When our connection with God feels weak, we can find strength by remembering he is our Father and the Savior is our Redeemer.
Oftentimes we’ll go above and beyond to regain a missing internet connection on our cell phone: we’ll try everything that normally does work, and it just won’t work. In the end, we’ll be compelled to simply sit and wait for our phone to connect.
I’ve found myself in this position a lot lately. I have just completed a grueling first year of college and returned to my parents’ home for the summer break. I sleep in a front room, where the internet reception is surprisingly poor; I’ve been squirming on a thin mattress to find a position that is both comfortable and internet-friendly.
The connection I seek most earnestly is not for my cell phone, though. The most debilitating part of freshman year has been my struggle with mental illness. Depression and anxiety have mauled me until I’ve felt utterly empty inside; over time, these struggles have made it difficult for me to feel the Spirit and connect with God. I have been doing everything that normally does work to connect with him—reading my scriptures, saying my prayers, listening to conference talks, going to church and to the temple—and it just hasn’t been working. At times, I have felt as though I’d done everything in my power and was still staring at a metaphorical “internet may not be available” screen, waiting for the promised blessings to flow in. Why hadn’t God been connecting?
I’ve come to realize that the connection was there, but somewhere along the line, I lost focus. I got too caught up in expecting blessings rather than trusting God’s status as my all-knowing and loving Father. What builds connection with God isn’t solely the actions we take, but the attitude behind them—“a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” “a desire to believe,” and “faith as a grain of mustard seed.”
When God taught me these truths, I felt peace. Then just a day later, I read Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s most recent conference talk, “Our Relationship with God.” In this address, Elder Christofferson describes how faith ought to be based “not on what God d[oes] or d[oes] not do in a particular circumstance or moment in time but on knowing Him as [our] benevolent Father and Jesus Christ as [our] faithful Redeemer.” In other words, my peace came because God reminded me that I already have a connection with him simply by being his daughter. My faithful actions strengthen our relationship rather than entitle me to specific blessings. I can have faith in our relationship and in God’s love even when I can’t immediately feel joy or certainty about the future.
I am still facing trials and seeking connection, and I always will be to some extent (see John 17:3). Connection—whether for our phone or our soul—ebbs and flows. I know a moment’s peace isn’t enough to completely heal my mind, but I’ve learned the important lesson that when we focus on strengthening our trust in God’s love more than solely completing checklists of commandments and expecting blessings, we are better able to feel the depth of our existing connection with him.
—Ellie Howell, Latter-day Saint Insights Contributor
FEATURE IMAGE BY ALEKSEY KUPRIKOV