I’ve rewritten the beginning of this post 4 times in the last three minutes. I have so many thoughts that I want to express, but I want the point of this post to be that I believe that there are good people in the world around us. Sometimes really awful things happen to us and to those we love, and it’s important that we all work together to lift each other. Sometimes we’re the ones who need a lift, and at other times we’re the ones doing the lifting. There is a great quote that has helped me the past few years given by President Harold B. Lee:
“You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul.”
When I was going to school to receive my Associates Degree I had a large responsibility put upon my shoulders. I felt very young, inexperienced, and overwhelmed. Luckily I had some great friends who helped me, and lifted me up when I felt like my task was too impossible to fulfill. There were other people who I thought were my friends, who turned their backs on me and tried to turn others against me as well. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn, but I got through it. One way I got through it was by the above quote. I typed it up and put it on the wall in my room. I’d see it every night when I went to bed and it greeted me every morning.
Another saying that I typed up and hung above my door said, “Approach each day with optimism.” A family friend had given me that advice, and I decided to take it to heart. I know that life has its ups and downs, but it’s a lot easier if you’re smiling. This same family friend and I had a conversation a few months before I started my second year of college. My older sister was leaving for her LDS mission, and I was so worried about my future and all the changes that were happening in my life. He gave me some great advice that I’m 100% positive was inspiration from the Lord.
He told me that I needed to exercise my faith by increasing the intensity of my personal prayers. Not necessarily from a regularity perspective, but from a intent perspective. That instead of saying my regular, short, laying in bed as I fall asleep prayers, I should visit with my Heavenly Father about the inner most fears of my heart and let God comfort me. He told me that as I verbalize through prayer to my Heavenly Father my inner most fears, challenges, and trepidations, that I am employing my agency and my faith. That as I'd verbalize this faith and employment of agency I would be blessed and feel more peace in my life.
It was a really sweet and comforting conversation and I took him up on the invitation. Up until that point in my life I’d never really told the Lord the things that had been bothering me. I did all the right things, had all the right friends, and never got into any trouble. I said normal prayers, but I didn’t trust the Lord with the things that I was really worried about. I didn’t trust him with my family problems, my fear in dating, or with the struggles I’d been having with my roommates. I thought I was strong enough to handle those things, and I didn’t want anyone, including the Lord, to know that I had weaknesses that even I was too terrified to think about, let alone to mention to him.
I think by changing the habit of my personal prayers I eventually became stronger. I felt more full of faith and hope. I didn’t feel so alone and I had more peace in my life. I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but I’m glad it did. Did praying fix all of the problems in my life? No, absolutely not. It did however give me the strength to go on fighting my battles, and a calming peace that would give me rest from the troubles that were constantly circulating around in my head.
This world is a scary and terrifying place. If you don’t believe me just turn on the news or talk to your neighbor. It seems like everyone is fighting a huge inner battle. Sometimes they’re not only inner battles, but they’re happening in their homes as well. Marriages fail, people die, and sometimes the whole world feels like it’s crumbling down around you. If you don’t feel this way right now, great! Just know that there are people fighting unbelievably hard things all around you, and if you get the opportunity reach out to those around you, and let them know that you’re there to lift them up. Sometimes it’s something small like a kind word or a hug. Sometimes they just need a friend to go with them to dinner, the movies, or to go for a walk.
Everyone needs someone.
Now I know we can’t always be there for everyone. I’ve tried that, and it never works out that well. Sometimes we just need a little extra help, or know that someone is on our side, and that is enough. I know that I don’t know everything, but God does. Tell him your fears, pray for someone great to come into your life, be open to the new paths that he might lead you down. If you have a question, I know he’ll help you find the answer. When it feels like you’re all alone, remember you have at least one person on your side.