Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nothing

I've been feeling sort of low lately.

It seems like Satan has been working hard on me to make me feel small, worthless and hopelessly flawed.

There are days when life, and all the suffering, pain, and heartache that comes with it, seems so meaningless and I really begin to wonder why I am here on earth at all.

I recently saw this image and the reality of my own insignificance and worthlessness in the vast expanse of the universe became jarringly apparent.



This image, called "Pale Blue Dot", was taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. When the spacecraft had completed its mission and was returning home NASA had it turn its camera around and take a picture of Earth. This is what Earth looks like from the edge of our solar system, 3.7 billion miles away. Just a faint blue dot.

The famous astronomer Carl Sagan shared this insight about this image:

"The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark... It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. " (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, p. 6)

It is so humbling to look at that tiny speck floating in the solar system knowing, that on the day this picture was taken, there was a little girl named Heather living, hoping, and dreaming on it. Looking at that pale blue dot makes me see that all my ambitions, dreams, worries, and fears are just a drop in the bucket in the vast universe of God's creations, and it seems impossible that He would care about them at all. This perspective makes me cry, like Moses did after God showed him all the creations which He had made, "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." (Moses 1: 10)

The message that Satan has been pounding into me lately really is true...

I am nothing.

And all the problems, insecurities and ambitions I have are infinitely unimportant.

And yet, at the same time...

I am everything.

And all the problems, insecurities, and ambitions I have are infinitely important.

For we read in Moses 7:28-37 that God cares deeply about each and every one of His creations.
"And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept... And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; ... how is it thou canst weep?

The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;... but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;... and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer? (Moses 7:28-37)"

How incredible is it that even though I am just one, teeny tiny portion of God's creations, He loves me.

He knows me.

He cares about me.

And when I kneel down each morning and night the Master of all Creation, the Lord of the Whole Universe, listens to my prayer.

That knowledge fills me with awe and somehow makes my personal heartaches, worries, and ambitions much easier to bear. It makes me realize how silly it is to harbor feelings of anger or pride and how pointless it is to seek after the the praise and wealth of the world. God has promised that those who "overcome the world" and serve Him will inherit all that He possesses, which is something that our mortal minds can not even begin to fathom. It is glory, power and joy beyond our wildest imaginations.

"For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immorality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)

I truly am nothing amidst the glory of God's infinite creations but I have the potential to be everything.

And knowing that makes my life meaningful, even when Satan tries to convince me otherwise.

17 comments:

  1. My heart goes out to you, Heather! We've all been there! I had postpartum depression after my first child and life never looked bleaker. While it fortunately wasn't repeated with my other two kids, that's still a rough and vulnerable time. You're in my prayers!

    I love President Uchtdorf's thoughts that he shared during the last conference in his talk "You Matter to Him": "Brothers and sisters, the most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love. God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him."

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've had postpartum depression with 4 of my 5 kids. I refused to take care of it, thinking prayer and scripture study would cure me (not talking about you! Just me) and now I have depression for pretty much life. As in, constant meds and therapy. My point? If you think you have PPD, or if there's even a small chance you have it --kick it in the butt RIGHT NOW.

    With depression, it doesn't matter how strong a testimony is (from my point of view) or how logical it is that satan is making it worse. Well, I take that back a little bit --YES, knowing our divine worth DOES matter, however, depression makes everything distorted. It's easy to remember the gospel --but in the midst of mind-numbing and soul-crushing mental anguish, it's very, very difficult to keep remembering. This is why people who try to solve depression on their own (without outside help beyond prayer) usually fail. However!! If it's just simply PPD, it CAN fade with time. But not always.

    The only reason I'm writing this is because my life has been forever altered by my refusal to seek outside help for my PPD. Luckily, I eventually got the help I need. How grateful I am!

    And, to make it very clear: Keeping my testimony strong DID help. Just not in those moments of despair (which is not every moment). So, I guess what I'm saying (very, very badly) is:
    1. This post was beautiful (it really was)
    2. If you have PPD, you need to find out and get help ASAP!
    3. Depression can't always be overcome by spiritual means, just like how my asthma or so-and-so's diabetes or what's-her-name's cancer. God gave us doctors, medications, herbs, exercise, friends, therapists, and psychiatrists for a reason.
    4. My Depression has given me the best outlet for my creative writing. Most of my favorite posts and "literary masterpieces" (ha!) came because of another "down week" or "down day."

    Good luck! I hope you're just having a bummer of a week and it really isn't PPD. Either way, it's made for a great post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cheryl,

    Thank you so much for your comment! I very very much agree that depression can't be "prayed" away, it is hurtful when people just assume that it can. Kind of like the New Testament people assuming that because someone was blind they must have sinned.

    I don't think I have PPD. I think in my case I have just let my spiritual armor down a bit-- my prayers stink, my scripture study is bad, and I haven't been to the temple in ages. Those are all things that make me feel weak and I think Satan has taken advantage of me. Not to mention worry over family, mistake I've made and financial burdens.

    I've also been feeling sort of "foggy headed" and having headaches and I've been trying to figure out why. In all honesty I think I my eyes might have changed while I was pregnant and that I really need a different contact prescription. Maybe that will help. Or just eating and sleeping better. But thank you So much for your love. I told Jon to make sure that if I start acting really unusual to get me to the doctor, but so far I think I am doing okay...mostly. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ditto to everything Cheryl said!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love to you Heather! You are amazing and you matter to Heavenly Father and to many other people who love to read the things that you are blessed and prompted to write. It is good to let others see that you are human and struggle too. I can relate to the foggy brain for sure. One thing that helps me with that is cutting out sugar and getting some herbs to help with yeast. January is a rough month and seems to get the best of a lot of us. Love this quote. "It makes me realize how silly it is to harbor feelings of anger or pride and how pointless it is to seek after the the praise and wealth of the world." I struggle with that too and have to constantly relearn what my purpose is and what Heavenly Father wants me to do and be. I wish it was easier to figure out. Love to you and your family! - Mandy

    ReplyDelete
  6. This was beautiful! And Real. And man, haven't we all had those days? It's nice to know that we aren't alone. God is always there, and so are good friends.

    Wish I lived closer. I would LOVE to watch those kids so you could go to the temple!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Heather,
    Phew, and good! I hope you'll be able to figure it out. Sometimes our bodies just need time after we give birth, eh? Whatever it is, I hope you can figure it out soon!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks so much for this post! I recently have been following and have found such great insight in your posts! Thanks!

    In regards to this idea that we are nothing and everything my husband brought up a good point. We are told in the scriptures that we are less than the dust of the earth. It is not that we have no value but more in terms that even the dust of the earth OBEYS our heavenly fathe in all things and at all times and all places. So when we are not obedient we truly become less than the dust of the earth We have infinite value and potential in the eyes of our heavenly parents, but when we disobey we lose a lot of our progress and become quote unquote less than the dust of the earth. I really believe when we are obedient in all things that the lord asks to do we are given increasing amounts of joy, and further light and knowledge. We all have value and potential, we just need to obey so that god can bless us with blessings unimaginable!
    Thanks for your insight Heather!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Heather - this is a beautiful post! I really enjoyed reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. January always feels a little bit like this to me. If you want a link to a really cool talk about this business of being nothing and everything at the same time (President Uchtdorf's was great too), go to this link to download a pdf by
    Elder Maxwell. It rocks.

    http://www.ldsces.org/content/talks/general/2002-maxwell-our-creators-cosmos__eng.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  11. The "paradox of man" (as put by Pres. Uchtdorf) is - ironically, or maybe not so ironically - one of my favorite doctrines.

    “compared to God, we are nothing; yet we are everything to God.”

    Just puts you in your place, eh? (and what a great place to be!)

    Steph, awesome link! I am going to have to sit down and study that when I have some time. Thanks for posting it!

    And, Heather - beautiful post, and I hope you get back "into the swing" soon - it always takes me a little while after change occurs to get things back to normal. And then just when I think things are "normal" another change comes along and upsets everything!

    ReplyDelete
  12. That was beautifully put. Hugs to you. My vision totally changed with T3, I guess in many ways. :)

    Take care of yourself and know that indeed you are everything!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Not that we should compare, but you have what I want- a temple marriage that is good and children, and a blog that is well read :).

    Read this, great quote in there by McConkie http://www.ldsmag.com/component/zine/article/8597 It's intitled "comparing the stars to the children of God"

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you Heather. I can't really tell you about all the craziness going on in my life right now, but I just thought I'd let you know that I really needed to read this. I appreciate your testimony, and the beautiful insights that you always share.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I hope you can feel better soon. The Pale Blue Dot also has a great video on youtube that is very powerful and humbling.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh, Heather, my heart goes out to you! I've been going through a rough time lately too and completely empathize. Everyone has already said such beautiful things, so I don't have a lot to add, but just know that my thoughts are with you! Hang in there. You are loved! ♥

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hugs to you, friend.

    I also loved your comment at Segullah and think it's relevant here as well. Even if we can't just pray away depression and struggles, we can learn over time to recognize when something we are thinking isn't of God...because of its fruits. Moroni 7:11-19 has been a huge help for me in that ongoing process of trying to discern truth from the untruthful patterns of thought that I so easily get trapped in.

    We worship such an amazing God, though, who notices a sparrow's fall, knows the hairs of our heads and the desires of our hearts.

    Stephanie, Elder Maxwell gave a talk on this paradox when I was in the MTC and I will never forget how I felt. I was grateful to see Pres. Uchtdorf talk about it as well recently.

    ReplyDelete