DESCRIBE AN EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU HAVE FELT SEEN BY JESUS CHRIST:
Kim Porter, Roberts Farms Ward
I try to notice Christ and Heavenly Father in my life every day. I think of Them when I feel the sun on my face, watch the sunset, lose my keys. These moments are often as fleeting as a firefly, gone as soon as they catch my attention. Other times, I go looking and find Him in answered prayers, tender mercies, or the scriptures. But the times I feel like He sees me and hears me are often in the midst of a struggle. A verse or, more often, the words to a hymn will touch my heart right when I need them.
“Fear not, I am with thee. As thy days shall demand, so thy succor shall be.”
“With my hand in thine, I’ll go where you want me to go.”
“The fight was won by Jesus!”
One of the first times I recall feeling seen by Him was in seminary. I have struggled with depression and anxiety probably most of my life. I remember staying home from elementary school because I was sick and not going back for two weeks because my stomach ache just wouldn’t go away. Looking back now I can see that I was anxious about catching up on my missing work and that those stomach aches were not illness at all.
By high school I was on medication for my depression. I remember being in church or seminary and just feeling nothing. When I prayed it felt like I was just talking to myself. I heard people say things like “my day just goes better when I read my Scriptures” but to me it didn’t make any difference at all. “I know Heavenly Father and Jesus love me” felt more like a TV commercial I had heard so many times that I had it memorized, but it didn’t apply to me. It just didn’t feel personal.
I hated that feeling. I wanted the blessings that supposedly came from reading your scriptures, keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, praying. I wanted to feel the spirit and grow my testimony. I wanted to feel more peace throughout the day, to know the Book of Mormon was true and understand it better. I wanted to feel His love for me. I wanted to get answers to my prayers. But I just…didn’t. I would read the same verse four times and nothing got from my eyes to my brain, and certainly nowhere near my heart.
I kept doing the things, checking the boxes, hoping to feel His love for me. I went to church, seminary, mutual. I participated, sung the hymns, did the scripture chases, memorized the verses, gave the right answers in Sunday School. Trying to earn an answer, maybe.
It didn’t come as I expected, like a warm feeling or a glowy experience. I like to think that Heavenly Father knew that the medication I was on at the time wouldn’t facilitate feeling the spirit. My answer was just words on a page. Words that made me feel so seen, so heard. It was a description so specific it felt like it was just for me, to let me know that He knew how I was feeling. I wasn’t reading a prophecy, or a letter, or a testimony, or a message. It was just a description.
3 Nephi 8:20-22
And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor darkness;
And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindles with their fine and exceeding dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all.
And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.
If there is a better description of what depression feels like, I haven’t found it yet. No light, no enjoyment, no hope. Palpable, thick darkness.
Through the years (and years) I have learned to manage my depression better. I have learned to recognize my anxiety and how to live with it. I have found medicine that works for me without muddling my brain and smothering all emotion. I can feel the spirit and see His hand in my life. My life is mostly bright now, instead of mostly dark. I find joy in my mostly-feral kids, in creating, in learning new things. But when I have a bad day or a bad week, I still think about this scripture and take comfort in it. And every day I try to notice those glimmers, those flickers, those little fire-flies that I can jar up and look back at when I find myself in the dark.