Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Song I Could Not Sing

I was recently very touched by a talk by Jeffery R Holland about a song called "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today". In this song there is a line that says "And Jesus listening can hear the songs I cannot sing." He spoke of how there are times in our lives when there are songs we feel we cannot sing. Sometimes this is caused by mental illness, physical illness, poverty, or other difficult circumstances. I had never thought of this song this way and it struck a chord with me.
I would like to share my experience of a song I could not sing for a time in the hopes that it will bring someone hope for a better day. The song I could not sing for about five years is the song of happiness. Sometime about five years ago I fell into a depression. I do not remember a specific experience or circumstance that caused this depression, but into it I fell. I say fell because it felt very much like a fall that wouldn't stop. Slowly and suddenly at the same time, I found myself in some dark days. Some days I cried almost uncontrollably for no reason. Other nights I lay awake crying to myself in loneliness and despair. Other days seemed completely normal. At least to others I seemed completely normal. The truth is that during those days I could not sing the song of happiness. I could not feel happiness.
During this time I felt hope, love, occasionally joy, and many other positive feelings. I believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all of my heart and I lived it the best that I could. I believed in a loving Father in Heaven and was and still am eternally grateful for Him and all that He has done for me. I prayed daily asking for help and I read scriptures to find peace. Sometimes reading the scriptures was the only thing that could stop my incessant tears.
Eventually the relentless crying stopped. I spent a lot of time talking with my Mom trying to figure out my life and why I didn't feel happy. In her angelic way she helped me climb out of the pit I had fallen into. I was okay. I no longer spent days crying. I no longer lay awake at night crying to myself. Mom helped me heal so that I was okay.
To almost everyone I seemed fine. I lived life as I had always lived. I acted excited during "exciting" moments and gave off a general demeanor of contentedness. But still, I could not sing the song of happiness. And the hardest part was that I did not know why.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where the happiness had gone. Was there something I did that took it away? Did I need to come to peace with something in my life? Did I need to repent of something I had done terribly wrong?
I had several spiritual experiences during this time where God let me know that He wanted me to be happy. He wanted to remind me that happiness was possible and that I should strive for it. I had a goal, but I did not have a path. So I would ask and time after time I received only the answer "I love you". God was always there. He and my Savior Jesus Christ walked with me every step of the way.
I attended Relief Society lessons about happiness. I listened intently hoping to find something I could try that I had not already tried. I was told, happiness is a choice. Make a conscience effort every day to be happy. Start a gratitude journal, gratitude helps us become happy. Read your scriptures and pray daily. Have faith. All wonderful ideas! I tried each of them diligently. "This has to be it!" I thought to myself. "One of these days I'm going to find that I'm happy. Then I'll bear testimony in Relief Society too!" Unfortunately, this was not true. I tried everything! If it sounded like it could help with happiness even a little bit I tried it. But still, I felt this emptiness. I could not sing the song of happiness. It started to make me a little bitter. Instead of feeling hopeful during happiness lessons at church I felt upset and discouraged.
I do not know if I was clinically depressed. I never went to a psychologist, although maybe I should have.  I did not know what was wrong. I did know that God loves me. My life felt like The Piano Guys song "Holding On" .
Some days the swelling part near the end was hope in my life. Some days it felt like anger. Some days it felt like disappointment. There was a lot of emotion. But it was beautiful and I felt grateful to have emotions. Always, it renewed my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ. I knew that someday He would help it all be okay.
I spent time talking with friends. I spent a lot of time walking and thinking to myself. I was trying to figure out what to do to bring back the happiness. Slowly I discovered things that I was not at peace with and tried hard to figure out how to be okay with them. But still the happiness was gone.
One day in early February I went to a Relief Society lesson where several women shared their experiences of feeling angry or depressed and what they did about it. What I pulled out was to pray for happiness. That was something  I had tried before. So I felt to pray for happiness and the belief that I could feel happy. I also felt that it was time. It was going to work this time.
So I tried it. Almost immediately did I feel the results of my prayer for happiness! I was feeling happy! After five years I was feeling happiness! It was being impeded by anger though, so I began to pray to feel less angry. That worked too! I was happy! It felt as if a switch had flipped in my brain. There was a literal physical change. My brain was different. The world suddenly looked different. All within a week. I did not fully comprehend why, but I liked it a lot. I felt free! I felt happy.
I do not tell you this for a road map for those of you who feel depressed or in a similar state where there is a song you cannot sing. The path that I took is certainly not the best and I don't think I even know what the full path consists of. But I do hope that you feel hope that some day you will make it through. Jesus could hear the song I could not sing. He knew I would make it through and He could hear my joy on the other side. The song I now sing was fully audible to Him. He knew there was a lot for me to learn and there still is a lot for me to learn, but He helped me on the way. His love was always there. On days when I felt angry and disappointed His love was there. As I cried His love was there. On days when I felt "blah" His love was there. It was always there and it encouraged me at every step.
Others do not see the change that has happened in my life. To them I look the same way I have always looked and act the same way I have always acted. That was hard at first. I wanted to shake friends and shout for joy. "I'm happy! Can't you see?! I'm happy!" Surely they had to see that the world was completely different! They had to see that things had changed! But, it was a joy and change that happened completely within myself. Fortunately there is a place to turn for that kind of joy. To our Savior. He has felt everything we have felt. That includes when a blanket is taken off our minds and we feel happiness for the first time in years. I rejoiced with Him.
So if there is a song you cannot sing at this time please know that it is temporary. I do not know how long it will last. Perhaps it will endure throughout your entire life. Perhaps it will endure only a week. But it is temporary. Hold on to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Know that He loves you more than you can know. Pray. Read. Attend Church. Attend Family Home Evening. LIVE the Gospel. I promise it is worth it.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelations 21:4.

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