Cover image: “Touch of Faith” by Yongsung Kim
Editor’s Note: Though our ultimate healing comes from the Savior, those with depression and other mood disorders will want to seek all the professional help that is also available to them.
“Hell” is a place of darkness. We have all experienced the blackness that accompanies depression, discouragement or doubt at some time in our lives. It’s an excruciating yet significant state to experience, since it surely comes while in a body in this mortal probation. But there is good news: there is a way out, and it’s beautiful!
Strong Spiritual Catalyst
In the stirring 1982 movie Gandhi, a rebel Hindu seeks out Gandhi and confesses in anguish that he had brutally killed a small son of a Muslim enemy in retaliation for Muslims killing his own son. He confessed to Gandhi about the torment of hell he was in because of his cruel deed. Gandhi quietly said, “I will show you a way out of hell. Find a child whose mother and father have been killed and raise him as your own. Only be sure that he is a Muslim and that you raise him as one.”
Gandhi asked a very difficult thing of this man; he was asking him, in essence, to love and nurture the enemy who killed his son! Gandhi, in his wisdom, knew that in order for the man to take the first step out of his deep Abyss, he needed a strong catalyst to change his spiritual direction and focus. We also, at times need a strong stimulus to change our spiritual and emotional trajectory.
Elder F. Enzio Busche expressed this process when he wrote:
“When we are on a spiritual plateau, it is necessary for us to understand that we cannot go beyond that plateau until we increase our level of sacrifice and our ability to move one step further. “(Yearning for the Living God, p. 92 Italics added)
Going beyond our “spiritual plateaus” takes concentrated effort, but it is SO worth it!
Nearly thirty years ago I was spiritually taught a way out of my own personal “hell.” I suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and had been flat in bed for over a year. I had no energy to do anything, and couldn’t be a mother to my small children, or a wife to my wonderful husband. It was a time of great discouragement and depression.
I remember praying my heart out one particular day. I recall visualizing the biblical story of the woman touching the robes of Jesus as He walked by, and being healed by Him. I put myself in her place, “touching” His hem in my mind, begging to be cured from this illness and the physical and spiritual prison I was in.
No healing came at that time, but I noticed after that day, every time I opened my scriptures, verses jumped out at me telling me to be of good cheer, to lift up my head, and in essence to “look up” and “fill up” with God. There was a spiritual substance that filled my soul with hope and sealed that message into my heart.
Over and over I was spiritually taught that I needed to focus on light-filled things, and be cheerful and thankful even though I didn’t feel that way. I hung smiley faces up all over my house to anchor my mind on light and joy instead of on my depressing circumstance. Over time I began to notice that I was feeling lighter and more peaceful.
After a couple of weeks of steady focus, I saw my circumstances drastically change and I was physically and spiritually healed. I realized that this miracle was the result of how much “light” I had intentionally chosen to align with, while in the midst of darkness.
Since then, I have become very aware of my spiritual and emotional direction.
There Are Only Two Directions
Life seems so complicated and confusing, but when we break it down, it’s simple. We’re either headed up or down in our spiritual trajectory. To help know where you are, ask yourself a few crucial questions-
- “Am I feeling light, joy and peace, or am I feeling darkness and depression right now?”
- “Where have my thoughts been focused?”
- “Am I up or down from where I was an hour ago?”
- “What am I willing to do to feel the spirit again?”
These questions simply reveal if we need to change direction and focus.
Path To Godhood
As humans, we have the marvelous capacity to observe ourselves, and deduce where we are spiritually and emotionally. This is part of our path to Godhood. How can we know which way to go, if we don’t know where we are, in contrast to where we want to be?
We come to this life to experience the good from the evil, so that we can learn from our own experience. It’s a perfect plan. So what have we learned so far?
I absolutely love a quote by Elder Uchtdorf, who echoes our need for light:
“…spiritual light rarely comes to those who merely sit in darkness waiting for someone to flip a switch. It takes an act of faith to open our eyes to the Light of Christ.
“The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now. It doesn’t matter how unqualified you may think you are or how far behind others you may feel. The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of His light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul. The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn, the light will come.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Hope of God’s Light, General Conference April 2013 Italics added).
The fact is, darkness can ONLY be overcome and transcended with light!
Light = Christ
Christ embodies love, beauty, truth, and power. We need that connection for spiritual survival. Sharon Eubank gave this insightful quote:
“…one of the fundamental needs we have in order to grow is to stay connected to our source of light—Jesus Christ. He is the source of our power, the Light and Life of the World. Without a strong connection to Him, we begin to spiritually die. “ (Sharon Eubank, “Christ: The Light that Shines in Darkness,” General Conference, April 2019).
So if we feel sad, depressed or hopeless, focus on Him, who is full of joy and hope. If we feel resentful or angry, focus on Him who is full of love and mercy. If we feel powerless, focus on Him, who is all-powerful. He will fill all our gaps.
Fill Up With LIGHT
Doctrine & Covenants 50:24-25 is magnificent. It states:
“And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24-25 Italics added)
Doesn’t that just say it ALL? The more we focus on light, the more light we will experience, and the more faith we will have – on and on until we are filled with light. How beautiful!
A Way Out of Hell
There IS a way out of “Hell.” When we’re ready, I mean, REALLY ready to change our lives, we can be lifted from the deepest abyss to light-filled realms. Here’s how: Choose peace over chaos. Choose gratitude over self-pity. Choose beauty over ugliness. Choose forgiveness over bitterness.
We have the privilege to become aligned with the aliveness, peace and love of the Creator of the Universe. Lets reach out and touch His light.
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