Benefits of depression: Recognition of depth of faith

I don’t miss my depression. A friend of mine writes he misses his. That certainly would not be something I would ever say outright. Being at the depth of a canyon filled with heavy water is not a place to which I want to return. 

But I learned things about myself during that time. Things I likely would not have learned in an easier way. 

I’m not sure I had a darkest moment. I had a lot of really dark moments, though. During each of them–without fail, without exception–I turned to God. I might have been crying on the floor of my shower, but I turned to God and prayed. 

It’s a common wonder among people who grew up LDS whether they would be or become members of The Church had they not been born to believing parents. I’ve often concluded I would not. 

After this experience, I believe I would have searched. I would have spent so much time questioning, learning, searching for something additional beyond the miracles science gives us. There are things our current science cannot explain. (That’s ok, the purpose of science is to eventually be able to explain all things.)

In my darkest moment I needed something more. I needed understanding. I needed something sure in my life. If I had not been born to the parents I have, if I had not been taught the sure Truths of Eternity, this would have been the time I searched until I found them. 

No single friend, no counselor, no mentor, no parent could have brought the surety in my wave-ridden, windy, dark, and wet moments of depression that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ brought me. 

Nothing else can bring that level of peace and acceptance. No amount of social interaction, medication (self- or otherwise), or anything else could have brought me to the stable place from which i had to start rebuilding my life. 

I don’t miss my depression. But it revealed things to me. It revealed the depth of my faith. My beliefs, my knowledge, my trust in God are rooted deeply in the core of who I am, and I am willing to endure smelting and fulling to become someone better (Mal 3:2-3). God sees my blueprint, even if I do not, and He is willing to guide me through Hell to achieve His vision of my future. 

Learning to enjoy the journey

Which is more important: the journey or the outcome?

Although the blog is subtitled, “Learning to enjoy the journey,” I have always argued the outcome is the most important. The end of the journey is the focus. Anything along the way is simply there. It is fluff and helps endure the difficulties of the journey. 

I should have known better. I’d experienced the lesson several years ago. 

It’s amazing how small bits of inspiration years ago affect me today. When I was pondering titles for posts, I looked at the blog subtitle and realized I wasn’t trying to enjoy my journey, so I titled the post, saved it, knew I didn’t have anything to write yet, and set it aside. 

Today the inspiration struck. So here goes. 

The journey is at least as important as end. I think there are some strong arguments that it is more important. 

Life is more comparable to training rides than to a bike race. Training rides have purpose only to prepare you for the race. The race is obviously about the end. A race is to win and to finish first. 

But life is a preparation. Thus it’s similar to a training ride. 

And the end of a training ride brings only more preparation. Regardless of how far you ride, when you finish, there is work to do. When you get home, the recovery process starts. It’s time to stretch, eat, and get calories. 

The end of the journey is simply more work. 

It’s not really en end. So I began to love the rides. I began to look around. I began to enjoy the struggle of the hills, the wind of the descents, and the beauty of the scenery. 

Four summers ago, I learned to enjoy the journey and not get stuck on the end. 

Today that lesson made far more sense. 

It’s time to enjoy the struggles. It’s time to look up, even when I’m pushing hard. It’s not about getting to the end of the day. It’s not about fighting until there is a small reprieve. It’s about enjoying every moment. It’s about finding individual points of joy and glorying in those. 

Those points make up the journey. 

Season of thanks: Empathy

The footballing world was shocked by the announcement of the death of Gary Speed today (article, ESPN).  The former Premiership great and current Wales manager was 42.

I’m grateful Heavenly Father has blessed us with empathy.  Because we all need support, we have been given the ability to understand the feelings of others.  Obviously we can never understand exactly how someone feels because that is directly determined by each person’s interpretation of his/her life experiences, but we can get close to understanding them.

My heart reaches out to express my condolences to the Speed family, to Mr Speed’s wife and children.  Only in my imagination can I begin to imagine what it would be like for my father to die at his own hand.  But I know it would be a horrible feeling and those children will be affected forever.  I empathize with the psychological struggles they will have as they search for understanding of their father’s action.

I know enough from my own experience being single and enough learned from talking with single parents that I would never want my spouse to die, let alone at such a young age or while children were at home.  Honestly, that may be one of the things that scares me the most about getting married–potential to end up where I am now before I’m out of my 20s.

So as I feel for others’ pains and struggles, I am grateful for that capability.  It helps me understand what Jesus did while He was in Gethsemane.  He experienced all the pain, sorrow, guilt, sin, and consequences thereof of every one of God’s children.  He did this to pay the price and so when we are in our darkest times, we can take comfort and strength in knowing we are not alone.  Not only can He empathize, He went through it.

But giving us the gift of empathy, we can begin to understand what He did for us.

Christmas

Christmas is about potential.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who grew up to be the Saviour of all men.  We collect as families and close friends to celebrate what will be.  Maybe I’m not making sense.

Before the world was formed, God had a plan.  His spirit children (us) needed a world to come to and experience life in a body and learn how to master bodies.  He knew we would make many mistakes and needed a way fo us to be able to return to Him.  (He is perfect and imperfect people can’t come back to stay.)

Jesus Christ volunteered to come to earth as a mortal, like us, and suffer more than any man had ever suffered.  He would experience the entirety of human experience and atone for all pain, lost, sickness, and sin–all imperfections–so we could return to God and live with Him forever.

We had known Jesus for a long time, and knew He was the only spirit sibling we had who could possibly make good on such a promise.  We supported this and looked forward with faith to His life.

On Christmas day (or what we celebrate as Christmas day), Jesus was born to a virgin mother.  Heaven had such trust in Jesus that angels proclaimed his birth across the world.  A new star appeared, telling everyone the Saviour was born.

It is the beginning of His perfect life we celebrate today.  We celebrate the potential of a tiny baby child; born in the muddy, flea-ridden stable; lain in an animal’s feed trough for a bassinet to become the perfect example to all mankind of how to live and how to return to God’s presence.

Christmas reminds us of our potential.  Each of us can choose to be like Jesus.  We can live following His example, repenting of our mistakes because He atoned for our sins.  His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary’s Cross allows us to repent and have our sins, though as scarlet blemishes on our souls become white as driven snow (see Isaiah 1:18).

Jesus allows us to fulfill God’s plan, to fulfill our potential as children of the Most High.  We can achieve limitless heights because He performed His mission on earth.  We each must do the same.  We must follow all His commandments and help other do the same.  We must find and fulfill our purpose of life.

Then we, too, through Jesus’ atonement that rights every wrong, will realize our potential as we stand before God and are ushered into His loving arms once again.