On Saturday Gwen and I watched the General Women’s Session of General Conference. I didn’t want to get all dressed up right after a football game the previous weekend and watch the Women’s Session at the Stake Center. I pulled the lazy card because I knew I could watch it on TV. Somehow it didn’t get recorded so we watched on my Surface during the Priesthood Session of General Conference.
We colored Halloween pictures together during all the talks. Gwen sang every word of every song. I took this picture of her singing along to the last hymn, I Believe in Christ.
General Conference is my favorite weekend. I love that it comes twice a year. It was tedious when I was a kid. Those were long weekends. Now I love them. I love the Spirit that I feel when I listen to the prophet and apostles and other general leaders of the church.
I didn’t really have any questions I wanted answered during General Conference. For the last couple of years I have had a lot on my mind and was desperate for answers and peace. After two plus years of depression and questions and feeling like I was on the edge of giving up spiritually, I feel like I’m finally no longer struggling to keep my head above water.
It was interesting to go back to that past pain in my mind with new eyes. I can now look at the situation objectively. Many of the conference addresses reminded me of tender mercies from the Lord. I was more willing to recognize and accept answers to questions that He already answered in the middle of that dark period in my life.
I think it was Elder Bednar who talked about people who do all the steps but don’t believe Christ. They believe in Him, they follow Him, they do everything right but they don’t believe He can help them in their situation. It sounds ridiculous to think of anyone getting lost like that, but I was one of those people.
Elder Rasband talked about recording spiritual experiences. There is one experience that meant a lot to me at the time and has been on my mind a lot lately. I have never written it down. Not even in a draft post. That experience came to mind several times over the weekend.
After I resolved to write that story, another speaker shared a personal story where he said he knew he was important and worth saving. That is my story as well. The details of our stories are different but that’s what I learned.
I don’t remember how long ago this happened. I do remember being home alone in my kitchen doing dishes. I was rehashing all the pain and unfairness of my life to the point I was almost whispering out loud my frustrations.
A thought came to mind:
He knows. He knows exactly what you are going through. He knows what has led you to make the decisions you have. And He will be there when you are ready to come back.
That was a powerful experience for me. I knew the Lord was not excusing my choices but I have never felt so loved. The part of the Atonement I take most comfort in is knowing that He understands how I feel. There may not be another person in the world who can really understand what I am going through and that thought alone can be very isolating. Knowing that my Savior Jesus Christ understands is comforting. He knows because He has experienced it.
“There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first … He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power.”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease”
The last couple of years have not been easy. Through the fog of depression I have learned that I am worth it. I don’t know why I have been blessed with such a closeness to the Spirit but I am very grateful for it. Without that prick of consciousness I would have given up. I have had so many experiences over the last couple of years that have proven to me how much God loves me.
I am not any more special than anyone else in the world. I don’t think I have done anything special or noteworthy ever. Yet He loves me. He blesses me. He has carried me when I couldn’t go on myself. If He can do that for me then obviously He loves all His children.
I loved the story that K. Brett Nattress shared. He told his mom he wasn’t even listening when she read the scriptures. She told him that she went to a meeting where she was promised that if she would read scriptures with her children every day she would not lose them. “I will not lose you!” He said that moment helped him realize how important he was and that he was worth saving.
Our Heavenly Father feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose any of us. He won’t take away our agency or right to choose but He definitely loves us, desires to bless us, and wants us back.
“You may feel that your life is in ruins. You may have sinned. You may be afraid, angry, grieving, or tortured by doubt. But just as the Good Shepherd finds His lost sheep, if you will only lift up your heart to the Savior of the world, He will find you.
He will rescue you.
He will lift you up and place you on His shoulders.
He will carry you home.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home”
It was that quote and that conference address from six months ago that has been my lifeline. I was rescued. Now I need to continue to move forward.