A few days ago, I went and saw Frozen II. Don’t worry, I’ll be careful not to include any spoilers. But I walked out of that theater amazed. I loved it. Not because it was fun and upbeat and funny at all the right moments – which it was. I loved it because of one scene in particular.
Anna is in a dark cave, and she’s all alone. Feelings of desperation, loneliness, and fear start to overwhelm her as she crumbles onto the cold cave floor… and then she sings. The lyrics are as follows:
I’ve seen dark before
But not like this
This is cold
This is empty
This is numb
The life I knew is over
The lights are out
I’m ready to succumb
I follow you around
I always have
But you’ve gone to a place I cannot find
This grief has a gravity
It pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
“You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing”
Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don’t know anymore what is true
I can’t find my direction, I’m all alone
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath
This next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I’ll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And with the dawn, what comes then
When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again?
Then I’ll make the choice
To hear that voice
And do the next right thing.
For those who don’t know me, my personality color is yellow – and if you don’t know what that means, it mostly means I’m light-hearted and enjoy adventure, having fun, and laughing. It’s not uncommon to see a grin spread across my face or hear a joke leave my lips. I’m good natured and I smile easily. However, despite all of this, (my easy laughs and jokes), I found myself a few years ago in a dark place. A very dark place.
After some incredibly difficult experiences, I found myself in a black abyss like the one Anna is describing. I was lost. Alone. But most of all? I was numb. I don’t know how else to describe it. I walked to my classes in a trance. Things that used to bring me joy… didn’t anymore. Things that used to get me riled up or frustrated… didn’t leave a mark or impression at all. I was numb. Numb to all emotion and feeling. Numb to life. I didn’t know how to feel anymore.
I remember being physically and emotionally exhausted every day. I would attend my classes and then I would go home and sleep. And I slept a lot. But I was so emotionally drained that if I didn’t sleep, I wouldn’t have energy to go to my next class – let alone do anything else.
I remember sitting in church every Sunday, my mind hoping I’d feel the spirit, and instead feeling a wave of numbness crash into me again and again. I remember thinking (not feeling) that this was weird. That I was at church. I was even reading my scriptures and praying consistently. I was doing all the things I knew I was supposed to be doing – so why couldn’t I feel the spirit? Why couldn’t I feel something? Even if it was just frustration at the fact that I couldn’t feel anything?
But I couldn’t. And I didn’t. Not for a while.
In my head I knew I wasn’t okay, but I had no idea how to break out of the fog that seemed to be engulfing me. As if weights were pinning me down on my own cold cave floor, impossible for me to get up again.
And I remember feeling so completely alone. Like no one could possibly fathom what I was going through because I didn’t even know what I was going through. And I didn’t know how others could help me because I didn’t know how to help me.
All I knew was what I had been taught… and that was to do the next right thing.
I felt for Anna as I watched her struggle with loneliness, numbness, and darkness. I empathized with her grief and confusion and hurt. And I think most of us can. I think most of us experience at least one dark period (or maybe more) in our lifetimes.
But like Anna, let us not forget what we already know. Let us not forget what we’ve already been taught. Cling to the truths. Cling to the voice – the still small voice that guides us, even when we’re numb. Even when we feel like we aren’t being guided or we can’t hear it anymore.
It’s hard – it’s oh so hard. I know that. But I also know that it’s doable. That we can do it. That I have done it. That you can do it. You don’t need to focus on the big picture right now. All you need to focus on is the next right thing.
Sometimes, those right things don’t make sense to other people. Sometimes, people will try to stop you and get in your way. And it can get so confusing when people we love and trust question our decisions, and our actions. And most of the time, the next right thing isn’t an easy task. It takes courage. It takes strength. Qualities we probably feel we lack… but qualities we receive when we turn to Him. When we turn to God.
Anna experiences all of this when she realizes what her next right thing to do is. She faces opposition when loved ones, the ones who are supposed to be on her side, try to stop her. And yet, she digs deeper to find the courage and strength to do what she knows to be right.
May we always have that same courage and strength – even in our dark times – to always do the next right thing. What we know is right, even when others try to stop us.
Because doing the next right thing during my darkest time is what brought me back to the light. It didn’t happen all at once – it happened gradually. It happened in ways I least expected it to. It happened when I forced myself to be brave, even when I didn’t feel like it – and especially when I didn’t want to. Doing the next right thing saved me. The gospel saved me.
Because the gospel will always be the next right thing. Christ will always be the next right thing. God will always be the next right thing. Even when others try to stop you. Even when loved ones try to tell you otherwise. It’s true. I know it’s true. And because of its truth, I am me again. I am me. I am happy. I am excited. I feel. I am no longer numb – all because I chose to do the next right thing during a time when I didn’t know if I could.
| Shalee |