This semester I have been working on a small project that I hope has been helpful to whoever might be reading. Bits of advice here and there can be of great help in times of difficulty, if we listen carefully. I am sure many of you have had the experience of hearing someone say the right thing at the right time. These moments can make all the difference in the world, especially on the days we wish we could skip over, forget or leave behind. This week, I would like to offer a small bit of advice that I personally need to hear. While I am in no position of authority, power or influence, I hope it will be of some help to you.
If you are going through a rough time, if someone has left you, if you have experienced the loss of a loved one, if your grades are slipping, if your motivation is almost completely exhausted and if you have been drained day after day by the shocking and depressing headlines of the news, do not despair and do not give up on yourself. In terrors of this sort, our emotions, our passions, our fears can manifest into a whirlwind of despair. Anger, jealousy, hatred, sadness, frustration; these are foreign to none of us on any particular day. But the effects of these emotions are normally the same. We may liken them to a poison that flows through the veins and slowly corrodes our very being. I pray you are not feeling this way, struggling to get through not just the semester, but this very day.
My advice to you is to pause right now and remember two things: you are not alone and you are loved. In your darkest hour, know this and repeat it to yourself. You are not alone and you have someone who loves you very much and who is always with you. You do not need to be perfect, popular or free from any of the negative emotions above to have God’s love. It is a gift and it is inexhaustible. The problem with depression and despair is that it can rob us of this reality – that no matter how bad our situations seem to be, or no matter how bad the world itself seems to be, God’s love for us does not change. There is a beauty in Christianity that manifests itself in the person of Jesus Christ. It is to Him that we can turn in these moments. He knows everything, from our deepest regret to our greatest hope. While you may not be able to see Him or feel Him next to you (or maybe you can!) at this moment, He really is right beside you. And He will tell you the right thing at the right time: “Trust in me and trust in my love for you. You are loved and you are precious in my eyes.”
There is a plan at work, but right now we may not be able to see it. Right now, even with the weather finally brightening up, we may feel lonelier than we have in a long time. But it is during these moments in particular that we can call upon God. In fact, it is during these moments that our souls find no other recourse. I might be preaching to the choir, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the struggle is not in vain and we do not face it alone. If you are angry, lonely, hurt or grieving, run to God and tell Him so. Ask Him for whatever it is you need. I am not a priest or any type of religious authority, just a student who wants to be at peace and to know that peace is a real possibility. Until the end we may not find peace in this life, but I implore you to trust that God knows your desires as well as your sorrows. Knowing that He knows can bring solace and hope. Please do not despair. Trust that all will be well with God. He puts His arm around you not only today or when you are in pain, but each and every day of your life. I am sure at this moment, He is telling you the above, encouraging you to keep going.
April 24, 2015.