Thursday, June 26, 2014

Afterwards

Some days are just really really tough. Regardless of what the weather is like or what you do or don't need to get done, some days it just feels like it'd be better to go back to bed. It seems to be all you can do to stay out and do virtually nothing productive.

You sit looking through countless pictures people have made about depression to remind you that you aren't alone. You text friends who understand to some degree, or even very very well from experience. Regardless of all of that, you feel, at best, like the sky is grey, and at worst, filled with the darkest thunderstorm.

At times during the day, you see the light of the sun through the cloud, but not a single ray breaks through. Then, knowing that you were so close to finally seeing the sun, you withdraw, as much as you can, into the darkest abyss. All the while, you feel like nobody wants to hear about the darkness all around you. You put on a mask of day, but night is all you can see.

You get into the scriptures, and find light filling your soul, but as soon as you finish, the darkest night falls over you again. You go to the Temple, and the world seems brighter, but only until the next attack. The feelings go on for a few days, and you're always worried that it will happen again.

Eventually, your mask becomes heavier and heavier, and it becomes more and more difficult to keep it on. You worry that people will hate you, or judge you, or mock you, so you remove it every time you can be alone. Then, when it's time time to walk out the door again, you put on that mask, and rush to get to a private place when it feels too heavy.

Darkness seems to sweep over you. You seem to get worse and worse every day, but you don't want anyone to know out of pure fear. Then, one day, you crack. With the crack, all that you used to keep hidden in your heart and mind starts to leak out into your actions. Some are able to patch up those cracks, like I did. But those patches don't hold forever, and end up weakening the structure, until finally, everything bursts out.

The doubts and fears of all your years seem to flood over you. It is a weird sensation. You don't know what is even going on! Your memories do not seem so clear of the situation, and you can only remember splatters of what happened. Then it dawns on you what happened, and you break down into tears, with fear of what is going to happen next.

For at least the next week, your mind keeps returning to that moment when you were going to die. It doesn't matter what the situation is: peeling potatoes makes you realize you would have never had potatoes again had you died; going through the grass makes you realize you would be under a patch; and seeing a knife reminds you of what happened.

Slowly, you adjust back to a point where you feel like you can function in society, but you have to put on your heavy mask still, and you even make it thicker, so that people around you won't know about your suicide attempt.

As time moves forward, other people seem to forget about it, but you just can't. Life carries on, and you don't want to share with anyone, because they have enough problems of their own, or they wouldn't understand, just like everyone else you've tried.

People help offer solutions: some are okay and get you through a particular moment; others don't work at all. You're grateful for the suggestions, but sometimes, they just make you feel even worse when it doesn't work like they said it would.

I don't know exactly what your experience was like, but this was mine. I don't know where it will take me, but I know that the Lord will protect me until I get to where it's right.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Take it off!


Far too often in our lives, we put on masks: masks of confidence, masks of perfection, masks of purity and so forth. We often wear these masks so often that even good friends don't really know us, and we become afraid to take it off for fear of judgement, because we all want to fit in.

Those masks are not who you are. Who you are is your true self. If you are constantly wanting to hide those things from others for whatever reason, either you shouldn't be doing it or your fear of man is greater than your fear of God.

We all have weaknesses. Some, like me, get depressed. Some struggle with addictions. Some are afraid to be who they really are out of fear of what others might think. Some wear masks of pride to help themselves feel better. Regardless of  why you wear your mask: take it off!

Don't get me wrong! I am not saying to broadcast every struggle you have to the world. I am not saying that you shouldn't edify others with insights, which might make you feel hypocritical saying. What I am saying is this: if you go at lengths to hide who you really are, you should stop it!

Don't let people see you as perfect, let them see you on the path to perfection. More inspiration comes from a man who has fought off thousands of demons than one who has never faced one in their life.

And the greatest irony of it all, is we wear all our masks over a mask. We each have a mask put upon us by the world which says that you are nothing special at all. You are just a human, and nobody really cares about you. While the trend in the media has started to go away from that, with countless shows including lines about how we're all important, the world continues to say that you aren't important: you have no value; you're just like everyone else.

Beneath that mask imposed upon us, we find that we have a divine potential. We have the DNA of our Heavenly Father! Nothing can be done to stop our progress but allowing ourselves to be weighed down by the world.

Take off your masks, and let your divine identity shine!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Title of Liberty

I was thinking about the War Chapters of the Book of Mormon earlier today. I began to think of types of Christ in those war chapters. Of course, Captain Moroni and Teancum leaped to my mind. As I thought more, there is a less obvious type of Christ in these chapters: The Title of Liberty.




The Title of Liberty in reality is just a piece of cloth with words written on it. Those words, however, have such power behind them, and the spirit whispers that they are among the important reasons that Christ went through with the Atonement. While the Nephites fought against Amalickiah under the exalted words, Jesus Christ led a one man battle against the destroyer for these exalted words: "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children" (Alma 46:12). 


Our God

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16-17). The whole work and glory of the Father is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). For reasons unknown to us, it required the sacrifice of a god. "For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice" (Alma 34:10).

God desires that all of His children return to Him. Only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can we become clean to live in the presence of the Father on conditions of repentance. "[A]ll men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name" (Moses 6:57). Only by the power of the redemption can we be brought forth from sinner to saint and from saint to god, which is our Father's ultimate goal!




Our Religion

Joseph Smith said, “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things [pertaining to our religion] are only appendages to these.”

In essence, without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have no religion! If it did not happen, then the whole of our faith has been in vain, for without this one fact, the Christian religion falls apart.


Our Freedom

The "Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given" (2 Nephi 2:26). 

Freedom is the power to act and not simply be acted upon. We usually think of freedom as being devoid of law, but that is far removed from what freedom actually is. If I learn the laws of piano playing and reading music, then I have gained the freedom to play the piano properly. The Atonement provides the power for us to practice heavenly attributes, without demanding immediate perfection like the immutable Law of Justice which demands perfection now.

We are now able to act. Before the Fall, because there was no knowledge of good and evil it was impossible to act, but the Atonement enabled us to be redeemed from the incorrect choices we'd inevitably make. Our Freedom was fought for in a one man battle, and given to us by the Redeemer, our liberator. 


Our Peace

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). Peace is one of the great gifts of the Atonement. We live in a world that is wildly spinning out of control. There are "wars and rumors of wars...and famines...and earthquakes, in divers places" (JS-Matthew 1:28-29). But we are told "Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;" (Doctrine & Covenants 50:41).

It is not temporary peace or the feeling of absolute serenity, but rather it is a feeling that no matter how bad everything gets, it will all work out in the end, with God being at the helm of your life.


Our Wives and Our Children

I combine these two together because they are so integrally connected in the Atonement and in the totality of the Plan of Salvation. Julie B Beck once taught, "[T]he theology of the family is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement...The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live...The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live...The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally. It allows for families to have eternal growth and perfection" (http://goo.gl/iOWcr1). 

The Atonement is what provides the power to complete all Priesthood ordinances from baptism to sealing. While the ordinances are done by the authority of the Priesthood, they have no meaning without the power of the Priesthood. The ultimate purpose of the Atonement is to exalt mankind, which can only happen through the ordinance of the Sealing, which binds Husband to Wife and Parents to Children. Without the Atonement the joy of Eternal Families and eternal increase would be lost.

And he fastened it on the end of a pole

This is probably one of the more overlooked part of the resemblance to Christ. This rallying cry as raised up for all to see and to come unto. "And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me" (3 Nephi 27:14). The Title of Liberty was lifted up on a pole to be an ensign in the war with Amalickiah; Christ was lifted up on the cross to be an ensign in the war with the devil. He has provided many other ensigns as reminders of this covenant: The Book of Mormon, The Temples, and You!

Each one of these ensigns points to the great and last sacrifice of the Son of the Eternal God! "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise" (2 Nephi 2:8).