“Maybe you’ve been duped.”
I blinked uncomfortably back at my therapist. I knew we had reached that point in the session where you have to confront the thing that makes you feel terrible and wretched.
“I don’t think I have,” I mumbled back, finding myself almost agitated that my LDS therapist (who I’d been meeting with for over a year) would suggest the Church wasn’t true. I was trying to save my life, not remove my life-lines. THE life-line. But I could see why he said it. In fact, I could see so much more than I ever had before. The crippling emotional problems I’d been ignoring for years were running wild and free now that I’d acknowledged them.
I hated myself. I had a hard time looking in mirrors. Every thought was drowned in shame. I hated looking into the future, where I envisioned myself stuck forever. I certainly didn’t trust anyone, let alone God. After all, he’d allowed my worst nightmare to occur. Even if he didn’t cause it, even if there was great purpose in it, I no longer felt safe in his hands. Were his hands even there to hold me in the first place? That was the question my therapist was ultimately trying to make me face.
Based on everything I said, it certainly didn’t sound like I believed. Reading my scriptures made me cry from loneliness. Praying made me cry in despair. Going to Church made me so anxious I would try not to rock back and forth all sacrament meeting before getting up and leaving as soon as the closing prayer was said. I tried everything. I even tried not trying, but I couldn’t find God anywhere and I felt it was all my fault. The shame of having driven God so far away felt like it would kill me.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has had such feelings. We live in a world of turmoil and strive and the saints of God have been told we especially will face trials that “are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope.” In the scriptures, we are also told that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin once related it to the beautiful arrival of the resurrected Christ after the darkest weekend in human history.
“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.”
This is a glorious and true promise. But what do you do if you’re like me and Sunday doesn’t seem like it is coming anytime soon? I can only tell you what happened to me and how it changed my life forever.
When I left my therapist’s office that day, I tried to squelch away the thought that my faith and the life I had spent living in faith was all one big cosmic joke. That lasted about three days and then I found myself praying in my closet.
“I need to know if you’re here,” I told God. “If you even care.”
I don’t know how long I begged the Lord for something, for anything. I just know an answer never came. There was only an awful despair that was somehow filling me up yet leaving me hollow. My pleading turned into crying.
“That’s it,” I remember thinking. “It’s finally happened. I’ve lost everything. Absolutely everything.”
After some time had passed and my tears ran out, my mind began racing. What now? What does this mean? If nothing ever changes, if God never talks to me again, if I never feel the spirit again, what will I do? Is it time to drink? To have sex? To spend all that extra 10% every month on a new wardrobe where I don’t have to question every angle when I move? My response, which came so immediately, was one of the most empowering moments of my life.
That was it. No, nothing was going to change. My two paths had never been so directly laid out before me and the answer had never felt so clear. I’d never allow myself to full confront the choice and the moment I did, I had the power and the faith to act. No matter what happened, or did not happen, I was going to do my best to walk the road of faith. I desired to believe and I chose to believe. The choice was all my own. It wasn’t dependent on what God did or did not do. It wasn’t dependent on my mental illness and how I was feeling that day. The choice was made and ever since that day I have been able to wait upon the Lord.
In that time I’ve learned a lot about living life, moving forward, and putting my hope into an eternal perspective. I’ve learned about the dark places God is willing to let me sit in because of both the reliance and the resiliency it builds in my character. I don’t know how long you’ve been waiting or how much longer you feel you can wait. But if you’re waiting and if it’s hurting to wait, I’ll wait with you. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like my Sunday will come in this life. Sometimes, I wonder if I even understand what a Sunday would look like now for me. Still, I’ll take my little light and let it burn with yours and we’ll wait together until that light brighter and brighter until the perfect day when all is revealed and the majesty of what Sunday really is becomes clear to all of us.