Beyond The Checklist

028 How You Can Find Peace in Christ Even in the Darkness with Abbie Twingstrom


Darla: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. This is Darla. I am so happy that you’re here today. I say that every week, but I really mean it. It’s just such a delight to be here. And I have a great interview for you today. I want to introduce you to my friend, Abbie Twingstrom, and she’s going to be sharing some great things with us today.

So Abbie, thank you so much for being willing to come on. 

Abbie: [00:00:47] Thank you. I’m so excited to be here. 

Darla: [00:00:49] You just start off and just tell everybody a little bit about you. 

Abbie: [00:00:54] Yeah. So I live in Hooper, Utah. It’s just outside of Ogden, Utah, and I am married and I have two kids, a four-year-old almost five-year-old son, probably by the time this airshe’ll be five and then a two year old daughter and we just got a new puppy.

And so life is exciting around here, but yeah, so that’s. 

Darla: [00:01:17] That is fun. A puppy that’s like having another kid. That’s really fun. I’m excited to dive in and share some of the things that you shared with me before we started the interview and really your journey on the covenant path is a lot about darkness and light and how you’ve experienced both of those things and how you’ve used what you’ve experienced to come closer to Christ.

So I’m really excited to dive in and talk about that. I think a lot of the things that you’ve experienced are very relatable. Things that other people can share. And I think that you’ll bring hope really excited to talk about things, those things. So to start off, can we, will you just share with me, I know you mentioned that some of this all started for you when you were a missionary several years ago.

So can you paint the picture? Tell me what was going on in your life at that time. 

Abbie: [00:02:02] So I served my mission in Seattle and I was a Spanish speaking missionary in Seattle and I loved it there as far as like the people and everything, but there was a time on my mission where I really started having just doubts about my testimony of the gospel of the restored gospel specifically and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

And, I’d pray and I’d fast to know that it was true. And I felt like I didn’t feel much. And then there would be people that would say things that would shake my testimony a little bit, and my poor companions sometimes on our mission on a mission, your biggest priority is your companion.

And I’m sure I was that for a couple of my companions at least. Since then I’ve had times in A lot of darkness, like just feeling like I wasn’t getting those answers that I wanted. And so I guess it really came to a head on my mission is when I really, I guess it started that’s yeah.

Darla: [00:02:52] What was it like to be a missionary and experiencing darkness as a missionary? Cause you’re supposed to be filled with light and sharing that with everybody. What did that look like for you? 

Abbie: [00:03:01] It was very hard. It was really hard. And in fact, I really started having major depression issues on my mission.

I don’t know. I think they were related. I think part of the reason I wasn’t feeling some of the answers is because I was dealing with some depression issues, but also vice versa. I think that because I wasn’t getting answers, then I was feeling more depressed too. Like, why are you even here? It was hard to go out and teach and there were certain things I felt like I had a good testimony of, when I talked about how Heavenly Father loved all of His children, that was something that really I never had to struggle with, but like certain parts of the Book of Mormon and, I, we’re supposed to say, if you read Moroni and you do his promise, then you’re going to get an answer and I’m like, but I’ve done it.

And I haven’t really felt like I’ve gotten an answer at least in the way I thought of that I should. And yeah, it was hard. It was hard. And I did feel like I was lying, but I was still like, I was, I felt like I was just like, hoping that they’d get an answer, even if I wasn’t. 

Darla: [00:03:52] So how did you reconcile that or keep going throughout your mission when you’re feeling those things?

Abbie: [00:03:57] On my mission, I don’t know if I ever reconciled it. I continued to teach and serve and be the best I could be. There were days where it was easier and days where it was harder. I think I did feel well. It’s been 10 years, but I think I did feel like peace like that. I knew that the gospel still brought goodness.

If I didn’t know everything, I could see the light that, that it brought people that maybe were struggling. And of course the people that I was working with didn’t know that I was dealing with this. It was mostly just my companion and my family at home and knew to an extent, but I think I just was, I was able to feel some peace and feel like, at least I know this can bring goodness into people’s lives. 

Darla: [00:04:44] It sounds like you were holding onto the things that you did know, and there was things that you didn’t know and you just kept moving forward. So you come home from your mission and I know you told me you got married shortly after you got home. So how did it continue to play out in your life?

Abbie: [00:04:59] This is when it gets really hard. 

I met my husband on my mission. We actually both got home at the same time. 

Darla: [00:05:05] Was he an elder in your mission? 

Abbie: [00:05:06] Yes. Yes. He was my district leader who my zone leader. So we got to be good friends on the mission. And then we came home at the same time and we kept talking and never really stopped talking.

And so we came home in March and we were married by August so very quickly. Faster than I would probably recommend, but I came home pretty broken from my mission. And I think the people that were close to me could, were able to see that just, I just felt like I didn’t do a good enough job. I was, it was really a lot of just depression issues that I, and I had never done and I never dealt with them.

And so then I got married and I’m supposed to be like, oh for sure marriage is hard, but you’re supposed to be like all blissful. And my first year of marriage was probably tied with my mission for the hardest time of my life. So that those few years were really a refining time in my life.  And the testimony goes along with that, but like the mental health mixed with the testimony, we’re both such they’re both so interrelated, but I, there were days where I just didn’t want to wake up in the morning. Like I would go to bed and hope that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning and it was just severe depression.

And I felt like I was trying to choose the right. I got married in the temple. I was doing all these things and I just didn’t feel like I remember I lived in Cedar City at the time, but I remember kneeling in my bathroom floor and just like praying for something to feel something. And it slowly but surely got better. But it was years of that. Like not so intense, but years of darkness. 

Darla: [00:06:33] So were you recognizing that there might be a mental health aspect tied to that and were you seeking help for the mental health? 

Abbie: [00:06:41] No. 

Darla: [00:06:42] You didn’t  seek help? 

Abbie: [00:06:43] I didn’t. And, my sweet husband was so patient with me and my mom. Like I, cause I would be neat. Like I was. You get to the point where you’re just you feel so down that and that you’re being like, mean or grumpy, but you can’t help it. And then you feel worse because you act like that.

And, but my mom came down one time. And just was like, you’ve got to get help. And I was like, I’ll get better. It’s fine. And I never really didn’t really don’t know why for sure, because I’m a strong I’m a huge advocate for getting the help that you need. And I don’t know if it was money or whatever.

I just didn’t feel right. When you’re in the thick of it, you come up with excuses that you don’t think you actually need help when I so obviously needed help. My hair was falling out. Like I was just so stressed and depressed anyway. And we moved from Cedar city. Up to Springville and it started getting better with the move.

I think I just needed a change of scenery to be closer to my family who lives up in Northern Utah. But from there it started getting a little bit better. So I just convinced myself that I didn’t need to get the help that I probably needed. 

Darla: [00:07:43] Is there one experience that you could pinpoint where you just had a turning point or is it something that you look back and you can see slowly you’re coming out of it?

And because I said at the beginning, this is a story about darkness and light. You were able to come out of that darkness and find the light. How did that happen for you? 

Abbie: [00:08:00] It was definitely slow. Like I said, as I moved that made a difference. I started working as a teacher instead of just being in school that helped give me purpose.

I continued to try to do the things that I felt like I was like, I chose to continue to go to church, even though I didn’t feel it. I was listening to an interview recently with Michael McLean and a lot of people know that he had the, he said like a nine-year faith trial. And I feel like that was probably about how long mine was too.

But he said, I wrote it down. Let me see. He said, I held, I can’t remember his exact words, but I held onto promises. I made them, but I didn’t feel, and I felt like that’s what I did. And it’s funny because I was pregnant in 2016. 2015 with my son. And we were going through a lot of trials as a family at that point.

And honestly, I had a pretty, some pretty big issues with some policy stuff in the church at that point. When I was pregnant with my son, I felt like I started healing. And so that started healing more. And I don’t know if it was just like, I felt like I needed to get better so that I could be prepared to be a mom, but that really was a big 2016. He was born in March of 2016. That’s when I really started feeling the light coming back.

Darla: [00:09:10] Yeah, I like that thought that your pregnancy was healing you and helping you to keep going and to get back to where you want it to be. So you’re coming out of this. I really like this quote that you shared this with me when we were getting ready for the interview. And this is by Elder  David,A. Bednar and it says sometimes the sun rises on a morning that is cloudy or foggy. Because of the overcast conditions, perceiving the light is more difficult and identifying the precise moment when the sun rises over the horizon is not possible, but on such a morning, we nonetheless have sufficient light to recognize a new day to conduct our affairs. Why does that quote have meaning to you? What does it mean to you? 

Abbie: [00:09:47] It means a lot of things. First of all, it’s. I like that he talks about it’s slowly going over the horizon.

And also in this talk, he talks about how it’s sometimes sunrises and sometimes light switches. And for me, most of the time it’s always a sunrise whether that’s a mental health thing or a spiritual, like testimony thing. I have to slowly bit by bit. I don’t see it all come at once, but I start to look back and be like, oh, it’s risen a little bit.

Oh, it’s risen a little bit. So looking at the quote, when he says we have sufficient light to recognize a new day and to conduct our affairs, like you’re able to make it through enough to get what you need to done. And I really like how he phrased that so beautifully. 

Darla: [00:10:32] So how do you think that it played out in your life?

Abbie: [00:10:34] I was thinking about this too. So like I said, I started mentally getting better in 2016 and my testimony was still not super great. Like I, and like I said, you would never really know this. Like I went to church every week. I tried to do my visiting teaching at that point and I was pretty good at reading my scriptures.

Like it was decent, doing all the things, but I can pinpoint a couple of times. There was a point in 2016 in October, 2016, there was the women’s conference. And I was annoyed. That sounds bad, but I was a little frustrated, with some of the way speakers had said certain things.

Because I was already frustrated with certain aspects of the church and President Uctdorf got up and talked about fourth floor last door. That talk might have kept me going to church because he talked about how you keep knocking and you keep knocking and you keep trying and you keep trying and keep trying.

And then on the last door you might get there. And so I committed to myself then to keep knocking. And so for the next few years I kept knocking and I started getting a little bit better and I’d feel like a little bit more of  the Spirit in my life. And I did have experiences where I knew that God knew me.

And I’d feel the spirit as I read the Book of Mormon or I learned certain things about the restoration of the gospel that helped me know that it was miraculous and that it was from God. It was these little things added up altogether that made me start to really feel like I could do it.

And then when Come Follow Me came out, that’s when I really learned to love studying the gospel, even on my mission, I didn’t love studying. And that has really helped me to strengthen my testimony and see more light in my life. 

Darla: [00:12:20] Okay. So studying the gospel, and you mentioned that you’re a teacher and you have two little kids and you have a puppy and a husband, how do you make that work? How do you find the time to study it? 

Abbie: [00:12:32] People aren’t going to like it. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but I have to get up earlier than that. For me, it’s the hardest part, honestly, is going to bed early enough. 

Darla: [00:12:40] I feel you on that. Yes. Yes, for sure. 

Abbie: [00:12:44] But yeah, that’s how I, that’s how I really. I have to make that time. If I did that night, I’m too tired. I won’t do it. And and I’ve learned to love that, that year let’s see it must’ve been 2019. That was a big year for me because I learned to love studying the scriptures and I learned to love exercise and those two things I think combined together once again, my spiritual journey and my mental health journey collides so much, and I’ve just found that one is related to the other.

And so that helps me to tie those two things. 

Darla: [00:13:12] I know I’ve seen that in my life too. Like taking care of myself physically and emotionally is so tied to how I’m feeling spiritually. 

Abbie: [00:13:22] Yes. 

Darla: [00:13:23] Even something as simple as if I’m really hungry. Yes. Sometimes the spirit tells me, Hey, you need to go eat something so that I can, you can feel a little more in tune and that’s so true..

Abbie: [00:13:34] I had a friend who was going through some really hard stuff in her family. And she was talking to a member of the stake presidency and he told her that sometimes when your body like your, it can be like your brain or your just your body is so exhausted or you’re feeling so many emotions that you feel like you can’t feel it anymore, that it’s hard for us to feel the spirit in those times because it’s almost like our capacity to feel, it is like our body’s just rejecting. We can’t feel anything else. And that just resonates with me so much because it shows the importance of taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, but also that’s how the it’s okay. If you’re not feeling the spirit, there’s nothing wrong with you. Like you, you’re going to go through sometimes, maybe days, years, whatever it might be.

And it takes time and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that Heavenly Father and Jesus are notthere if you can’t feel them at that moment. 

Darla: [00:14:25] Yeah. That was the question. The next question I was thinking, I wanted to ask you if you’re not feeling the spirit and you are experiencing that darkness or silence and it’s maybe based upon something with your mental health or physical health, or, there’s lots of reasons that are not because you’re sinning or you’re not worthy or, any of that, but where is the savior in that? Like, when you look back in your journey and you weren’t really feeling anything. Do you look back and do you see him now? Is he there in those times? 

Abbie: [00:14:51] Yes, I did not feel him. And some people, they said they felt like in their hardest moments they felt the Savior helping them.

And I’m not saying that I won’t in the future have moments where I do, but at that time I didn’t feel it, but I do, I really do believe that he was there.

And honestly, probably helping me more than I even realize now. There’s a reason that I went to that women’s conference. I was paying attention. There’s a reason that I started the, I had my baby when it took us a little bit of time to have my first kid and there’s, or maybe it was a timing thing.

We talk about Heavenly Father and his timing is different than ours, but honestly, I’m sure that my Savior was there the whole time helping me a lot more than I realized then, or now I’m sure he was there. 

Darla: [00:15:37] So what would you say to someone who’s where you, where, they’re feeling like they’re not feeling him. What would you say to them to give them hope?

Abbie: [00:15:45] I would say just because you don’t feel him now doesn’t mean you’re not going to ever, first of all. And for me even still, I don’t think it would be smart  to come talk to you and say, I know that I am never going to doubt again, but I’ve come to realize that for me, one of my spiritual gifts is not necessarily like knowledge.

But I can choose to believe. And so for me, it’s choosing to believe that it won’t get better. And if you’re in that situation right now, my heart goes out to you, first of all. But I am so glad that I chose to stay. And I recognize that so many people would need to take a break and they, and I’m not judging them, but for me, I am just so glad that I chose to stay and work through it and make there and wrestle.

And even though sometimes I stayed to be honest, sometimes I stayed for my family because I didn’t want to disappoint them or whatever. But I’m glad that I chose to stay because now I have so much light in my life because of the gospel. So I guess that’s what I would say is do what feels good to you, but I’m glad I chose to stay.

And just because it’s not easy now, doesn’t mean that you won’t get that light later. 

Darla: [00:16:59] I think that is such a good point to point out because life is about seasons. Things don’t stay the same. We’re always in motion and things are happening. And I think that is a really good thing to point out that even if you don’t feel it now, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be that way forever.

And if you can hold on and keep going. And, I love what you said at the beginning like you just held onto the things that you already knew and the things that you still knew were true and kept moving forward. And now you can look back and you can say he was there, he was guiding the timing and all of those things.

I know one of the things that you’ve done since going through these experiences and because of your experiences is you’re wanting to share with other people. And I really love that you’ve come up with these. You have recognized in your life, the phases of light that you have felt in your life.

Would you be willing to just share those? I know there’s five phases and just tell me what those phases are. Maybe a little bit about what they look like for you. 

Abbie: [00:17:53] Yes. And I was telling you before I interviewed that, I’m thinking I’m like, I might need to write a book about this because it’s something I don’t even know.

I just came to me when I was journaling one day, I think. Yeah. But there’s five phases and this isn’t like cyclical or steps. It’s you go in and out of these phases. That’s why I specifically called them phases. So I could change them at any time, but this is pretty, this is a pretty good foundation.

First, you have the recognize phase, like you might feel dark right now. So if you are that person that’s in darkness right now, your first step is to recognize that there could be light out there that there is light. You might not feel it, but it’s there. So you recognize it and then seek is the second one.

So you’re not only recognize it, but now you’re starting to look for that light. And you’re still not maybe feeling it as much as you want to, but you’re starting to actually feel like you can go looking for it. You’re not just stagnant. And then the third phase is absorbing it. So that’s when we’re not, we’re seeking it.

And we recognize that we seek it and now we’re like starting to feel it. We’re able to let the light of the Savior come in and become part of us. And you’re starting to feel that light come again. Or for the first time maybe, and then reflect is when you’re able to have you’ve absorbed that you’re feeling like you’re heading in the right direction.

And you’re able to reflect that light of the Savior from his life. And then this fifth one is create, which I think is interesting because everything that we talk about with the Savior is his light, but when we create that’s when we’re using our divine gifts or our spiritual talents to create whatever is that is for you.

Whether that is art or music or even just conversations or speaking and whatever it is that you do, that’s when you create it and you share it with others. So those are key. And you go in and out of those phases, one day you might feel like you’re like, this was the, yesterday I had a bad day.

So I was probably more in the recognize seek phase. And today I’m feeling a little bit better. And so I can do a little bit more and we can just go in and out of those phases and wherever you are is fine, but the light of the Savior will always guide us.

Darla: [00:19:55] I think that’s a really the important thing when I read through those, that was my thought, like the Savior is in every one of those places.

It doesn’t matter where you’re at. It doesn’t matter where you’re at in your journey on the covenant path, as long as you keep moving and you keep going towards him and that light and I really love I was, I’ve been thinking so much about creation and how Elder Uchtdorf  said a long time ago in a women’s conference, everybody here has heard this quote that that we have that yearning to create.

And I remember hearing that the first time and it resonated with me and I still think about it all the time. And why do we yearn to create? I think it’s because we want to be able to feel his light and we want to be able to share it with other people. And he created us with these gifts and talents and abilities to create light for other people.

And he is there in every step of the way. And so I really love that you’ve been able to internalize what you’ve gone through and put it out in articulated in those five steps. Not steps. We don’t want to stay steps, just phases, because I love what you said that it doesn’t, it’s not okay, I’m going to be recognize and I’m going to go to seek and then. That’s not how it is because that’s not how the journey on the covenant path is either.

Like at any time we can be feeling different things. And like you said, day to day, even hour to hour, it can be different. But the point is that his light is always there. And I really, I would love to know what is it for you that helps you to fill that creation with him and to be using his light, to share with other people?

What does that look like for you? 

Abbie: [00:21:23] So for creating for me surely not art has been helped me. I’m the same day. So I love I really like to write, but I love speaking. Like I just love connecting with people. And just, even just talking to you today, that’s where I feel like we’re having be able to express myself and help other people be vulnerable.

Be me being vulnerable, helping them be vulnerable and having those conversations and just sharing that. Even on my Instagram account, like just sharing little things like that I make, or for me it’s words, I really love words. So I guess that’s how I create. 

Darla: [00:21:53] Yeah, such a good point that it’s not always like the standard things of what we think of creation can be anything it could be organizing.

It could be, something that you do in motherhood. It could be something you do for your next door neighbor. There’s so many ways to create I just really love that. Abbie, this has been so great. And I have loved talking to you. I just want to wrap it up with one final question and that is how have you seen and felt the Savior in your journey on the covenant path?

Abbie: [00:22:16] The word that comes to mind most, when I think about this question is peace. And like I said before even when I was going through all the hard stuff, sometimes I didn’t necessarily recognize that it was him, but I would be able to find moments of peace or feel peace about staying, choosing to stay true to the gospel.

And I’m sure that through all of that, it was his atonement and him standing by me being with me, whether or not I realize that or not, but it was peace that he was making me feel as I’ve gone through trials in my life. And seen hard things happen. He, last year, 2020, that song has resonated with so many people, was it?

I think it was like a 2018 mutual song that peace in Christ song.. But for so many people that came and it’s that is how I found my study. And that is how I continue to find my study, even if I don’t know exactly I want. And this is something that I’m continuing to work on  is my relationship with the Savior, but I’ve seen him felt peace when I choose to turn to him.

So that is how I feel. 

Darla: [00:23:26] I love that. It reminds me of a scripture that we just studied in Come Follow Me in Doctrine & Covenants 19. I can’t remember the verse, but it says something like learn of me. Listen to me. Walk in my ways, walk in the meekness of my ways. You know which one I’m talking about? Anyway, and then it says, and then you’ll have peace.

I love that that is the word that you can point to when you see the Savior in your journey is peace, something that we all need, and it’s possible through him, even in the turbulent times that we live in and everything that we’re doing. So I’m so grateful that you would come on today and share that message that there is still light out there, even if you’re feeling darkness and that there’s hope and that there’s peace in the Savior. So Abbie, thank you so much. If someone would like to follow you or find out more about what you’re sharing, where could they go to do that. 

Abbie: [00:24:15] So I have an Instagram account that I just started a couple months ago.

It’s called Scatters of Sunshine all together. I don’t even know exactly where it’s heading, but I’m just trying to share light and I call it a Scatters of Sunshine, to do with what we talked about, how it doesn’t matter where you are or how much darkness do you feel they’re still scattered of sunshine to be found and to scatter, a play on the song.

The fun song that we have in gospel library, but yeah. So Scatters of Sunshine. If you’re struggling or you’re going through a hard time, I’d be happy to chat with you. And be you’re buddy. And that Instagram account is for anybody. You don’t have to be a member of the church. I’m trying to make it so that it’s for anybody that just needs more light in their life.

Darla: [00:24:54] Everybody does, we all need it. And I have enjoyed following you and all the ways that you’re sharing your light. So thank you so much. You’ve brought me hope. I know you’ve brought other people hope and I just appreciate that you would take the time to be here too. 

Abbie: [00:25:06] Thanks, Darla. It was awesome. You’re amazing.

Darla: [00:25:10] And now here are this week’s journal questions. 

Abbie shared that she’s discovered five different phases of light in her own life. Those phases are recognize, seek, absorb, reflect and create. Abbie emphasized that these five phases are not steps and that the Savior can be found in all of them. You don’t arrive at one and then move on to the next. 

You are probably going in and out of phases, even in a single day. Take a moment to ponder where you are at right now with feeling light in your life. 

How can you see the Savior in your current phase? 

In the interview, Abbie and I discussed how taking care of yourself physically and emotionally will help you spiritually because they are all tied together. How are you taking care of yourself physically? 

How are you taking care of yourself emotionally? 

What do you feel you can do physically or emotionally that will help you spiritually? 

Abbie’s testimony is that there is peace in Christ, even when you are in darkness. When have you felt his peace in the past? 

How can you turn to him now?