Monday, August 28, 2017

Shall We Not go on in so Great a Cause?

So for the past several weeks I have been thinking and praying about when and how to send this email. I feel like personal experiences are to be shared with others only when the Spirit prompts me to do so, and the Spirit has been telling me to write this letter for a while now.
I have a problem, yes, this missionary just admitted that she is not perfect. I have a monster in my closet that just won't let me be free, I recently learned that the name of this monster is "depression." Last transfer when my incredibly loving companion, Sister Pluim, encouraged me to get help, I thought that she was crazy. I figured that everyone felt the way I did and this was normal. Little did I know that the way I felt was the furthest thing from normal.
Shock, cannot even begin to describe it. I was stunned when my results were off the charts. To put it in perspective, on the scale they came up with for missionaries, 45 is normal, 80 is debilitating, and 100+ is top priority. I landed myself as "top priority" before I even admitted to myself that I had a problem. But when you sit down in front of a counselor and he asks straight out "how are you functioning? because there is no way in the world that you should be." you kind of start to realize that you have a problem.
I still haven't entirely admitted it. But after months of frustration I have finally been able to put a name to the things I have been feeling, Depression, anxiety, the whole works.
Yes, my friends, I have a problem, but that's okay isn't it? That's what the Atonement is for, that's why we have a Savior.
I love, and have found hope in, this quote by  Sister Chieko N. Okazaki (it's sort of long, sorry):
Well, my dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It's our faith that he experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don't experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
He knows all that. He's been there. He's been lower than all that. He's not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don't need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He's not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief. 
You know that people who live above a certain latitude and experience very long winter nights can become depressed and even suicidal, because something in our bodies requires whole spectrum light for a certain number of hours a day. Our spiritual requirement for light is just as desperate and as deep as our physical need for light. Jesus is the light of the world. We know that this world is a dark place sometimes, but we need not walk in darkness. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and the people who walk in darkness can have a bright companion. We need him, and He is ready to come to us, if we'll open the door and let him.

I never write about my trials to trigger worry or panic, PLEASE DON'T. I share trials to tell you all that I am real (when I walk off the plane in a little over 4 months, please do not expect me to be perfect!) and to help others to understand that trials are a part of life, and they are okay! And it is only okay because the atonement and the Savior are real.
Often I think we can testify of the reality of the Savior to anyone else, we can tell them that "he's there for you!" but we can't believe that the Savior is there for us. We can't believe that He is there reaching towards us, trying so desperately to help us. A few weeks ago, I could tell anyone and everyone that the Savior is there for them, but for myself, I felt as thought I was alone. But I am not alone, and I know that more than ever.
Often, it seems like the easiest thing to do would be to quit, but as I read in the Doctrine and Covenants, I came across this amazing verse in section 128:22 "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad."
Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Is this not worth it? Watching Justyce get baptized last week, I remembered that it is. 
Never forget that God Loves you!
All my love, 
Sister Megan Monson

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