Broken Vessels

So this year’s General Conference covered a myriad of different subjects, from a woman’s necessary role in the world to the blessings of paying tithing. In this spiritually uplifting meeting, there was one talk that was very different than the rest: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk during the Saturday afternoon session of conference. Elder Holland spoke on depression, a very real enemy in the stressful world of today. His talk, “Like a Broken Vessel,” reminded me of my own struggles with depression early in high school and college. I won’t go into the details of my own struggles, mostly because they were very minor compared to many people’s battles with depression, but I will pull a few quotes from the talk that affected me most.

“…today I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively—though I am a vigorous advocate of square shoulders and positive thinking!”

Depression is so much more that merely a bout of mild discouragement, it is a crippling curse on the mind. I greatly appreciated that Elder Holland explained how serious depression is. It truly does affect one’s ability to think clearly and see anything positive in life. When I suffered through my mild depression, I wasn’t even able to plan more than a day ahead. Surrounded by the shadows created by my own worries and doubts, I lived day-by-day, struggling to do something that would give me a sense of purpose or accomplishment. Even thinking about it now gives a feeling of dread in my stomach that it could happen again. Luckily, I eventually found the answer that Elder Holland described later in the talk.

“So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend.”

Like a ray of sunlight that pierces the dark clouds of a dispersing storm, I remembered my Heavenly Father and His love. I remembered that I could pray to him and ask him for strength. I remembered that He, above anyone else, could actually understand what I was going through internally. Where I was feeling such horrible anguish at the state of my life, I was able to see how great a gift it truly was. The skies cleared, and the sun shown brightly once again.

“Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are ‘like a broken vessel,’ as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.”

This is the most powerful statement in the entire talk (in my opinion). While I never really considered ending my life as an option, I know that there are those who can see no other way to end the pain. Like Elder Holland pleas, do not end your life. There really is so much more to live for, but often the only way to overcome the darkness is to look towards the source of eternal light, God our Heavenly Father.

The divine potter is the perfect craftsman, able to fix any crack in the broken vessels of our souls. All He requires is that we reach out and grab the hand that He has offered us. Prayer, fasting, and pondering the scriptures, coupled with faith, allow us to grab that hand and begin the long process of mending the broken vessels. My invitation today is to everyone who is currently experiencing depression to reach out and turn to the divine potter. To those who have already trudged through that dark and lonely road, turn to help those who need your experience. Help them to see the light that got you through and provide support in their time of need.

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