A few years ago, my family underwent a number of intense life changes—a move, a new baby, a new state. They were positive changes, but at the end of it, I found myself in a new place with little sleep and little support system.
It was too much.
I circled the drain and fell into a deep and severe depression. My children became the only reason I got out of bed. Sometimes I would even play Uno from bed.
During this period, going to church was excruciating. I would hear talks and lessons on “The Plan of Happiness,” and wonder what I was doing wrong. Why wasn’t the gospel working for me the way I thought it should?
I was lonely in a new ward and felt awkward reaching out, so after the meetings, I used my children as an excuse to collect them immediately and leave as quickly as possible. Tears often spilled over as I escaped. Being around people who didn’t seem to take note of me only accentuated my loneliness.
I remembered the words of a friend before I moved. “It’s really the second year in a new place that you start to feel you belong.” She was right. In the second year, I started to make connections. I made more effort. I tried to do something physical, spiritual, social, and intellectual every day. I joined a book club. I invited acquaintances and friends over. I re-engaged with life. And slowly, the fog lifted.
Fast forward a couple of years.
My depression had given me a new appreciation for the good times. It became easy to see how blessed I truly am and how merciful the Lord is. I was pondering His mercies when it occurred to me that faith is a spiritual gift. If a person acts in the faith Heavenly Father gave her, where is the justice in that? Then He blesses her again for acting on her faith. And on and on. My thoughts echoed those of King Benjamin when he taught about being an unprofitable servant. I felt myself in awe of His goodness toward a wretch like me.
“Father,” I thought, “How can you bless me for simply acting on the faith you already gave me? How can you bless me for doing what you already planted in my heart to want to do?”
And then He answered me.
“What about the times you don’t want to?
“What about in your dark days when you came to Church each week and yielded your will to Me even when it was hard?
“What about when you did what I asked of you, even when you didn’t want to?”
I already knew He was merciful, but He taught me that our mansion in Heaven is built brick by brick in the times we yield our will to His. Choosing the right, especially when it’s hard, is how we become who Heavenly Father wants us to be.