upset. I might have even yelled or cried or said something inconsiderate. But I had become a new person. I looked at the car, made sure that the doors could still open, and told my brother not to worry about it. I didn’t even feel upset because it was just a car, after all. The car wasn’t important. The way my brother felt was important. I was more worried about how upset he was with himself than I was about the dent in my car.

That’s how things have been lately. I don’t get upset like I used to. I don’t yell at people. I just understand. I understand what it is like to have a bad day or a bad week or month or year. So I can forgive people for their bad days and for their mistakes. I have been able to help and serve others with dietary restrictions because I understand their needs. I still struggle with depression at times, and I still have pain from my car crash, but I have hope. I could write an entire other post about all the ways that God has blessed me and helped me through these trials. This post though is just about seeing the good that comes from our trials.

I am looking for a new job closer to home that will allow me more time to go to school and spend time with family and friends and take care of myself. I am not sure if I would have made the decision to move on from my current job if I had not gotten in that car crash. I know that I have not seen all of the blessings from the trials I faced in the last two years, but I am grateful for the ones I have seen so far. As bad as things were, they will probably end up being the greatest blessings of my life and influence the type of person, and wife, and mother that I will one day become.

Do not despair. Do not give up. It is okay to cry. It is okay to feel broken. It is okay to not be okay. But cling to hope, cling to faith, cling to love. One day you will see that all the brokenness led you to greater joy than you could ever have imagined.

Faith to Be Still

We talk about the faith to move mountains, the faith to heal the sick, the faith to make things change. More often though, I think we need to exercise the faith to stay still in a world of constant change, to hold on when things aren’t happening like we want, and to trust God when he seemingly leaves you alone. Faith is not always the grandiose manifestations of God’s power. Sometimes the greatest faith is necessary to simply be.

I recently went through the worst episode of depression that I have ever experienced. Although things were incredibly difficult, this was not a trial of faith for me. It was a trial of body and mind- a physical, emotional, and social trial. I wondered if I would make it through, not because I lacked faith, but because I did not know how much my physical body could endure before I would break. I had suffered so much for so long that the only thing left was my faith. This particular period of depression though was also a reassurance of God’s love and trust in me.

As the depression progressed, I felt like I was stripped down to my core. Layer after layer of the things I thought were important, the things I thought made me me, were stripped away until I found out exactly what I was made of. In the end, it wasn’t my strength or reliability, it wasn’t my knowledge or willpower, it wasn’t my obedience, and it wasn’t the service or the good deeds that made me me. I found that it is faith that makes me who I am.

I was doing a lot of good things. I was helping people. I was productive. I was a positive influence in the world. I recently read a quote I had written in my journal a few months ago that said, “you find your faith when you are doing all the right things, but everything goes wrong.” I was doing all of the right things. I was being an influence for good. I was doing everything I knew how to do to take care of myself. Things just went horribly wrong. But in the breaking and utter despair, I found something beautiful.

When everything else fell away, I found my core was faith. Not just the faith to move mountains, but the faith to stay where I was, to stand alone, and to stay standing when mountains and valleys and rivers moved all around me. I had faith that God could take away my depression. I had faith that I could be healed and made whole. But I felt like God told me that wasn’t the plan. He told me that this was just what I was going to have to live with for a while. I didn’t know how long it would last. I didn’t know when it would be over or if I would ever get better, but I knew that I trusted God anyway. In the midst of my darkest hours, I found the faith to trust God with all of me even when that faith was all I had left to give.

I have had depression for as long as I can remember. It had never been this bad before, and I am not sure I could have made it through if it had been this bad before. But throughout this trial I was so grateful for how I had been prepared for what I was going through. I was grateful for the previous years of depression that taught me resilience and perseverance. I was grateful that I now have friends that could be there for me through it. I was grateful that I have a good, stable job with an understanding boss. And now I am completely grateful, not just that things have gotten better, but that I experienced this so that I could discover the faith already within me to “be still and know that [He] is God.”

Sleep on Now- The Loneliness of Depression

I took a week off of work and stayed with my sister. Depression had gripped me so tightly that I could not breathe. I just wanted the pain to be over. It was good to have this time off, but I didn’t get better. In fact, I might have just realized how bad it really is.

This depression has been so thick, so debilitating, so all-consuming that I have related to how Job felt and how Christ must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. I don’t really know what they went through. I have no idea. But I believe it took them to their limits, and this depression has taken me to mine.

During this difficult time, I could feel my friends becoming less able to be there for me. I knew I was sliding into a dark place that no one could really understand. But I hoped that I could still feel them on the other side of the darkness. I knew they couldn’t be with me, but I hoped I wouldn’t feel like they left me.

It makes me think of Christ in the Garden of Gethsamane. He asked his closest friends to stay with him, to pray with him. He told them that his soul was “exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” They knew he wasn’t okay, but they fell asleep anyway. And when he wanted them to be there for him, when he went back to see if they were still there, they were asleep. And in the agony of loneliness and pain, he asked, “could ye not watch with me one hour?” I understand that question. I understand that loneliness, but I probably would have slept too…

The human body can only do so much. I think of what Christ said, “The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” Humans can only do so much. No matter how bad your friend is hurting, sometimes you physically cannot be there for them. That doesn’t say anything about how much you love them. It just is evidence of our human weakness. And like Christ, I have come to understand that sometimes my friends just aren’t capable of being there for me in my greatest struggles.

I don’t think I know what Christ went through. He suffered pain and emotional anguish that I cannot even imagine. But I do know that because of that, he understands. He understands when my friends can’t be there for me. He understands my begging for any other way. He understands the agony and pleading for the end of the pain. And because he understands, I am not alone. God is always just a prayer away.

So I too can say to my friends, “sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough.”

Never Alone

The last few months have been a very difficult time for me. There have been moments of agony and despair and desperate pleading for any other way. However, through these difficulties, I have found peace in knowing that I am not utterly alone. Others have been through similar circumstances and understand the feelings I face.

I have taken comfort from scriptural stories where the trials faced seemed more than one could bear. I have read in the book of Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” I have read the account of the Savior when he asks for the cup to be removed from him. I have read in D&C 121 where Joseph Smith asks how long God will let his people suffer. I do not hold myself on par with any of these people. I am not a prophet. I do not see myself as anything other than a lonely child trying to do my best. But with these great men, I share their pleadings and their faith.

Depression is very lonely. It can seem to be the longest path you have ever taken. It is difficult to move on, not knowing whether there is any sense of relief in the distance. I have pleaded for the end. I have begged for any other way. I have prayed for relief, for help, for things to just be a little easier. I have felt myself drowning and sensed my friends slipping farther away, the deeper I go.

But through all of this, through the pain and loneliness and heartache, I have understood what faith and hope are. Faith is not simply believing in something you cannot see. It is standing with what you believe in times when you do not know if it will be worth it. Hope is not just thinking that things will get better. Hope is believing that even though things are not getting better, there is a greater purpose in this pain you are called to endure.

My faith is not like a giant. I do not know if I always trust in a greater plan. I wonder sometimes how long this will last and how much I will have to endure. I wonder when the end will come. What I do know is that I trust in the God who made heaven and earth. I trust in a Savior that lived and died for me. I cling to the hope that because my Savior walked his long and lonely path alone, I do not have to be alone. And “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” because I know that he has never left me and will never leave me. And if all my friends leave or cannot help because this darkness becomes too much for them to bear, I have a perfect friend that is just a prayer away.

Depression is the hardest trial I have ever faced, but because of him I do not have to do it alone. We never have to bear it alone.

I Will Not Leave You Comfortless

Tonight in my scripture study class someone asked why God sometimes seems to leave us when we need him most. He quoted the scripture, “I will not leave you comfortless” and then asked why that didn’t seem to be true at times.

I thought about this for a minute and my mind rested on the word “leave”. Sometimes we do feel comfortless. Sometimes it feels as though God has abandoned us, that we are hopeless, helpless, and alone. Sometimes in our times of greatest need we will wonder where God is and why he would leave us when we’re doing everything right, when we are doing our best to follow Him and do His will. But that word “leave” is very important. He does not say, “I will not allow you to be comfortless,” or “I will not let you feel alone.” He says that He will not leave us that way.

I struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, loneliness, anxiety, and more. I do not ask why bad things happen to good people; I simply know that they do. But I have never had something bad happen to me that I wasn’t grateful for eventually. The darkness is sometimes a very lonely place, but I know that if I can just hold on long enough, I will not be left comfortless.

This week and the week before have been incredibly difficult. I have felt like I am trudging through waist-deep mud simply getting up in the morning and doing the day to day necessities of life. Tonight though, I felt okay enough to go to my class. I don’t think that was a coincidence. I don’t think that comment or my comment in response were coincidences.

It may have been a small thing, but reasons like that give me hope in the darkness. Tomorrow, life may feel hard again. I may feel depressed and alone, but if that means I can help someone else see the light, I would go through the darkness over and over.

Hold on.

He will not leave you comfortless.

Suicide and the Atonement

Today in church, we watched a video of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Before they enter the garden, he says, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” When I heard that, I thought, “I know how that feels.” That’s what I felt like with suicide. The longer I watched, the more it seemed to apply.

Christ’s experience in the garden was much like my experience with suicide attempts. He asks his disciples, his friends, to tarry and watch with him. Even though they want to, even though they would do anything for their beloved leader and friend, they fall asleep. They cannot be there for him like he wants and needs them to be. The same was true of my friends. They wanted to be there for me in my darkness, but they couldn’t.

Christ goes back to them looking for emotional support and asks, “Could ye not watch with me one hour?” I have felt like that many times in my darkness. Could my friends not be there for me in that moment I desperately needed them? Could they not just stay with me for a little while until the pain had passed?

The part that affected me most though, was when the angel comes to strengthen Christ. During one of my suicide attempts, Christ was my angel. He came and strengthened me and gave me the hope to stop trying to die, at least for that night.

That’s what I want you to know about the atonement and suicide. Christ understands. He has walked the long and lonely road so that he could know how we feel. He won’t leave us alone because he knows what it’s like to face the pain alone. He knows the heaviness and weariness. He knows what it’s like to fall to your knees and beg for any other way.

“Because the Savior walked such a long and lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to.” He will succor us. He will be there for us. As someone who has contemplated suicide multiple times and attempted suicide more than once, I can honestly say that Christ understands and will be there for you. That’s what Easter means to me. It means, I need never be alone because there is one who will always understand.

But if Not

Live freely. Live joyfully. Live like you know the plan God has for you.
But… Don’t be afraid to hurt. Don’t be afraid to break. Don’t be afraid to be lonely.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is where Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo say that the Lord is able to deliver them, but if not, they will still only worship God.

I think about that over and over with my trials. Sometimes, the answer is a pure and simple no. Sometimes God says something like, “No, you need this more than you need me to take it away.”

I know it’s hard to believe. I get it. How can something this hard or this painful possibly mean that God loves you? But I believe it. Yes, God could take away all my problems, but the fact that He doesn’t is not an indication that He doesn’t care or that He isn’t there.

I have asked for God to take away my autism, depression, gender identity issues, and health problems. So far, the answer has been no. I can’t explain how grateful I am for that though. I don’t know who I would be without all of these problems, or the good that I could do if I didn’t struggle with these things. However, I do have a glimpse of the good I have done because of my problems.

I know I have saved lives, changed people, given hope, been an example, and made a difference- all because I suffered. So, when I get a no answer, or when I ask for a yes, I’ll continue to say, “but if not, I’ll still believe,” because I know that God has a much bigger plan for me.

Life isn’t always easy. It gets hard and you forget how to breathe sometimes. But there is a God who loves you, and He can carry you through and lift your burdens so you can hardly feel them, but if not, know this… it will be for the good. Maybe not necessarily your good, at least not at first… but someone’s good.

Give Me Your Eyes

I was listening to this song on the radio the other day called, “Give Me Your Eyes”. It talks about seeing all the people around you the way Christ sees them. As I was thinking about this, the thought came that we see through Christ’s eyes by going through hard things. When we go through difficult things, we have the opportunity to see the difficult things other people go through.

Asking for eyes like Christ’s is being willing to accept the challenges you need to go through to sympathize with another’s pain. Then, after we’ve been given the gift of understanding another’s pain, we need to pray for the courage to act on that understanding.

The Price of Discipleship

Everyone must pay a price to know God.

The price can be emotional, physical, financial, internal, external, or any number of ways. But it is a price we choose to pay to learn how to trust God.

Usually it’s God that chooses the price and we choose whether or not to pay it. Sometimes though we decide to pay a higher price than God originally gave us, in order to secure a better reward.

Talking about it like this makes it seem so easy. In truth, it’s one of the most difficult things in the world.

At some point, we all must decide if we are willing to pay the price it takes to get to know God. Are we willing to accept the trials and problems and heartache we are given and trust in God through the process? Are we willing to feel broken and torn, uncomfortable and misunderstood, lost and hopeless? Are we willing to give up what looks like happiness to experience what we feel will bring true happiness?

Don’t take me wrong, following God should be a happy process. In fact, it should make us the happiest people in the world. But… in the midst of that happiness are times of darkness, depression, and despair. Christ was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) As Paul says, “We are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17) We must be willing to suffer with Christ to be joint heirs with him.

Lately, I have been going through rough times. Possibly the hardest part of these times is that I know that I am responsible for my own suffering. You see, I asked God for more trials. It wasn’t that I wasn’t grateful for the blessings. I just didn’t feel as close to God as I wanted to be. So I told God that I would be willing to give up the easiness of my life if it meant I could become closer to him.

And so, here I am, a few hundred tears later with probably a few hundred tears left to go. And I wonder, is this really the price I am willing to pay to know God? My mind tells me I’m crazy, but my heart tells me, yes, it is. This is the price I am willing to pay and will continue to be willing to pay because God is worth more to me than the easiness of the way.

Christ Loved the Broken

I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts that my best friend is currently homeless. Well, I used to think that I was pretty understanding of people who struggled with addictions or homelessness or other issues. But honestly, I had no idea.

I’m a pretty nonjudgmental person. I mean, I know how many things I struggle with so I’m pretty forgiving of other people’s struggles. I know no one is perfect, and I don’t expect them to be. However, I would still think things like, I hope that guy stays away from me or that’s sad but there’s nothing I can do. But now, I’ve realized that there is something I can do. I can care.

My best friend is homeless and she doesn’t always have food to eat. My best friend is homeless and is struggling to hold a job because of her mental struggles. My best friend is homeless and is consistently mistreated by the people around her, even people who should be helping her.

And I… I will never look at another human being the same way again.

No wonder Christ spent his time with the weak and hurt and broken. No wonder he lifted the heads of the downtrodden and helped those that no one else would. Christ understood that that broken person was someone’s best friend. He understood that someone loved that person and needed that person and would do anything for that person. And he understood that they weren’t just someone’s best friend, but His best friend. He knew their valiant spirits and He loved them because He saw what was there to love.

If you have never felt love towards a homeless person or a drug addict or a convict or someone else that society looks down on, just think that they could have been your best friend. Maybe they could even be your best friend.

Are you seeing them as a person? Are you really seeing them? Or are you seeing a glimpse of how life has broken them down?

My best friend is amazing. She is beautiful and selfless and wonderful. She makes me laugh when I feel like crying and smile when I see through tears. She is the most giving, loving, helpful person I know. She is my hero. And even though she is struggling right now, I couldn’t love her more. She is and will always be my best friend and I miss her and I love her to pieces.