Words cannot describe the depth of darkness I've experienced in these last 7 days. On the outside I have functioned and accomplished some things, and I've even attempted to smile through it, but on the inside I have felt devoid of all emotions besides overwhelming sadness. Even when I'm not crying, my heart is weeping and begging me to find someone to make it feel better, to take away the pain, and to give me relief. 7 days of this, and it feels like an eternity, like I don't remember what it's like to experience light. This week, I've had to search to find joy harder than ever before by making a very conscious effort to notice and appreciate all the little things that bring me joy. I've found joy in getting a nap, seeing my daughter's silly expressions, spending time with my family, making some wonderful new friends, and spending time with my already wonderful friends. Truly, I am very blessed. Some days I have found the greatest joy in knowing that I held on through another very difficult day and that I didn't give in to the beckoning call to give up, something I have promised I will NEVER give in to.
Mostly the things that brought me joy this week were small things, but yesterday there was a big one, one that I'll never forget! I was at the adult session of stake conference in the evening, and I was listening to the messages being shared. My heart was empty, completely unable to feel anything, and it hurt. It physically stung. I desperately wanted to feel the comforting, calming influence of the Spirit, but I didn't; I couldn't. I knew I was worthy to feel it, that I hadn't done anything wrong, but the darkness surrounding me wouldn't let anything in, especially not the still, small, and delicate voice of the Spirit. I continued listening to the speakers while feeling this deep yearning in my heart. The more the speakers went on, the more my heart felt broken and devastated. I would have given anything in that moment to feel something good. I felt trapped in my emotions and wanted any way out.
The next speaker to get up was the mission president's wife, a beautiful, humble, sweet, and pure woman. As soon as she got up and opened her mouth to speak, the darkness lifted, and I felt (I actually felt!) the soothing balm of the Spirit on my wounded heart. Along with it came a great feeling of love and approval from God. I don't remember what she said (I shouldn't admit that, but it's true), but I remember basking in the warmth of the feelings in my heart, feelings I hadn't felt in a very long time. It was almost as if the Spirit could not be restrained from touching every heart, including mine, by the purity in this woman's testimony. Her message was short, and as soon as she sat down, the darkness fell upon me again, but for that one moment, my hope was restored. I got to feel the Spirit and know what it was like to see light again.
I pictured it being like a crack in the wall of my dark tunnel, enough of a crack to let a little light in. It didn't last long, but it touched me in a way to give me strength and confidence to continue battling darkness and sorrow. It was just enough light to help me move forward until the next ray of light shines in my life.
God is a God of miracles, and He knows exactly when to give us little and big miracles. He is the source of joy and hope and eternal peace. His perfect plan allows us to each experience our own individual forms of darkness and pain so that we can more fully recognize and appreciate the light when it comes. THAT is joy.