Sunday, March 1, 2015

More on Acceptance, Or Why I Want to Be a Currant Bush

First, I have to share a video story with you.  Many of you have probably seen it.  It's told by Elder D. Todd Christoffersen, an apostle of the Lord.

I love this story.  The very first time I heard it, I knew I'd just learned an important lesson for my stubborn heart.

And no matter how many times I hear the story, it's the same experience over and over.  It makes me want to weep, as I so fully understand how the currant bush is feeling.

Even in this very moment, I am frustrated because the word I really wanted to use in that previous sentence is not coming to me--something I experience frequently in my writing, ever since ECT messed with my brain.  I always considered myself to be a pretty talented writer.  But now, I feel like my ability to express myself has been reduced to the quality of a child.  And I find myself asking, "Why, God?  I know that through your guidance and grace, I have been able to help uplift and inspire others through my writing.  Why can't I have that ability still?"

The day before my most recent stay at the hospital, I sobbed into HH's arms, an utterly heartbroken lament, "I could be so great!"

I don't mean that in a conceited or arrogant way.  What I mean is, I know I have been given talents, as we all have.  And I know that I could accomplish great things, if given the capacity to develop those talents.

I have a willing heart!  I want to do so many things!  I want to do good!  I want to help others!  I want to be strong!

What I lack is the opportunity to focus on developing those talents.

Instead, I spend much of my time surviving.

At the worst of times, this means finding the strength and desire to keep placing one foot in front of the other, to walk away from the dark abyss my thoughts desire to lead me to.

But even now, when things are not so dire, I am rebuilding.  Learning how to be an engaged wife and mother again.  Trying to clean my house without wearing myself out and becoming a rage monster.  Struggling to remember how to make the recipes I've made for my family for years, but that ECT has now mostly erased.  Relearning how to become and be a friend.

And enduring the days when depression welcomes itself back into my life.

People have come into my life who are doing the very things with their lives that I want to do with mine.  And they are doing them very well!  As I believe I could.

And sometimes, it is hard to watch them and keep kind feelings in my heart.  As if their talents somehow detract anything from me and my life.

So, I keep coming back to this story about the currant bush.

And reminding myself that I am shortsighted.  As the Lord is not.  And He knows what I can be.  And what I can be great at.

And that what He wants for me is most assuredly greater than what I can imagine for myself.

For what He wants for me is to be as absolutely great as I can be.

And I can't do that on my own.

And I need to be cut back and trimmed on occasion.  Or maybe, all the time.

And I need to remember that the Lord is not only doing these things because He knows they will prune me into what He created me to be, but that He also knows I will survive every cut.

He knows that what I am learning as I navigate life with a mental illness is ultimately of greater worth, to me and those around me, than what I could be doing without it.

My brother recently told me that he is impressed at the burdens and trials the Lord allows me to have.  My brother is so wise and insightful.  And that new perspective was something that I really needed that day, and has stuck with me since.

The Lord prunes us back so we can grow into what He knows we are created to be.  He allows us to carry the burdens we have so we can develop the strength we need to be whatever that is.

He knows I have a willing heart and He is shaping it into what will ultimately bring me greater happiness than I can imagine.  In His garden, I am not a great big tree.  I am a currant bush.  He sees the big picture, of how everything in His garden grows and comes together and who is needed where.  He is not content to let me just grow haphazardly, as fast as I can.  He knows that becoming something truly useful takes time, care, effort, and patience.  He is the Gardener, not me.  Sometimes I get anxious and frustrated and I think I want to be the Gardener.

But, when I remember this story, I know I don't really want that.  I want to become what He knows I can be.  And that require faith in Him and His plan.  And more willingness to see the growth that having Bipolar II provides.  And less resentment for what I think it is taking away from me.

In life, I am His daughter, with infinite capacities.  I need to trust in Him.  That He knows how to shape and prune me.  And to allow Him the time that requires.  And that I don't have to be a great big tree to be happy.

I can be happy as a currant bush.


Belkycita said...

My dear currant bush,

I hope you feel my love for you and your journey.
I must admit you've looked to me more like a rose bush than a currant one.
Super excited to see you soon!

Your dwarf Banana tree.

Jentry said...

I needed this today! In sacrament meeting there were quite a few stories about how the iron forger needs to put the iron into the fire and then pull it out and bang on it, then put it back into the fire, then finally at the end quench it into the cool water. Someone else than got up and said, sometimes you are the iron getting shaped, but also sometimes you are the anvil. Sometimes we are the people that God is using to shape others. I love you very much and I am proud to call you my friend.

James Fisher said...

I love your words, Cheryl. Thanks for being willing to share your story. I am reminded of a PTSD group that I facilitated a few months ago where we discussed acceptance and perspective. We talked about a rock garden and how one cannot see the whole garden from one vantage point, but needs to walk around the whole thing to see it all, even the difficult parts. I believe that the Lord is already using you. Your words and spirit can and do inspire others (myself included). Thanks again for sharing.

amandalynn said...

I wept reading this. I have struggled with postpartum depression. For some reason this pregnancy I am feeling it coming on before I have even delivered. and feel so frustrated sometimes that I can't just shake it off and feel whole and energetic and engaged in the things that are good and right and serving my family as I want to. Your words are comforting because I know you and what an amazing beautiful person you are and it gives me hope and makes me feel less alone in all this. Thank you friend for expressing your willingness to be shaped by our Father in Heaven's plan and reminding me that I really want the same for my life and that all of us can trust what He is doing with our lives.

Amy said...

My dear beautiful sister. Words are not enough to convey what I feel as I read your inspired words. I echo all the words in previous comments. I have cried as I watch you struggle, and then to rise and continue on, and make it through everything you keep being handed. You just keep holding on. You have so much tenacity. I love you.

Cheryl said...

Well, you know I do love roses! I love you too and I can't wait to see you!

Cheryl said...

I hope you know you have been an anvil in my life. I think of you and your profound insights often. I will be forever grateful to have you for my friend!

Cheryl said...

James, thank you for your kind words! I love the analogy of the rock garden. So applicable. That sounds like a group meeting I would have really benefited from. :)

Cheryl said...

I'm so sorry as I read this. I can relate. Depression during pregnancy is what ultimately led to us deciding not to have any more children. I decision that still hurts from time to time. I'm so proud of you for striving for a patient and positive attitude during such a difficult trial. I love you, my friend, and I pray that things get better for you soon.

Cheryl said...

I can't believe how blessed I am with the siblings the Lord gave me. I don't think I could keep holding on without the strength and comfort and example you continually give. I love you so much!