When I was in high school, I was often very sad. Dealing with the stress of trying to fit in, while dealing with my own identity crisis seemed to keep me in a constant state of depression and despair. I remember I would read Twilight New Moon over and over again. Bella had lost someone she loved, the pain was so intense for her that she resolved to living a numb life to stifle and pain she felt. I remember I would pray for Heavenly Father to numb me to the pains I felt on a daily basis. I wasn’t interested in humbling myself, accepting my trials and hardships, and confronting them with the help of Christ’s atonement. I wanted to be numb. I didn’t want to feel anymore.
I thought that seven years later I would feel differently. That I would have matured and learned better ways to deal with the emotional and spiritual baggage of trials. Yet, like today, I feel those same emotions being triggered and I can observe my emotional strength being sucked inside myself like a vacuum. Spiraling, I can feel the same waves of hopelessness lapping at my heels, and I feel forced back into the cold numbing waters of forced indifference.
This seemingly uncontrollable urge to give in, not to sin, but to the temptation of despair, seems overwhelming. It would be so much easier if I didn’t care. Not caring would empower myself to take control. Knowing I can’t control anyone else, the way they react, the way they treat me, etc, but knowing I CAN control NOT reacting. Not acting in any way to anything. The pleasures of numb indifference are enticing. I know first hand the allure of that path.
Despair is defined as the complete loss, or absence of hope. An apt analogy that I think many of us have truly felt at various times in our lives. What is laughable, almost hilarious in fact, is our notion that despair can ever actually exist. When Christ came in the meridian of time to make an atonement, he destroyed despair. When Christ died on that cross, despair hung with him. It doesn’t exist. The hopelessness was feel, the despair that consumes us, it’s not real. Because of Christ, hope is not just an objective and metaphysical reality, it is our destiny.
Oh yes, we feel a shadow of despair covering us at times. It’s shadow blots out the light, and leaves us cold. We close our eyes, and in that spot of shade, we forget the sun shines bright around us. We turn inward, afraid to move, or feel, or love, and remain in the shade of despair. In that cold shadow we forget an eternal and everlasting principle: darkness doesn’t exist. Darkness has no form,it’s simply the absence of light. Despair, in the same way, is just the absence of hope. And like light, hope does exist, and it’s powerful beyond measure.
When you find yourself in despair, when Satan himself casts a shadow of doubt and fear over you, Fear Not, but have faith. “Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.” (Moroni 7:42) Have faith, it will lead you to hope. Hope and despair cannot exist together. Exercise a seed of faith and watch the shadows withdraw. You will feel the warmth of that light if you hope to.