“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Ether 12:27
It’s no secret that weaknesses are frowned upon in our society. In fact, society does basically everything possible to cover up weaknesses and flaws. We are surrounded by photo-shopped images, auto-tuned music, and the “perfect” lives that people live. Even social media is infiltrated by a perfectionist mentality—rarely do people post anything on Facebook or Instagram that isn’t severely filtered, edited, and changed to mask anything that would be considered less than perfect.
It is hard to live in a world like this. It is hard to be constantly barraged with perfection and assume that anything less than perfection is unacceptable.
Something that is largely considered a “weakness” in society is mental illness. I can’t count the number of negative things I’ve heard thrown around in daily conversation about mental illness—
“If she would stop just thinking about herself maybe she could just be happier. It’s not depression, it’s selfishness.”
“That guy over there must be insane. I don’t want to go over there.”
“I would never hire that man. He is crazy. I heard he is bipolar.”
In a way, society is right. Mental illness is a weakness—just like any other illness. Heart problems are a weakness. A broken leg is a weakness. Diabetes is a weakness. Here’s the difference though—you don’t hear people condemning someone for having a heart problem. It is time for the negativity and misunderstandings that surround mental illnesses to stop. Just because I struggle with depression doesn’t mean that I am any less of a person than the guy down the block. I have my challenges and weaknesses, and so does he.
One of the greatest blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the promise of eventual perfection. One day, we will stand before God—perfected—because of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We aren’t perfect now, and there’s no use pretending to be. We are all given trials, challenges, and weaknesses to overcome. We are given these challenges that we “may be humble” and come unto God and ask for His supreme help. To expect perfection now or to pretend to be is to deny ourselves the blessings of turning to God in humility for His help. It is through challenges that God makes us stronger and forms us into the people that we need to be.
With my depression, I feel very weak at times. There are days when it is all I can do to drag myself out of bed and throw my hair into a ponytail. There have been dark nights when I have fallen to my knees and begged for there to be light. I struggle. A lot. And I know that my challenges aren’t nearly as bad as others who face mental illnesses.
My thoughts about depression and mental illnesses changed recently when I was talking to my bishop. He mentioned the scripture Ether 12:27. “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” “Weaknesses don’t need to be frowned upon. They are a part of this mortal experience.” All of a sudden, it just clicked. One of my mortal weaknesses is depression. As I continuously come unto the Lord in humility, He will make this weakness a strength. Mental illness is something I can overcome. This doesn’t mean that I will for sure get completely better. In fact, I think it is something I will face my entire life. However, I can overcome it and turn it into a strength as I turn it over to the Lord.
Weaknesses don’t need to be frowned upon. They are a part of this mortal experience. My weaknesses and challenges make me human. I am human, but I am a daughter of a Divine Being. He loves me and all of us. We are precious to Him and He is waiting to help us. All we have to do is come unto Him.
Rachel is currently a student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She is studying English and is planning on graduating in 2016. Her main goal in life is to spread hope to others, especially those who struggle with mental illnesses. She uses writing to help herself cope with the challenges she faces with mental illnesses and to help others who are fighting similar battles. You can read more from her at her blog, Finding the Sunshine. (http://www.yellowinthegray.