I promised that today I will be doing a little recap on what’s been happening with my mental health over the past several months.
Just to preface, I’ve learned so much these past few months, more than ever before, about how important it is to let go and give your burden over to the Lord. In Matthew 11:28-30 it reads
Come to Me, all ye that labour and our heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
I’ve learned now more than ever, how much I can and should rely on the Lord and trust in Him. More than anyone, He knows me. He knows my heart. He knows my fears. He knows the burdens that I carry. And He really is the only one that can shoulder that burden like no one else. He asks us to take His yoke upon us and let Him do the heavy lifting. How much easier it will be for us if we trust Him enough to let Him carry us when we can not carry ourselves.
This experience that I had the last few months has been nothing compared to what I’ve been through before when dealing with bipolar. But I have found that one of the most difficult parts of living with bipolar and being on the healthy side, is the fear of falling to the unhealthy side again. It is such a dark and frightening place to be. And there is so much trauma that can come to the surface because of being in that dark place. But sometimes we have to fall in order for the Lord to lift us up again.
When a loved one approaches you and says that things don’t seem right with you, it can be really devastating. And there is a real part of you that doesn’t want to believe it for fear of ending up in the dark place again. But that is when you really need to put your trust in those that know and care about you and especially in the Lord.
Sometimes the burden of living with bipolar becomes extremely heavy to bear. Even when I’m healthy, I worry about becoming unhealthy. I worry that my loved ones are always worried about me and watching my every move just to make sure I’m ok. I hate more than anything for those that I love to worry about me. So it’s become second nature for me to try to appear fine when deep down I may be struggling.
Struggling with just the simple fact of being tired of carrying the burden itself. Over the last few months for whatever reason, I was just really, really tired of carrying it. And I would pray so many nights to Jesus that I was just so tired, please just take this away so I don’t need to worry anymore.
And apparently, this whole time He was trying to teach me the way to ease my tiredness. To let Him take my burden upon Him, even if just for a little while.
So when my husband approached me to discuss what he had seen in me over the last few months, it was really devastating to me. Here I thought I was physically and mentally feeling better than I ever had. And that I was doing great. It was only in the recesses of my own mind that I gave way to my deeper feelings of how tired I was from constantly monitoring myself.
I was very, very emotional that night as we discussed the importance of checking in with my Doctor. I had the biggest knot in my stomach and felt physically ill. I was so scared that if we discussed it and there was an issue, then I would have to go into the deep rabbit hole of going through the process of trying to find a new medication. The thought of that was a pure nightmare for me to think about.
My husband offered to give me a priesthood blessing which I accepted. He went to prepare himself for it and I went into the other room to plead with the Lord. In that moment I realized that I had no control over the journey that the Lord had in store for me. And something just broke inside of me. I remember saying to Him that I was so scared of having to go into the dark place again. I heard Him whisper to me, “Do you trust me?” And I said back, “I do.” And I heard it again, “Do you really trust me?” and again I heard myself say that I did. In fact I said, “I trust you so much that if going back to that dark place is part of my journey, I will do it. I don’t want to do it. But for you, to show you that I trust you, I will do it.” And I meant it. I really, really meant it.
I went into the living room where my husband performed the blessing. He laid his hands upon my head and started the blessing. The first thing he said was “the Lord knows that you are tired of carrying this burden. He wants you to have the courage to continue in this difficulty.” And that’s when I knew that in this journey on Earth, this illness will always be a burden that I will carry. But I don’t have to do it alone. That He is there. And He knows that I am tired. He knows! I hadn’t said those words to anyone but Him. And that was Him telling me that He hears me. And He will help me to shoulder this burden if I will let Him.
I don’t know how else to describe how I felt except that I felt so “held”. That is the only word I could think of. Like I was enveloped in a big warm hug. And I felt that way throughout the rest of that week as I prepared for my appointment with my Doctor. As I sat in his office and discussed our next moves I felt that the Lord was there being my rock to hold onto. As I agreed to tweak my medication a little bit, I just felt so “held”.
And I thought of His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt of my affliction. Those are the hands that held me in that moment, and let me know that it was all going to work out according to His will. And I trusted Him more than I ever have in my life that I would be able to handle whatever was in store for me.
Just to give you a little insight about me if you’re new to the podcast, I was diagnosed five years ago with Bipolar ll, after having 2 manic epsodes within two months that landed me in the hospital. Although, I have suffered from depression for most of my adult life.
Fifteen years ago I had my first mental breakdown. At the time I wouldn’t accept the diagnosis and kind of set about to prove the Doctors wrong. I was in denial and did not want to be labeled as “crazy”. Because let’s face it, that’s what most people think of when the word bipolar is mentioned. That word is tossed around so lightly these days as people talk about someone else’s behavior that they don’t understand. And to be quite honest, it is really distressing and inconsiderate to those of us who have mental illnesses of any kind.
Anyway, here is my timeline. I had suffered with what I thought was depression from the time my first child was born. I had Postpartum depression. And with each child it would get a little bit worse. With my fourth and last child, I finally realized that it was time to talk to someone about it. I knew from my previous births that the depression usually did not subside for around 9 or more months after the baby was born. I remember the therapist telling me after we had talked, that I had two choices. I could either take medication that would help me feel better within a few weeks or I could go ahead and wait it out and be miserable for the next several months. Well, that was kind of no brainer for me. So I went ahead and went on the medication.
Over the few years after that I jumped from medication to medication. They would work for several months and then all of sudden I would be feeling horrible again. During that time I started researching alternate forms of medication. I realized that there were so many other things that I could do on my own that would affect how I felt. Such as working out, making sure my stress levels did not get too high, making sure I was getting good sleep and good nutrition, and so on. So I started working towards that and slowly weaned myself off the medications for what I hoped would be forever. And I was able to maintain that for probably around 4 or so years.
But when you have a severe chemical imbalance, the chances of it coming to the surface again is quite likely, and may warrant medication.
I have mentioned before on the podcast that I do not discuss any of the medications that I have been on over the years because everyone’s body is different and what worked for me may or may not work for you and vice versa. I think that is a dangerous road to go down. We each have so many different chemicals and hormones that affect how we respond. It’s so important to follow what your Dr. suggests and find something that works for your body. I highly recommend if you have the funding or if your insurance will pay for it, that you get DNA testing to find out what your body is compatible with. I will discuss that in a few minutes.
Anyway,that breakdown 15 years ago, was what started me on the road to finding out what exactly was happening with my body. As I said I was in denial and did everything I could to prove that Bipolar was not what I had.
I went back to my nurse practitioner at the time, and explained what had happened. She knew my history and from what I explained to her about what had happened, we both came to the conclusion that I just needed to get some sleep. I had not been on any medication for the previous 4 or so years which I mentioned earlier, and didn’t believe that I would ever need it again. She put me on an anti-anxiety med that I would take as needed. Just when I felt stressed or a little out of sorts. It would calm me down and then I’d be ok.
At my next yearly appointment I was feeling some depression setting in. I had read about a certain medication in a magazine that had helped someone else. So she agreed and prescribed it for me. I was on that medication for 10 years. Clear up until my second breakdown (or manic episode) that landed me in the hospital.
And that’s where things started to get super out of control. If you want to read more about experiences that I had while trying to find the right meds you can go back to my post Living with Bipolar and several posts after that one.
Luckily at that time I was referred to a great psychiatrist that told me right from the get go. You have Bipolar ll, no arguing whether or not you have it. Apparently that’s a pretty common experience. I wonder why? With such a stigma about it, it’s no wonder that people don’t want to be labeled.
He said, “We are just going to work to get you better. It might take some time. But we are going to find out what “recipe” works best for you.” It was actually so comforting to have someone finally take control of something that I could not. And I also finally accepted the fact that I did indeed have Bipolar.
But it wasn’t a death sentence… this would actually bring me back to who I really was, underneath the mask of Bipolar. He wouldn’t put me back on that medication that had worked for 10 years because he said it was the wrong medication for my diagnosis and it would never work for me again.
Over the next year we were able to find my recipe. And once I did, I felt so much better than a year before when I was completely at my lowest point ever. So I never really questioned whether or not I could feel even better than I did. I didn’t feel completely like myself as I had on the medication that I was on for 10 years. But for me it was so much better than where I was a year before. It was good enough. I did not have a DNA test with that Doctor. He never suggested it, and I had never heard of it so there was no reason to do it.
I had my DNA testing done in 2019 when I was forced to change Psychiatrists because my current one was retiring. The Doctor that I found (after doing my homework to find a good fit for me), recommended it. I didn’t even know that such a thing existed and gladly said that I would. I had mine done through GeneSight Psychotropic and it is called Combinatorial pharmacogenomic test. What it does, is tell you what drugs on the market today are highly compatible, somewhat compatible, and not at all compatible with your individual DNA. So it is very valuable information.
We did that at my second appointment with the new Doctor. I was floored to find out that the medication that I had been on for 10 years (the one after my very first breakdown), was only moderately compatible with my body and the wrong medication entirely for my diagnosis. It was for depression and what I needed was a mood stabilizer since my moods were either really high and things were going great or I would sink into a deep depression. Apparently my first Dr. was right. One of the reasons I will always push for anyone going through mental health issues to find a good psychiatrist.
We also discovered that the medication that I was currently taking was only moderately compatible with my DNA. When we went over the report, my new Doctor suggested that eventually I might want to switch to one that was highly compatible for me. Of course I had been feeling good for 4 years at that time and was pretty gun shy when it came to switching. Why would I fix what was not broken? So I would go to my regularly scheduled 3 month appointments over the next year and we would discuss it again and I always said, “no, I don’t want to mess with what I’ve got going.” And he was very understanding and accommodating and agreeable. Until I started having some pretty severe sleep issues. Which was probably one of the biggest reasons that I ended up back in the hospital the second time. I was under a lot of stress and hardly slept at all for about 5 days. Not good.
I have mentioned many times that getting enough sleep is critical for someone who has a mental illness like bipolar. (Really, sleep is so important for everyone!) So that was a pretty great concern. My doctor mentioned that the other medication had a sedative. I would take it at night and it would help improve my sleep. But I still wasn’t convinced. Finally after nearly another year of not having really good sleep, I was ready to try it.
So that brings you up to date on my timeline. I switched medications at the end of March 2021, right after I started doing the daily podcasts (not great timing on my part). I was terrified of going back into that dark place, but my Doctor assured me that it would be better for me according to my DNA test. The first 4 days were so scary. I started feeling very jittery like I was on speed or something.
Similar to the way I feel when climbing the scale toward a manic episode. A good way to explain the kinds of things that my husband was seeing, is that they were small things that most people would not see or notice. Such as doing simple routine things in a different order than normal. Or becoming a little agitated about things I normally wouldn’t be affected by.
I called my Doctor and he assured me that it was not a manic episode according to what I described and asked me to give it more time. Within a few weeks the jittery feeling was gone and I felt better than I had since 2015 when I had the 2 back to back hospital stays. I finally felt like myself again. I had no idea that I could feel even better than I did. I was sleeping again. I had drive, and motivation. I felt clear headed like a fog had been lifted. I could focus and get things done. I loved it! And I still do. So what happened recently? Well, here’s the story.
Luckily, I am very good at keeping a daily journal. Just a couple of paragraphs of how I am feeling, and what’s going on in my life. It has been very helpful in being able to look back and discover where things started to become a little unbalanced. I had become a little lax on some of my daily habits. I was missing a lot of workouts, and my nutrition was really suffering. I was eating a lot of junk food and a lot of sugar. I was under a lot of stress, because I had to go through several medical procedures in one month. I am 53 and have a lot of hormonal issues as well.
And I got to the point where sleep was starting to become an issue again. So all this comes into play just as I have been working on adjusting to the new medication. When I look at it that way, I think that it wasn’t just the medication switch, it was everything combined. It was like heading into the perfect storm…. Again. And that’s why it is so vitally important to have a good support system in place. Someone who knows you well and can see when things are a little out of order (for me that’s my husband). And also to have a Doctor that is a good fit for you, that you feel comfortable with and who knows your history well.
I started to have what my Doctor calls “outliers”. Which basically means that I was super steady for a period of time and then I would spike and do something that was out of character for me.
What is interesting to me is that these things were so tiny that if you don’t know me well, you would completely miss them. Also, as I said in episode 32, most of the time they are such small things that even I can’t see that it is out of character. Which is quite common according to my Doctor.
So when these things start happening there are two directions it can go. Either someone recognizes it quickly and you see your Doctor and make adjustments. Or no one recognizes it until it’s too late. You have already climbed the scale to a manic episode. Which could mean hospitalization.
In my situation, we caught it very quickly, I was able to make the necessary adjustments in my medication. Remember I had just switched, so we were kind of in the process of finding the right recipe again. We knew it was compatible with my DNA. We just needed to find the right dosage. We made a minor change and since then I have been fine and the “outliers” have stopped.
But this whole experience taught me so much about myself and my illness and the journey that I’ve been on. I have gained an entirely new perspective that I think is really important. Especially when it comes to helping others be able to overcome their struggles. And also to allow me to continue on my journey toward wellness. I know now more than ever that I have to be so vigilant with my daily habits, and be sure I don’t miss days with my medication. That’s why I like to call those who suffer with mental illness, warriors. Because we are in the fight for lives every single day.
Even though this is a sickness that can not be seen by the naked eye, like cancer, or diabetes. It is still life threatening. People who have not been through it or witnessed a loved one going through it, don’t understand that. That’s why we have so many suicides and so many mentally ill people who are not getting the care that they so vitally need. They don’t have a support system in place that can help them. It’s easy to abandon someone when you feel like they are just being negative and difficult.
We need to be better at recognizing and understanding when someone is ill and support them instead of shunning them. There is nothing more frustrating for a person who is suffering than to have someone say that it’s all made up or they are doing things to hurt people intentionally.
It becomes debilitating and demeaning to be made to feel like there is something wrong with you as a person. When the truth is, you are sick. What you have is an illness that needs to be separated from the person that God made you to be. There is nothing wrong with the “you” God made you to be. You are human just like everyone else. Your illness does not define who you are. Just like you are not the cancer or you are not the diabetes. Yes, it is something that you have, that you live it. But it doesn’t make you, you!
So my invitation to all of you today is: If you struggle with mental illness of any kind, find a psychiatrist that comes highly referred and is a good fit for you. Going to a psychiatrist does not mean you will necessarily need medication. There are many behavioral modifications that you can make with their help. Choosing to seek help is not a sign of weakness! It takes courage and strength to admit that you need help!
And then do whatever you need to, to find someone who can be a good support system for you. Someone that knows you and can help assess the situation when things seem out of the ordinary.
If you have no one, seek out a therapist. I know all of this is expensive and sometimes it’s hard to get insurance companies to pay. I won’t even go into my thoughts on that disservice! But if you can find a way to do it, the investment into your health will be worth every last penny.
And if you are a loved one of someone who is struggling, do everything you possibly can to help them recognize how much you love them and support them and want the best for them. Encourage them! Don’t demean them. Don’t minimize their illness or their struggle. Validate their feelings and do whatever you can to help them to know that they can trust you.
And to all of you together, I encourage you to trust in the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and soul . Because He’s got you in the palms of His Hands. You are “held” always! Until next time. Take care.
If you made it this far. Thanks for reading. If you or someone you know has a trial that you/they’ve been able to get through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. My goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of hard things.
I have been reading so much lately, it seems, about more and more people who are suffering from mental illness, anxiety, depression, loneliness and many other symptoms of disconnectedness, since the pandemic. I imagine that it will take some time for all of us to recover from this past year’s events. Unfortunately, I don’t believe we have seen the peak of the real effects of isolation. But I do believe that we will hear more and more about that in the coming days.
It also seems that cropping up everywhere are ways for us to find solace, healing and peace. For example, coaching, meditation, workout or diet programs that promise cures, motivational speakers who claim to have the answers. All of these avenues for healing I think have their place and are great. And I am not discounting the good that those things can do in any way. Please don’t misunderstand my mention of them. I myself participate in many of these activities. And find them very helpful.
But while pondering on that, I started to think about how there is only ONE that we can really trust to heal our aching and broken hearts, to calm the raging PTSD that I think we are all suffering from. To comfort us when we feel afraid and alone. And that is the Master Healer himself, our Savior Jesus Christ.
So this podcast/post will be dedicated to Him. I love my Savior with all of my heart. And I know that He is always there to send angels in whatever form we need to get through all that we experience in this mortal life. And truly some of those angels may be in those programs that I mentioned above. However, I believe that what is important at this time, is for us to turn our hearts, our faces, and our lives toward Jesus Christ with more fervor, with more commitment, and with an energy that will open the Heavens and pour out blessings upon us.
What I want for you is the feeling that angels are surrounding you now more than ever. And I really believe with all of my heart that we probably have more angels around us and with us than we have ever had before! One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Doctrine and Covenants. And for those of you that are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, that might be unfamiliar to you. What I’m referring to is a book of blessings and revelations given to the early saints when this church was restored to the Earth. If you would be interested in more information about that, please contact me, I would be so happy to share it with you.
So one of my favorite passages from that book is in section 84 verse 88. It reads:
And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
Don’t you just love that? It is so comforting and beautiful. The first time that scripture impacted me deeply and became my favorite scripture was when I was in the psychiatric unit for the first time nearly 20 years ago! I remember feeling so alone, and so confused as to why things were happening the way they did. My husband at the time was very thoughtful and knew how important the scriptures were to me. Although I can’t remember a lot from that experience, I do remember that seeing my scriptures on the nightstand when I woke up, was such a comfort to me.
I talked about Scripture study last week and how important that is. And I think that they speak to us each in different ways. For me, being able to open the scriptures and have the Lord speak directly to me, happens quite regularly. Not all the time. Sometimes I am in desperate need of an answer or help and it’s nowhere to be found. But on many occasions I can open them and immediately be inspired, comforted or directed. And I believe that the reason for that is because the Lord, our Savior, is so interested in our well being. And He loves us so much! If we come to Him broken and alone He is not going to leave us comfortless! He has promised us this.
When I originally started my blog, I did it because I was inspired by the Lord to share my experiences of living with Bipolar in the hopes that it would be somewhat of a comfort to those who are living with some form of mental illness. I wanted to talk about what I was going through, because people seemed to be so uninformed and afraid to talk about it. It was, and still is quite frankly, something that people hesitate and are fearful to talk about. And yet so, so many people suffer in silence because it is an illness that can’t be seen by the naked eye. I can tell you from experience that the last thing those that suffer want is to be shunned because of something that we did not choose.
Just like no one would choose to be diagnosed with cancer or any other illness. People with mental illness do not choose to be depressed. And yet so many times I have heard people say hurtful things like, “you’re just making this up”, “you can get out of it, just get up and get out of the house”, or “why can’t you just be happy?” Believe me if it was that easy, we would all be snapping our fingers and jumping out of bed. However, it is much more difficult than that, and can take years sometimes to find the help so desperately needed.
I pray every day that those suffering and feeling so alone, will feel the comfort, peace and strength that comes from the Master Healer. He is there. I promise you He is, and He is waiting with open arms to surround you with his love and strength.
Many times those open arms are found in those around us and I am praying daily that this isolation and disconnectedness that we are going through will end soon. That we will be able to embrace one another again. I think we have seen how needed human contact is. We are all desperately in need of love and that feeling of connection. It just isn’t quite the same virtually as it is for real. But, what a blessing the virtual world has been over this past year. Can you even imagine what it would be like to be completely isolated? Unfortunately, there are those who don’t have access to that. And I’m sure that they feel so alone, and don’t know where to turn.
In a talk given in 2006 by our future Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson he said,
“I recognize that, on occasion, some of our most fervent prayers may seem to go unanswered. We wonder, “Why?” I know that feeling! I know the fears and tears of such moments. But I also know that our prayers are never ignored. Our faith is never unappreciated. I know that an all-wise Heavenly Father’s perspective is much broader than is ours. While we know of our mortal problems and pain, He knows of our immortal progress and potential. If we pray to know His will and submit ourselves to it with patience and courage, heavenly healing can take place in His own way and time.”
Now I know that in times like these when you are suffering that may not seem like much comfort. You might ask yourself what do I do in the meantime, while I wait? While I feel so much pain?
And surely, I don’t have all the answers to those questions. But I do know this. Our Savior is waiting behind a door without a handle, for us to…. Just open the door. It seems so effortless, and yet it is sometimes so difficult to turn ourselves over to Him.
He says in another favorite scripture of mine from the bible in
Revelation 3:20“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
And in Matthew 14:27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer it is I; be not afraid.
And I love the imagery of that statement, straightway…. He didn’t take His time. He was right there. And then immediately assuring…it is I, be not afraid! He longs for us to reach out to Him. He longs for us to feel peace. He longs for us to trust Him. He longs for us to hear Him!
I have often thought about how God made each of us as individuals, unique in our own special and eloquent ways. We each have our own set of behaviors, character traits, problems, talents, trials, successes and failures. Not one of us alike, and yet not so different in so many ways. Although, sometimes we feel like we are totally alone and that there is no one that feels the way we do about what is happening in our lives. There is ONE! We have a Savior who loves, cares, and suffered for us, so that we can overcome all that this life throws at us. I am eternally grateful for that! And I urge you to turn to Him in times of heartache and sorrow. In times of confusion and distress. In times of grief and pain. Praise and give gratitude to Him in times of health and prosperity. The truth is, He has given us so much, even our very lives. And even though we feel broken and alone… He is the Healer, He is the ONE to turn to!
Get down on your knees and open your heart to Him. You can trust Him. He will never forsake you. He will hear you. He will comfort you straightway! He loves you that much. And so do I.
Good morning! Well actually…it didn’t start off as a good morning. It started off like this: (you can listen to it in a little more detail by clicking on the podcast link.)
It started out with my usual morning routine.
Journal entry: “I’m tired today. And feeling just kind of blah. I think I slept pretty good. But my motivation is pretty much drained. It’s frustrating to me that I can just wake up and feel yucky for no good reason. I hate bipolar! I hate that it’s just always there. I hate that despite trying so hard to do all the right things that it just is there… If I miss a workout or maybe eat the wrong foods or my sleep is off a little. It’s just frustrating and I hate that I am broken.
Luckily God restores broken… eventually. And I know This, but hard days are just HARD. And there is just no way of getting away from that.
Gratitude: Grateful I have a husband who tries to understand and catches me when I fall.”
Scripture Journal: (still distracted and trying to sort things out) “I guess I should have seen it coming. It’s kind of like a freight train… I can’t hear it until it gets close and starts blaring the whistle, and then its too late. It’s already here. And I have to back track and ask why? What did I do different? Why is it coming or happening now? And a part of me just wants to go back to bed and not deal with these feelings of despair and worthlessness. I hate it and I hate that my children will probably have to deal with it at some point.
A thought comes to my mind. I will not leave you comfortless. And suddenly I have to find the scripture that those words come from. It’s palpable, I desperately need to find it. I go to my phone, the Gospel Library App. I click it open….and there it is staring me so hard in the face that I had to take a screenshot to prove to myself that this actually happened. It clicked right to comfortless: will not leave you comfortless, John 14:18!
I must have been in the topical guide when I last studied but I don’t remember searching this topic. But God knew. He knew that I would need this today.
This is what I wrote after to document my experience: Sometimes we go to God and sometimes He comes to us. That’s how I felt this morning. I could feel the depression settling in like a black storm cloud that I have grown accustomed to feeling. Waiting to enfold me in its blackness. And just when the tears began to fall and I was feeling so alone, I had a thought. Not my thought. It was the spirit sending me this message. “I will not leave you comfortless”… Where is that scripture I thought and I grabbed for my phone to look it up in the Topical guide to search it out. And then… a miracle.
I don’t know how He does it. I guess because He is God and He knows what we need when we need it. It was almost as if He was saying… No really– I won’t. You see it was the VERY FIRST thing that popped up when I opened the app. I didn’t even search it out. Staring up at me from the phone was the word comfortless, will not leave you comfortless, it read. And the scripture reference. Here’s the screen shot I had to take to remind myself how quickly God works sometimes. I couldn’t believe that for some crazy reason, it just happened to be on that exact page when I needed it the most. I needed to know that He knows where I’m at and what I’m feeling. And He was reminding me with absolutely no room to even doubt, that He does. He really does know me individually and wants what’s best for me.
And for you as well! You are His and He is yours.
As I thought about that word and that promise I am reminded of the covenants that I renew each week in church as I partake of His sacraments. (I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we do this each week to remind us of the covenants that we made with the Lord when we were baptized.) I promise that I will keep His commandments that I will always remember Him, that I will take His name upon me. And then He promises me that I will ALWAYS have His spirit to be with me.
As I contemplated on that I realized that promise is one of the greatest promises that we can have. It’s no wonder or no mistake that those prayers are repeated to us every single week. He wants us to know without room at all to doubt…. that He will never, ever, even in our darkest moments, that He will not leave us comfortless. That we will ALWAYS have His spirit to be with us.
I think I may have to frame that scripture to remind me daily that I am worthy of His comfort. I am His and even through the times in our days and in our lives, He says, “I will not leave you comfortless and the final phrase of the scripture….. I WILL COME TO YOU!”
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
When I was fifteen years old, my dad and I bought an old beat up 1976 Camaro from the high school auto shop. I was going to be driving soon, and if things worked out I’d have my own wheels and freedom! I was so excited.
If memory serves me right, we paid about $300 for it. It was in fair condition. It could be driven. But there were several things wrong with it, including it was in bad need of a paint job. Of course I only noticed what it looked like on the outside and I wasn’t so sure that the $300 was well spent. But it had good “bones”. And the interior was still pretty nice, although stained a bit. But my dad could see something in her that I couldn’t.
My dad and I spent the better part of a summer working on that Camaro, and bringing her back to life. He on the mechanics of it, and me helping with the stains on the interior and the frame. I remember spending hours sanding the metal down by dipping the sandpaper in water and then removing every bit of remaining paint left. We rubbed putty (or something of the sort) in every dent and then sanded that down. It was a grueling process that required attention to every detail. But that was the process that was required to make her new again. To repair the damage that had been done and make it whole once again.
Then finally… one day she was ready to paint and get the finishing touches put on. I had saved all summer long to be able to pay for the parts and the paint job that went into her (candy apple red!). And I couldn’t have been more proud of the work that we had done.
The day that we put “Old Red” on the road was one of the most exciting days of my life! All of our hard work had finally garnered the result that I craved. She wasn’t perfect, but she was mine, and that’s all that really mattered to me.
As I reflected on that restoration process these past few months, I have been reminded of all the processes of restoration that we all have to go through during our lives on this earth. We are all broken down, with a few stains here and there, in bad need of repair or “restoration”. And although we may feel like we are barely getting by, the Lord sees our “good bones”. He sees what the outcome can be with a little sanding here and a little putty there, and maybe a shiny new coat of paint.
I have spent a lot of time pondering and asking the Lord why? Why do I have to live with a bipolar diagnosis? Why is it that my body is broken down, stained and dented? What good is meant to come out of this? What’s the purpose?
And then I remembered the story of the Old Camaro and it came to me with perfect clarity. We come to Him (our Lord Jesus Christ), broken, beaten down, full of sorrow and He “restores” us.
When I was diagnosed bipolar, my life as I knew it ended. Everything changed. I went from feeling like nothing could stop me. To feeling like a broken shell of a person. I was struggling with finding the right medications, the right Dr., the right plan for recovery.
It was only when I laid all my fears at the feet of my Savior that true restoration began. Where I saw a broken shell, He saw the good bones. It has not been easy. It’s a long grueling process. From waiting for 6 weeks just to get into see the right Dr. and then ending up in the hospital again right before that appointment. Then waiting another 6 weeks to finally get in again. Then trying different medications, behaviors and habits that work for me and my body chemistry. A little sanding here and a little putty there. He truly has been my source of restoration.
Elder Holland, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, once said, “I think of that night when Christ rushed to the aid of His frightened disciples, walking as He did on the water to get to them, calling out, “It is I; be not afraid.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Christ’s answer to him was as it always is every time: “Come,” He said. Instantly, as was his nature, Peter sprang over the vessel’s side and into the troubled waters. While his eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind could toss his hair and the spray could drench his robes, but all was well—he was coming to Christ. It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea. In newer terror he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Undoubtedly with some sadness, the Master over every problem and fear, He who is the solution to every discouragement and disappointment, stretched out His hand and grasped the drowning disciple with the gentle rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:27–31
If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.” (May 2006 General Conference address).
We just need to reach out to Him and then keep our eyes fixed upon Him. He can restore us. He can bring us hope and peace and comfort. If we will let him. Because He loves us. Because He broke the bands of death. Because we are His!
We need not be fearful of the changes and trials that come into our lives. We need only to believe. Believe that He will come to us in His infinite power to restore us to our former state. Believe that He will bring us back to a state of health, soundness and vigor. It may not happen now, it may not happen in this lifetime. But it will happen. One day we will be restored in all our glory. Just like my dad and I restored Old Red. Our Savior will restore us, and He will take us out for a spin on the road and we will be His because that’s all that really matters to Him.