All my life I had known in my heart the truths that the LDS church taught but didn't know a church existed that taught those things, specifically, pre-mortality, eternal marriage, and Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit being one in purpose but separate in being. Also, due to much Bible study and extra-canonical study my mom and I did, reading the Book of Mormon was a wonderful experience. I knew it was true, because I knew no one human being could have come up with it, and everything was about Jesus and the atonement, and being born again. No "new age" guru that thinks that one can enter heaven with no effort on their part could have written it. I was baptized one week after the missionaries gave me all the lessons in one day.
Some critics wonder how, even if there was a nation that ended up in a land far from Israel, would they know of Jesus so plainly. I was reading a book a year or so ago that was a compilation of ancient Hebrew scholars who lived before Jesus came the first time, who understood the prophesies that a suffering Messiah would come first. The Book of Mormon people had the Brass Plates, which contained much of what is in our Bible, and they did as the rabbis did, they commented on those passages being filled with the Holy Spirit to understand truth. As I told my husband, why wouldn't Jehovah (Jesus) show these Ancient American prophets about His coming since their offspring were going to be here to witness His coming as well?
God promised that "Joseph would be separate from his brethren," and all through the Old Testament, He mentions the remnant of Joseph. And Joseph was the one out of all the brothers that never had a bad description given of him. It makes sense that his lineage would be chosen to bring forth such wonderful insights into our Savior.
After joining the church, I lived in Pocatello for four years. I would occasionally visit a couple regular protestant churches there and all their pastors could do was gripe about the Mormons and never get on with preaching a sermon. Most of LDS people were wonderful Christian people, but I also found that a few of the LDS ward members there took Jesus for granted and focused more on LDS lifestyle than faith. It made me miss my ward in Missouri.
Now I am in Modesto, CA. My husband goes to church with me, but he is not convinced yet. Any LDS people reading this, please pray for him. May Heavenly Father bless you all.
- By Ben Casper
- Published 02/26/2011
Joseph Fielding Smith exited the building and moved through the crowd to an awaiting car. A brother called out and asked him if he could take his picture. President Smith said "Sure, how about if you take it with this young man?" The man said that would be great.
President Smith grabbed me and put his arm around me and we smiled for the camera.
I would give my left pinky if I could locate and get a copy of that picture. I'm sure this is an impossible request but stranger things have happened.
As I've contemplated the messages that were spoken by those who have been called of God to lead and direct His church here on the earth, I am very grateful for the things that I've been taught. For me personally, I was reminded of the great importance of "building our foundation on Christ." (Helaman 5:12) As we go about day-to-day living it is easy sometimes to let little things that keep us on a solid foundation, slip here and there. However, at any time our comfort in day to day living can be dramatically changed when we're faced with the storms of adversity. It is in those moments that we must "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men." (2 Nephi 31:20) If we have not sufficiently prepared ourselves by building our foundation on Christ, in those moments of adversity, it can become increasingly difficult for us to "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ."
When faced with the battle of severe depression, I became very aware of the distinct difference a person can feel when they have the spirit of the Holy Ghost and can feel the love of God, in contrast to those who for one reason or another are not able or capable of feeling that in their life. "A problem reported by people with severe depression is that it is difficult for them to feel the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to our thoughts and feelings (see D&C 8:2), and these can be the very things that are distorted in mental illness. It is hard for those who are ill to break through feelings of hopelessness, despair, and worthlessness." (Matters of the Mind latter-day Saint helps for Mental Health p.269).
As I experienced some of my darkest moments in the midst of depression, my emotions, feelings, and thoughts were distorted, making it difficult to feel the precious gift of the Holy Ghost and the constant and unconditional love of our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ. At times I felt numb as I sat in church meetings or listened to spiritual messages. I knew in my mind that I had a knowledge and testimony of these things, but I had a difficult time feeling the warmth and confirmation of the Holy Ghost.
Because I also struggled with anxiety in addition to the depression, it became a battle for me to get myself to church. I had a fear of having to be with and socialize with others. In addition to that, I had the heartbreaking and devastating thought that I was not loved by my Father in Heaven and Savior. I felt like I was a disappointment, and in one of my darkest hours, I felt so worthless that I wanted to be completely erased from existence.
During this last severe episode of depression and anxiety I was serving as the 1st counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. There were some Sundays when it was my turn to conduct the meetings, or teach a lesson, or oversee a Relief Society weekday activity, and I was not capable of doing so. I was very aware that there were other ladies within the ward who were more capable of serving in that calling than I was, especially in the current situation I was in. However, I was blessed to serve with a very amazing, compassionate, and inspired Relief Society President who continued to put her faith and trust in me and who became a very instrumental part in guiding me in the direction I needed to continue to heal. I have since realized there was great wisdom in allowing me to continue to serve in the Relief Society Presidency.
Although I struggled to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and the love of the Lord as the result of mental illness, I discovered blessings and gained additional knowledge and testimony that I otherwise would not have experienced. Because I had a solid testimony before this particular trial, I was better prepared to remain steadfast in Christ as I faced the storm. I had a testimony of the truthfulness of the teachings of the church, of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith and a living prophet on the earth today, and of course a testimony of the reality of a living God and a Savior who provided for each and every one of us the gift of the atonement. Because I had previously gained that testimony and worked on strengthening it, when I was in the position of not being fully capable of feeling the Spirit, I still knew and recognized the things that I needed to do to maintain that knowledge and testimony. Having that knowledge did not make my suffering suddenly subside, but it did provide me with the understanding of the importance of remaining steadfast in Christ, which in turn kept me putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward as best as I could.
I also had additional experiences that I would consider "tender mercies of the Lord." I have an amazing husband who continually encouraged me and reminded me of my worth and goodness. I had an inspired and loving Bishop who helped me to understand that the Lord chose this trial for me personally, and that there was a purpose for it. I also have a wonderful counselor at LDS Family Services who has helped me to work through some very dark times and who also has helped me to recognize that there is a purpose and a need for me to learn from this mental trial, because I in turn need to help others who struggle similarly. All of these experiences in addition to others, have helped me to be able to recognize the love of the Lord, even when at times I was not fully capable of feeling it. How grateful I am for compassionate and understanding people, and for experiences that have allowed me to continue to overcome this personal trial.
"Because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].” (None Were With Him by Jefferey R. Holland)
I have a renewed understanding of the importance of building our foundation on Jesus Christ our Savior and of continually striving to remain steadfast in Christ. I know that as I work on this daily, my testimony will continue to grow and be strengthened and when I am faced with the storms of adversity I will be able to press forward having a knowledge of the love of God and the truthfulness of his gospel.
I'm grateful for Jesus Christ. He changed my life from being an alcoholic, to being a happy person and has helped me to help others and be of service to them. I'm grateful to be back in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jesus is my Savior.
So many people around me have dealt with very difficult life circumstances. There are those who have dealt with the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, addictions, children who have gone astray, physical illness, divorce, the inability to bare children, and the list could go on. Each one of these experience's carry with it at times, overwhelming sadness and adversity. I have a great admiration for those who I know of, who have personally carried the heavy load of any one of these life trials.
We all will have times in our lives when we experience sadness as the result of life's cicumstances. In the Book of Mormon we are taught that there must be opposition in all things. If we are to truly know what happiness feels like, than we must also experience the pain, hurt, and sorrow of sadness. We can't fully understand the emotional feelings that accompany either happiness or sadness, unless we experience both of them.
Many times the word "depressed" is used to describe sadness. However, true clinical depression is actually a mental/mood disorder, with sadness being a major symptom of the disorder. Sadness, as an emotion, however, is a natural and normal human response to any of the trials and adversity that we are given along life's journey. So how do we know if we are experiencing sadness, or if we are dealing with clinical depression?
David Burns, an expert in the field of psychiatry describes the difference between sadness and depression in his book "Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy." He said:
Because sadness is so often associated with depression, I think it's good for people to understand that there's a difference between a healthy, normal, sadness and clinical depression. I hope recognizing depression as a disorder helps to shed light on understanding those who struggle with it.
"Either depression or sadness can develop after a loss or a failure in your efforts to reach a goal of great personal importance. Sadness comes, however, without distortion. It involves a flow of feeling and therefore has a time limit. It never involves a lessening of your self-esteem. Depression is frozen-it tends to persist or recur indefinitely, and always involves loss of self-esteem."
To all those individuals who are struggling with difficult challenges and adversities, whatever they may be, I truly admire you. There are many who have had very difficult trials to deal with, and your example of strength and faith have been truly inspirational. Thank you for teaching me to have faith and patience as I work through my personal trials. You are truly amazing!
When we first got married to my husband and I moved into a small home in Orem. Shortly after we began attending our ward I was assigned some visiting teachers one of whom was my wonderful neighbor Brooke. We were so blessed to have Brooke and her cute little family of three as wonderful neighbors. My husband and I were clueless newlyweds we had no idea where to get the best deals, how to fix cars and many other things. My husband wasn't afraid to go over to their house and ask them for help if we needed something and they were always very gracious and helpful. My husband got to know Brook's husband quite well. They were both Accounting majors in college, so they would talk about it and we got some great advice.
We lived in our little house for over 2 years of our marriage and during which time my visiting teacher helped us more than she will ever know. Brooke was always there for me when I was going through a hard time. She was always such a good example to me. I really loved having her as my visiting teacher and as a friend. She and her husband were our life savers during a difficult time. I hope they know that. We will be forever grateful for their help.
I know that the lord watches over us. He knows what we need and he sends us people along our way in the form of visiting teachers and friends who can help us to stay on the right path.
We all know and recognize that life typically isn't quite that simple. All of us will have times throughout life's journey when we will be faced with adversity which will make Timon and Pumba's philosophy seem completely unrealistic. We can decide how we will handle each struggle that we are faced with, but it is sure that we will all have experiences that will stretch our patience, hope, faith, and capabilities.
For me, my struggle has been fighting the battle of anxiety and severe depression. This is something that many people deal with to different degrees of severity. But it still carries with it a stigma, which many times will keep people from talking about it and treating it properly.
Elder Alexander Morrison, a general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has great insight into the suffering experienced by those with mental illness, specifically that of depression. He has a daughter who has struggled with depression and panic attacks for half of her life. Elder Morrison describes very well the adversity that individuals face who are suffering from mental illness. He said:
"Among the most painful and often protracted ordeals an individual or family may face is that of mental illness. One of the central characteristics of the cruel constellation of disease groups under the general rubric of mental illness is the suffering involved. Its intensity cannot be described. One perceptive sufferer, William Styron, has pointed out, for example, that "the pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne." And yet there is hope. Many mentally ill people find their suffering greatly reduced once they are properly diagnosed and receive the proper treatment. In addition, although those who are suffering may feel unable or unworthy to experience God's love, they can be assured that nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our lord" (Romans 8:39). They can come to know, perhaps as never before, that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7)
As one who has suffered with severe depression, I understand that sometimes you don't believe there is hope. The pain of what you are feeling and experiencing is at times unbearable. Because I have experienced depression and anxiety, I know how devastating it can be and I want to be able to help others who are suffering similarly. It has been a journey for me as I have taken steps that are leading me to a discovery of a new me, a better, and more healthier me. My hope is that others might find peace, hope, faith, and courage as they strive to overcome this silent battle and discover healing and happiness in their lives.
Through this experience I have been allowed many opportunities to learn and be strengthened, even at times when I was not fully capable of recognizing it. Having a knowledge and understanding of the Savior has helped me stay anchored. It has given me the faith, courage, and strength to keep pressing forward.
I have truly come to better understand our Savior's love for each and everyone of us and to appreciate more, the sacred gift of the atonement. I know that as we allow Him to direct our earthly journey, we will discover our true source of strength and happiness comes from the divine pathway that leads to our Savior, Jesus Christ.