Contest Winner: A Girl, Her Journal, and the Memories that Saved Her

Gratitude has the power to heal desperation, shame, sadness, and more. As I wrote down the ways I’d seen God’s hand in my life every day, my burdens lifted.

A girl writing in her journal with the quotation "Find ways to recognize and remember God's kindness" by Henry B. Eyring

Photo by Joshua Allen

I have a little black journal I write in every night. It has a tight red elastic band that has left an indent on the smooth cover; the pages are blank, no lines or squares, just empty space. The first eighteen pages are cramped with sprawling black cursive, entries marked by date: nineteen months and counting.

I had been on my mission only a few months; I was struggling. I felt lost. I felt like I was failing; I wasn’t measuring up to whom I thought I should have been. My days were a robotic circuit that played over and over. I didn’t feel the vibrant energy I had always expected to feel as a missionary. This was a totally different experience from what my brother had described in his emails home. For the first time in my life, I felt sheer desperation and real shame. I knew I couldn’t live like that for 18 months.

I don’t remember how I stumbled on it. Maybe I read it in personal study, maybe my companion mentioned it, or maybe it was simply inspiration from the Holy Ghost. But I felt strongly that I needed to start a journal like President Henry B. Eyring explained he had done in his October 2007 general conference talk “O Remember, Remember.” He said that every day he would write down how he had seen the Lord’s hand in his life that day. I bought a little black notebook and set a goal to write every night what I was grateful for that day, blessings that had evidenced God’s hand in my life.

Some months later, I was again feeling discouraged. I was training a new missionary and reflecting on my own experience when I first arrived in the field. Thinking about my first transfers in the field was unpleasant—it felt like a stain on my memory, something corrosive that I didn’t want to be connected to. I had come so far since then, but remembering how I had been almost seemed to negate the distance battled and gained.

Then something tugged at me to pull out that little black notebook and read over its first pages. As I read about miracles of every size and how grateful I was for so many things each day—at a time when looking back and even in the moment everything seemed so dark—the curtain that I had swept the beginning of my mission behind was lacerated with light. The pain of it was shattered as sweet, healing gratitude took its place.

Because of President Eyring’s experience, discouragement never settled in for long before I turned to gratitude to send it packing. The instant I began to think thankful thoughts, light filled me up. When otherwise I might have given up and trudged disheartened down the path, adopting his advice made my mission one of the richest experiences of my life.

Watch Anika’s story here:

Read or watch President Henry B. Eyring’s talk “O Remember, Remember” to get ideas about what you can do to recognize and remember God’s mercy and goodness.

Source: LDS General Conference
—Anika Argyle, West Jordan, Utah

feature image by joshua allen

Find more insights

Learn more about what you can do to prepare to receive your own answers at general conference.

Watch “Daily Bread: Pattern” to hear Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s explanation of why we need to recognize God’s hand in our lives.

This article was selected as one of three winners in the Winter 2016 Submission Contest for Mormon Insights. The work is original and is a true story from the life of the author. We are grateful for the contributions and encourage interested authors to look for future submission contests.

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One Comment

  1. This article is so inspiring! I have not served a mission, but I can relate to the feeling that is being described. Waking up early, attending class, completing homework, and doing other daily activities that are necessary for a college student can be a similar daily robotic circuit. I think that everyone can relate to this even if he or she is working. This article has inspired me to start writing down things that I am grateful each day. I know that this will be a beneficial experience for me, and I will be able to see how the Lord is with me throughout the day. By writing down what we are grateful for, we can realize that we are never alone and that we have so much to grateful for in our life.

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