Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Real Me

I usually try to be fairly positive in the things I post on my blog. My main reason for that is that there is enough negativity in the world without me adding to it. After a conversation with a friend though, I realized that by focusing my posts on my faith, hope, and belief, I may inadvertently be giving others a picture of me that isn't whole, not quite "real." I have doubts, fears, and bad days just like everyone. Although I have a strong testimony of the atonement and reality of Jesus Christ as my Savior and Redeemer, and I know that there is a God and He is my Heavenly Father, I still have nagging questions that lead to doubts.

I still wonder why a kind and loving God would keep Himself so well hidden from His children over the ages. Yes, there was always some knowledge of Him and His gospel in some parts of the world, but there were also a lot of areas and a lot of people who never knew about Him. Why? It can't just be because He wanted others to have a chance to share His word- because they didn't have the capability to even reach those people! He could have sent angels, but there's no record that many were ever visited and taught anything about God before they had contact with outside peoples. And why did He make His word so vague and hard to understand on points of doctrine that we now have thousands of different interpretations of it? Didn't He want us to know Him and understand what His commandments are? Then why not be clearer in the scriptures??

I also wonder why God allows some really good people to go through so much pain and suffering, and will the reward in heaven really be worth it? Why does He allow drug addicts to have baby after baby, born into deplorable conditions, while withholding the blessing of children from a faithful couple who long for a large family? Why does He provide healing for some, and not for others- does it have to do with the level of faith, worthiness, or some arbitrary factors we aren't aware of? Why does He allow mental illnesses that make it a struggle to even want to stay on this earth?

Lately, I've been struggling with more personal questions. Ones like: why did God have us move from a church family that we loved and were thriving in to one that has made it stressful and wearying to go to church each Sunday? Why did He move us to an area where there is so much hopelessness and so little opportunity to make a true difference? Why does He continue to let me struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts? Sometimes the siren call of suicide says "come home" and I wonder if that's His voice I'm hearing. Why does life feel so empty and hopeless some days? And what can I really DO with my life to make a difference? What is MY purpose, not just the general purpose of coming to the earth to gain a body and be tested?

Yes, I have questions and doubts. There are days when the tug of war inside my head is so intense that it's hard to convince the voice that says "there's no reason to stay here any more" that it's lying. It's hard to tell myself that tomorrow will be a better day when there's a 50/50 chance that it won't be. Some days it's a struggle to put on a smile and act like my life has meaning when I look around and know that in another 50 years it won't really matter that I was here and then was gone. Even if I manage to touch a few lives for a short time here- what good have I really done? The weight of my failures and shortcomings look back at me from the mirror and I wonder "what's the point?"

That's the naked truth of what often goes on in my head. It's not pretty, it's not courageous or strong or inspiring. It's just pain and doubt and fear. It's what I'm sure many, many people could relate to. It's nothing that makes me special or interesting, but it makes me real. For good or for bad it's part of what makes me who and what I am.

And then there are the good days. The days when it feels like the sun is shining just for me. Days when the darkness and heaviness is lifted and I feel like I could jump for joy. There are days when peace washes over me and lets me know that everything is going to be okay, regardless of what the negative voices have been telling me. There are special friends who post something I needed to read on facebook, or who look out for me and check in on me when I'm silent for too long. There's my husband, who puts up with way more than he should ever have to; who holds me when I'm too weak to fight the tears any more, and tries to convince me that I'm worth something, and that this world is a better place because I'm in it. There are the children on Sunday whose faith and love are a joy to be around and who make all the hours of preparation, organizing, and work worth it. There are those times when I open my scriptures and what I read isn't just what I've read before, but something that I needed to be reminded of right then, or a truth that I hadn't understood in that way before. There are good books that show me that I don't have it that bad, or that help me learn better ways to be. There are the brothers and sisters at church who show me what faithful service is, who are examples of love and patience, who keep hope alive against the discouragement of others who are unwilling to serve.

One day the wrong side may win the tug of war in my mind. That's a scary thought. But I can't pretend it isn't there, in the back of my mind. I fight it the best I can, and when it feels like my feet are slipping over the line, it's often the love of those around me who grab the rope and pull me back to safety. And it's at times like that that I know there is a God who loves me, who knows what I'm fighting and how much I'm hurting. So how can I let the doubts about all the minutiae overwhelm the faith that I have in God and Jesus when they have proven faithful time and time again? How can I show my gratitude for blessings, for life, for grace that allows me to be more than I am on my own? How can I not blog about their goodness, their mercy, and their love? Those are the questions I want to blog about. Those are the things that will help and lift and encourage. I'll still share these rare glimpses into the darker side of me, but for the most part I have to keep my focus on what is good and right in my life and in this world around me.


Stephanie said...

First just let me thank you for posting this. There were parts that tugged at my heart and brought tears to my eyes, but I appreciate your willingness to share your vulnerabilities. So often, when fighting the tug of war in my own head, I struggle with how strong and sure you seem to always be. The voices in my head use your faithfulness against me, as ironic as that seems. I know why Heavenly Father moved you to an area where there is so much hopelessness. For what it's worth, your friendship, faith, and compassion have saved my life. Please don't ever believe the voice that says your life is pointless.

Mama D said...

You are who you are - and I love you for YOU. You are a caring, constant friend. You see both the good and the bad in life. You keep putting one foot in front of the other. You are valuable and needed and loved.

There are some times, some years, when we struggle more than others. I felt this way after we moved to Missouri. It took me a lot of time to work through the mental and emotional morass. It was ugly more often than not. But the fact that I survived helps me when I'm faced with another challenge.

Focus on your faith and hope. Continue to share the ups and downs of your life. Your insights are some of the most profound and life-altering tidbits of wisdom that I hear.

Papa D said...

That was both raw and beautiful, Patty. Thank you for writing it. If you don't mind, I will be sharing it on my own blog at some point in the future - and elsewhere.

Stephanie, thank you, also, for your comment. We feel the same way, albeit for very different reasons.

Finally, Patty, give Dave an extra hug (and maybe more). He really is a wonderful man - and a wonderful example of what a good, godly husband is. God blessed the broken road that led you to him.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you personally, but I do know those voices far too will. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. For those of us that have these thoughts on occasion it can be very scary but at the same time it reminds us that there are other forces that want us to know that we are loved and that others do care. I lost a daughter to suicide a few years ago and my sister also back in the early 80s. I miss them but I don't know if I would wish them back to the lives that they had and the constant pain and sorrow that they felt. My hope has always been that a loving Father would understand and welcome them home.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patty,

I am touched by your realness. Sometimes we semi-rationalize the suicide of others by saying to ourself that it was only a matter of time. My hope is to do my part to dispel such notions. I understand that a suicidal period may be pretty short and then may not reoccur for a long time or perhaps ever. My point is that your efforts to lift others and their efforts to lift you are not wasted. Thank you for sharing with us your efforts to "fight the good fight."

Anonymous said...

I decided a long time ago that suicide was not an option. My reality is that here are no good days, although there are good time periods in some of the days.There are many days that i really wish, like Alma the younger, that i could just completely cease to exist, both body and soul; all consciousness wiped out completely.
But my testimony of the Gospel tells me that such is not possible.
I love my wife dearly and do not want to scare her. she has had such a hard life prior to our Holy Union and I feel it is my duty and honor to provide her the security and love she had never known prior. and I have a granddaughter also now who depends on me and her "Nanna" for just about everything. They give me a reason to keep on fighting, and reasons not to reveal the complete me. The main reason I am saying this is because I have found that love is the best bulwark against depression I have found.
This is maybe a lohg winded way of saying that I understand, and while I cannot comprehend it at this time, my faith gives me hope that at some point I will be healed.