Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Part 2: Pressing forward

Part 2: Pressing Forward

In Part One, I introduced myself and my personal battle struggling with emotional difficulties, and why we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

In Part Two, I seek to emphasize the "what" and "how" of applying the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The application is not going to be the same for everyone. For example, if I am a size twelve in shoes and someone hands me a pair of size 8 shoes and expects me to wear them, I'm probably not going to get the same results as a size 8.
"[The Atonement] is not meant to make us all the same....This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other.

 This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different..."  
(President Uchtdorf, Four Titles

The doctrine remains the same.
The application is different for everyone.
It's a continuing process.

I asked my missionary companion, Elder Andrus from Beaverton, Oregon, to interview me. He was a great sport and helped me open up about my personal application of the principles of the gospel.

What experiences brought you to these divine insights?

I realized as I was praying, I was, in essence, asking the same question over and over again (maybe slightly changing the wording). From this realization, I stopped asking for "help" and starting asking for acceptance. I believe a lot of the answers we seek are already within us. Heavenly Father lovingly extracts that strength out by giving us experiences that shape our beliefs and actions.

Moroni 7:9 saysAnd likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with areal intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

We have to be sincere in our prayers, willing to act on what we receive. We need to be willing to act even if we do not receive an immediate answer and hope that the answer will come.

I continue to perform my missionary labors. I continue to read my scriptures and seek to help others. As I perform those duties, God doesn't pour out buckets of pixie dust on my problems or send leagues of angels to my aide, he allows me to accomplish His work and His will, having found renewed strength and hope in that process.

What would you have done as a non-missionary?

Start with small goals. Don't expect unrealistic expectations. If you can only get out of bed, walk around the block for three minutes. Start small and work your way up.

In Alma, we read if you have more "than desire to believe, let this desire work in you,"(
Alma 32:27)

Rome wasn't built in a day neither is the path to our personal recovery. I have found it helpful to work on small goals and keep up with them.

Seek help. You need to understand that you are not the only one with problems and challenges. As for me, I am privileged to informally consult with psychologists and people experienced with naturopathic remedies. I have found that by cutting back on my intake of grain, dairy, and pork, I feel less sluggish and have more energy. And if all else fails, ask Google! There is a plethora of free information online.

How did you feel when you realized that the "storm" (i.e. depression/anxiety) might take a while to pass? Was it hard to accept?

It's hard to accept. The end.

Do you know anyone who likes to admit they have a problem or made a mistake?

I think the analogy of a storm really helped me to cope with the situations and feelings of unnecessary guilt.

Storms don't last forever, neither do the hard moments in our life.

But, then, you realize it's not you - it's a part of you, but it is not all of you.
That's like saying, "I only know Steven because he is tall."

Isn't there more to me than my tallness? I have hopes dreams fears, hobbies, and passions. You need to realize this is just a tiny side of yourself. And not even a part of you, but a moment in your life.

Do you have any advice for those who have been patient but haven't seen results and are losing hope?

Be still. Sometimes, we seek to force an answer or an experience.

I love the story of Moses parting the Red Sea in the Old Testament:

The Hebrews exercised their faith in God and followed their prophet into the wilderness and then, they came to the Red Sea. There was no way across –- not to mention the whole army of Pharaoh are chasing after them. Panic attack much? It would have been easy to give up right then.

So it is with the challenges in our lives. We hit the brick wall. We've battled and battled for so long -- following the tiniest ray of sunlight only to come to a road block, the storm clouds start gathering again and threatening everything you've just accomplished.

Exodus 14:13-14)

And Moses said unto the people, 
Fear ye notstand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace.

You know what happened next.

How are serving others and faith related?
James 2:15: Yea, a man may say, I will show thee I have faith without works; but I say, Show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

We need to believe God means for good things to come, but if we only sit around and wait for it; we're going to miss out on special opportunities to grow because of the opposition we face. Weightlifters build strength from the opposing force of the challenge of what they carry. And so it is with our trials.

What advice do you have for people who have never experienced depression but want to be understanding and sympathetic?

Common misconceptions: "If I can't see it on you, you must be making it up, or feeling sorry for yourself."

"Can you imagine telling someone who wears glasses to have more faith and to pray more, and they will not need glasses? Can you imagine telling someone who had diabetes to stop taking medication because all they need is faith?" -G. Sheldon Martin, (
author of Be Still: Using Principles of the Gospel to Lower Anxiety)

In our society, we have a tendency to just tell people to not worry about it, shape up, or we seek to fix their problems ourselves. We love them. We want to help them. We want to understand them, but we need to realize that not everyone is willing or ready to let people in to help them, and (as a parent, spouse, sibling, friend, etc.) sometimes we overenthusiastically rush to their aide by providing immediate counsel, prayers, etc. Our effectiveness is about as helpful as attempting to extinguish a forest fire with a single bucket of water.

No one can really understand what they are going with you.

Sometimes the best medicine is listening. I know it is for me. When I know someone is processing and values what I'm saying or feeling, it is validating and refreshing to get thoughts out of my mind and into the air.

We know that as followers of Christ, we take upon ourselves the promise " mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort..." (

We need to strengthen each other, to help each other, to carry each other’s burdens, even if it only means sitting there and letting the other person spew. I am not asking my friends to suffer with me, but to support me and strengthen me in the midst of my personal challenges.
In conclusion, I ask each of you out there that is fighting a battle to not give up.
You are not alone.
We are not alone.

For those who have not experienced emotional challenges, I ask you to be kind, listen, and be patient.

I believe there is a purpose for every challenge we face.
And that we have a loving Heavenly Father, who sent us to learn from these experiences.

He sent His Son to show us the way and provide the divine power of grace to motivate, uplift, and save us from our sorrows.

We must have hope.
We must push forward and unite together as brothers and sisters.

I invite you to share this post on your choice of social network to raise awareness and hope for those seeking comfort in the midst of your challenges.

'Do not despairDo not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds.'
-Gordon B. Hinckley


  1. Well done, Elder Ellsworth. Good job for being open and sharing your testimony through your experiences. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the quote about the Atonement. Super great post. Just keep swimming. :)

  2. Thank you Elder Ellsworth for your amazing gift of sharing personal feelings, insights, and testimony. I agree that now is the time for those of us who have mental health illnesses to not be ashamed but to seek help, support each other, and to share what we have learned and continue to learn to help others understand. May the Lord continue to bless you in your journey.