You Are Not Alone

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by Brenda

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.

Girl thinkingWhile 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.”

southern alps

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?

About Brenda

Brenda (Truth, Beauty, & BLT’s) is the mother of four tremendous children and wife to a very patient and witty man she lovingly calls “Buns”. She enjoys flying kites, thinking about things that make her brain hurt, and is pretty good with a slingshot. She spends her time searching for truth, beauty, and humor wherever she can find them.

7 Responses to You Are Not Alone

  1. Wendy says:

    Wow. Just wow. It is hard for me to put into words what I feel. I had no idea things were like this for you during that time. You are very brave to talk about a subject that is usually glossed over by well-meaning folks who don’t want to intrude, but I think it’s important to get it out into the light where it can be properly dealt with.

    How glad I am that there was an intervention for you that preserved your life and gave you a chance to work your way back up to where you wanted to be. What an amazing and tender experience-thank you for sharing it. Your life since then has been full of family, friends, children, love, joy, and service, along with more than your share of trials, but you have never allowed those difficulties to permanently cloud your recognition of the blessings that have accompanied them.

    I think in addition to saving your life, your brother’s intervention has allowed you more time to go on and be a guardian angel for so many other people. Yes, there are unseen presences who help us in our times of need, but there are many other times when our “angels” come in the form of kind strangers, helpful friends and neighbors, alert visiting or home teachers, or an inspired relative. I know I have had many experiences with this type of aid, both on the giving end and the receiving end. Each time I am left with a fuller heart, and a grateful spirit, because it is yet another opportunity for Heavenly Father to tell us he loves us.

  2. Anne says:

    I think that a really hard roadblock to being willing to go to someone for help is the fear of overwhelming someone else with what you’re feeling–at least that’s how I feel when I’m fighting a depression. Everyone seems so busy with their own lives (though when I’m rational I know they’d help) that I’m afraid of being a burden. Thank goodness for those friends who see truly and push me into accepting their help.

    A powerful and valuable post. Thank you.

    • Brenda says:

      You are right Anne, when you are in that place asking for help can seem almost impossible. Sometimes it does take a wake up call to get to that point.

      The blessing as I see it is that I think that people who have been through similar struggles are blessed with eyes to see and can have empathy. We can be the first ones to recognize that someone else is having difficulty and reach out to help.

  3. jendoop says:

    Thank you for sharing your very personal experiences Brenda. I think that everyone will need that special care of angels at some time in their life. For some of us it’s more often. God is good and is there for us, as we’re ready to receive it. I wish that I didn’t have to go through some things in my life but I see how God allowed me to choose my own path, even when I didn’t choose a straight course to him. He didn’t overwhelm me with information or light I couldn’t handle, but gave it to me in teaspoons when I’d open my mouth and ask. This life is not easy, but God is still so very good.

    • Brenda says:

      Yes He is. This experience is something I have shared at different times and I felt impressed to write it now. I have a sure knowledge that angels really do walk with us and that our Heavenly Father is acutely aware of the things were are going through. I add my testimony to so many other out there.

      I also want folks to be aware that we never know the state a heart is in when we speak unkindly. I know the woman in the video store certainly meant no harm and was probably just having a bad day but that experience taught me to try to never behave unkindly with strangers. I don’t know what burdens they are carrying. Certainly the same is true with people closer to me.

      You are right, life isn’t easy but it is wonderful and beautiful and worth every second. How grateful I am for the teaspoons I’m fed every day. :)

  4. Emily says:

    Just incredible. I went to two classes at education week on angels/guardian angels. I so need to make time to study this more. Realizing how many times they are mentioned in the scriptures and even church history, I’m surprised we don’t study them more formally at church. Experiences like this are so personal and so real that we ABSOLUTELY KNOW there is more than what we see here and now.

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