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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How Christ is Helping Me Overcome Depression: Christ Reminds Me That I Have Infinite Worth and There is Hope

Early in my depression,  every night before I went to bed I began to have this awful restless and unnerving feeling.

The kind of feeling you get when you realize you forgot to turn in your final project for history class,  you read the time wrong on your itinerary and missed your flight, or after saying something dumbfoundedly stupid and everyone in the room, including yourself knows it. 

And you sit there, beating yourself up inside wondering, 'What the heck was I thinking?'

And every night, every single night, I would sit down on my bed when the day was over and I would feel like this. This terrible sinking feeling like I had done something wrong, made some huge mistake, or failed in some huge way.  And I had no clue why. 

Because I hadn't done anything. Nothing, nada. Nothing, anyways, that could explain why I was feeling like that.

But after a while of feeling this, night after night, my brain started to come up with reasons to justify why I felt the way I did. And they weren't at all good for my sense of self worth.

I wish I could say that I had a good self-esteem. I really wish that I did. But I just didn't. I had developed some pretty bad habits in how I perceived my own value, and my poor opinion of myself was only exacerbated by these terrible feelings I was having every night.

In many ways I began to connect my lack of joy and the nightly sinking feelings with how worthless I felt on top of it all: I must feel so terrible because I am so terrible. 

So, unfortunately, while I was perfectly aware that I had many friends and family that loved and cared for me, to me it didn't matter. Because inside, I knew that they were all wrong. I wasn't really worth loving at all.

It was just some lucky coincidence that they hadn't realized that yet. They didn't know me like knew me. They didn't see how often I failed, how big I failed. Every day of my life. And every failure I ever made in life was just further proof to me that I felt terrible because I was terrible.

Hard to feel like you have any worth when you feel like you're a terrible person.

Despite these feelings, I did still have my faith in my Savior. I knew he was real. And I knew he loved me infinitely. Like I said before, at this point in my life, there was no denying or questioning it. But I was having a very hard time believing that he would forgive someone 'like me'.

The type of person who got on her knees morning and night and prayed for forgiveness and for help overcoming the same things she'd probably end up doing again tomorrow.

And how could I do that? How could I keep getting on my knees each day and ask for forgiveness when it seemed like I was making zero improvement? Wasn't that hypocritical? How could I really be sincere if I kept trying to be better and kept failing at it, day after day?

I am grateful for the scriptures and the words of the prophets, for it was the only way I was able to realize I had not only grossly misinterpreted the atonement, doctrine, and gospel of Jesus Christ, but I had also grossly misinterpreted what determined my own worth.

In the Priesthood Session of the most recent General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:

"It can be discouraging at times to know what it means to be a son [or daughter] of God and yet come up short. The adversary likes to take advantage of these feelings. Satan would rather that you define yourself by your sins instead of your divine potential. Brethren, don't listen to him."

These words have resonated in my heart and my mind since I heard them. They spoke to the deepest part of my aching soul. A soul who, unfortunately, had been doing exactly that: defining herself by her sins rather than by her potential.  

I had thought that because I had kept making the same mistakes over and over that I had failed, that God wouldn't forgive me. 

But the prophet, President Thomas S. Monson in this address here shares: 

"Our task is to become our best selves. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final."

I had forgotten that part of the purpose of the Atonement of Christ was to allow us the opportunity to keep trying, again and again. It wasn't until I read these words that I re-realized that failure wasn't  making the same mistakes over and over, rather failure, by definition, would be deciding to no longer try.

In the July 2012 Ensign, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf talks about how we are always "in the middle" of our lives and how knowing that can give us hope. He states:

"Being always in the middle means that the game is never over, hope is never lost, defeat is never final. For no matter where we are or what our circumstances, an eternity of beginnings and an eternity of endings stretch out before us."

What amazing and inspiring truths!

But perhaps even more inspiring to me than being taught that hope is never lost and defeat never final, or that the Lord did not consider me a failure because of my many mistakes, was the knowledge that He is merciful and understanding of me and He desires to forgive me.

In the article I shared a few weeks ago, titled The Savior Wants to Forgive, Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Quorum of the Seventy states:

"Providing an opportunity for the Savior to enlighten our understanding, Peter once inquired how many times he should forgive his brother and then asked, “Till seven times?” Surely that would be more than enough. But the Savior’s response opened wide the door to His merciful heart: “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

This brings hope to all, especially to those who feel that recurring human weakness is beyond the Savior’s willingness to help and to save."

Indeed that is the beauty of the Atonement and the Grace of God is that He promises us if we just try and keep trying, He will accept us. Not maybe. Not just probably. But He will! For His grace is sufficient, even for habitual mistake makers, like me all of us!

He desires to forgive us! He wants to!

I was also reminded that my worth was not determined by the good or bad choices I made. The Savior loved me infinitely, not conditionally, which meant that my choices had no bearings on the amount of worth He placed on my soul (and likewise that I should place on my soul!).

In Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-12, it says:

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance."

Our Savior died for all men! All of us! Not just those He deemed 'decent', those He considered 'righteous,' or those who didn't make mistakes (as if anyone like that exists!). But every single being that has ever lived on this planet!

And He did it because He places worth, infinite worth, on every individual soul. 

Regardless of whatever choices we would make, He desired to open up to all of us the path of repentance, and thus the path towards true and everlasting peace and happiness (And while that path of repentance does have conditions, our worth in His eyes does not, His love for us does not!).

If that doesn't show us how important we are to Him, what could? As the Savior, Himself, said:

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

So, in retrospect, while I haven't been cured of my struggles with depression, or even the nightly hallow and empty feelings, I have received help. The Holy Ghost has led me to hear and listen to the words that I needed to hear. And these words have given me a greater perspective.

They have helped me redefine failure. They have helped me re-realize my daily divine and inherent worth.

These words of God have helped and are continuing to help me to combat the terrible lie that  'I must feel so terrible because I am so terrible.'

They have reminded me there is hope. These words give me comfort and peace that God loves me for who I am, right now, as I am. And that there is always a brighter future ahead.

Hope is not lost.

Check out my other posts on this subject:


1 comment:

  1. DIL,
    Through my years of experience, I have found there are so many more than one would think out there in the world suffering through these same type of challenges. I found that those that suffer tend to feel they are the only ones dealing with these things and that they are all alone. I am glad you see through this and pray that others will find your blog. When they do, and read your writings, they will be comforted that they are not alone and your good experiences will give them tools to overcome or at least cope. I wish there were ways that these fellow travelers on your road could be targeted and have this blog sent directly to them.


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