Stepping into the new year burdened with Covid for the second time, didn’t feel much like a fresh start. After wading through a few weeks, ill with Covid, in the fall 2020 (before vaccines), and enduring many months of its affects, catching the Omicron variant (after being vaccinated) seemed like 2022 would be a replay of the previous Covid years instead of a new beginning. I must admit that my spirits sunk with sorrow, even though I knew “this too shall pass.”

The New Year is known for bringing new resolutions, new hope, and new beginnings. This has always reminded me of the Atonement and its power to become clean. Yet, as far as 2022 new resolutions go, I made none. Hope seemed like an abstract notion, and “new beginnings” were seen as the same old, same old. I was really struggling with the darkness of despair.

Remembering how vastly different last year felt compared to now, didn’t help. During the Christmas season of 2020, our family was celebrating a new life. Our first grandson, Ryan, was born. Since I had conquered Covid, I was able to go help with his big sister, Lily. Everything seemed new, full of life, and spoke of a fresh beginning. Yet, this year, several of us, including Lily and Ryan, began the New Year with Omicron.

In contrast to my weary, world view of 2022, shortly after the New Years’ bells rang, a fresh, new snow fell at Lily and Ryan’s home. Ryan, who had never seen snow, squealed with excitement. Lily, knowing all about building a snowman and throwing snowballs, knew her wish had come true! I couldn’t help being lifted seeing pictures of them, kneeling in front of their large, living-room window, waiting with great anticipation to explore this new, white world.

I built upon this thread of light as I sought spiritual and physical restoration. I consider myself an upbeat person. But my mind, body, and spirit were weighted down in an unusual darkness, and I felt I was doing all I could to come up for air – reading scriptures, listening to Conference talks & uplifting music, walking in nature, praying for relief, and serving my family. I silently wept as I felt a veil of hopelessness shroud my soul.

So, I went to work focusing on family history (one of my favorite things) which helped ease the burden, but as soon as I set it aside, the darkness would creep in. Then I remembered something from years ago, when answers to prayers seem unheard, change the question or request, and listen. I quit praying for relief, and sought to understand the Lord’s will, then listened. Soon after, I felt I should do one particular thing. Immediately my mind began to question it. Then, I said out loud, “Stop! No trespassing!” (I am seeking to establish this as a new habit whenever negative thoughts seize my mind.) Ignoring the negative naysayer, I followed through with the prayerful impression. I felt better, but the shadows still lingered nearby. I felt I could breathe again, but tears were always close to falling.

The next thing I felt to do, as silly as it sounds, was to look at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I did so forcing a smile, then jumped up and down yelling yay! just like I had scored a goal. Being a soccer player and coach, this physical connection to positive feedback, actually lifted my spirits. Later, I felt impressed to meditate throughout the day. I embraced the quiet moments, deeply thinking about the good in my life, expressing gratitude to the Savior for all He has done for me, hoping (yes hope was returning) I would cheerfully endure to the end. That is when I said to Heavenly Father, I hope to give away all my sins, the burdens that bind me; so I can live with the peaceful presence of the Lord now and in the eternities to come.

Relief did come, although not all at once and my daily effort for spiritual restoration has not ceased. Seeing things through the eyes of Ryan and Lily, these sweet, little children, brought back the beauty of this world, enough for me to believe, and to hope, even though I know the pure white snow, often melts into mud. Yet, this thought of purity, reminded me of the Savior’s great gift, His Eternal Sacrifice—the Atonement, for all who come unto Him with the hope of becoming clean like fresh, white snow.

While we wait with great anticipation for the Savior to come, let us apply the unconquerable gift of daily restoration in the form of sincere, intentional, repentance and “become as little children, and believe that salvation was, . . . and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18).