Thursday, March 30, 2017

Finding Peace Through Hope

I decided to hang myself.
That seems easy.

The banister is perfect; I think it's strong.
I have lots of sheets that are thick enough to hold my weight.

I have to make sure I'm centered over the entryway tile though,
so any mess it makes will be easy to clean.

My family pictures will be the last thing I see.
I can do this. . . 

But I wonder who will come downstairs first in the morning and find me.

Will it be my husband who thinks I'm doing so much better and loves that I smile more often?
Will it be my oldest son who has grown taller than me and always includes others?
Will it be my middle son who works hard at everything he does and gives the best hugs?
Will it be my youngest son who just started junior high and has such a tender heart?

I fell asleep trying to think of a better way to do this, to make it stop.

Why am I always messing up? Why can't I just be normal? Why can't I keep my mouth shut instead of saying embarrassing things? Why did I look at my mom like that when I was in college? Why do I keep making dumb mistakes at work? Why can't I just eat healthier? Why am I so slow at learning? Why did I say I would go out on Friday night? Why does my hair have to fall out when I'm stressed? Why didn't I eat that sandwich my little sister made for me in 5th grade? Why can't I just fold the laundry and do the dishes instead of letting them pile up? Why was I so rude to my brother 10 years ago? Why can't I be thinner? Why didn't I finish college so I could make more money? Why don't I read the scriptures more often? Why doesn't The Lord answer my prayers? Why do I even try?
Where are my "Windows of Heaven"?
I actually asked that question. Why, when I'm trying so hard, does it seem like I'm failing so completely? Isn't God supposed to "....open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."? I feel like I'm wasting my life and letting Him down.

I've struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life.
Some days are great and I feel "normal", some days are dark and I feel lost. I've written about some of the experiences I had that lead to these issues. I've had a lot of ups and downs, but more downs than I feel like I can handle. I struggle to be positive, to find joy, to get out of bed.

I did get out of bed the next day though, a Saturday. I started on my usual chores: make breakfast, do the dishes, start the laundry, etc. My feelings hadn't changed though. I still felt like I'm not good enough. I'll never be. I continued sweeping the kitchen floor, wondering how to make this all end, when the doorbell rang. I didn't care that I was still in my pajamas; I opened the door.

There was my big sister.
She lives about an hour away. She and her son just came over to hang out.
I hugged them and invited them in. We visited for a little while when the doorbell rang.
My parents were smiling at me through the screen door.
I hugged them both and they joined my sister and me in my living room. They live 4 hours away but had come to spend the day with me.

The doorbell rang again.
My sister from Colorado and her daughter were at the door.
 She was holding balloons. I realized that my birthday was coming later that week. They had planned to come surprise me. They had just sat down when the doorbell rang.

There was my brother and his family, all those sweet faces smiling.
Apparently, they'd all been planning this for a while. He also lives about 4 hours away but was here to spend the day with me.

Then the doorbell rang.
My youngest sister and her daughter had flown in from Missouri to be with me.
I welcomed them in to join the rest and tried to find a place for everyone to sit and be comfortable.

My own little family was there too, visiting with the family I'd grown up with. My brother telling jokes, my sisters laughing, my parents beaming. And then it hit me:

HERE ARE YOUR WINDOWS OF HEAVEN.
They didn't know it but my family was saving my life that day. Right there, in my living room; so many blessings that I almost didn't have room enough to receive them. The Lord had answered my unspoken prayer by literally filling my home with love and my heart with hope. 

I was seeing the hand of God intervene in my behalf.
When I really think about it, I can't count the number of times that I've seen the hand of God in my life. He's been there in the hug from a friend after a hard day. He's been there in a hymn that gives me goosebumps every time I sing it. He's been there in a sunrise after a dark night of anxiety and confusion. And he's been there in the faces of people I love the most; telling me that it will be okay, that things will get better, showing me there is help, there is hope.
There is hope.

When I opened that door again and again to my family, I opened my heart again and again to the Savior. He really does know I'm here and that I'm hurting. He really does know that you are there, that maybe you're hurting; that you may be on your knees, pleading for mercy, for peace. He will answer you. It may be through a sunrise, a song, or a smile from a stranger but
He will answer.

He is Hope.
"There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of
a brighter hope.
It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow.
It can illuminate the path before us and lead us
through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Having a hope in Christ doesn't mean that there won't be tears. It doesn't mean that your heart won't sometimes hurt. It doesn't mean that there won't be dark days. It does mean that He can help. It does mean that He understands. It means that He can heal you. 

As Easter approaches, I invite you to find peace, the kind of peace only He can give.
You can find more principles of peace at mormon.org.

You can be closer to the Savior.
You can have hope.
You can have peace.
#PrinceofPeace
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