Sunday, March 1, 2015

He Gives Me Hope

It has been an interesting couple of weeks.  I have been in pain, but there has been a swelling of hope to carry me through.  And I've been enlightened on things I thought I already had a firm grasp of.

Right after I posted my magical formula for mental wellness on Facebook, I started drowning again. I cried in the morning.  I cried at night.  And in my prayers, I cried out in frustration and pleading. Why, after all these years, am I still wrestling with depression?  I thought I had already slain this beast!  How many times must I experience the disappointment of failure after the elation of success?

Maybe, I asked myself, in the remotest corner of my mind, maybe I'm just lazy?  Maybe, with all my openness about my condition, and all the many people who love and support me through it, I have allowed depression to be what we all fear it will become: a crutch.

For days this question hovered over me, until one dark night, I had to voice it and see what would happen.  And as always, TJ was there to hear my darkest fear and to defend me against it.

He was the first of many voices raised in my defense during this time.  One particularly tough morning I spent about an hour in my room trying to put myself together in time for home school. As I prayed, an inarticulate wish issued from my heart that a friend would reach out to me.  TJ was morally obligated to love and support me, and so were my parents and siblings.  But my sick mind reasoned that if someone outside that circle could show concern, I might feel that I was worth something to the world at large.

Within two hours the Lord sent two loving friends to me with messages of love, validation, and encouragement.  One showed up with a sugar cookie and a long note of thanks for my friendship, emphasizing how she felt the Lord must be pleased with me.  When I asked later how she had known I needed help that day, she said she had received a distinct impression that I needed to hear from her. Then TJ's cousin called out of the blue.  We are about as close as two distantly related women can be, who see each other only every one or two years--and I mean that without sarcasm.  So to have a long phone conversation with her about my struggles was uplifting as it was unique.

Their message?  That I am not failing.  That I am doing good, in spite of, and maybe even because of this weakness.  That the Lord is pleased with how hard I try.  And that it's making me into a better person.

Two other friends I've heard from in the past two weeks have been Chad Webb and Elder Jeffery R. Holland, speaking in separate meetings with seminary teachers and spouses.  So, full disclosure, they weren't speaking to me personally.  But it felt that way.  Elder Holland's strength and conviction and tenderness sank deep into my soul and gave me strength, as it always does.  Brother Webb's teachings on the Atonement surprised me by offering a completely new perspective.  He quoted a conference talk by Merrill J. Bateman called "A Pattern for All"

For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:4–5).

Mind.  Blown.  I have been taught all my life that Jesus Christ bore my sins, infirmities, griefs and even sicknesses, and yet when I heard this quote, my vision expanded.  Christ really does completely remember what it's like to be in my shoes.  And that means that I am not alone.

Not being alone means that Jesus Christ is sending help every day.  It means He inspires loved ones to help in ways that are meaningful to me.  It means that He teaches TJ the perfect words to say that will help me to heal, time after time after time--and it means that He will strengthen TJ to bear the weight of my sickness so he can always be there for me.  It means that He is pleading for my redemption before the Father.  It means that he is suffering beside me, and when the Father sees fit to give me a respite from the pain, Christ is bearing the whole of it.

Jesus Christ gives me hope.  I may never be completely whole in my lifetime.  I will most certainly experience the joys and sorrows of mortality in one form or another, until my earthly mission is fulfilled.  But in the meantime, these struggles are not in vain.  If they do nothing else, they humble me and show me His hand in my life.  And that truly makes it all worthwhile.


The Bailey Family said...

Kari, this is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences so that we all may be benefited. Your relience on the Atonement is inspiring to me!

Spencer said...

Thanks for writing about this Kari. Depression is so mysterious to me. Even having gone through some version of it myself, I sometimes wonder if I was ever truly depressed, or just sad. Other times I wonder if anyone has ever felt the way I do or thought the way that I think, and I'm sure I have depression. But I appreciate your testimony and experience of finding comfort and hope in the atonement. I was just thinking today that what touches my soul the most about the atonement, is having a hero. For me, a hero is someone who helps those who can't help themselves, and this is the basic purpose of the priesthood. In the highly variable gap between who I am and who I could be, he extends a helping, rescuing hand. Having been rescued from water and choking and other hazards throughout my life, I love this image of the Savior loving me and seeing in me all that I can become, and rescuing me from my limited point of view. It seems like depression is different for different people and at different times of life, but I really do believe that his atonement covers all versions, and heals souls.

Tyson Griffin said...

Oh, Kari! I don't even know if you remember me, Emily Heaton (now Griffin). But I love seeing you on facebook. You always make me happy. I had no idea that you struggle with depression. This just breaks my heart for you. So hard. What a wonderful example you are to all of us, though. I don't seem to struggle with depression, but I do struggle with anxiety, and it is so hard sometimes. I loved what you posted. Very inspiring to me. I love you, lady, even after all these years. :) You're still amazing! (Sorry this is posted under my husband's google account. Can't figure out how to change it.)

Karen Dick said...

Georgia, thank you. Thanks for helping me share. Thanks for always listening. Thanks for believing in me. You sustain me in a way I can't express.

Karen Dick said...

Spencer, I love thinking of the Savior as my hero. It's the best meaning for the word, "Savior," and it fits the work he does so well. The more I learn about him the more I'm convinced he truly is everything good. I love hearing about your experiences with overcoming depression. Thanks for hangin' in the shallow end of the gene pool with me. I love you.

Karen Dick said...

Emily! I didn't know how much I missed you until I saw this. Even now, the warmth of your spirit shines through, even on your husband's account. :) I need more of it. We've got to keep up on each other. I am so sorry to hear that you struggle with anxiety, which is kind of like depression's fraternal twin, yes? God bless you in your fight against it. Also, please move to St. George. It might just single-handedly cure me.

MyDonkeySix said...

Kari, thanks for sharing this. You so beautifully put into words what I often feel and think. I too experience the drowning of depression, the feelings of failure, and the asking to have this trial removed. I try to accept that this is going to be a lifelong ordeal. I have faith in the Resurrection. I try to be grateful for what it has taught and does teach me. I strive to be humble and lean on the Savior. But there are dark days. Days of hopelessness and fear. At those times I somehow find the strength , mostly through my amazing husband and the Savior, to move on. I know the Adversary would rather see us wallow in self pity and misery. I try to make myself to reach outward and upwards and serve those around me. And now, thanks to those recent talks, I ask "why not me?" . You are not alone and you are not a failure. Give yourself an A every day and know that your best changes each day. This too shall pass! I try to think of how purely we are being refined and amazing we will be at the end of this trial. Thanks again for sharing. I admire your strength.- Sue McConkie

Karen Dick said...

Sue, I should have recognized you for a sister-in-arms. I love your thoughts on the resurrection. I can't wait to wake up on that bright and clear morning with a bright and clear mind. Elder Holland's landmark talk on depression gives this idea such breathtaking imagery. And really, when the Lord asks who is willing to pass through trials in order to become more like Him, why not me? I know He will recompense me for every trial. Thanks so much for reading, and for your wonderful insights. Keep on keeping on, my friend!