An Incredible Book On Depression and Anxiety for LDS Women


There once was an afternoon when I lied to my little girl from 2:00 pm til bedtime.

It all started with a phone call from her teacher the first week of school. "She's telling me she's sick. Now if she's legitimately sick or if it's first week of first grade jitters, I'm not sure. Would you like to talk to her?"

Little girl's voice soon replaced her teacher.

"Honey, I know it's a long day, but you're almost finished! You'll be home in less than two hours. If you're well enough to stay, that would be best. But if you are really, really sick, I don't want you at school, okay? Can you make it? Or are you really, really sick?"

"Really, really sick."

But when I walked into the office, little girl's face brightened a little more and there was more skip in her step on the way out the door than you'd expect to see in a little girl who was really, really sick. Kind of what I figured.

First grade jitters is a legitimate thing, but if we were going to get over them, we had to keep going to school and staying in school.  So in the car I started to concoct a plan to discourage similar trips to school in the future. And it had something to do with staying home from school not being very much fun.

So when we got home, even though the ride had made her feel "much better", I treated her like it was the worst sick day of the year.

She loved the idea of getting into her pajamas and climbing into bed. And she didn't mind too much when I told her she could get up to use the bathroom but that was all.

Movies were okay, books and games were okay, sleeping was okay, but in her bedroom she would stay until the following morning.

When she asked for her traditional glass of chocolate milk after school, I questioned how good that would be on a sick tummy. When she asked for some of the cookies from yesterday, I offered to bring her some toast instead.

When she assured me she could play on the swing set or was probably well enough to ride her scooter, I sadly shook my head saying that I wished she could.

She wondered if maybe she could just play some hide and seek with brother, but I worried that too seemed like too strenuous an activity for a really, really sick little girl.

When she saw that a friend around the corner was calling my phone, her eyes lit up. "She wants to know if I can play!" And then her eyes met mine. And her smile disappeared, and shaking her head in rhythm with mine she said, "No... because... I'm... sick."

And in that moment while I felt victorious because my little game had worked, I also kind of felt like a jerk. Because she was finally playing along, but it was all based on a lie.

*****
Our Heavenly Father does not lie to us. He is the source of all love, light and truth. He has told us that a sparrow does not fall without His taking notice, and that each of us is more important to Him than many sparrows.

So how come sometimes we feel so dang lousy about ourselves?

Somebody has been lying to us.

My beautiful friend Bonnie gave me that book I am holding in the picture up there. I expected the book to be informative and interesting, but I ended up having a truly life-impacting experience reading it .

The heading to the preface of Dr. Judith Moore's book reads: We each have to work things out between our two minds.  Throughout the book, she introduces and lovingly develops the concept that we have two minds. There is the mind of our spirit that once lived with God and knows light and love and joy. Then we have the mind that we inherited when we came into this fallen world that introduced to us everything that is the opposite of Him, darkness, fear, and despair.

This mind from the fallen world is our harshest critic. Dr. Moore explains how this mind often analyzes everything we think, say, and do with a beat-stick in hand and tells us we are weak, stupid, and worthless. 

This voice exists inside of us, and it's been lying to us all of our lives (basically I discovered that the "rude little voice" I often talk about is a thing).

Because the truth is, we are weak. God gave us our weaknesses for a purpose. Mostly because through them we would realize how much we need Jesus, and it would bring us to Him in humility and gratitude and allow us to experience overwhelming love.

This, my friends, is the struggle of life. Having the courage to let go of the lies the one mind has told us and having faith that the thoughts of love and our infinite worth are coming from God.

I found it particularly fascinating to learn that this struggle is intensified in the life of someone with depression and/or anxiety. The mind's ability to think positively is impaired.

Dr. Moore uses truths of the gospel including scripture and talks from General Authorities, woven together with medical understandings of depression, anxiety and the brain to share the clearest, most helpful, most hope-filled information I have ever read.

I think I appreciated it so much because experiencing depression as an LDS woman throws a whole new terrifying spin on the ball game when you are contemplating matters of worthiness and eternity. Reading Between Two Minds: Healing from Depression and Anxiety for LDS Women was like taking a tour through my head, a place I thought only I had ever been, given by someone else. Thoughts and worries I truly thought were unique to my brain were sitting there, stated in black ink.

I love what this reviewer on Amazon said:

"It's been wonderful to hear my unconscious and negative self-talk voiced by someone else, and then refuted. She has helped me put away my "beat-up stick" and focus on how I can move forward in life, rather than continually beating myself up for past mistakes."

That's what your Father in Heaven would have you do, you know? He loves you tremendously.

You can find Dr. Moore's book online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Deseret Book.



Meatballs



Tears had blazed three or four different trails down her face as she continued to scream, "I HATE MEATBALLS!"

This was not normal behavior for my sweet girl. This was desperation.

The funny thing is, she doesn't really hate meatballs. But you tend to speak irrationally when you feel your ability to control your world is slipping through your fingers.

I could hear the hum of the engine telling me the bus was nearly here, so I plucked her out of the car, placed her two feet on the asphalt, and began pulling her toward the bus stop. "I promise it's going to be all right. I promise you're going to be just fine. You need to give this a try."

Aware that the kids at the bus stop could hear her now, she forcefully brought my ear within listening distance of her mouth. I could feel the tension in her hand as she whispered through gritted teeth, "Momma, please. Take me home. I hate meatballs."

Bus brakes screeched as its doors smacked open, inviting everyone who was going to school to climb aboard. I squeezed her back as she hugged my leg, making our way to the bus doors. Reaching them, she let go of her grasp, and as she took the first step, I said, "If all you do is drink the milk, just give this a try. I love you."

*****

Hopping back into the car, I found myself so grateful for the neighbors who had warned me that first grade was going to be an adjustment. How do you prepare a six-year-old for a seven hour school day when they're used to going for three?

So we'd talked about how she'd be eating lunch at school and we went to the grocery store and picked up a bunch of juice pouches and grapes and for the first time loaded the freezer with Gogurts. I prepared her a sandwich every morning and dropped a couple of Oreos in her lunchbox.

A week in, first grade was turning out to be a really wonderful situation except for two glitches: the long days were rocking little girl's world, making her much more moody at home than usual. And she was sick of the scenario inside her lunch box. I felt for her as she watched me spread the jam on her bread the fifth day that week. She missed the range of choices lunch at home with a microwave provided.  I knew one of these problems would best be remedied with love, patience, and consistency. The other would take creativity and another trip to the grocery store. I was only able to provide one of those this particular morning, seeing how we had a bus to catch. 

But then I realized we had one more option. "Hey sweetie, you can have school lunch. Do you know how school lunch works? Does your teacher ask the kids each morning if they are having home lunch or school lunch?"

She nodded her sleepy head. "And when you go into the lunch room, do you know where the kids with school lunch are supposed to go?"

She nodded again. 

A few clicks on the school website told me that today's special was meatballs in marinara sauce. "They're having meatballs today. You like meatballs!"

And I thought that was that.

*****

In the car on the way to the bus stop, she zipped her backpack open.

"Mom... where's my lunch?"

"Sweetie, that whole conversation we had. You're having school lunch today. Meatballs, remember?"

"I said I know how it works. I didn't say I would have it today!" And the tears that have been residing so very close to the surface lately started to pour.

I swear we had reached an agreement on school lunch fifteen minutes ago. I had a feeling there would be many more such moments in this stage of school-age motherhood.

Her voice that has been escalating in volume much faster these days was already screaming when she opened her mouth and cried, "Take me back home! Please! Make me another lunch! Momma, I HATE MEATBALLS!"

I considered the four minute window from the time we leave the house til the bus comes. "There's no time sweetie...".

"Then take me to school after you make my lunch. Please, Momma! PLEASE MOMMA! PLEASE!"

I conferred with myself for a moment, and my momma gut knew so passionately what needed to happen that day.

I did not need her to remember the day Momma rushed home and whipped up a lunch and drove her the long way to school. Although I had considered it for a few seconds.

No, this morning I realized I needed more than anything in this moment for little girl to know that her world could feel like it was careening out of her control and that she would be able to survive it. She would be able to navigate it and come out on the other side successfully. Even if it was just an elementary school lunch room.

So while it may seem silly, after putting her on the bus I came home and said a little prayer for her, that the adults in the lunch room might be aware of this little girl who might need to be guided her first time through the lunch line. Then I completed the ten minute process of opening a lunch account and making a deposit in it so she would have no trouble getting it paid for.

It occurred to me that I loved her so much, I didn't care that she didn't know about all the little ways that I was making sure that her lunchroom experience would work out okay.

One more time, being a momma was teaching me how my Heavenly Father feels about us. Because on so many occasions navigating this world, I had felt like my little girl. 

"So it is with you, every time you are convinced that your world is careening out of your control.  I have already prepared the way."

*****

The bus pulled up at the end of that day. I tried not to appear to anxious on the outside, but I couldn't wait to hear how it had gone.

She climbed in the car. "Lunch was horrendous," she reported.

Oh no.

"I went through the line, I got a milk just like you said I could, and the lunch lady made me go back and get food."

Relived, I laughed. "Well how dare she. Of course she did."



Wednesday


It doesn't matter that there are over 85,000 full-time LDS missionaries serving in the world, or that the Missionary Training Center pumps them out by the thousands every week.

When we met on Tuesday night to see my brother set apart as a missionary, and then for breakfast on Wednesday morning to say goodbye, Heavenly Father poured His love out on our family. My heart was so full.

And when I saw this picture of my brother saying goodbye to my momma for the last time for two years, it became tenderly apparent what a sacred thing it was that my parents had just done. They had carefully loved, taught, and cared for their son for the last 18 and a half years, and then gone and offered Him up to the Lord.

I couldn't help but think of Hannah from the Old Testament and how she lovingly brought her son to the temple after carefully preparing him to serve God.

Something in my heart told me that this moment was no less significant to Him.



On Dreams and Chasing Them

  
Because I have become so adept at sharing the nitty-gritty details about the depression facet of my life, I thought, why not balance it out a little and share one of the dreams I currently carry in my heart?

I'll start with the dress.

My husband has started this lovely trend in our marriage that I rather enjoy. Every now and then, when a holiday is coming, or when he gets a lot of overtime on his paycheck, he'll ask me if I want to go dress shopping. It happens probably once or twice a year. He's sweet enough to follow me around, point out dresses he likes, and hang out right outside the dressing room to see them on. 

When I try them on, in my mind's eye, I picture how I'll look when I wear it wherever I plan on wearing it... most often to church, maybe a wedding. You do it too.

The one pictured here is courtesy of Mother's Day 2015, and it has got to be my favorite. I love this dress. And the day I tried it on and decided it was coming home with me, I could not get out of my mind the image of the place I wanted to wear it most.

*****
One day it just hit me. I don't like sewing. I don't think I'll ever like sewing. Or scrapbooking. Or crafting period. I don't want to make anyone who likes those things feel bad. Actually, I had felt bad that I didn't like these things and had kind of made a note on a future calendar I didn't own yet that someday I was going to learn to like these things.

But after listening to a particularly inspiring message one day on gifts, I started to consider, what do I like? What gets the wheels in my head turning excitedly? What do I wish I could do all the time?

My desire to start this blog was fed in part by this scripture in the New Testament: Neglect not the gift that is in thee...Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them... (1 Timothy 4:14-15).

It's why a couple months ago, I told my former 5th graders, Not everything will be a struggle. Some things will come easily to you. And pay close attention to them, because those are your gifts. You can use them to better the lives of the people around you. 

And this quote by a business mentor named Fabienne Fredrickson caught my attention the other day: "The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling."

I think when we notice the things that we like to do, recognize them as our gifts, and use them to help other people, Heavenly Father blesses us with a really special, satisfying kind of joy.

*****

A few months ago, I was contacted by the president of a rotary club in a neighboring community. He'd read an article in the newspaper where my blog was featured and he asked me to come share my message of mental illness awareness combined with hope.  

They provided me with a delicious lunch, but I would've done it anyway. During those forty minutes I spoke to the business leaders in that room, I felt so alive. It was like "...a [flash] of intense living against the backdrop of...everyday life."

After my presentation, an unplanned discussion naturally began. Eleven of the twelve people who attended opened up about the ways depression had affected them. They had either suffered themselves or watched as someone they loved had. There was a tangible power in the room that grew stronger as we looked depression square in the face and spoke about it. It lost its sinister qualities as we spoke about how it had made many of us who we were, the tremendous need to talk about it, speak more compassionately of it, and learn how we could better assist those around us who suffer. 

It was beautiful. 

As I drove home with my momma and reflected on the past ten months since this blog began, I kept exclaiming, "THIS! This is where I wanted this all to go. I want to speak! I want to stand in front of audiences and talk about it!

And the flame's been burning ever since.

And so, that day in the dressing room shortly before Mother's Day this year, it was in front of more rotary clubs and community groups and youth groups and womens conferences and church groups that I imagined I was wearing my yellow dress.

And that is my dream.

My dream more specifically looks like this: a calendar with two, three, four days marked out a month where I stand in a yellow dress, a blue dress, a purple dress, any dress and share my message. 

And so I just wanted to ask, if you are involved in any kind of group like those I mentioned, or know people who are, would you mind connecting us? If the depression message is not a good fit but you've read something else I have written that is, I am more than happy to adapt my remarks for the situation.

I can be contacted at muchmorepreciousblog@gmail.com

You'd be helping me catch that dream that I'm chasing. 

Even more importantly, though, if you've never taken the time to pinpoint just what it is you have to bring to this world that makes you feel alive, think on it. And follow where it leads. Beautiful things are likely to occur.

There was a photo shoot involved in getting the picture at the top of this post for which little girl gets all the credit. See @muchmoreprecious on Instagram for an entertaining look behind the scenes. :)



Three Pleas from a Suicidal Heart



I very nearly busted my guts tonight. I took my kids swimming with my sisters and their husbands while we waited for my husband to get off work. My sisters not only picked great husbands for themselves, but awesome uncles for my children. I laughed the hardest I have laughed in a long time as they took on various roles like sharks and lifeguards while interacting with my kids in the pool. Aaaand tried to get their wives to play chicken with each other. And on the way home, little girl and I belted out the songs on The Little Mermaid soundtrack like both of us were six. Wow. I found myself thinking how grateful I was for the feeling of joy that comes from pure fun. It felt so good.

And then I remembered why I was going home and quickly getting the kids to bed. It was so that I could write about a subject that's been on my mind and heart all week long. I wanted to believe that it wasn't necessary, wished that everybody could just go jump in a pool with their family and all the problems in the world would be solved.

But I was aware that not even an hour from my house a family I don't know personally is reeling after the death of their beautiful child from suicide. And I've been feeling the stirrings in my heart that make me feel like it's time to write about hard things.

So here we go.

*****

It was hard to read the obituary and not be moved, but the part that affected me most, surely written by his parents, said that someday they hoped to understand the hopelessness that had afflicted his spirit. For it was deep enough to cause him to end his life.

There are strong opinions on suicide, mostly that it is selfish and unwarranted. I shared most of them myself before my own severe bout with depression. I do not write to glorify suicide, but as another voice insisting that if we are going to be anything but powerless in keeping and bringing precious souls back from the edge, we have to be willing to talk about it. 

I have poured over photographs and journal entries from my life ten years ago and have condensed the thoughts they inspired into three pleas from a suicidal heart. They are directed towards any loved one, any trusted individual who has the power to reach out and help.

1. Please believe that it really is that bad. 

I was relieved the first time someone asked me if I was suicidal. It was my bishop. I lied and said I wasn't. But he had taken the scariest things that were going on in my mind and brought them out into the open. I was dying for someone to believe that it really was that bad, to not brush it off and try to cheer me up.

He wisely gave me his home phone, his work phone and his cell phone numbers and emphatically insisted that I not do anything drastic without calling him first. 

Without saying it directly, he had again insinuated that I was suicidal.

He had dared meet me on my scary level. 

It gave me the courage to think, maybe there was help. And in the coming weeks, I reached out and told a few other trusted adults that I was suicidal. I felt safe knowing they knew and felt them vigilantly watching me.

What a scary place for loved ones to go. How devastating to find out that someone you love is suicidal.

But even more painful to imagine is the thought of what could happen if you don't.

2. Please don't be disgusted with me. I understand I have so much to live for.

My blog made the newspaper a few months ago in an article on suicide. At the end of the article, someone commented: "Know that millions of others in this country, and the rest of the world for that matter, would gladly trade places with you. You have no reason to be so depressed you would even consider squandering the good fortune you have."

It's okay, friend, I used to think just like you. 

As I contemplated ending my life in those deepest, darkest moments, I was fully aware of all I had been so blessed to enjoy and, mentally ill or not, had always experienced heartache at the disparity in many other parts of the world. 

That was the worst part. 

Depression often brings with it intense feelings of guilt and impairs your thinking. It is common to have an over-inflated view of the effect of your actions. You truly begin to believe you are doing more harm than good by being here. You truly believe you are doing everyone a favor by stepping out. And you pray they'll understand.

Remembering all you have to be thankful for compounds your wretchedness and confirms just how badly you messed everything up.

3. Please tell me there is someone else who has felt this way.

One day I was having a conversation with a colleague in which we discussed our personal experiences with depression. I had been well for a year or two, but I found it therapeutic to talk to people who had suffered in similar ways as I had. We had made many connections as we shared stories. And then she said,

"But I never considered taking my life."

And then it was like when the computer zooms way out after having been centered on a specific spot on a map. And it took her with it. And I remembered the loneliness.

The kind of loneliness you can experience even in a crowded room. Full of people who love you.

Because I had very seriously considered taking my life. And even after recovering from my bout, decided to keep that little bit about being suicidal a secret. Because it's so frowned upon.

But now I understand my silence wasn't helping anybody.

Because here's the truth. Hard things happen to us in this life. And sometimes the mind and body's response is to go into a depression. And sometimes, one of the symptoms of a severe bout with depression is suicidal thoughts. 

It begins as a symptom. We've all had symptoms of one kind or another.

But it's not like you can see them coming like chicken pox. "Here comes the itching. Here come more spots." In many cases, you are not even aware what's happening to you. You just feel like you are transforming into someone you don't recognize. The real you has been obliterated and is never coming back. That's how you feel.

I have become tragically aware that I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS EVER FELT THAT WAY. These precious souls are everywhere. They pass us at the grocery store, at the gym, at school. Some can't pass us because they are crawled up in their beds and can't get out. And they are dying to know that they are not alone. That they have not created their own special brand of worthlessness but that there is hope. That THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE HOW IT ENDS. 

We spit the word suicide out like it's dirty. And I get it. There are not words to describe its devastating effects.  

But that means that we don't talk about it. And it picks up terribly negative stigma. So that people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts begin to believe that they have done something terribly wrong. 

The loneliness that comes from losing the will to live can suffocate you to death.

So let's bring it out of the darkness and talk about it.

*****
Should the momma or the dad who lost their boy this last week read this, from the depths of my heart I say I know there is nothing you wouldn't have done to save him. 

Why some are able to pull out and others don't and leave their families holding the shattered pieces of their broken hearts, I do not know. But I have been praying for you. 

And I write for him today.



Beach


I'd busted a hole in the knee of my favorite jeans and needed a new pair asap. My last successful experience shopping for jeans had been eight minutes from my house at a new mall in our area. That time I had both children with me, located two cute pairs of jeans that fit like they were made for me and was out in under 30 minutes.

Somedays the planets align and jean shopping can be a beautiful thing.

So I wanted to give this same store another try.

I walked in the door with all kinds of optimism, but 10, 12 minutes in, it wasn't looking good. None of the jeans in this store were calling my name.

Bummer.

I headed to the dressing room, the handle of the stroller loaded up with four or five pairs to try on anyway, and for the first time, I noticed the screens. Now I realized the music blasting over the store sound system went with the music videos playing above my head and in several other places throughout the store. All the screens were playing the same thing.

Teens sitting around a bonfire after a long day at the beach, flames dancing in and out of the screen. Girls with glowing, golden skin, and beachy wavy hair cascading down their shoulders exchanging dramatic glances with boys.

Suddenly I remembered what it was like to be 15 and not so sure of myself and shopping in a store like this. And it made me squirm.

Because these images together with the flavor of music that went with them were sending a message loud and clear to my brain. The secret of life is to look good at the beach. You must be hip to matter. And these girls and guys who work here, they are like ambassadors because they can help you find and buy the clothes that will help you fulfill your life's purpose of looking good at the beach.

If only I could buy the whole store.

Sometimes the guys and girls in the video would direct their dramatic looks at the camera and then it felt like they were staring me down. At 15, that would have been really uncomfortable for a couple of reasons. Number one, my hair does not cascade in beachy waves down my back after playing in the water at the beach all day. It's just poofy. And number two, my body type was not going to cut it sitting around that bonfire, either. Those girls' legs were like pencils and mine were like ultra-thick permanent markers. 

No one need tell me that I was destined for total failure. I already knew it.

Gosh that feels horrible.

I was surprised. Wow. Even after graduating from high school and college and getting married and paying bills and becoming a mother twice, I could remember what that place felt like in my head. And it's a very real feeling.

The good news was, I could snap out of it. I knew there was much more to life than this shallow perception. That there are about as many body types as there are people. That there is more to life than looking good at the beach, like kindness. And family.

But I turned to look at little girl with only a very small fraction of life's experience under her belt as she also watched the images flash across the screen. Oh that I could take what I knew from the last three decades about what really matters and give it to her in a box and lovingly tie a bow on top.

Knowing I couldn't, I instead said a prayer. "Bless me, God, with the ability to lovingly lead her through those years when she might be so very uncertain of herself."

And then into clear focus came the experiences that were the reasons why I made it.

There were many of them, but this day, one stood clearly above the rest.

It was the adults that took interest in me.

The families I babysat for in the neighborhood who would keep me a few minutes after to find out what was going on in my life.

The Sunday School teacher and his wife who would invite the whole class over to get to know us better.

Having a  four hour road trip in the car with my uncle and knowing there was going to be some great conversation ahead. Another uncle who would call for my mom, but before asking to talk to her, take five minutes to find out how I was doing.

I was able to be in their homes and observe them living their lives and  they took genuine interest in mine. And there was some major disconnect between having to be hip at the beach and the lives these people lived. They were real. And they were happy. They made me feel like there was absolutely nothing the matter with me. And it made me think that I just might be okay.

And so I quietly gave thanks for those adults in my life. And for the adults in little girl's. The ones that already surround her in the neighborhood, at church, and in the family, and the ones that will.   



Unconditional



My husband and I had the first disagreement of our marriage on our honeymoon.

It was three days into our marriage. We passed a teenage girl who I thought was rather beautiful, one of the reasons being the way she carried her height. She was very tall. My husband interrupted my thoughts by saying, "Wow, that girl was huge."

As a rather tall girl myself, I took the comment personally. This new husband of mine had a lot to learn about what it's like to be 14 and at least a head taller than all the boys you think are cute. And to be careful the language you use when you talk about a tall girl's height. Tack on flattering adjectives, like, tall and beautiful. Or tall like a model (that was always my favorite for some reason).

But NEVER huge.

We could recover from this. But it was my job to set him straight. 

"Don't say things like that about tall girls."

"Babe, she was like a giraffe."

And on my honeymoon, I started to cry.

"Babe, it's okay. We don't even know her. She didn't hear me. She's gone....Babe?"

He was truly perplexed.

Just where I wanted him.

We would fix this.

Ten minutes later I was the truly perplexed one as I discovered my husband really wasn't interested in the workings of a 14-year-old tall girl's mind. He just wanted to get back to having a nice time together.

I hadn't gotten him to see things my way. But it did seem a shame to hold this over his head any longer. Your honeymoon only comes once and I wanted it to be wonderful. I would be generous and let him off easy this time.

As I prepared for next time. 


*****

There was never a next time.

My husband and I have seen eye-to-eye on everything ever since.

HA! Just kidding.
Seeing eye-to-eye in marriage is satisfying. And special. It really is. Six hours of car shopping and you find a car you're both excited about. Sharing your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant. Saving up for a trip you've talked about taking for a long time. Talking together about what you love about the place you live.  Sharing your thoughts on God and the way He's blessed your family. Praying together for things that are important to both of you. Sitting your oldest down to talk all together about the importance of values like honesty.

It makes marriage fun and fulfilling.

It also gives you a foundation when you're not seeing eye-to-eye. Those common, satisfying experiences  bond you. But it still doesn't mean it's not hard.

My marriage took a dramatic shift for happiness the day I quit calculating what he was going to have to agree to in order to get back into my good graces and started thinking instead, "Ooh, this kind of hurts. I wish he saw it my way. But I'm going to love him anyway."

Again, may I say, this is not easy.

It's taken a lot of trial and error. A lot of error. And I have not perfected the process.

But the first time I had the courage to say, "But I'm going to love him anyway," I discovered a new level of love. A richer, deeper, more fulfilling kind. Somehow, by surrendering my demands, I got so much more in return. 

A love that doesn't say, "I will love you unless..." 

A love that is safe. A love that is pure. A love that is more powerful than opposition. A love that simply says,

I. LOVE. YOU.


*****

I think it's safe to say that ruling last week struck a chord with everyone. 

Did you feel the line being drawn like I did?

It was a line that got longer and more divided the further I scrolled down my newsfeed.

You live on this world long enough and you kind of pick up the understanding that you love those who see things the way you do, and you despise, or at the very best, tolerate, those who don't.

It's funny how social media can put you in touch with people from many different chapters of your life over the years. And I realized that there were people I loved, appreciated, and had meaningful experiences with on either side of the line.

And I didn't want to have to despise any of them.

My heart cried to my Heavenly Father. "Wherever Your side is, that's where I want to be. But oh this hurts! There are people that I care about on both sides of the line!"

You don't need to worry, spoke a voice I have learned to love and feel safe in. You will search your heart for My will in this matter.  And when you find it, you will do it. 

But that will not mean you are done.

Because I care about all the people on both sides of the line. With a love so incomprehensible that I sent my Son. 

And I want you to love them, too. 

I was so relieved I did not have to despise anyone. 

Or quit listening to all of [insert one of my favorite singers here]'s albums.

And so I am working on it. Like my marriage, I believe the purest form of love comes from having your eyes wide open, recognizing that you have differences with someone, and deciding that you will love anyway.

You have to be deliberate about it. 

It does not come naturally.

But if you have the courage to try, He will help you by pouring in the love that you lack. 

And you will find that it is the deepest, the richest, the most satisfying love you have ever experienced in your life. 

Some of you already know what I'm talking about. And I dare the rest of you to find out.



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