Since my last article “Don’t Face the World Alone” appeared, I have received many e-mails asking: “How exactly do you go about placing yourself on the altar?” I apologize to those who felt that my explication was not sufficient. This series of articles will chronicle my own experience, however your experience will be different. Your journey will be unique and special to you. I offer mine only as a witness that making this journey is what our Heavenly Father wants us to do. He is waiting to bless us.
Looking back, I can see that my journey required that I truly live and understand the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. Each article will dwell on one such principle.
In order to have faith, you must first have trust. As I stated in my previous article, trust was difficult for me because of my life experiences wherein those mortals who should have sheltered and protected me, instead abused and abandoned me. Life had not taught me to trust, but rather the opposite: it had taught me that I had to keep my heart to myself and trust only in myself. When my husband was called to serve in the Bishopric in the BYU 28th Ward, our Stake President, the now Honorable Judge Thomas B. Griffith, was our Stake President. He had “an agenda” he told us. That agenda was to have every talk and every lesson specifically tied to the “very root of Christian doctrine” (Boyd K. Packer talk), or the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My husband and I began to study the atonement in all its aspects. At that time, there were several very excellent addresses by the Brethren on this topic. The one that changed my life forever was given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the April, 2006 General Conference, “Broken Things to Mend.”
When I heard that talk, it was though Elder Holland knew just what I needed to hear in order to be healed from my depression. He spoke of yoking ourselves to Christ. He said that if we would exercise our faith enough to trust our Savior and walk where He walked and do what He did, that soon He would be willing to discuss where we were going and what we should do. He further stated words that are burned into my heart and soul: “Christ is the way out and Christ is the way up. Christ knows the way, because He is the way.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Broken Things to Mend.”, Ensign, May, 2006)
At the time, I was very afraid of relying totally on the Savior. Instead I was relying on (though not fully trusting) my husband. I was irrationally afraid that if I put the Savior first in my life, that He would take my husband away from me. I felt that was the one test I would fail. But, Elder Holland’s talk had challenged that priority. It had invited me to use my desire for spiritual healing and divine aid as an impetus to faith “as the grain of a mustard seed.” I reread Alma 32. It was the scariest thing I had ever done, but I knelt before the Lord and formally gave up the barrier that stood between Him and me. I said, “Thy will be done unto me, whatever it is. I am trusting that whatever befalls me, even the death of my husband, that Thou will give me the strength I need to bear it.”
I felt my “control” over my life fly out of me to be replaced by warmth, caring, and understanding that was coming to me directly from the Savior through the Holy Ghost.
Since that time, whenever I have faced a new choice or challenge, I have gone to the temple to petition the Lord for guidance in the Celestial Room. He has never failed to provide it. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this string of events occurred while I was an ordinance worker. And I know it wasn’t a coincidence that a week later, almost by accident, I received the medications which enabled me to overcome twenty-five years of depression.
Instead of taking away, the Lord gave to me unstintingly. My life became a journey of joy. For five years, He deluged me with blessings and my life changed in every way. I felt like Job, after his trials—blessed with every good thing.
GG Vandagriff is the full-time writer of twelve books, including Deliverance from Depression: Finding Hope and Healing through the Atonement of Christ. She loves to hear from her readers through her website