The past year.

I've been thinking about this post for a long time. A couple of months, actually. Even though I've thought about it for so long, I still don't quite know how to approach it. So I'll just go for it, I guess.

One year ago today, I returned home from my mission after serving for only six months. The things I remember about that day are stored in my memory as snapshots. Looking out the window as I drove towards the airport, wondering how everyone was going to react when they found out. Dragging one of my suitcases behind me, its weight matching the weight that was pressing down on my heart. Seeing my family for the first time in six months, the tears and the sad smiles. Being released as a full-time missionary and crying bitterly as I took my tag off. So many emotions...shame, embarrassment, fear, sadness, and disappointment.

It has been a long year, full of ups and downs. It has been a full-on fight to try and recover from where I was a year ago. There have been days when I just wanted to sink into oblivion. It has been a year full of pain and heartache that I didn't know was possible. But it has also been a year of miracles.

The number one thing that I've learned in the past year is that God is always there. I've hit some really low spots since Nov 2, 2013. But every single time, I've received the strength to keep moving on. I know that that strength comes from my Savior's atoning sacrifice. I know that He felt everything that I've felt. He knows what it is like to want to give up. But He didn't quit, He finished the mission that His Father sent Him here to do. It is this knowledge that keeps me going when I feel like all is lost. It is by the miraculous power of the Atonement that I am where I am today.

We are never alone. We are never too far gone that the Atonement can't heal us. We are never in a place where God stops loving us or caring for us or blessing us. In the darkest of times, it is really hard to recognize that, but I testify with my whole heart that we are never alone. Darkness cannot and will not overcome light.