My Comfort Playlist

When I am struggling with depression, I struggle to feel the comfort of the Spirit or to feel Heavenly Father's love for me.  It has taken many months and years to recognize that this is simply a part of depression and is in no way a reflection of anything I have done wrong or how Heavenly Father actually feels about me.

Although I cannot feel normal, good, happy emotions at these times, sometimes I can feel a little bit of something, or at least I can remember what those good feelings feel like, when I listen to music.  It's usually the same several songs that play on repeat in my playlist until the darkness lifts, as each of these songs contain little gems that give me hope and peace in the midst of struggle.

So I thought I'd share my "comfort playlist" with you (in no particular order):

#1: "It Is Well with my Soul" by Vocal Point

This song is such a good reminder for me to not become bitter or angry at the struggles when they come.  It reminds me to find joy, to be patient, and to trust in Heavenly Father, as He really is in charge of my life and is simply preparing me for better things to come.

#2: "He Will Not Let Go" by Laura Story

This short and simple but very touching song has brought so much comfort when my heart has been the most broken.  It brings into my mind the beautiful image of being in the arms of the Savior who can heal all of my brokenness and make it into something beautiful.

#3: "If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

This beautiful song gives me the strength and hope to keep going on even when things are so difficult.  It reminds me of all of the remarkable people who have faced much more difficult things than I have who have not given up and who have remained faithful.  It literally brings energy and motivation into my heart as I strive to be someone who patiently and bravely faces whatever comes my way.

#4: "Beautiful Heartbreak" by Hilary Weeks

This song is my motivation for writing this blog and for finding joy, as I strive to turn my heartbreaks into something beautiful and purposeful.  It makes me think of all the beautiful people who have become they amazing people they are today because of the many struggles and heartbreaks they have faced with faith and courage.  It also gives me a greater perspective on my trials, that even though I would rather not face so much sadness and darkness, it is worth it for the wonderful experiences I get to have as a result of facing pain.

#5: "My Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee" by Rob Gardner

This masterpiece of a song is the perfect reminder that Heavenly Father is really not far away like it feels when I cannot feel Him near for weeks or months at a time.  It also reminds me that these painful feelings only last for a period of time before they pass and good days come again.

#6: "Just Let Me Cry" by Hilary Weeks

This song is sometimes just the right song when I need to remember that it's okay to cry instead of trying to be strong all the time.  It reminds me that it's okay to feel the emotions as they come, while still keeping the faith in God's perfect plan.  My favorite line is: "When I agreed that God could put this heart inside me, I understood that there would be a chance that it would break."  For some reason, this brings me so much comfort as I recognize that it's okay for my heart to be broken.

#7: "Falling Slowly" by 92 Keys

While this song doesn't have lyrics, I turn to this song when I need to remember to breath and just hold on.  It brings hope and peace to my heart as I listen to the beautiful violin and piano and see the beautiful scenery.  It's almost like this song takes me away from the current struggle for just a moment.


That We Might Have Joy: Sarah's Story

Today at church we discussed what our “hard” is. What do we struggle with? What can we learn from it? I listened intently, reflecting on my entire life, my hardships. It actually wasn’t till later that week that I realized my hearing loss is a hardship. I’m astonished. I have finally arrived! It takes a level of acceptance and embrace to not view your “hard” as hard anymore.

I was actually focused on a different hard, my 5 years of struggling with infertility. Sometimes the hardest trials are when we have righteous desires, but the things we desire are outside of our control.

When life beats down on you, how do you stay positive? How can you have joy in the depths of darkness? I believe it’s important to learn from the hard times! You can do this by learning to identify things to be grateful for, things you CAN control instead of what you can not. It’s important to remain positive! This comes more easily with a grateful heart.

When I was about 3 years into the process of trying to get pregnant. I decided to stop sulking! I was done being sad. It wasn’t that simple; I was still sad! However, I shifted my thinking to a more positive outlet. I decided to start doing things that my pregnant friends couldn’t! I made a “Cradle List” of things to do before kids came along. I tried several new things like sushi, rock climbing, and even bungee jumping! We also planned a trip to San Francisco. These things were fun and distracting.  They did not cure my heartache, but they helped me climb out of the black hole of despair and rejuvenate my marriage and focus on being happy.

While struggling with infertility, I learned many lessons. I learned EMPATHY. There are many stigmas and ignorant comments that occur when trying to get pregnant. I learned to put aside judgments and criticism. There is enough anger and hate in the world. What we need is the benefit of the doubt that each of us, MOST of us, are only trying to have the best of intentions. I’ve learned to not judge the man who mumbles or the child that stutters or avoids eye contact or the mother with rambunctious kids. Only God knows what the story is behind the curtain.

Most importantly, I have learned not to be easily offended. I have learned that most comments have more to do with the person offending than the person who it’s intended to offend. In other words, it’s not ME they have an issue with. It’s usually an insecurity of their own. Instead of being offended or mad (and sometimes I still was), I tried to ignore it or figure out why they would say or do hurtful things. Almost always, it is unintentional.

Most importantly, what carries me through any and all of my heartaches is my solid belief in my Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Jesus Christ is the source of peace…Whether they are personal struggles, family troubles, or community crises, peace will come as we trust that God’s Only Begotten Son has power to soothe our aching souls.” ~Jean Bingham

To follow more of Sarah's story, visit her blog HERE.


That We Might Have Joy: Anonymous Story

As a child, I was a victim of abuse and neglect. My own mother raped me when I was seven and again when I was in sixth grade. She would physically abuse me – hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, beating me all over my body with belts (sometimes metal embellished), throwing me around and into furniture. I’ve been made to sleep in dog feces. I’ve been stripped down naked for the sole purpose of her making fun of my physical flaws. I’ve been forbidden to see a doctor, even when I was very ill. I’ve been kept awake for three days without being allowed any rest. She did a number of other cruel things that were a bit less traumatic. My mom was also an extreme hoarder, and I had to deal with what that meant in my life.

When I was fifteen years old, the abuse was escalating, and I knew that if I stayed, I would likely either end up killed or be forced to kill in self-defense. I knew I needed to escape. I knew of the potential for abuse if I entered the foster care system and that I may not have the option I had in that moment to leave. I decided to keep my autonomy instead, and I ran away a few weeks before my sixteenth birthday. I lived with six families in two years. Some of them I knew would be temporary until I found something else. Some of them made me feel like part of their family until they changed their mind and kicked me to the curb.

Saying that this affected my mental health would be a gross understatement. Throughout the following years, I have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and severe episodes of Depression. At one time, when my child was only a few months old, I spent a week in-patient, because I just couldn’t endure my unceasing suicidal urges any longer. I spent years trying out different cocktails of antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and mood stabilizers while working through my trauma in therapy, until I got to a point where I was functional despite still having some lingering emotional issues.

I began to plan for a future and eventually found myself where I am now, a senior in college studying psychology and also working part time in a psychology research laboratory. Through this lab, I discovered the research being done on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their impact on so many of the issues that plague our society. And I discovered Trauma Informed Care, the response to all of the research on ACEs. Learning about the impact of trauma in this context and the efforts being done to treat it was music to my ears. I was so glad to hear that this work was being done, but I didn’t quite understand it yet.

About a month ago, after years of unbelief, I gained a testimony of God and His power and sovereignty in my life – even through the hard things. I came to understand that this is what it means to live in a truly broken and sinful world, that we’re all broken, and that our brokenness just presents itself in different ways. I learned that the only people who hurt other people are the people who are truly hurting, and that for my mom to do what she did, she must have been through some truly horrific experiences without the opportunities for help and healing that I have been so blessed with in my life. I’ve come to understand, in some small measure, what Jesus Christ must have taken upon himself when He suffered for our sins and afflictions in order to forgive us. I’ve learned that just as He can now empathize with and comfort us in our struggles, I can also reach out and help others find healing, because I know what that kind of despair feels like. I know that I can hurt with them and walk them through it. And being able to help people on that level is the most rewarding experience and is absolutely worth anything and everything I’ve ever had to endure to get me to this point.