There have been many tears shed this week, whether by me, by you, by your family or by your friends (or mine). And they haven’t been happy ones. My week consisted of a pride check on Monday, some rather devastating news about my educational pursuits on Tuesday, which resulted in a kind of educational depression where I’ve had no motivation to do anything having to do with classes – homework, practicing, or otherwise. On Thursday, I also learned a somewhat embarrassing lesson about the nerve that goes across your knee and how it can cause you to pass out if you’re kneeling on it for too long. Friday, the world had a lot of painful things happen – terrorist attacks, suicide bombings, and earthquakes included. The list could probably be longer if I looked hard enough and I’m sure for a lot of people, they could do it without having to look for it all.
Life is hard. It’s hard and sometimes it can get extremely overwhelming. The frustrations, pains, sicknesses, misunderstandings, accidents, and sadness of being human get to a point where all you want to do is drop everything, get on a plane and go backpacking across Europe. Or maybe just run away to the mountains and become a hermit with only books and a piano to keep you company. Maybe it drives you to just give up on everything and move away to start a completely new life where you can forget your current problems and never see them again. Trust me when I say all of those have crossed my mind this week.
Sometimes, life just hits you a lot harder than normal and it takes a while to get back on your feet. But let me tell you something. Despite all these wonderful adventures this week, and despite the fact that these trials have caused me to struggle the rest of the week with motivation for even wanting to continue being at school or wanting to be around anybody, the Lord has certainly seen fit to bless me greatly. Because of the way I’ve chosen to live my life, it has become so much easier to get through weeks like this and, more than that, it has become so much easier to see the mercy and love of the Lord in my life.
One night I had a dream–
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints,
one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
“I don’t understand why in times when I needed you most,
you should leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never, never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
“When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”
(by Mary Stevenson)
Now, go back and read all the annoying and frustrating things that happened to me this week… As I said, that list could probably go on for much longer…. but then come the tender mercies of the Lord. Let me share with you those things that I believe came directly from the Lord:
A phone call from one of my best friends, even if it was short. A listening ear and loving attitude from another dear friend of mine, despite her own trials she’s dealing with. A mom who just listens and only wants to lift me up when I’m not strong enough on my own. A friend who makes me laugh in one of my more boring classes. Another wonderful friend to take me out for a couple hours and just catch up with each other. Talks by general authorities. Inspiration and assurance from the Spirit of the Lord. But best of all: The feeling of warmth, comfort and peace that comes every day when I open my scriptures or especially every night when I kneel or sit on my bed or the floor every night when I can have a real conversation with my Father in Heaven.
All of these things are not THINGS. They are not even close to what the world could ever offer me and they are irreplaceable and priceless treasures that I hold so dear to my heart. Why? Because every single one of them in just the last few days when it has sometimes felt as if my entire world was starting to crash down around me has reminded me of the love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ both have for me. They have reminded me that I am not forgotten, nor am I ever alone. And there are so many more than just the few I’ve listed here. When I feel that kind of peace, comfort and love, I can’t help but stop and realize how much I have to be grateful for. It reminds me that I am not in charge. I may not always feel like I deserve these small yet significant tender mercies. But Heavenly Father loves me so much that HE feels that I deserve them and that I am worthy of them. He sees what great things I can accomplish and He knows when I’m struggling to see those things, too. So He sends reinforcements to strengthen and uplift me. Whether it be the people in my life, sweet messages from His loving servants, weather that I love, or just a feeling, He knows exactly what I need to get me back up on my feet and back to the things He requires of me to do. They are gentle reminders from Him that I need to let Him steer sometimes, or always. They are constant reminders that I have a Father in Heaven who will never fail me no matter what else on Earth is failing. It doesn’t matter how terrible the rest of my life might be, as long as I have the Lord’s light to guide me and as long as I let it, I know I can conquer all things.
You might have days, weeks or even months or years like mine. You might still feel like this even after you read your scriptures or pray to your Father asking for comfort. You may still feel this way after recognizing a few of the tender mercies He has given you to help you through. But you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to still feel overwhelmed, frustrated or upset. It’s okay to take time to work through your trials and tribulations. I believe it’s okay because we are human. Things take time to learn from. If, even in the midst of wanting to do otherwise, you are still reading your scriptures, praying and recognizing the hand of the Lord, then it’s okay because you are trying. Don’t give up and don’t give in. You are doing right and you are not alone. No one else in the world may understand your thoughts, feelings or hardships, but then, your Savior Jesus Christ isn’t of the world. He is so much more than that. When things get to a point where you don’t want to keep moving forward, remember Him. Remember that He is there. Remember that He is aware of you and knows EXACTLY what you are experiencing. Remember that He cares and that He is full of mercy, kindness, warmth and light. He can be your strength when you doubt you can go on. Sometimes it comes in the form of friends, sometimes through talks and devotionals from His servants, sometimes through nature and sometimes just through a feeling. Wherever it comes from, look for His tender mercies, trust that He is carrying you, and most of all, remember Him.