More than a decade ago, I taught the women at my church once a month. On the Sunday I was teaching, I was getting ready for church and blow drying my hair. I was prepared for my lesson and felt good about my outline and points of discussion. With the blow dryer roaring in my ear, a clear impression suddenly came to my mind that said, “You need to share about being abused and being depressed.”
A theme in the lesson material had stood out to me that I had applied to my struggles with depression personally, but it was not something I wanted to talk about publicly. I inwardly replied to the impression, “No, thank you, I’ve prepared a perfectly nice lesson.” I’d never been to a class where the teacher talked about such dark and heavy topics. I didn’t think that I had time to even really prepare for what to say or share.
The second impression came with more force, but somehow in its quietness, it was more emphatic: “You need to share about being abused and being depressed.” I knew this was not a passing thought and I would need to act on this guidance. I was so nervous while I taught, my hands were trembling. What would the women think of me? I was still working through healing from my abusive marriage. I still had the frame of mind that being hit by a man was a reflection of my value. I thought there must be some characteristic or flaw that invited or incited a man to be violent against me. What if the class could see that flaw and then also despise me?
I came to the point in the lesson where I knew it was time to heed the impression. I shared that my marriage had been violent and abusive and one of the effects from that was experiencing depression. I shared the parts of the lesson that had spoken to me of endeavoring to be content and to be comforted, that it took work on my part to push back against depressive, forceful thought patterns. I also explained some of the resources I’d used in this endeavor of battling depression.
After the lesson, I felt that I had followed the direction, but still wasn’t sure why I’d received it. I’d felt the presence of the Spirit, but nothing stood out in the class. However, after church, women started reaching out to me asking if we could talk about some of what I had shared. Later that same week, we had an evening activity for the women. The speaker was a therapist who was talking about depression and benefits from therapy. There had been no prior announcement of the subject. I have no doubt that the Lord prompted me to share what I did just as he had prompted those who planned that activity. Those women and I marveled at how my lesson on Sunday had laid the groundwork for that evening. I didn’t need to know who specifically needed to hear what I said, only that it needed to be said.
I have continued to use this experience as a guide for what I share at church, whether I’m the teacher, speaker, or making a comment in a class. If I share a painful or complicated experience, I’ve always tried to show how God has used it for my good and strengthened my relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ.
A few years ago, I was teaching a lesson for an adult Sunday school which meant the class was men and women. My focus of the lesson was being valiant in our testimony of Jesus. I wanted to share my own testimony of Jesus and why I tried to be valiant. The impression came to share something I had only ever talked about with a couple of people, which was a time I had suicidal ideations. My depression had been so deep and dark that I had constant thoughts and fantasies of my own death that I couldn’t seem to control or stop. Those thoughts were both terrifying and comforting because death seemed the only solution to my deep misery.
As I shared about that time, I also shared of my rescue from such darkness. My whole body was trembling with nerves as I spoke. I then testified of joy that could still be experienced in this life and that as I stood before them, I was so grateful to be alive and to have a chance to be more valiant to Christ.
What most surprised me after the class was that it seemed to be the men in the room who connected most with what I had shared. One man could only hug me, say thank you through tears before walking away. Another man shared that his wife had just been hospitalized for some of the same things I had experienced. I had no idea until he told me. He was hurting so much. My few moments of trembling through sharing some of my own past pain had eased some of his present pain.
The hymn “Let the Holy Spirit Guide” says:
Let the Holy Spirit guide
Let him teach us what is true.
He will testify of Christ,
Light our minds with heaven’s view.
Let the Spirit heal our hearts
Thru his quiet, gentle pow’r.
May we purify our livesHymn 143, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints hymnal
To receive him hour by hour. As I’ve the let the Holy Spirit guide me in sharing painful and hard experiences, I’ve been taught so much truth. I’ve received healing by offering hope and understanding to others and their pain. I do not feel the shame I once did for being wounded and broken.
As I’ve pondered more of Jesus’s life and His wounds, I view His scars from the crucifixion in a new way. He is not ashamed of the scars in His hands, feet, and side. He retained them in His resurrected body not only as a testament of Him being our Savior, but as a testament of the power wounds can have to draw us to Him. Through Jesus, our own wounds can be used in the same way, to testify of Christ, to draw us to each other, and draw us to Christ as we let the Holy Spirit guide.