It has been four years since my father passed away. About six months before that happened, I began suffering from what I now know to be depression. It has waxed and waned during that time, never getting to a point I would call “crippling.”
Until three years ago. At that time I went through a period of unbelievable stress and trials, both personally and professionally, as I started up my own small law firm. At about the same time, I began suffering from some medical issues that, among other things, enhanced my depression and affected my thinking processes, making it take longer--and be more physically exhausting--to make decisions. Coincidentally, a close friend of mine bought out his senior partner about 20 months ago and he learned nothing from my plight: he burned out his adrenal system and has been going through a living hell.
The depression has been growing steadily worse. Some days it is nearly crippling, to the point where it is difficult to get out of bed, shower, get to the office--everything that is temporally important in life.
There have been moments here and there when I have seriously wondered if anyone was listening to my prayers. I have felt more alone during this past six months than ever before in my life. The trials are just getting to be too much for me to bear at times.
And then I realized something today, as I was studying the Atonement of the Savior. In Sunday School today we read about his experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there in that garden that night, as he bled from every pore, that Christ, “The Son of Man . . . descended below . . . all.” [D&C 122:8] During this time, Christ bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, as Isaiah prophesied. [Isaiah 53:4-5] The agony he suffered that night is unfathomable to us, as mere mortals, in intensity and in cause. As I have said before, Jesus shouldered the burdens of all of our transgressions—my transgressions and your transgressions.
But I realized something else today. Actually, “remembered” rather than “realized.” You see, both Isaiah and modern revelation describe part of the meaning behind “descending below it all” and “bearing our griefs / carrying our sorrows.” In order for a full atonement, for all mankind, Christ had to experience everything that each one of us would feel and experience throughout our life, as well as all the sins and transgressions we would commit. It was necessary for him to experience all these things in order that he could take upon himself all these things.
Aside: The teacher then talked about the fact that, through all of the indignities and pains he suffered following the Garden, he never once cried out in an expression of pain. Through all of the scourging, the thorns, the nails--he bore all these things (according to their absence in Scripture) with silence. At least, until he was on the cross. And there we have only a few words recorded that he spoke at that time. End aside.
Remember my realization--my remembrance--from the previous paragraph? Well, the teacher’s words made me realize something else. They actually faded into insensible mumbling as I remembered some of the few words that he spoke from the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
At that moment, I could think of nothing else. I heard nothing else, but, literally, the roaring of my blood in my ears and the pounding of my heart.
Christ--my Savior, my redeemer--had felt my solitude, my loneliness, my seeming separation from my...OUR...Father in Heaven. He had to have felt it in order to experience all. And the record shows that he did, in fact, feel it, and felt it keenly.
Then came the thought that we do not know, exactly, why he felt alone, why the Father withdrew at that moment. Just like I do not know why I have felt similar feelings. I have a sneaking suspicion that it was to make me learn something; just like Christ had to experience it, maybe I have to experience it for my own growth.
And with those thoughts, I did not feel so alone.
That realization buoyed my spirits and strengthened my testimony of my Father, of my Savior, and of the truthfulness of the Gospel. I am not saying that I am better, that I am fully healed. I have a long way to go before that is the truth. But the healing salve has certainly been applied. I have a new appreciation for and a new closeness with my Savior as a result of this sequence of thoughts. I am confident that this was a message of love and support from my Heavenly Father in an hour of need.
The gift of the Atonement is ours if we but believe in Christ, accept his gift, repent and be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and continue--faithfully--to observe and keep the commandments. I know this to be true. I still have a lot of work to do to meet my obligation, but I am another step closer today.