My Life: The Gifts God Gives Us

The last six months have been a blur. I graduated from college with my Bachelors in English with an Emphasis in Literary Studies. I’ve been dealing with health issues. And I applied for and was accepted to a summer internship with the Liahona magazine.

I’ve hesitated to talk about my internship on social media. It’s not because I’m not excited. I’m so excited. I think it’s more because I feel strongly the magnitude of this gift. And I’m sure it’s a gift. I don’t always see far into the future of my life. Especially the last few years; it seems I never know what will happen next. But these next four months are a bright spot of love and hope that I can’t quite put words on. Nor can I express how humbled by and grateful for this opportunity I truly am.

I want to get honest with you about the past year or two of my life. It’s been quite possibly the worst I’ve ever had for mental health. I’ve had anxiety my whole life, but last year, I really thought I wasn’t going to ever be happy again. I wondered if God intended for me to wade through sorrow forever. Hope was like a flickering bulb in my hands, and the more I tried to keep it lit, the more it seemed to dim.

I knew God was with me, but I was constantly hurting emotionally. I got medical help last summer. It made a difference, and I’m so grateful for that. But it’s only been in the last six months, as I’ve contended with other health issues (I’ll maybe write about them another time) that I started to see patterns in my thinking that were unhealthy. These last few months, I’ve seen another pattern of thinking that I had no idea was limiting me.

I realized as I started to apply for this internship, that for years I haven’t been consistent about reading the magazines. I had reasons. I was reading my scriptures, General Conference talks, and Come Follow Me already. Wasn’t that enough? I was busy going to school, taking care of family, and trying to manage health issues. How much more could God ask of me? And second, but maybe the most impactful, some of the topics the magazine addresses are particularly sensitive for me. I didn’t want to open that door when my anxiety was only barely manageable.

In the first instance, I was looking at the magazines like a checklist item. In the second instance, I was thinking of the magazine articles like social media posts. I thought if I read stories about things that were hard to understand, or issues my own family was dealing with, that I would end up in the bottom of my anxiety pit, sick to my stomach and trying to claw my way back to the light. I was afraid.

Both were lies. They were so subtle I didn’t even realize I was trapped in them. Then, the first week of the internship, I realized that the magazines, much like the internship opportunity itself, are a gift God has been holding out to me. I just haven’t been accepting it. Check lists are okay in their place, but God wasn’t adding an item to that list at all. He was trying to reach me with answers to the questions I had. He was trying to talk to me!

The magazines are inspired by God. The people who work on them are listening to the spirit every day. I know because I’ve met many of them. They aren’t perfect people any more than you or I are, but they are listening to the Holy Ghost, and they are seeing miracles day by day, sometimes moment by moment. God is working through them to reach us! He is trying to say things to us about concerns that we are having right now. He is trying to share stories from people all over the world who are dealing with hard things, just like us. We are not alone. We are not the only ones. We are not abandoned.

Maybe Covid made you feel that way. Maybe hours alone in your houses or surrounded by the same core people for weeks on end has run you dry. Maybe death, sickness, loss, or mental suffering has dragged you into a pit you can’t get out of. You. Are. Not. Alone. God sees you. He is trying to reach you.

I knew this in the first hour I spent at my new internship, and I couldn’t believe how wonderful the gift was that I’d been leaving unopened. That it was another chore to be done was a lie Satan told me because he didn’t want me to open the gift.

This week, I had to copyedit one of those sensitive topic articles I avoid. As I approached it, I felt misgivings. Would this lead to a bad day of anxiety? A paragraph in, I saw that I’d been tricked by another lie. I expected to feel guilt. I expected to learn I was doing something wrong. I expected fear. Instead, I felt love. I heard God say to me, “JoLyn, you’ve been doing your very best. Good work.” I saw things I’d already been doing were backed by spiritual insight, medical research, and prophetic counsel. I felt strong. I felt relief. I started to heal.

The magazines are not a social media post meant to click bait you to some article with a sensational approach to the latest hot topic or social issue. They are gathered, written, edited, and reviewed by a multitude of people who are praying about how to teach doctrine and principles in ways that will help you and me. The magazines cut through lies. They cut through the noise. They cut through fear.

Don’t be afraid. God isn’t afraid of our questions. He isn’t afraid of our problems. But He can stand there all day with a gift in His hands for us, and it will do us no good if we don’t open it.

I am so blessed to have this chance to be a part of the creation of that gift. I want you to know I take this opportunity seriously. I pray about the things I write and edit. I’m praying for you, just like the people I’m working with are. We are human. We’ll make mistakes. We may not have all the answers, but we are sure God does. He speaks to His prophets. He speaks to His children. He wants to speak to you.

Please, if you haven’t done it yet, open the gift. It’s waiting for you, right now.