Sunday, November 3, 2013

Depression and the Spirit: Take Four

This week I was able to "visit teach" (Mormon lingo for visiting an assigned sister once a month and share a spiritual message and report back any needs as well as serve them yourself - a wonderful program when it works) a sister in our congregation that suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.  I felt really blessed by our conversation - it made my day.

I had just read Nephi's psalm in 2 Nephi 4 wherein he expresses shame and frustration because of the weakness of his flesh.  He asks why, if he has seen so great things, he is still plagued with sin and the tendency to anger and give way "to the enemy of my soul." 

I am reading the Book of Mormon in French for my doctorate, so it makes me go much slower than usual.  I was struck this time reading it through by a familiar theme - why, if Nephi was such a faithful, competent member of the Church, should he also have to struggle with debilitating weaknesses?

Sound familiar?  It certainly did to me.  It's something I discuss in my book, but I have struggled with the fact that I struggle - being embarrassed and ashamed is putting it lightly. 

Recently the process I went through in 2008 of accepting the Mayo Clinic's diagnosis of "conversion disorder" has repeated itself as I have made some new discoveries about myself.  Turns out I have developed rather serious anxiety over the last five years.  It'll take lots of self care, reflection, and likely counseling to work through.  Ugh.  Why am I giving place to the enemy of *my* soul?

In any event, as I have been grappling with self-acceptance, talking to this sister was like a breath of fresh air.  I knew of her challenge, but in the course of conversation, she shared it herself openly and honestly.  She talked about how the Lord understands that she can't keep all of the commandments (she normally leaves right after taking the Sacrament), but that she is still so blessed by the Lord because she is obedient to all of the commandments she can keep.  She talked about feeling the Spirit as she prayed, and how much she enjoys paying her tithing, keeping the Word of Wisdom, and loving and serving her husband.

She, unlike Nephi, did not struggle with the fact that she struggled.  She simply had invited Christ into her life through righteous living, and had accepted His grace for her weaknesses.  It was a true testament to me of accepting our own struggles, thereby activating the Atonement's power in our lives.  Unexpected, poignant, and catalyzed the beginnings of change within me.

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