A close family member of mine was ill. I was having money problems. I’d broken up with my serious boyfriend. I was full of indecision and frustration about the direction my life was going. And I was worried about my family.
So you could say I was maybe not having the best time.
The truth is, I was really struggling. I was never diagnosed, but it’s possible I was dealing with some depression; and everything seemed to be going wrong in my life. I couldn’t help but wonder when my time of trial would end. Surely, I said to myself, I’ve dealt with these things long enough. Surely, after years of hoping, longing for an end, surely I’m almost done.
I was not almost done.
Some of those things took months to resolve—most are still continuing. And one day I was at a low point, sitting in church on the uncomfortable pews and trying to listen to people bearing their testimony at the pulpit. Church had been hard for me over the past few months—especially because it reminded me of some of the things I was sad and disappointed about. I had always attended dutifully and was happy to see friends there, but I felt a distance from the Spirit and missed the closeness I’d had in the past with my Savior. I felt that my pain kept me from Him—as much as I tried to muscle my way past it by reading the scriptures or going to church, it was always waiting for me: my comfortable sadness.
I was ruminating on this during the meeting, as was my custom, when a woman shared her testimony. It was simple, nothing crazy or earth shattering. One thing I remember clearly was her expression of gratitude for the beautiful colors of the changing leaves in the trees. And I remember smiling, because I love the changing leaves too.
[Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ] know my—and most everyone’s—chronic trials won’t go away anytime soon, but They send me strength and love through the small things.
And all of a sudden, other things I had seen and loved started pouring into my mind, small moments of happiness or gratitude or appreciation. The thought “Tender mercies in chronic trials” circled in my mind, running like an undercurrent through all the small moments of joy Heavenly Father had provided me, even during times when I’d felt that no one knew how I felt or what my pain was.
This month is the month of gratitude, at least here in the United States. And while I can’t be grateful for a lot of blessings I wish I could be grateful for (such as a loving spouse or perfect health or all the money in the world), I instead am gifted with small letters of love from my Heavenly Father and my Savior.
They know my—and most everyone’s—chronic trials won’t go away anytime soon, but They send me strength and love through the small things: through a beautiful sunset, crisp autumn air, and always having my lip balm handy—tender mercies. And, of course, the Savior’s Atonement, giving me hope that someday, eventually, things will all work out.
The Lord taught, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). There are a lot of different kinds of rest, though the one that most often comes to my mind is the rest that comes when you set down a really heavy package. Right now I’m really craving that kind of rest, but the Lord knows that isn’t in the cards for me at the moment. So He’s giving me little rests—a figurative sip of water here, a lightening of the load there—especially when I do try my hardest to come closer to Him. And sometimes I’ll look out the window into the beautiful, clear November sky and smile, because even when things are hard, I know the Lord is with me every step of the way. And that is something I can be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
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