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Contest Winner: I Became a Broken Vessel

I didn’t have depression, but it still left me broken and in need of Christ’s healing power.

"Hold on in His love." -Jeffrey R. Holland

photo by stephen oliver

The first time I heard the conference talk “Like a Broken Vessel” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in 2013, I was touched. I felt empowered by the usual general conference “afterglow,” but I didn’t give it much thought afterward. I knew people who suffered from depression, but it wasn’t my challenge.

But this past year was a trying one as I watched my nineteen-year-old brother be clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders. Because of this diagnosis, the Missionary Department told my family that my brother might not be able to serve a full-time mission. I was confused and frustrated by this decision. My brother had his bad days, but I never saw him as “broken” or mentally ill. To watch him battle his own demons was difficult for me to bear, especially when I knew that he wanted to serve a mission with all of his heart.

As time went on, I noticed something else coming that proved even more difficult to bear, something that crept into my heart almost undetected.

As I prayed and stood by my brother in his times of need, I gradually allowed resentment and doubt to creep into my heart. I loved my brother so much, and he seemed so normal, so why wouldn’t the Missionary Department just let him serve? I had served a mission myself, and I felt fully confident in my brother’s abilities. It did not seem fair that hundreds of friends and family members went out, served, and came home while my brother had to stay home.

My brother’s depression had encompassed all of my fasting and all of my prayers; my sole desire was to help him get on his mission, and my prayers were seemingly unnoticed by God. I was frustrated and was in dire need of help.

These doubts began to chink my once-sturdy armor, and it was I who became the “broken vessel.” I cried out night after night in anger and confusion. I felt my faith faltering, and I knew I needed help, healing, and hope to cure the bitterness in my aching heart. I went back to Elder Holland’s talk and found that it was addressed to those who suffer personally from depression and family members and friends who endure with their loved ones.

I couldn’t believe the overwhelming peace and comfort I received from rereading this talk. I felt whole again. The power of the Spirit gave me hope and understanding in a time of desperate need. The Lord has helped me have patience and trust in his plan for my brother. Through the insights gained from this talk, I am motivated to learn to trust in God completely and to hold on to his love.

Although I have yet to see those healing powers extend to my brother, I understand a little bit better what it means to stand as a witness of Christ. I know that when I stand by others in their moments of need, I am not immune to the powers of the devil, and I must be vigilant in keeping my own candle lit.

Read “Like a Broken Vessel” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland for more hope and healing, whether you have depression or you love someone who does.

Source: October 2013 General Conference

—Keeley Austin, Cedar City, Utah

feature image by christy moyer

Find more insights

Watch the two-part video series “Dealing with Depression” on the Mormon Channel to learn more about how to help those suffering from depression.

Discover LDS resources for understanding mental illnesses and helping those who have mental illnesses.

Read the Ensign article “The True Miracle of Healing” by Jonathan Taylor to learn how spiritual healing is possible even when physical healing is not.

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7 Comments

  1. When I first heard the talk “Like a Broken Vessel” by Elder Holland, it was impactful and a turning point in my life. I am so grateful to hear how this talk affected other people. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is lovely to know that so much good can come from one talk.

  2. This article is beautiful. I will always be grateful for Elder Holland for giving this talk. With more and more people being diagnosed with these conditions more and more lives are being effected. I know that during the dark days if we can turn our hearts over to the Savior he will comfort and help us, even if the full healing that we hope for doesn’t come until the resurrection. His strength is sufficient to sustain each of us during this life.

  3. I know that many thousands have been helped by this talk, myself included. Thank you for sharing your very personal story. I hope that others that read it will be inspired to read Elder Holland’s talk.

  4. This talk was such an influential part of the lives of so many. Still, it’s sometimes so easy to look at the principles taught in the talk and say, “That doesn’t apply to me. That can’t apply to me. What I’m going through is infinitely smaller than what is being talked about here. Other people have it so much worse; I should be fine.” I love what you’ve said here, because it brings around a side of suffering that people often disregard. Maybe I’m not suffering a physical debilitation, or facing the death of a loved one. But my struggles still matter.

  5. My father shared with me how he heard this talk just when he was wondering how he could help my aunt, who was having many difficulties. He was never expecting to hear such a specific response in General Conference.

  6. There is a tradition in some eastern cultures regarding broken vessels; if a vase or other vessel gets broken, if the owner truly valued it, they would fuse the pieces together with silver or gold, or some kind of precious metal. The webbing of precious metal makes the vase not only more valuable monetarily in that culture, but shows everyone who sees it that just because it was broken, does not mean it was treated carelessly. There is more value in something broken having been put back together than in having it never shattered in the first place. Because there was effort put into making it right. Every crack filled makes you even more beautiful to your Heavenly Father, so let him fill them.

  7. Pingback: Stronger with the Savior: Battling Suicidal Thoughts

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