You Are Not Alone
Early in my young adulthood a genetic predisposition to depression and some serious moral missteps led me far from the light and safety of the Gospel. After several months of decline I found myself in a miasmic pit of self-imposed shame and negative thought that I hid from the people who loved me. Hopelessness overcame me and I saw no way out.
While in this state an everyday random occurrence finally pushed me over the edge. While returning a video to a rental store the clerk made an unkind comment to me about the plastic case having a crack in it. It was a trivial statement but her derision was more than my heavy heart could take. I walked out of that store convinced that I could no longer stand the agony of soul I was in. I decided to end my life.
I got into my little car and drove at high speed towards a nearby lake. My intent was to crash into a large concrete bridge pylon that was located a few miles up the road. I truly believed that to die would be easier than facing the sins I had committed and there would soon be no way to hide them. I could not fathom enduring the disappointment I felt would come from God and my family.
As I pressed down on the accelerator I unexpectedly felt the pressure of someone’s hand on my right shoulder and then heard a very distinct voice say “YOU ARE NOT ALONE.” This incident startled me to the extent that I took my foot off the gas and pulled to the side of the road. Once again that firm masculine voice said “Brenda, you are not alone.”
Although I could not see the person who was speaking I knew he was there. I somehow also felt that I knew him well. Suddenly, the knowledge that this unseen presence was my younger brother who had died in infancy flooded into my mind. He was there, he loved me, he wanted me to wake up and see the truth of my situation. All was not lost; I needed to come back to the light. I sat there for hours, tears streaming down my face.
That miraculous intervention saved my life and put me on the path to healing and repentance. It took several years of halting progression and the help of a loving Bishop but I finally came to a place where the darkness lifted and I knew I was clean again. Through that difficult period I would think often about my experience at the lake that day, it helped to carry me through. I was not alone.
Many years ago President Harold B Lee promised the help of “a guardian angel of God”:
“You youth of today, we voyage together. … It may be a storm where Nature’s fury is unleashed or it may be a mental or an emotional storm that threatens shipwreck. Whatever the occasion or the cause, you may by faith, …like Paul, have standing by your side during ‘that night’ of turmoil a ‘guardian angel’ of God ‘whose you are and whom you serve.’”
Elder John A. Widtsoe also spoke about these “guardian angels”:
“Undoubtedly angels often guard us from accidents and harm, from temptation and sin. They may properly be spoken of as guardian angels. Many people have borne and may bear testimony to the guidance and protection that they have received from sources beyond their natural vision. Without the help that we receive from the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, and from possible holy angels, the difficulties of life would be greatly multiplied.”
I’m not sure why that experience was allowed to happen to me when it has not for others I have known. I have wept with the family members of those who have taken their own lives. My experience and knowledge of the love of God leads me to believe that those beloved family members and friends were not alone in those last moments. I have some understanding of the tortured state of mind that leads one to that place.
The late Elder Bruce R. McConkie expressed what many Church leaders have taught:
“Suicide consists in the voluntary and intentional taking of one’s own life, particularly where the person involved is accountable and has a sound mind. … Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts. Such are not to be condemned for taking their own lives. It should also be remembered that judgment is the Lord’s; he knows the thoughts, intents, and abilities of men; and he in his infinite wisdom will make all things right in due course.”
Here is what I know to be true. If you find yourself spiraling into the darkness for whatever reason, know this. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There is help and healing to be found. Angels walk with you, God loves you, happiness resides in the future and you can make it there.
Find someone trusted and tell them of your struggle. This can be a Bishop, a teacher, a family member, a health care provider, a spouse, a friend. Isolation is dangerous, find someone who will take your hand and get you the help you need.
In dark times of struggle and trial as well as all the days of our lives the Lord has promised us help from the unseen world, and where others do not He always keeps his promises.
“Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times.” (emphasis added)
In my case the years that followed that trial were filled with challenges but also joy beyond what I could have imagined in my young mind. There were babies to be held, truth to be found, beauty to be experienced. The future had been filled with blessings and love which were exponentially larger than the sacrifice it took to get to them.
Said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
“Don’t you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don’t come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”
As I look back I wish I could somehow transmit that knowledge through space and time to my younger self but realize that the Lord was already doing that in so many ways, I just couldn’t see it until that day on the lake. He is doing the same for all of us right now. So please know…
You are loved.
You are not alone.
- What can we do to be more aware of those who are struggling and how can we help them?
- How have you seen the ministering of angels in your life?