I Can Do Hard Things- Ashley Frederickson
When I was in the eighth grade, I remember laying on the couch, having stayed home from school, with the worst stomach pain I have ever known. I mustered up a silent prayer in my thirteen-year-old faithful heart certain that Heavenly Father would take the pain away because of my faith. As soon as I finished my prayer, the pain multiplied by ten.
Tears started streaming down my face from the pain. I felt broken and confused. Weren't prayers supposed to help? What about the scripture, "Ask and ye shall receive?" At this point I honestly felt hurt and betrayed by Heavenly Father and I became terrified to pray when I was in pain and needed relief. This experience led me to fear that my prayers would cause more pain than relief and I was better off not praying.
I constantly try to run from hard things instead of facing them head on, I simply don't like pain of any kind. But in my twenty-something years of striving to become the girl I was meant to be, I've learned that gaining character and refinement isn't always comfortable, sometimes it's A LOT of pain, but it is always worth it.
When I am asked the question, "What's the hardest thing you've been through?" I sometimes just want to shrivel up because I have been pretty blessed. Some people face REALLY HARD things, things I can't fathom. And while I have faced pain, trial, loneliness, and sorrow; I really haven't faced the burdens some are called to bear. But I've learned that we have all come to earth called to go through different things for different reasons. We can't measure pain by the human eye, we can't compare sorrow and grief. God loves each of His children the same. The hard things we are called to bear and the things that will help us personally grow the most.
Oh I know heartbreak. Sacrificing so much for someone you care about. Doing everything you possibly can to help someone with an addiction, only to find that they still choose that addiction over all the support you have given. Going out of your way to do everything for this person and then having the courage to walk away when you've learned enough is enough.
Oh I know rejection. Competing in nine different pageants and never being crowned queen. From pouring your heart and soul into preparation to come up short and be judged by forty-five different judges.
Oh I know fear. Anxiety is practically paralyzing when it comes. I honestly would describe panic attacks as the worst pain ever. And then the guilt that comes after from living in fear instead of faith.
Oh I know mental illness. Growing up with a mom who had OCD only to be diagnosed with it myself two years out of high school. At one point of my life it paralyzed my normal routine and I found myself obsessing over every single door knob handle, handshake, restaurant, and illness the rest of mankind was looking over. Thank goodness it hasn't been as bad since. But that year was the most exhausting one yet. And then to face depression and ADD on top of it didn't make things any easier.
At this time I was suffering from anxiety and depression in a way I had not experienced before. I would cry at least fifty times a day, I know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but that's how real it was. I would lay on the floor by my bed and just cry, the hard cry where your face gets all tingly and you become so exhausted from the emotional drain it causes. I had left my job (long story I will have to share sometime) and I was looking for another one, although I really thought I should be "waiting on God", boy was I wrong. I felt purposeless, I felt miserable. I kept dwelling on what I hadn't accomplished in my life. I kept dwelling on why I hadn't been married and started a family yet. I kept dwelling on why God was constantly telling me "No".
What I can tell you is that life gets better! It always gets better. During this hard time, as much as it felt like I had been abandoned by God and I was being completely overlooked and forgotten by Him, I now see so clearly how much He cared and was looking after me. I have no doubt in my mind that if I could get through those three rough months that had no visible pain but emotional pain that could be described as my own Gethsemane, then I know without a doubt that I can do hard things.
I was born to do hard things. Especially with my Savior at my side, going through everything I face. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This is why we HAVE to be kind. We HAVE to strive to see other's through God's eyes and be less quick to pass judgments of any kind.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Ashley!
IF YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW, IS STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO STRUGGLE ALONE. You do not have to feel ashamed. The struggle is very real and there are resources out there to help you.
*Talk to someone. If you don't feel comfortable seeking professional help just yet, talk to a close friend, family member, or your local religious leader if you have one.
*Start a gratitude journal. There is nothing better then sitting down at the end of the day and looking for the positives in your life instead of the negatives. You will be amazed at what a difference this will make.
*Serve other people. No matter what trial you are facing, remember this...There is ALWAYS someone who is worse off then you are. Find those people. Help them. Love them. As you turn outward and lose yourself in serving others, you will find that your pain will become more manageable.
*Trust in the Savior. He knows your pain. He is there with you through each and every struggle. Reach out to Him. Utilize the power of the Atonement in your life. The Savior is no respecter of persons. It doesn't matter what religion you practice. HE LOVES YOU. Trust in His love for you and let Him ease your pain.