The article by Morris Petersen in the September 1987 Ensign was great! Even as a child I was frustrated as teachers discussed dinosaurs and early earth life. I wanted so badly for the discoveries of science to coincide with the biblical version of the Creation. I find great peace in the Doctrine and Covenants scripture that tells us the Lord will reveal all things. Thanks for the article. We used it for a family home evening lesson, and it was the basis for an excellent discussion with our children.
Lynnette W. Hancock
Elder Russell M. Ballard’s article on suicide in the October 1987 issue of the Ensign struck home. My sister committed suicide in 1974, and although I saw what it did to my parents, I, too, often thought of taking my own life.
For years I suffered an undiagnosed chemical imbalance that sent my emotions on a roller-coaster ride at the slightest change of mood. Even after I was diagnosed, I still had moments of despair that led to thoughts of taking my life. Still, I knew it was wrong, and I seriously tried to consider the ramifications of what I was considering.
It was then that I began to ask the Lord: “How can I bear this existence? Where can I find peace?” I pleaded for months with him to call me home. I reasoned that if he would take me, I could find comfort beyond the veil but not be responsible for committing suicide. I explained this to him over and over.
Finally, I received an answer to my prayers. I did not hear a voice or see a vision, but following a priesthood blessing I felt a peace encompass me that gave me the knowledge I needed to continue living: Although my Heavenly Father loves me very much and looks forward to my being with him again, my life was not yet to be over. He needed me here. And to help me, he gave me a gift. Whenever my moods plunge me into such a despair that death seems enviable, the peace and warmth I experienced following that priesthood blessing return and guide me through my dark and troubled time.
I have a testimony now more than ever of our Father’s deep love for each of us. No problem is too trivial to bring before him. I am eternally grateful for his patience with me as I continue to struggle to appreciate this life.
As a mother whose teenage son tried to take his life a few months ago, I would like to support some of the things Elder Ballard said in his article on suicide.
From what my son has told me, it wasn’t any one thing that led him to attempt suicide. Because of low self-esteem and the struggle he was having with school, he despaired at succeeding in life. A mission was out of the question, in his mind, because he felt he could never learn to teach the gospel. When he tried to communicate these fears, no one really listened. We told him it was his duty to go on a mission and simply assured him he could do it. These high expectations only added to his fear.
His fear was compounded by loneliness. For a while, we lived in an area where there was no one our son’s age for him to associate with (another source of stress), but since he was a quiet boy, we didn’t worry.
The experience has taught me some lessons I would like to share with other parents. Let your children know they are important to you. Praise them for their accomplishments, no matter how small. Let them know they aren’t expected to be perfect, that some failures are a normal part of mortal life.
If someone talks to you about taking his or her life, don’t ignore it. Talk to him. Let him feel that someone cares, and then get help—from a hospital, from a family crisis center, from the health department, from the police, from the Church.
The main message I would give to parents is to listen to your children. Try to feel what they are feeling. Ask questions so you really hear what they are saying. This takes time, but time may be running out for your child. You may not have another chance. I thank our Father in Heaven for another chance with my son.
“Making Nauvoo Beautiful Again,” in the October 1987 issue, contains some misinformation. Under the pictures on page 22, the caption indicates that the bellows, anvil, and bench vise in the blacksmith shop were original equipment taken to Utah and later returned to the reconstructed blacksmith shop in Nauvoo. That is an old story that needs to be put to rest. I made the bellows myself during the four years I spent working in Nauvoo (from 1968 to 1972), and there is no evidence that the vise and anvil were ever in Nauvoo. I don’t know how the story started, but we must not keep it alive.
West Valley City, Utah
Patricia Holland’s article “‘One Thing Needful’: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ” (October 1987) hit the nail on the head. Two of the women I serve as a visiting teacher are experiencing emotional problems because of the welter of demands on them. I, too, have gone through a number of trials in the last six years that have both attacked and strengthened my faith.
Seven years ago, my father died suddenly of a heart attack. A few months later, the company my husband worked for failed and he has been able to find only temporary and part-time work ever since. We moved to Edmonton, Alberta, into an old farm home too small for our family, thinking that we would build a new one when we sold our four-year-old house in Calgary. Neither the furnace nor the plumbing worked. Our first winter there, we learned how to survive together. We hauled our own water from town, used propane and wood for heat, and worked hard to keep everything working. It seemed that every time my husband left town for work, something would go wrong. Perhaps the worst was that our baby granddaughter, who was living with us along with her mother, contracted pneumonia twice.
I obtained work in 1983 to help pay the bills, and things started looking better. But the real trial of our faith had just begun. In 1984 we lost our home in Calgary because we weren’t able to rent or sell it and couldn’t keep up the payments. Then, early in 1985, I underwent an operation after having been sick for a year. The day I quit my job to go into the hospital, Elgin lost his. Canada had been in a serious economic recession, and work was difficult to find. A month later, Elgin’s father died. Shortly after that, one of our sons developed tonsillitis and then another almost died from severe appendicitis and bowel cysts. He had been in the hospital three days when my mother-in-law died very suddenly.
I was able to find only temporary work when I got out of the hospital, and Elgin has found only part-time work. I am trying to upgrade my education, but our lack of funds frustrate my efforts at every turn.
Through all this, my emotional distress has been great. Yet we have been strengthened by the support of our ward members and the love of our Heavenly Father. Our testimonies and spirituality have grown considerably. We have experienced the power of the priesthood and felt our Heavenly Father watching over us. We know the wonderful, safe feeling of having paid a full tithe and have experienced the inspiration and comfort prayer brings. I still have ups and downs; my desire is to have constantly the feeling of peace I experience on Sunday at church. Sister Holland’s article has helped me toward that goal; I’m sure I will read and reread it until it is worn out.
Thank you for this article—and for the Ensign and New Era. Without them it would be very difficult to keep smiling.