Sunday, April 2, 2017

Maybe Today

A few weeks ago our stake had the most amazing Relief Society retreat that they called "Maybe Today." It was a feast for my soul.
It was on Friday night and Saturday, and it was all just SO good, and all things that I really needed to hear. But I had a wonderful experience with the Spirit on Friday night that I would love to share because it taught me something so important about my anxiety, which I have talked with you about in the past, including my frustration with the situation.
On Friday night the topic was "Tilt Your Soul: Battling Depression, Anxiety, and Perfectionism." The first speaker was a therapist that had us rate emotions as either good or bad -- and then explained that when we are designed to feel and experience all of these emotions, and when we categorize any as bad we push it away, numb ourselves, and become stuck. I need to embrace the full spectrum and what I can learn as I experience. He talked about how shame is Satan's tool to entrap us and keep us trapped in a vicious cycle, then he handed out a paper with 4 questions and asked us to think of a situation we're struggling with and first answer them like Satan was right there with us, using shame to guide us.
This was how my paper looked:

The situation: My anxiety about my health and situations outside of my control.
1: Is this important, 1-10.
2: Why is this happening?
Because I am not a good person, strong or faith filled.
3: What can I do?
Nothing. There is nothing that I can do to change it.
4: What does it mean for my life?
That I'm stuck with this. That it will never go away or get better. This is my life sentence.

Not very encouraging or hopeful, right? But the devil has had me fooled for awhile.
Next he had us answer those same questions as if the Savior, with all of His love, was at our shoulder answering for us. I was utterly amazed at how quickly and crystal clear the answers came into my head.
This is how my paper changed:

1: Is this important, 1-10?
2: Why is this happening?
To help you become who you need to be.
3: What can I do?
"Trust me."
(These words came so strong to my mind that I knew that was the Savior's exact message for me.)
4: What does it mean for my life?
That I can become strong.
That I can learn to truly love other people.

Pretty amazing difference, right? I know that anxiety and its companions are a part of my journey here on earth, and sometimes it will seem small and sometimes it will loom large. But to have those answers so clear and hopeful be given to me was an amazing gift. I felt so thankful and my heart was so filled. The Holy Ghost is an amazing gift. It cleared out the haze and made everything so clear.
The next speaker was a delightful lady that has struggles with anxiety disorder and very graciously shared some tough life experiences so that she could share the lessons she learned, all while making me laugh. I loved her delivery but it was just a little different, a little quirky, and I kept thinking "who does she remind me of?" And then I realized: ME. She reminded me of me and that was a great comfort, because I know I am just left of center and sometimes that really worries me that I am so different. But dangit, I liked the girl! 
She said that when we make check boxes in our lives we set ourselves up for failure. We need to open up our boxes and live our lives!
She also asked us to remember the three Learns:
Learn to share your burden.
Learn to share your bounty.
Learn to share your truth.

I loved that.
It was an amazing weekend. Saturday these two versus were shared about learning to love the scriptures and I wanted to keep them.
Verse 8:
Verse 105
I am truly thankful to have the Lord be a lamp unto my feet. I love Him and thank Him for never leaving me alone.

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