An address given by Ashtyn Aure on July 30, 2017, in the Provo City YSA 1st ward in the Provo City YSA 16th Stake.
“…my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins.” (2 Nephi 4:17-19)
Brothers and sisters, have you too ever felt that “your heart wept and your soul lingered in the valley of sorrow because of your afflictions?” (2 Nephi 4:26)
I know, I know. I know what you are trying to talk yourself out of right now.
“What afflictions could I possibly have that would constitute that as an accurate description of my life? I have all my limbs. I have all my organs. My heart pumps freely and I can breathe without aide. I do not deserve to grieve.”
Putting that aside, I bet in the back of your mind there was a little voice that said, “…but I have felt that same heaviness. I have felt like a wretched being. Falling short. Forever helpless.”
You are imperfect. You do feel sad sometimes. You do feel weak on occasion. It is about time we start admitting to ourselves and to each other that that is okay. You and I are not so different. Because I know I have, I know you have looked at yourself in the mirror before, unhappy with what you see. I know you have wept alone at night wishing for someone to hold you, but hoping nobody would find you like that. I know that you have experienced pain so deep that it could only be overcome because a perfect and sinless man has felt that pain too.
If you are anything like me, Nephi, or the person sitting next to you, I know that at times it felt as though that pain would never subside; that peace would never come.
For some of you, that is more of a reality. I speak to those that may suffer from anxiety, depression, or other emotional ailments. The spiritual burdens that the emotionally healthy carry is 10x heavier on your backs. When you fall short of what you think God’s expectations are, you may feel, as Alma describes, “racked with eternal torment for your soul is harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all your sins.” (Alma 36:12) Possibly even if these are sins that have been forgotten by God through proper repentance. Satan often uses these brave and sensitive people’s weaknesses as ways to torment them to a degree that is incomprehensible to the emotionally well.
Recently I read a beautifully written article in the March Ensign about anxiety. Part of it read,
“The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Peace. The Spirit works quietly (see 1 Nephi 17:45). Anxiety is loud and obnoxious, so to speak, making it difficult to feel the Spirit and depend on your faith. Faith is trust in God. The opposite of faith is uncertainty and mistrust. Is it any wonder that anxiety disorders often undermine faith?”
Sisters and brothers, if this is something you can relate to one way or the other, I need you to know that you. are. not. alone. The deep chasm created in our minds by chemical imbalances or emotional traumas often feel too deep for even the brightest of light’s reach. When the voices in your head are telling you that there is no rescue, there is no hope, there is no future, remember that our loving God did not create you just so you could perish in the dark. He is the light and life of this world and because you are His offspring, you carry that light with you as well. Your earthly weaknesses may make it difficult for you to feel the quiet and subtle voices of the spirit, but you are not forgotten!
His Son, and our Savior, died, “that He may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:12) Succor means assistance and support in times of hardship and distress. He knows your weaknesses; He knows you cannot feel what others seem to understand so clearly. Because of this, He will often time send you his children to physically hold you, physically hear you, and physically tell you that you are loved. Regardless of the noise in your life or mind right now, take this talk as a sign that He is aware of you, He is watching over you, and He is rooting for you. You must look for the light within yourself and within those around you.
I know that Christ hears the songs you cannot sing. I know that he hears your soul creak and ache. I know that he has been with each of us to the deep chasms of our souls created by whatever earthly malady or affliction we may have. Our brother Nephi felt a pain as deep and as real as yours. We don’t need to know what sins or frailties he felt were holding him from God’s presence. What we do need to know is how he healed, because that is how we can heal. “Awake, my soul!, “he says, “No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul…. O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?” (2 Nephi 4: 28, 31)
Nephi recognized that in his time of darkness, the only thing he had control of was his personal relationship with Christ, prayer and, dare I say, scripture study. Treat these times sacredly. You are on hallowed ground as you read the precious words of the Book of Mormon. Time and time again the words on those pages will teach you how others before us have defeated darkness. I will leave you with one of my favorite stories from the Book of Mormon. It’s a story of a people who you would imagine are destined to fail. A people who knew what darkness was and what Christ’s light could bring. A people who had as little control over the direction of their lives as the emotionally compromised do over the status of their hearts. I invite you to prayerfully study this story on your own when things are hard. It will teach you how to swim when you start drowning. It will remind you that God has a divine path and plan specifically for you.
“…they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God….it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind….they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind…. And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind…And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water…And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water…And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.” (Ether 6:5-8, 10-12)
How grateful I am for the light at the end of the long tunnel that is life. That light represents a perfection of body and mind only possible through the resurrection of a loving, almighty, and eternal Christ. Because He lives, someday I too will live with a perfect, whole, and unbreakable mind.
Pieces I was inspired by:
“Like a Broken Vessel” by Holland
“Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet” by Holland
“Songs Sung and Unsung” by Holland
Also the Ensign article I referenced is really good.