During my senior year of college, my life fell apart. Depression had entered my life months before, and I had been trying to ignore its growing bleakness, hoping that it would go away if I pretended it wasnâ€™t there. All I knew how to do with negative emotions was to avoid them, but this time around, my trusted coping strategy was not working. I turned to God, asking him to relieve me of this most unwanted trial. As things steadily got worse, and as God continued to tell me, â€œthis is something you are going to have to learn how to deal with long-term,â€? I became angry. I wanted to know how God could allow my easy, happy life turn into a dark morass of despair and hopelessness.
I donâ€™t think I can begin to accurately express the depths I reached that year. Even now, eight years later, I only have very vague memories of that time period in my life. Itâ€™s as if my mind has covered over everything with a gray mist. I remember the facts of what happened. The medication I initially started initially made me suicidal (it would take two years for me and my psychiatrists to figure out I had bipolar disorder), and it was all I could do to make it out of bed most days. I had to quit everything except school (my job, two church callings, a leadership position in a campus organization), and I ended up with incompletes in all of my classes because I couldnâ€™t even manage those. I remember telling my mother (after she expressed that she wanted to see me happy again) that if only I could wake up every day and have things be tolerable rather than horrible, I would be okay with that.
Meanwhile, I was angry at God. His methods for dealing with what was happening (which was, essentially, for me to work through it rather than have him remove it), was not what I had in mind. However, despite my anger, I do not think I can remember time period in my life when I was more convinced of Godâ€™s love for me. It was difficult for me to actually feel that love (depression messes up your ability to feel anything), but somehow, I knew that He loved me. Also, despite my anger and my stubbornness, God gave me specific guidance about how to deal with the disaster that was my life. It was hard advice to follow, I ignored it at first, and it took years before I began to feel the long-term effects of it, but looking back now, I realize that by taking His advice, my life has become richer, and I have become stronger.
I think I will constantly struggle with my version of pride: believing that I know whatâ€™s best for my life (and rejecting advice from others, including God, who tell me otherwise). God, luckily, has been kind and patient. For example, when He wants to inform me of something He wants me to do that He knows Iâ€™ll initially resist, He typically warns me far enough in advance so that I can get used to the idea by the time events roll around to the point that I need to act on them. I have increasingly learned to trust Him: both His love for me, and the knowledge that if I act on His guidance my life will be enriched in ways that I cannot envision.
Right now I am learning to trust that God wants me to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that the perspective I have of the church is not only acceptable but something I can use in the service of others. My years in graduate school have not always been kind to my testimony. My growing liberalism, my increasing ties to feminism, and the increasing number of unanswered questions I have about the church and the gospel have put a strain on my beliefs. However, as my certainty about a variety of matters has shrunk, my trust and faith in God has increased; my willingness to wait patiently for answers has increased; and my belief that God wants me to commit myself wholeheartedly to this church has increased. When I look back on the last decade of my life, I must acknowledge Godâ€™s wisdom. While there is much I do not understand, I do understand that my life has been richly blessed by keeping the covenants and commandments central to this religion. As my experience with depression vividly illustrated to me, God has a wisdom that exceeds mine; I hope that if nothing else in my life makes sense to me, I can continue to trust both His wisdom and His love.