When Lehi told his sons that the Lord had commanded Lehi to send them to the house of Laban to obtain the brass plates, how did they respond? Laman and Lemuel murmured and said it was a hard thing to do. And we all know what Nephi said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7).

Obtaining the brass plates was still a hard thing, but the Lord made it possible. Nephi took the first step with an attitude of obedience and transformed that into action. With the Lord’s help, we can do hard things.

When the Lord commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham “rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” (Gen. 22:3). Abraham took the first step of the three-day journey to offer up Isaac.  It was a hard thing, a very hard thing, but he had an attitude of obedience and transformed that into action. With the Lord’s help, we can do hard things.

When we serve in the Church, when we serve as missionaries, when we accept any calling or assignment, we are called by a prophet or priesthood leaders acting in the name of the Lord. We take the first step with our desire to serve and we show an attitude of obedience by accepting the call. The callings and assignments may be hard, but with the Lord’s help, we can do hard things.

At times, you may struggle with hard things like anxiety, depression, stress, and relationships. Here are some “first steps” that can help: [Please note that these are first steps. Additional counseling and medication may also be necessary.]

  1. For depression, breathe and relax, arise on time, make your bed, pray, and exercise. Making your bed gives you a sense of accomplishment to start the day. Pray, give thanks for and ask for the Lord’s help. Exercise helps activate chemicals in your body that make you feel good.
  2. For anxiety, breathe and relax, prepare well and move forward. Be kind to yourself if sometimes you fall short. Remember, Nephi did not obtain the brass plates until the third attempt.
  3. For stress, breathe and relax. Take things one step at a time. It took more than one day for the pioneers to go from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley.
  4. For relationships, breathe and relax, be as understanding, patient, kind and loving with yourself and others as the Lord is understanding, patient, kind and loving toward you.

I would invite you to regularly study Adjusting to Missionary Life. When we were serving at BYU-Hawaii, I wish there had been a booklet “Adjusting to College Life.” This booklet contains 53 pages of “best practices” for “adjusting to life” including managing stress, managing physical demands, emotional demands, social demands, intellectual demands, and spiritual demands. As you use these tools, my hope is that we can feel like President Gordon B. Hinckley when he decided to take the first step and lose himself in the Lord’s service, he said, “A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight. I had a rich and wonderful mission experience, for which I will ever be grateful.” “Taking the Gospel to Britain: A Declaration of Vision, Faith, Courage, and Truth,” Ensign, July 1987, 7).

May the Lord continue to bless us in our mortal experience as we take many first steps to do hard things each day.

 [Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately.  In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]