The very next morning I received a letter from my dear nephew, Dane. He described much of what weighed on my heart the day before. How timely his letter was! I related to almost every word. I was grateful for his willingness to be so real and express honestly what we often guard so closely. We both had experienced a shroud of darkness and we both experieced peace restored through the grace of our Savior. I love Dane's writings, how he poetically articulates expressions of his heart. I've included part of his letter at the end of this post.
This evening, our Home Teachers shared the First Presidency Message with our family. I especially appreciated what President Uchtdorf said about keeping our torches lit. It reminded me of the promise I had received years ago in my patriarchal blessing, "Never any day will you need to walk in darkness but will have the light of truth in your life." I believe this blessing is available to all of us!
Beautiful testimony from my nephew, Dane (Elder Whitaker):
Last week I suffered a lot of needless pain. Every turn seemed like a wrong choice and every thought a grapple within myself for control. I couldn't say why--we had a bad week, I guess, but I think I rocked the boat a lot more than necessary. With the end approaching, weaknesses and faults weighing on me, the aching miles looming behind, and the million rejections and lost appointments whirling around me like harpies, I allowed myself to slide into a self-destructive cycle. I think I've probed more deeply within myself during these 20 months than at any other point in my life. I've discovered depths of darkness and glorious rays of sunshine I never knew before.
So yesterday I was reading in Helaman 5 and the relevance of the Lamanites' conversion in the prison struck me more clearly than before. They saw Nephi and Lehi wreathed in harmless fire, and later, conversing with angels. Yet terror and darkness immobilized them and distanced them from a glorious happening. Others were having highly spiritual experiences and they were firmly wrapped in confusion and despair, so thick they hadn't even the power to escape one step. I know that feeling. A voice came to them declaring repentance, in fact that message came four times--count it--and they didn't grasp the meaning until the fourth time, when Aminadab repeated it to them.
Seek no more to destroy my servants, was His invitation. I realized that seeking to destroy oneself in the service of God is just as wrong as seeking the downfall of His ministers. Even if I wasn't deliberately seeking my destruction, I was letting dark thoughts cloud my judgement. And that will only lead to unhealed spiritual wounds. The message to repent didn't glare at or criticize me, it just invited softly. So what's the solution; how is the overpowering cloud dispersed? By repenting, by crying unto God until I have faith in Christ. If my faith is faltering, then I can at least rely on the desire to believe, the hope that draws light in and dispels the shadows. After crying for a time, the Lamanites also received the Spirit, joy, peace, and I, too, can. I prayed then with new hope, asking for faith. I felt peace and faith restored to me.