This will be the first and, most likely, last time I write about an experience similar to this. In retrospect, it feels odd to begin my initial post that way. Though, I believe it is important to since I do not want readers to think it sets the tone for the rest of the blog. I like to think of myself as very spiritual, but not being subscribed to any one religion. Even with that in mind, I think this particular story does give a good introduction to aspects of my mind and what moves me.
A while back, I found myself homeless and struggling in a state away from friends and family. I began to attend the church I grew up in again, having given up on it a decade before, to try to find some solace and aid. While regularly visiting on Sundays, I felt the need to get up in front of the congregation and pour my thoughts and feelings out. Once a month, time is set aside for anyone to get up and speak. This is normally for the purpose of bearing personal testimony. I had always considered myself a man of little faith and I certainly had no powerful testimony of the church being true or that I believed in the power of the Holy Trinity, so I ignored the desire to rise from my seat. I also struggle with social anxiety. I can recall clearly having to fight off a panic attack while delivering a paper to a classroom in college that did not even have a dozen students. The idea of me with a microphone in front of hundreds of people that I felt I have no business addressing seemed ludicrous.
Then one Sunday, I just stood up and started walking. I looked out over the crowd from the podium and all eyes were on anxious me. I chuckled nervously and made a quip about how the “still, small voice” (another way or referring to the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit) is sometimes less a whisper in your ear and more of a swift kick in the butt. I immediately addressed my feelings of inadequacy. I began by telling them that I had always felt like I was no one of great faith. Perhaps, I had always erred in thinking that though. I recanted scripture I had studied beforehand which spoke of faith being hope. I had always thought of faith as belief, and never because I personally knew but because I was told to and expected to. If given the choice between there being nothing true about religion and there actually existing a God of some form, I would rather there be an omnipotent being that cared about my well-being. I would hope there was a such a force out there somewhere with my best interests in mind, even if I am unable to completely comprehend it in my lifetime. If I have hope, and hope is faith, then I have faith. Maybe I had always been a man of great faith after all.
With expressing that realization, I found myself no longer nervous and speaking on what I had struggled through in life. Without hesitation, I spoke candidly on such things as being homeless, suffering from debilitating physical and mental illness, having cried myself to sleep from being hungry, rape, traumatic relationships, and financial hardship. As miserable as I could say much of my life has been, I would not change anything. I struggle with myself, but I do not hate myself. I think the hardest part of moving forward is to dare to say thanks for even the horrible things done to me. Both the good and the bad shaped the individual that I am.
I do not know about God or fate, but I do think that humans can tap into some kind of synchronicity. I think some people have meaningful roles to play in certain series of events. Even my traumatic life can be used in a meaningful way for another person’s benefit. To me, if I can use my pain to help someone, it was worth having had endured it. I am thankful for that opportunity. I even said that if we were really all spirits in Heaven before we were physically on this Earth, I would like to think that I asked God to let me suffer greatly so that someone else would not have to. Not everyone gets passed trauma. Even if they do, not everyone is able to turn it into a strength or an ability to do service to your fellow man.
This train of thought carried me to a different perspective on the idea of Christ. I had heard his story countless times as a child, but I never quite viewed him the way I now did. I have always felt that having had been through a lot developed inside of me a powerful sense of empathy. I can sit down and listen to someone speak to me on some really disturbing topics and do my honest best to guide them without being shocked. People speak on Christ as someone who has suffered everything mortal man can suffer and has perfect empathy. I do not think you can have one without the other. It is easiest to relate to someone going through hard times when you have been through them already. People need to feel that in their lives, whether they can turn to someone they know or have faith in an ideal.
All this talk on strife and it enabling a person to do good works led me to personal revelation. It can be really hard to ask for help let alone figure out what exactly you need to fix. When I think back on how stagnant and disheartening points of my life have been, I see there was not always something I needed to have somebody do for me as much as I needed someone to give me the chance to be the one doing something constructive for someone else. Sometimes helping those in need is the best medicine for you when you are lost in a dark place. I know this is true through the jobs I have had and the people I have met. With that in mind, I will encourage you with the same message I left the congregation with.
Do not not ask for help because it might be selfish, but ask for help, because it might be selfless.