By Mary O’KEEFE
Like many in this troubling economy La Crescenta resident Mark Raymond found himself in difficult financial times. He is lucky enough to have a job but his paycheck does not stretch as far as it used to and it has been difficult to meet his financial obligations. He was constantly walking that tight rope between making ends meet and being in a position where he might lose his home.
“Then [a few weeks ago] it all came to a head and I had to make a decision,” Raymond said.
That decision was born of desperation that made him take a hard look at himself, his family and his future. He decided to return to the home of his youth: Utah.
“I went up to the desert of Utah. I am originally from Utah. It is so vast, I thought if I could just walk around I could try to figure things out,” he said.
As he traveled, several thoughts ran through his mind. He had reached the darkest depths of his soul and asked himself, “Would my family be better off without me?”
“I was looking for an answer and some sort of guidance. What I found was my faith,” he said.
Raymond had been raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but had left the church about 12 years ago. During that time he joined the La Crescenta Presbyterian Church.
“But recently I went back to the LDS church in La Crescenta,” he said.
While in the desert he began to think of the history of his religion from its beginnings with Joseph Smith.
“I realized what those in my church suffered and the trials they had to face. I went to St. George Utah Temple and there was a documentary on Joseph Smith. It was so well made and it showed what those people went through,” he said.
Raymond realized that he was better off than others that had gone before him and became grateful for what he had.
“I realized that they had endured and we all have to endure. I am not any different than thousands of others who are hard hit by the economy,” he said.
Raymond wanted to share his experience because he knows there are others who are facing those same questions of what to do and some who had gone to the dark places he had been.
“As I was thinking about what I went through [over the past few days] it really is like George Bailey,” he said.
Bailey is a character from the Frank Capra film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In it Bailey finds himself in financial difficulty and thinks life would be better without him.
“In that movie when George was at his most desperate point he was shown how many lives he had touched and how his community works together to help one and other,” Raymond said. “That is our community.”
He said that the church’s leaders and congregation of both La Crescenta Presbyterian and LDS have been supportive, understanding and kind since he returned.
“And the Glendale police are so good. I want to make mention that they are really concerned about us,” he added.
Raymond had been reported missing a few weeks ago when he went to Utah without letting anyone know. When he returned to La Crescenta, he said so many people really were concerned about his well being including the police and that they were very understanding.
“Officer [Matt] Zakarian spoke with me. He was wonderful,” he said.
Through all of this Raymond said the one thing he found he could hold on to when all else was lost was his God and that is why he wants to speak out to help others.
“I want to say never give up and never give in. As tough as things are there are always people who love. You should reach out to them; don’t keep the feeling of [depression] to yourself and don’t be embarrassed,” he said.
Raymond added that there are several avenues of support including the church.
“You have to keep going and with faith in God you will always find your way.”