For several years now, I have really struggled with depression and anxiety. I have found lots of great help along the way through many different sources. However, I still experience enough times where I have hit rock bottom again and can’t see a way out (more frequently than I’d like).
A few of my solid pillars that help hold me up in these hard times are these:
- My testimony and knowledge are that I am truly a daughter of the living God and He loves me no matter what.
- Jesus Christ suffered and died for me because He loves me and wants to help me through everything I’ll ever experience in my life.
- Living healthy practices in every part of my life (physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual) can greatly strengthen me to be the best I can be.
How grateful I am for these foundational pillars!
But along with that foundation, gratitude is one of my favorite practices. No matter what I’m going through, I always come back to the mindset of gratitude, and I find peace and reassurance that there is still light, that it’s going to be OK, and that my Heavenly Father is acutely aware of the details in my life right now.
One of my favorite stories that remind me of the importance of gratitude is from Corrie ten Boom, when she and her sister, Betsie, were in German concentration camps. Everything was terrible and miserable—just unimaginable. Plus, they had fleas! Betsie, following an answer to her prayer for guidance, was reminded to “give thanks in all circumstances.”
With this mindset, she found much to be grateful for, even in concentration camps! She even overlooked the discomfort of her situation and thanked God for the fleas, which, she later discovered, were the exact things keeping her and her sister, Corrie, unapproached by the Nazi guards, therefore giving them much more freedom.
Like Betsie, when I practice a mindset of gratitude in every situation, with an open heart to receive light and a constant prayer to God, I can find things to be grateful for in every situation, even my own “fleas.”
At one point in my and my husband’s marriage, it seemed as if everything was falling apart. It was painful and extremely challenging. My husband’s faith had changed, my depression was at a high, and we really struggled. We even filed for divorce at one point. How grateful I was for my testimony of Jesus Christ to give me something to stand on at such a shaky time. How grateful I was for visiting teachers who were there to comfort me with love and listening ears. How grateful I was for the Book of Mormon, which gave me fresh answers to my daily questions and concerns.
Looking back, I find great gratitude to Heavenly Father for all I learned through that chapter in my life. My husband and I chose to try again for a healthy marriage and learned to work really hard together. I saw miracles of healing broken hearts. I experienced miracles of forgiveness. We have reached a point of love and peace beyond anything we ever had before.
I gained my own spiritual self-reliance when my husband’s different beliefs forced me to reassess everything I believed. He and I have gained a great strength of communication and understanding as we’ve learned to listen and be more compassionate about one another’s differences. Are we perfect now? No. But I am so grateful for all I gained from it! I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without the experiences I had.
Every morning when I first wake up, I write down five things I feel grateful for at that moment. This sets my day off with a positive mindset and eyes looking for the good in the world around me. I love the quote hanging on my wall that says “Blessed every day beyond all measure,” because it always reminds me of how blessed I truly am.
Alma 34:38 tells us to “live in thanksgiving daily.” Doctrine and Covenants 136:28 says to “praise the Lord ... with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.” Colossians 3:15 says, “Be ye thankful.” And 3 Nephi 10:10 teaches us that when the people were in great despair, their “mourning was turned into ... thanksgiving unto the Lord.”
Even in our lowest points—especially in our lowest points—I have learned that we should always turn our eyes upward to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know that if we strive to focus our eyes on Jesus Christ with a grateful heart, we will see daily miracles from God’s hand in our lives, and those things have brought me peace even on my worst days.
There is always something to be grateful for, and I’m grateful for that.