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In her new book Wildly Optimistic, Al Carraway expresses how she helps turn anguish into optimism:
Sometimes I’ll read old journal entries about my trials and confusion, and I look back at all these nights I spent collapsed on the floor, screaming at God until I’d lose my voice, “I can’t do this! This is too hard, I’m not this strong!”—those times when I asked where He was or why nothing was coming together yet—those moments when I was brought down to desperately low levels of anguish that I had never before felt. And sometimes I’ll see old pictures of myself and think of how I had no idea how my life would unfold. No idea what lay ahead or where God would bring me next. And to see what I have now and what I’m doing, I can’t help but smile.
I wish I could just yell to myself in the past, “YOU’LL BE ALL RIGHT! YOUR LIFE TURNS OUT AWESOME!” But of course it turns out awesome, because that’s what God will always do for us. We may not be free from trials and challenges, and we may not have all the answers we want about our future, but we know enough: we are led by an all-powerful, all-loving God. And if having the most powerful Being to ever exist on our side isn’t empowering, then I don’t know what is. With the reality of our trials come the reality of Christ and the reality of His power, His love, and His purpose to help us succeed.
It was back in 2013 that I was baptized. It was a lot of work to bring me to that decision. It was a lot of work to gain a testimony. It took a lot of studying every day. A ton of prayers throughout the day. It took a lot of acting. A lot of trying. A lot of fasting. A lot of guessing. A lot of unsurety. A lot of experimenting. A lot of focus. A lot of crying. A lot of change. Really hard, completely torn-down and rebuilt kind of change. But to see what comes in return, even all that seems so . . . small.”
We all have times when we feel like God has abandoned us. Like Joseph in Liberty Jail, we’ll cry out to God, wondering where He is. In Doctrine and Covenants Made Easier, David Ridges explains, “Liberty Jail was a cold, poorly ventilated, stone dungeon, with 4-foot thick walls and two small, barred windows. Joseph Smith was six feet tall and could not stand up straight in the lower level. He found himself in such a miserable prison with the days turning to weeks, then to months. Imagine the anguish in his heart that caused him to cry out: O God, where art thou?”
While our circumstances are typically not that miserable, we still feel alone at times (or even most of the time). We feel full of heartache and pain and just want it to go away.
At those times when we want to give up, rely on God. He is there for us! In Wildly Optimistic, Al mentions "Things may seem dark right now, things may seem never-ending right now, but in those moments, I think of a priesthood blessing I once received that quite literally changed me. It's changed how I think and how I act, and it's been something I think of often in these times when we feel we don't see an end or when we want to give up. It's shaped my view on the reality of perspective.
It was the week of my second child's due date, and the priesthood blessings that I received just so happened to mention our soon-to-be-born son. I was told that he and Gracie picked me to be their mom. I was told that he's watched over me throughout my life. I was told that he misses Ben and I and is very anxious to be reunited with us, and especially to be back with Gracie. He and Gracie were inseparable before she was born. I was told that Gracie would recognize him when she sees him.
Perhaps reading this you can recall too many times to count when you have felt that deep and eternal connection to those in your family on the other side of the veil and feel their influence on you, some during little everyday things, and some through sacred and personal experiences or blessings. So, what's my point? My point is that we are not alone. Not only is God absolutely always, at all times mindful of us, but He has blessed us with those on both sides of the veil as well, watching over and cheering for us. Unseen protection and guidance from those anxious to be born, and from those already passed."
“Every bit of pain, confusion, discomfort, and loneliness wasn’t for nothing; it was all for the best and 1,000 percent worth it. As hard as things were and continue to be, I know God. And I love Him with a real love.”
“I don’t think ‘all is well’ is referring to times when everything is going smoothly and our lives are free from trials. Perhaps it is referring to times when our soul is content and we feel at peace even among our struggles.”
“Where we can’t find answers to prayers quite yet, we find comfort and reassurance. Where we don’t see promised blessings quite yet, we find love and help and continued guidance. We will always find a chance to change and be forgiven.”
“I know how easy it is to wonder and to doubt, but I also know how easy it is for the adversary to skew our perspective when we are trying to make sense of things.”
“What if it’s not always about proving ourselves or building our character—what if He is trying to help us discover His character?”
“Never let a change of course take away from the unchangeable truth that God is taking care of you.”