By Lorianne B.
I anxiously awaited a graduation trip that consisted of over 4,000 miles of traveling to the east coast and back by bus. I imagined making friends the minute we hit the road and built up the idea in my mind that others would be in my same position (not previously knowing anyone traveling). Within the first ten seconds, I found that I had never been so wrong. Everyone was already acquainted and quickly found a seat next to his or her close friends. I glanced between the itinerary, the empty seat next to me, and the thousands of miles to go before we reached a settled destination. The first day I managed, trying to stay positive, but the light around me seemed to slowly diminish until the trip of over a hundred kids seemed like empty space. The next 48 hours of bundled emotions brought hopeless tears that quietly fell down my face as I passed by fields thousands of miles away from home. My thoughts turned towards God and how I had been taught that He is always with us. I began to ask questions of why. Why did I feel abandoned? Why did I feel comfortless? Why did I feel utterly alone?
In my mind I cried out as our Savior, Jesus Christ did in His last moments, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I pictured Him alone in Gethsemane, where he atoned for our sins, our sorrows, and our pains. Although God, our Heavenly Father, never abandoned His son in this crucial hour, He withdrew His comfort so that His son could experience every ounce of what we experience. When He cried out, silence answered. When He asked for followers, backs were turned. For a brief moment, I felt a fraction of what the Savior felt – alone and abandoned.
The next song on the bus canceled out all of the emotional noise as I focused on the lyrics of the familiar tune “Come Thou Fount.”
“Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Take my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”
I immediately felt a sea of love wash over me. A love so perfect, a love so delicate, a love that transcended all the pain I had felt just seconds prior. I felt like a man in scripture who relates a similar experience, “I could remember my pains no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold. There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains…On the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.”
From that moment on I realized I needed to make a change, a change beyond my physical capacity. I was looking in when the Savior always looked out. I wanted more, when the Savior always loved what he had. When I made the choice to start looking at who needed help around me and express gratitude for what I did have, I became happier and more at peace.
Sometimes our path feels lonely. Many times we feel like we are carrying a burden on our own. But I have come to the knowledge that we are never alone, especially in our darkest and most challenging hours. My simple experience helped me acknowledge that each one of us may have to feel some form of withdrawal from God’s presence so that we can feel the Savior’s healing in our lives. Jesus voluntarily walked the lonely path so that we wouldn’t have to. It is His experience that helps us bridge a relationship with God.
As I’ve made changes in my life that help me feel closer to His spirit, it’s brought light into dark rooms and helped me carry heavy loads. Some changes have been big, and others small, but they, through His son’s sacrifice, have all brought me closer to our Father in Heaven. Never again will I ask the question, “Where are you God?”