Can you see it? The light, peeking through the darkness, promising that light is (still) more powerful? And the darkness must retreat as light is introduced?
I’m so grateful for light. Buoyant, steady, settled, contented, lovely light. I hate darkness- the kind that makes us feel discouraged, freaked out, down, and weary…that too, is part of our life experience here. But it’s not the whole story. And we don’t have to stay there in the dark, or out in the storm, all alone.
As I’ve worked with doctors to progress toward full physical recovery, I’ve been working with a counselor to help me in my mental recovery. I have been so grateful for her support, counsel, resources, and guidance that have been essential. I sure give professional counselors a lot of credit. But if I look back over the past several months, I can see a much more important figure guiding my recovery, both physical and mental. Overseeing the entire process, guiding me toward this or that answer as it was needed, and providing hope, strength, and comfort. And without Him, I surely would not have been able to make the progress I have. Jesus Christ, my Savior, has been by nearby through it all.
A few years ago, I was in the hospital bleeding, and my sweet and loving doctor who has a calm, reserved demeanor, was rattled. “What in the world is your body doing?” he asked, kindly. And he really didn’t know. It was quite a shock to feel like I had reached the edge of medical knowledge. Of course a few years, a few procedures and several tests later we did figure out what it was (so I wasn’t a complete anomaly!) but that was a few YEARS later. It wasn’t enough to rely on medicine to help me feel peace.
This year I’ve had some dark nights where I would try and try to use tools I’d been given from my counselor to find some peace, but there was no peace to be found. The wind and the waves were just too strong. Sooner or later (usually sooner!), I get myself all tangled up, and remember again that I don’t have the power to heal my own mind. It’s at those times that I’ve been reminded that I can’t rely on mental health tools to help me find peace.
A few nights ago, my son was scared. Tests coming up and make-up work from being sick were overwhelming him, and he couldn’t sleep. I made a suggestion about focusing his mind on Jesus Christ, and gave him an example. He quickly said, “Mom, that just doesn’t work for me.” I replied without hardly thinking- “It does work,” I said. “You may have to work at it to keep getting that muscle stronger, just like workouts strengthen muscles in your body, but it does work.”
Developing faith in Jesus Christ is like strengthening any muscle in our bodies. And it does work. A few years ago, I was at my parent’s house and my little brother asked me how many pushups I could do. “Um, none,” I said with confidence. I had no doubt that was true. He didn’t believe me, so I had to prove to him how pathetic my arm muscles really were. And…that was that embarrassing episode that let me to a new goal: 20 pushups.
I learned that if you can’t even do one pushup, trying to do a full pushup is basically unproductive. So I started doing half push-ups, which meant that I put a basketball under my stomach and only went down until I touched the basketball and then came back up. I learned to do 4 pushups that way. Unfortunately, my goal stalled out, and I didn’t really get back to it until a few months ago. This time I tried a different approach (using a work-out program) of doing push-ups on a park bench, so my body was inclined a little bit, and I worked up to being able to do 10 of those push-ups. Not impressive, but improved.
A few weeks ago, we surprised my husband and went to a rock climbing gym. This gym was no joke- definitely designed so that expert climbers would have their work cut out for them. But there were still several lower level challenges that we were excited to try. Because of my past filled with impressive arm strength (not!), I figured there wouldn’t be a lot that I could do successfully, but I figured I could at least keep up with my nine-year-old. That I could, and I followed him up several beginner runs. Then, just for the heck of it, I tried out a climb that I didn’t really think I could do. With quite a bit of effort, I finished the climb- and was so pleasantly surprised! My older boys, 12 and 13, were trying harder climbs, and I started trying some of them. Though I didn’t master the harder ones, I was able to go quite far, and was amazed at how much strength I had acquired through these simple workouts where I had worked up to 10 not-even-full push-ups!
Faith is like any other muscle. It needs strength training (praying, reading scriptures, thinking about Jesus Christ, focusing on Him, looking for the good and uplifting around us) and as we work at it, we find ourselves in moments where we would typically spiral into negative thought patterns, or in circumstances that are especially challenging, and we find ourselves surprisingly able to focus on Jesus Christ, and reach out for His help and peace when before we would not have been able to in a similar situation.
Is it hard to figure out where I’m going with this? Keep using those tools from counselors and positive resources, keep taking tylenol when you have a headache or resting when your body is tired. Eat chicken noodle soup when your gut feels angry. All those things are good and needed! But know that even in those things, our Savior is watching over you, and helping you, and supporting you. All these good things come from Him. He cares, and has not abandoned you to solve your problems yourself. Trust that He is the source of all healing and peace, and only the peace He can provide will be enough for any of us to weather the challenges of the future.
This is an excerpt from one of my favorite articles of all time. At the end it talks about the storm being calmed. I have experienced the storm calming as I come to the Savior, but I have also experienced the storm inside of me calming as I come to the Savior, even if the circumstances don’t change. Both are miracles.
“The scriptures speak of the “trial of faith” (Ether 12:6) through which we must pass, indicating that the faith-building process is not automatic. Instead, it is a learning process—a mandatory sequence for all who would inherit eternal life. Each step Peter took away from the ship was a trial of his faith; each step toward Jesus took him a step farther from his accustomed means of survival. And each step was a voluntary one; he was under no compulsion to leave the ship and respond to the Lord’s call to “Come.”
At one point Peter’s attention was drawn from Jesus, the object of his faith, to the boisterous wind and waves around him. In a moment of confusion, fear overpowered his faith, and Peter started to fall.
So like our lives! As we learn the gospel and develop our faith, we reach the point where we feel strong enough to leave the boat; we determine to stand free from worldly supports and voluntarily walk by faith through the tempest toward our Savior. Each step for us may be a trial. The waves around us are as real in their way as Peter’s waves were to him. And, like Peter, we may slip! We may feel the awful descent toward destruction and, in confused desperation, consider the safety of the ship.
But wait! Our efforts to meet the trials of our faith—our footsteps over life’s treacherous waters—have somehow reoriented us, and we reach out for safety, not to the boat, as we would have done in earlier times, but to the outstretched hand of the Savior. Hand grasps hand, and we are pulled to the Master of wind and water. No more is he seen vaguely through the storm; no more is his voice indistinct in the roar of the gale. Now we are home; now the trial is over.
And Jesus calms the storm.”
(Link to full article: What is the significance….)
Have a wonderful Tuesday, friends!!