I'm not sure where to begin today. I feel like I have been going through a very personal experience and broadcasting it to the world all along the way. For the most part, that has been because I have felt prompted too, or because many people have been asking questions. Sometimes though, I think it's just because my new meds are making me a little manic, and I don't have much of a filter when I'm in this state.
So, I am frequently worrying that I have shared too much. That I am making some people uncomfortable and sharing things that no one really wants to know. But then, someone approaches me to thank me for being courageous and honest and expresses some way in which it has helped them. Honestly, this surprises me every time and I don't really understand how it is helping, but I am grateful for the opportunity to help anyone else going through a hard time.
That being said, what I am about to share is something that feels very personal. I shared it with HH this morning, bawling the entire time, and then oddly enough, which actually discussed my sharing this with someone else. I told him I couldn't. It's just too close to the heart.
And then I was sitting in church a couple hours later and I felt so strongly that I need to share it. However, I think I can do that without sharing the part that is most personal that I think actually would be too much. We'll see how my filter does. :)
I have really been struggling the past couple months with the issue of faith. Not in the way I typically would. Usually, under my current circumstances I would be doubting everything. Thinking that God might exist, but He can't possibly love me or He would never allow me to wade through so much struggle, or make HH be stuck with so much misery and stress.
But, I have surprised myself by remaining faithful. I know that God exists and I know that He loves me. I know that He has a plan for me and that this is a part of it. I know that I am learning and growing things that there must be no better way for me to learn than to go through all of this mess.
The problem arises when I feel that no progress is being made. That in a lot of ways, things are actually getting worse. So, my conclusion has been that I must be lacking in someway. I felt that my even though my faith is intact, it must still be incomplete because I have had so many blessings (in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in Priesthood blessings just like those given by the Savior and His disciples, and His prophets throughout the scriptures), prayed so many prayers, and had so many prayers prayed on my behalf--and yet, things are not improving.
So, I have been praying the past couple of months, asking what more I can/should be doing. How I can increase my faith and what actions I can be taking to make things better.
But, the answer hasn't really come. I've just felt confused and frustrated and inadequate. And discouraged. So discouraged.
Fast forward to this morning. HH and I teach the 12-year old Sunday School class at church. Normally, we prepare well in advance. But, lately HH has been so busy taking care of me and everything else, he doesn't always remember. And I just plain don't remember, plus this week I've been manic, so every time I think about preparing our lesson, my mind has moved on to something else within about 45 seconds. So, we were doing our last minute preparations of putting it all together, this morning. This paragraph was me trying to assuage my guilt--can you tell?
Anyway, as a part of it, I was reading Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk from October 2013 General Conference, "Lord, I Believe". I strongly encourage you to click on that link and either listen to or read his address. It hit me profoundly the day he first delivered it and it hit me profoundly today.
It was the answer to my months of pleading and praying. He shares the account found in St. Mark, about the father of a young boy who I am convinced has a mental illness of some sort. He is constantly putting himself in danger and it is terrifyingly stressful for his parents. His father pleads with the Lord to heal his son, or to at least help them in any small way. (I was reading this talk out loud to HH, and I was bawling already by this point, as I have prayed the same prayer so many times.)
And that was my answer. Elder Holland goes on to use this example to teach us how we should handle our faith and our questions. He teaches that it is completely okay to have limited faith. I could seriously just quote his whole talk here. I'll just share the quotes that helped me the most this morning.
"In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited...When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. It was of this very incident, this specific miracle, that Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”6 The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know."
"...Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle."
"...So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. "
And in that moment I knew that what I am doing is enough. My faith is enough. I don't need to feel frantic, or stressed that I am somehow failing the Lord in His expectations of me. I am so far from perfect. And my efforts to live the gospel the way I normally strive to and to serve others have fallen very very short of what I would like, or even what I have managed in the past. But the Lord is satisfied with where I am at right now. The fact that my struggles are not finding a resolution is not a reflection on lacking on my part. He knows that things are hard and all He wants right now is to comfort and carry me through this. But He can't do that when I am keeping a distance because I feel inadequate and undeserving.
The truth is, I will always be inadequate and undeserving. Even if I was capable of living the way I would like to be right now, I would still fall hopelessly short. But that is irrelevant. He loves me and He offers His love and acceptance and approval, regardless of whether I deserve it, or not.
I am enough. My worth is 100% separate from the status of my mental health and the progress (or lack thereof) at finding wellness again.
And I can have peace in the midst of the most awful and horrifying circumstances. I can wade through darkness I could have never imagined possible and know that somehow, someday, somewhere it will be okay. His hand is outstretched, waiting to take mine, and to walk with me through it all, even at the scariest of times.
And my faith is enough that I can take His hand. I can turn to Him when I feel confused and hopeless and scared. I can say to Him, "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on [me], and help [me]...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." And I know that He will.
The answer to this prayer was painfully long in coming. But I'm so grateful for it. I was reaching a point where I didn't know how I would be able to continue. But now I have what I need to keep pressing on. And it is enough.