|Art by Emily Shay|
Save the Date for our “Safe and Sound” Day of Service
September 10th from 9-11 am at the Stake Center (For ages 8 and up).
When we're little, we’re usually afraid of the monsters in the closet, but as we grow up, we realize the true monsters live in our heads. Mental health is something I’ve struggled with for a little bit now, from low self esteem to suicidal thoughts, it’s certainly a trial I’ve been dealing with for a long time. For the first few years of this trial, I felt alone and I didn’t know how to properly deal with these terrible feelings I was experiencing, so I resorted to self harm. I felt no one could understand me, I would even say to myself “If there was really a God and he loved me, he wouldn’t do this to me, he wouldn’t let me feel this way.” It didn’t help that at the time I had a group of friends who were very hateful towards the church. They never ever encouraged me to hurt myself, however, they told me these feelings could be a result of me not being happy with my gender, and though it confused me, I believed them. As I tried to change myself by watching and listening to the media they told me about and changing my clothing style to look more masculine, I realized I still wasn’t happy, in fact, I was getting worse. I told my parents that I was getting better and that I wasn’t having suicidal thoughts or urges, but deep down I knew I was lying. I felt worthless, I felt hurt, I felt empty, and most of all, I felt alone.
While I was at my worst, I prayed, even though I thought no one was on the other side listening to me, my dear mother always taught me to turn to prayer, because if you feel like you’re not worthy to pray, that’s the time you should pray the most. I got down on my knees and prayed through sobs. All the sudden, I had an urge to go on the church YouTube channel and watch a couple of the New Testament story YouTube videos. “Heh that’s weird.” I thought to myself “It’s not like it’ll make a difference.” I watched this video called “He is Risen.” As I was watching it, I got a feeling I hadn’t had in a really long time, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was important. I didn’t immediately start believing but slowly, as I watched more media put out by the church, I started to realize what was true. I realized that my old friends, though having cared about me, were not good for me specifically, or for my testimony. So though it was hard, I had to leave the group to save my testimony. I was alone for the while, and honestly I still wasn’t sure if the decision I made was right. After a little bit of time had passed, I started to find a new group where my beliefs were respected if not shared. I realized that this trial only made me stronger and that I was never alone in the first place, I just wasn’t looking for light in the right places. I was even sent a person who taught me that I am beautiful inside and out and that I was made in the perfect image.
I can promise you that you are never alone. Remember when I mentioned monsters at the beginning? Sometimes, those monsters will overtake you and tell you that you are not enough, that you are worthless, and they might even say you need to change yourself. Although, the biggest lie they tell you; is that you’re alone. You are never alone! Christ knows exactly how you feel in perfect detail. He went through all your trials and pains and while he was suffering he thought of you and your life while feeling nothing but the most sincere, pure form of love. When this monster in our head surrounds us, he is always reaching out his hand, however, it’s our choice whether we choose to take it or not. I can say with no doubts that I am a precious, worthy daughter of God with a divine purpose. I can promise that you, yes you, listening to or reading this were made in a perfect image. You have more worth than you can comprehend and you are loved. Take his hand and let him destroy your monsters. Though the rules and laws we have seem hard, at the end of the day, the laws he gives are blessings that lead us to live better lives. Always remember, Christ is your guide through your maze of monsters and if you put in the effort to hear Him, you will be blessed.
- Meagan VanderToolen, Age 14, 37th Ward