Monday, October 3, 2016

I'm not finished yet

 My name is Michelle Jensen and I am 23 years old. The past three years have been ones of various up and downs. My life completely shattered, I worked hard to tape and clue it back together...only for it to be shattered again. Currently, I am starting to rebuild myself. I've felt the need to put down in words where I've been and where I am going spiritually. My goal is to remind myself that God is good, and the reality of Christ's Atonement in my life. I'm going to share very personal experiences from my LDS mission. How I had faith after coming home early from my mission, and how I continued my mission from home. Finally, I will share how easily it is to forget God, and the struggles I am now facing to regain belief in him. what has been so private for years, I am about to share. Maybe this will help more people than me.

I was 19 years old when I heard the news through the grape vine about the historical age change. Elders could serve at 18, and sisters at 19. I was then working at Redfish Lake Lodge in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. A week before I had a couple phone interviews for Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana to work in the winter. Only a couple hours before I heard that the age had changed for missionaries to serve, Big Sky offered me a job. When I was offered the job, I felt so excited...but I asked them if I could have a day to decide to take it and I would let them know. Family and friends who know me, know my love for the outdoors, especially winter recreation. I thought I was crazy for asking for a day to think about the job. Any other moment, I would have taken the job in a heartbeat. As soon as I heard that I could now go on a mission at 19. I knew I had to go. November 2012: Sister Jensen you're called to serve in the Washington, Spokane mission. Reporting to the MTC January 30th 2013.

The MTC was in my opinion the worst! From day one, I let my companion know that I was ready to be in Spokane. 2 ½ weeks later we flew out to the mission. I was paired up with my companion, and placed in the area of Colville. While we drove from the stake center in Spokane, I thought. “maybe the MTC was okay”. I was scared, but so excited to serve. The people and country of Colville were beautiful. So much faith in one town! When you drive into town there is a sign that says “Colville's Churches welcome you”. I had amazing experiences there. Many members were eager to help us. I was able to gain very special relationships with them.
One of my first Sunday's in the Colville 1st ward I introduced myself to one of the young women, Chiavan. She was happy, and I could feel a strong love of Christ radiating from her. As my companion and I were leaving the building, I told her that we should invite that young women to come teach with us. My trainer, Sister Umphenhour said that the girl was not a member, and was dating a priest in the ward. She comes every week with his family. I was shocked. Why was she not baptized? Later I came to find out that Chiavan's mother was not a huge fan of the Church. That it was a blessing that she was even allowed to attend church meetings with her boyfriend and his family. Occasionally, during my time in Colville we would be able to talk to Chiavan about Christ and the restored gospel, and it would be the highlight of our hard earned day.

12 weeks into my mission, I found myself having a difficult time. I did not love my area. I did not enjoy the companion I was now training. I lost desire to eat, I was becoming quick to anger, and felt tired all the time. More often than not, I could not feel the spirit guiding my actions. “it's just a moment” I thought, “I will get over it”. But I didn't, I kept spiraling down in what I now know is depression. I counseled often with my mission president, therapist, and mission psychologist. I kept fighting my demons. We were Teaching more and more lessons each week. Receiving new contacts, and new investigators all the time. All the while, working on my own mental health. I worked hard as a missionary to keep myself healthy. I ran every morning, and I was also prescribed one hour of exercise on top of that morning work out. I also kept an anger journal, a gratitude journal, and an everyday journal. After another few weeks went by, and I was still so depressed, I decided to try medication.'s very hard to find the right one. Some people have a positive out come with them. Others, the drugs have a very negative effect. I was one of the not so lucky ones. I took an antidepressant, and a sleep aid. I felt like I was in a fog all the time. I felt like was never really in a lesson, or conversation. I was there, but I really wasn't there. I was on the outside looking in. My mind became a very scary place. As I would be driving my companion and I places, I would have thoughts of crossing the double yellow line while another car was about to pass us. But, that would hurt my companion so I didn't. I had many other thoughts like this one. But, that would be too tragic, or too messy. I kept telling myself, “it's just a moment, I will get over it” But I didn't. I didn't like how I felt, who I was, and I was tired. I felt like God had left me. I often prayed to feel him near me, but there was a pavilion over head. I could not hear, or feel him. I kept what I was feeling and thinking private. I put on a brave face almost everyday. The work wouldn't stop and neither would I.

One night before I started my daily hour of exercise, I pulled out my refilled prescriptions from their paper bags. In all prescribed medication there are warning pages, and that night I decided to read what would happen if I were to take too many pills. I did the same thing with the sleep aid. The consequences were catastrophic. I put the pills in the cabinet and thought, “no way”. I left to work out, and it wasn't a good work out. I got angry that I wasn't able to push through and shut off my mind. When my companion and I got back to the apartment, I mentally checked out. I was gone, but still moving and getting ready for bed. I found myself grabbing a glass of water, and grabbing my two prescribed medications for sleep and depression and going to the bathroom. I pulled the caps off, nothing running through my mind. I took every single pill. Not one left. I brushed my teeth, and went to bed.

I woke up nauseous. Fighting through all the chemicals running through my body. I didn't say a word about it to my companion. I should be dead, I thought. We went to do some service at the museum in Colville. There Rose, the woman we were helping. Said I didn't look very well and my eyes were somewhat yellow, and I should go lay down. My companion and I went back home, and I went to bed. I slept for basically two days straight. When I came to, and I realized that I tried to end my life I broke down and started to cry. I had been protected, that's all I could figure out. I told my companion what happened. Soon, she was on the phone with the mission presidents wife. And it went down the line, til I was told I was going home that night to get well. I was medically released from the Washington Spokane mission September 2013.

9 months I served. 9 months incomplete. I was not going to give up. I was a missionary, and I intended to get the help I needed and go back and complete the remaining 9 months of my mission. I had taken a missionary planner home with me. When I unpacked, one of the first things I did was write on a sticky note “your mission isn't finished yet” and put it on the missionary journal. I put the journal on my desk in plain sight. I had work to do to get mentally healthy so I could go back to Spokane. But, God had other things in mind.

I didn't get cleared to go back and finish my mission. I didn't understand why depression was so real in my life. I began to blame God, because I was hurt. I was an excellent missionary, Why was this in the cards for me? I began to ask why they sent me home instead of transferring me to serve in the mission office for a while, closer to therapists, and the mission psychologist? I was embarrassed talking to people at church about serving a mission. Especially if they'd ask me how old I was. When I told them I was 20, I could see them doing the math quickly in their head. I didn't serve long. I was ashamed.

A few months went by, and I accepted that I wasn't going to be a missionary again. I started living my life, focusing on what made me happy, running, hiking, and snowboarding. Slowly I kind of felt normal again. Though, my heart still ached to be serving in Washington. One night I was on Facebook, and a friend request had been accepted. It was Chiavan. I got excited, and began to message her to see how she was, and see if she was still going to church with her boyfriend and family. She seemed well, but still wasn't baptized. I kept a conversation with her going constantly. She was getting ready to graduate high school, and move from Colville to Spokane. I often would ask when she was planning on getting baptized. She would always reply, very soon. Finally I said to set a date with the missionaries, and they will help you get there. One night in my room I messaged and asked what was holding her back from getting baptized? Chiavan then opened up to me about the situation at home. Her mom was very much against the church. Chiavan had to choose getting baptized, or her home and relationship with her mom. My heart broke, as I read the messages I was getting from my friend. I was praying to know how to respond to comfort her.
My eyes wandered away from my computer screen and locked in on the sticky note that was on my dusty missionary planner. “Your mission isn't over yet”. Inspired I asked her, “if you could live your dream where would it take you?” She replied.. “ I would move, and go where there were lots of people with the same beliefs as me. I would have a good support group, to help me keep the commandments. I want to go to school, and do ultrasounds on pregnant moms.” I had the strongest impression of my life that night. I needed to invite her to be baptized, to move down to Utah and live with me and my family.
I told my parents about Chiavan, and what happened that night. They were on board all the way. So I invited Chiavan to get baptized, and move down and live with us. And she did. Six months later, she met her future husband down here. Another six months, they were married in the Manti temple. Chiavan was a blessing in my life. She helped me learn much, and she was brave to follow her faith. She's a hard worker, and is now working for Valley OB/GYN. My mission was to help her, when she couldn't help herself. I couldn't do what I did for her as a missionary wearing a black tag. Being home I was able to do, and teach her more.

Even though I had just had a year full of spiritual moments. I started to feel less enjoyment in the little things, I didn't care for church, I began to be quick to anger, and I slept a lot. My prayers became less and less, because I didn't feel God anymore. I began to revert back into a bad depression. I denied it of course. I stopped going to church because I didn't feel the spirit working in my life. I knew God was real, but did I? I started researching church history and found things that weren't in the actual church history. Things that may have been taken out? I don't know. Maybe. It got so bad, that I didn't believe any of it. I wrote a letter, I didn't believe the church was true. It wasn't real. And I was more agnostic now. Then didn't attend church, pray, or follow some commandments for ten months. Apathetic, and numb. How quickly one can forget God, and blow out their faith in Christ.

I'm on the road back now. I have seen too many miracles in my own life to deny that there a God. Depression is real, and it can disable someone spiritually so fast. At least in my experiences. I have to believe Christ can do for me, what he has done with so many others. Heal me. I've been lifted up a little, and slowly feeling strength from Christ. I can do hard things with Him.

“He can make us whole no matter what is broken in us” - Paul V. Johnson

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Lost Faith, Broken Soul

Bit by bit my soul breaks away
Piece after piece, I feel it decay

A broken smile, to match my broken heart
The way it bleeds out feels almost like art

A lonely girl hides deep inside
In only myself can she confide

Silent screams come out of sorrow
Muted cries for a better tomorrow

Dear God, why? I'll plead
Why would you leave me in my time of need?

I lost my faith when my life turned towards hell
If this God is real, he has explanations to tell

I believe in tomorrow, and the memories of yesterday 
I believe in myself, that I won't lead me astray

The times they are tough, and they're sure to get worse
But I'll keep on fighting until I lie in my hearse

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Did I really just stay up all night?

after watching shows and reading books and being drawn into my phone over the course of the night, I looked outside and began to see the sun... 5:00 AM. Did I really just stay up all night? I was pretty disgusted with myself. I can't believe it. I was watching a pointless show on netflix...for a strange reason, I felt sick. at what point did i change and begin make poor decisions? I've been making a lot of bad ones over the course of several months. at what point did I change?

My thoughts and emotions were running high this morning. reflecting back on how I use to be so established, strong and devoted. now, the only thing I can do is school, work, sleep, eat, repeat. I use to be great in sports, church callings, socially...just, great all around. my desire isn't as it use to be. I'm not sure if it was the fact that I hadn't slept that these thoughts and emotions were coming to the surface, or I was having a moment of clarity, opening my eyes to see that, my daily habits, weren't so beneficial to me, and my happiness. I know, God wants more for me that just school, work, sleep, eat, and repeat like a robot.

I couldn't handle these feelings. I wanted to get out. I got  up and grabbed my hiking shoes, my osprey pack and went out the back door. thankfully we live right on the mountain. I hiked up the hill and cut through my neighbors yard and started my ascend up the mountain. I knew this mountain well. it was my playground as a kid. as I started hiking, the wind tossed the wild grass back and forth. my trail hadn't be used in so long. the shrubs began to over take it. But I continued forward. I thought about the trail, and my hike up the mountain. the un-kept path I was on, was like the path i was taking in life. unsettled and with out proper knowledge of where it went. I could stray. The farther up the steeper it became and the canyon wind was strong this morning. I had to lean into the mountain a bit to stay vertical. the ascend became harder. more than it should have been. The scripture, Helaman 5:12

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our redeemer, who is christ, the son of god, that ye must build your foundation: that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have  no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

christ will help us clean up our trails, and make it better than before. no matter how hard life is right now, keep a strong faith in christ and his atonement and things will work out. he is the light and life of the world. follow him. put on your armor of light every day. its a constant battle out there. I often feel like i'm losing my fight. but I have family and friends who are always reminding me, the battle is not lost til you stop fighting. Christ's team is the winning team, stay on it.


I feel pressure everywhere.

There is pressure to walk a fine wire, greased with WD-40. destined to slip and fall and get sliced open on the way down. I'm done feeling like this. I'm jumping off before I start. There's a new road I'm going to embark. I don't know where it is yet or where it's going to lead me. I'll construct it as I go.

Monday, June 9, 2014

What makes me, Me?

Today as I was sitting in church, I began pondering the question. What makes me, me? what makes me "tick" the way I do, what causes me to bend over backwards all the time for everyone, and what makes me even ask this question of what makes me, me?

The answer? God.

God makes me, me. God is the reason I tick the way I do, He's the reason I love what  comes my way, and He is the reason I am who I am. God has a body, but his spirit is in me, he's you, and he's in everything around us. He's given me everything so when someone asks me for my help, I know I'm being asked to be the Lord's Hands in that hour. We all have that wonderful ability. To be The Lords hands. to serve others. to love others when no one else is there to love them, to lift them out of darkness, to mourn with them through their sorrows, and to joyfully celebrate with them through their achievements. 

When I was baptized, I took upon myself the name of Christ, to do as he would, to follow him. He is the ultimate example of love. the perfect love. charity. how do we show charity day to day? do we say we are followers or Christ? or do we show that we are followers of Christ? without faith, hope, and charity...there is nothing here for us. no clarity, happiness, or purpose. just confusion and misery. I'm thankful for God, he's creations and me. I'm thankful for his plan, I know Christ atoned for me and you and everyone, so that God's plan would work. without Christ and his atonement, this would all be void. and we would be stuck at death. But God's plan is more brilliant. we will live again, with our families, with our friends, and with our Father in Heaven if we are faithful and hopeful and charitable here. and accept his gospel, His RESTORED gospel. To have faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repent, be baptized by proper authority, to recieve the holy ghost by the laying on of hands, and endure to the end. and we are promised if we endure, we will have eternal life! is this not something worth living for? 

what makes me, me? what makes me "tick" the way I do? 

God, and his plan for me. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

This isn't a surprise to most people, and I have known this fact my whole life but never really said, "Hey look, I know this is a fact."...Well, I know for a fact when I'm not caught up in my own world, with my own problems, and my own success, time goes by quicker. and when I'm not caught up in my own own world just happens to be created just to my liking. and when I'm helping someone else with their problems, I find solutions to my own. and when I see a way to help someone succeed, I succeed a little on my own.

Do unto others as you would have done unto you, they say. The first great commandment is to love the Lord thy God, and the second is like unto it... Love thy neighbor. Love thy Enemy, The Savior taught. Give him your coat.And when they smite your cheek, turn the other one.Honor thy father and thy mother.Keep the sabbath day holy. John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments"

There are many commandments that Heavenly Father has given us. through the scriptures, The Old Testament, The New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price we can learn what the Lord asks of us. We also have a Prophet on the Earth to day, who is the Mouth piece of the Lord. I know, there is a prophet on the earth today. His name is Thomas S Monson, and every 6 months, I sustain him as such. But how do I know? I know because I asked my Heavenly father in prayer, I studied the scriptures, and I read the book that is the keystone of my religion, The Book of Mormon. I prayed to know if it is true scripture, and guess what? IT IS! since that 531 paged book of scripture is true, then Heavenly Father did call Joseph Smith to be a prophet in 1820! and we have had a living prophet on the earth ever since. Think of it, a "Moses" to deliver us out of bondage. spiritual bondage, in all its severity of degrees. 

Hymn 21 Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice, Verse 2:"The gloom of sullen darkness spreadThru earth's extended spaceIs banished by our living Head, And God has shown his face. Thru errring schemes in days now pastThe world has gone astray;Yet Saints of God have found at last The straight and narrow way."

The straight and narrow way, involves keeping the commandments of the Lord. and Keeping the commandments takes a lot of effort and even more sacrifice. 

Sacrifice: an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else  regarded as more important or worthy. what is it, that is more important that the Lord has to offer, then the materials of this world? Eternal Life, with our families, in the presence of Heavenly Father. Which is the greatest gift, he can give.  However, we must be pure and clean through obedience in order to do so. being disobedient moves us away from Him. There's a ton of commandments, and I will be the first to say I am not perfect! no one is! if we were we wouldn't be here on this earth. The Lord knew,  we would mess up.. he provided us, a way to be successful. Central to our Father's plan is Jesus Christ's atonement, which includes Christ's Suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane as well as His suffering and death on the cross. Through the Atonement we can be freed from the burden of our sins and develop faith and strength to face any trial that comes our way. And we can do that through practice. 

practice keeping the commandments. work a little each day. pray often, serve  often, and read the scriptures daily. listen and heed to the prophet's words. be doers of the work not hearers only. ask for forgiveness and also strength, that Christ can give you. I'm not a Christian because I have life all put together, and I'm successful. I'm Christian, because I am flawed, and weak and need a Savior. and through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I can be freed from spiritual bondage, and find success while helping others, and that brings true happiness. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Wonderful, I love you!"

Hey everyone! An owner of a cafe in Portland Oregon has inspired this post. The past four days I had a great opportunity to visit a good buddy of mine in Oregon. On Monday, we spend the morning/afternoon in Portland. It was non stop pouring rain out as we walked the streets.We decided to seek shelter and grab a bite to eat at a near by cafe. 

We walked in, and the owner of the establishment greeted us with a warm smile and sat us down. He took our drink orders, and before he walked away he said, "wonderful! I love you!" to my friend and I. It sort of caught me of guard, but i couldn't help to smile, i wasn't use people randomly saying they loved me. 
After giving us a moment to look over the menu, he came to take our order. after my friend ordered he said with joy, "wonderful, you're beautiful! I love you" he continued to me, I ordered, and again he said "wonderful, I love you! both of you, I love you!" I looked over at my friend who was smiling just as much as I was. The owner then continued to explain why he said I love you...

"You see, isn't it such a wonderful feeling to know someone loves you?? It makes you smile. There isn't anything better than to go to bed at night knowing someone loves you. Which I know both of you pretty ladies're parents!"  

I couldn't help but giggle at the silly statement. But sitting there after he said that, I could help but sit and ponder on the statement. "...there isn't anything better than to go to bed at night knowing someone loves you." apart from my parents here on earth, I know that statement is true about my heavenly father. 

I know Heavenly Father loves everyone that was on the earth, is on the earth today, and those who have not yet come to earth. He is always here for us, no matter where we are, or what we do. If you struggle with this notion that there is a God, and that he knows you by name, and loves you with all is might (which is a lot) I challenge you to pray, and  ask him. He will testify to you with a burning in your heart, an undeniable warmth in your soul that He loves you.  

You see, isn't it such a wonderful feeling to know someone loves you?? It makes you smile. There isn't anything better than to go to bed at night knowing someone loves you. That Heavenly Father loves you :)