“How to Heal from Any Struggle—One Step at a Time,” Liahona, June 2021
“And I was healed instantaneously!”
“And I was never tempted by pornography ever again!”
“And my depression completely went away. I don’t even get sad anymore!”
These exclamations sound just a bit too good to be true, right?
We’ve all read stories with “happy endings” that might sound a lot like these. About people struggling with difficult challenges, only for them to, in one glorious moment, rise above their temptations or weaknesses or afflictions and be healed completely.
When reading these kinds of stories, we can definitely feel inspired and be filled with hope that our struggles and challenges can also be healed for good, but oftentimes other thoughts can creep into the back of our minds like:
“Why am I still struggling with this when I’ve done so many things to overcome it?”
“I’m doing my best to turn to the Savior, but I still can’t forgive the person who hurt me.”
“I think at this point, I’m never going to overcome this struggle.”
Our minds try to convince us otherwise, but the truth is, we can all be healed. That’s the promise the Savior offers us. Healing might not happen in a single moment—in fact, it probably won’t—but with our sincere efforts and His help, it is completely possible. And here are a few pointers on how to seek the Lord’s healing power, one step at a time.
The first thing we need to realize when progressing toward healing is that it’s a journey of growth. Here are some truths about this journey to keep in mind:
As we reach for the Savior throughout this journey, He can guide us to resources and the help we need and give us strength and guidance in our efforts. “When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.”1
Growth isn’t accomplished in a day, a month, or even years sometimes. The timeline of healing will be different for everyone.
Whether you’re trying to heal from unwanted habits, addictions, mental health issues, or even trauma, remember that healing often involves changing ingrained habits in the way we think and respond. And this takes time.
We often have to learn to recognize underlying problems like unhealthy thought patterns and difficult feelings before we can work to overcome our issues.
The healing process is full of ups and downs.
If you feel discouraged, know that you’re not alone—even Nephi struggled at times and fell into his weaknesses (see 2 Nephi 4). After his father died, this prophet with unshakable faith wrote about how frustrated he was that he struggled with sorrow and grief and temptations. But Nephi ultimately testifies that he would keep trying and trusting in the Lord because he knew He would help him overcome his struggles in the end.
We often don’t anticipate that the path to healing from difficult experiences can be full of setbacks, mistakes, discouragement, impatience, and turbulence. It will likely not be a straightforward course that works perfectly and effortlessly the first time we try. And that’s OK. Because those setbacks are what help us rely more on our Savior.
The Lord doesn’t expect us to overcome everything right now. But He does expect us to strive and to have the desire to be healed, because our heart’s truest desires are what make all the difference in achieving our goals and becoming who we want to be. The Lord works with the desires in our hearts. And as President Russell M. Nelson taught, “The Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it.”2
So when you’re still struggling with giving in to temptation, when you’re still experiencing the darkness of mental health challenges, or when thoughts of past trauma still keep you up at night, simply keep trying. Put in the effort, work for endurance, and hold on to faith and hope in Jesus Christ.
As you continue trying, the righteous desires of your heart will be fulfilled, and you’ll experience the miracles of healing (see Mosiah 2:41).
It’s normal to find ourselves struggling through different aspects of the healing process. But being kind and patient with ourselves is just as important as putting in the work toward healing. Self-loathing has never helped anyone succeed. No matter what stage of healing you’re in, be kind to yourself and remember that the Savior will always have compassion for you. Here are a few ways to practice self-compassion:
Remind yourself of the time healing takes and the loads of effort it requires from you.
Realize that many issues stem from unmet needs or coping mechanisms you learned as a child and that they are difficult to change.
Recognize that even if you’re having setbacks, you are still changing. Remember that the desires of your heart will help you make long-lasting change.
Focus on your progress. Look at how far you’ve come. (If you haven’t already, find a way to track your progress.)
Treat yourself as you would treat someone you love who is trying to heal.
Consider what you’ve learned and how your struggles have helped you grow spiritually. Heavenly Father has a way of turning our difficult challenges into experiences for our good (see Doctrine and Covenants 122:7).
Share your struggles with someone who will support and love you on your journey to healing. But be sure to maintain boundaries and ask them to respect your privacy.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are always there to help and guide us through our healing process. They have provided countless spiritual tools such as prayer, fasting, scriptures, and regular church and temple attendance that can have a powerful influence on our path to healing.
Heavenly Father has also given us resources outside of spiritual tools to help us heal, and He wants us to utilize them. For example, Elder Kyle S. McKay of the Seventy spoke of a woman who had a drug addiction. And although she experienced the “immediate goodness of God,” at her lowest point she still needed help from others as well. Elder McKay explained, “Healing and ultimate deliverance took a long time—months of treatment, training, and counseling, during which she was sustained and sometimes carried by His goodness.”3
Our healing will require effort and tools. Physicians, medication, mental health professionals, and support groups are amazing resources to help us heal. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled: “Seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. … Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.”4
All in all, wherever we may be on our path to healing, know that we can all be healed entirely because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Atonement.
Sometimes we speak about the Atonement of Jesus Christ without actually knowing how to access His healing balm, but the process of doing so is actually quite simple—and personal (see 1 Nephi 15:14). As we implement the spiritual tools we’ve been given—like prayer, fasting, and attending church and the temple regularly—we can connect with the Savior in an individual way. Looking for His influence in our lives each day can also help us see that He is with us.
Remember that healing comes in stages as we move toward the Savior, though it’s also important to realize that some of our deepest hurts and struggles may not fully heal in this life. But His grace can carry and sustain us, change our perspective, or give us strength to keep going and find true joy anyway.
Until then, let’s keep the promise of Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in our hearts: “I testify that as we continually strive to overcome our challenges, God will bless us with the gifts of faith to be healed and of the working of miracles. He will do for us what we are not capable of doing for ourselves.”5
One day, “every thing shall be restored” (Alma 11:44), and we will be able to declare, “I’ve been healed, completely.”
And what a glorious day that will be.