This episode is about finding strength in Christ. I speak a little about mental health issues throughout.
Paul wrote his epistles to the Philippians and Colossians while he was in prison. But these letters don’t have the tone you might expect from someone in prison. Paul spoke more about joy, rejoicing, and thanksgiving than he did about afflictions and trials: “Christ is preached,” he said, “and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). “Though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding … the steadfastness of your faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:5). Certainly, “the peace of God” that Paul experienced in his difficult circumstances “passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), but it was nonetheless a reality. In our own trials, we can feel this same peace and “rejoice in the Lord alway” (Philippians 4:4). We can, as Paul did, rely completely upon Jesus Christ, “in whom we have redemption” (Colossians 1:14). We can say, as did Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13; see also Colossians 1:11).
Some quotes I used:
Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!
By Reyna I. Aburto
Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
“Your struggles do not define you, but they can refine you. Because of a “thorn in the flesh,” you may have the ability to feel more compassion toward others. As guided by the Holy Ghost, share your story in order to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”
“My dear sisters, it is normal to feel sad or worried once in a while. Sadness and anxiety are natural human emotions. However, if we are constantly sad and if our pain blocks our ability to feel the love of our Heavenly Father and His Son and the influence of the Holy Ghost, then we may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or another emotional condition.”
“Like any part of the body, the brain is subject to illnesses, trauma, and chemical imbalances. When our minds are suffering, it is appropriate to seek help from God, from those around us, and from medical and mental health professionals.”
“In some cases, the cause of depression or anxiety can be identified, while other times it may be harder to discern. Our brains may suffer because of stress or staggering fatigue, which can sometimes be improved through adjustments in diet, sleep, and exercise. Other times, therapy or medication under the direction of trained professionals may also be needed.”
“Sadly, many who suffer from severe depression distance themselves from their fellow Saints because they feel they do not fit some imaginary mold. We can help them know and feel that they do indeed belong with us. It is important to recognize that depression is not the result of weakness, nor is it usually the result of sin. It “thrives in secrecy but shrinks in empathy.” Together, we can break through the clouds of isolation and stigma so the burden of shame is lifted and miracles of healing can occur.”
What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?
By Elder Robert C. Gay
Of the Seventy
“The Savior once asked His disciples the following question: “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”1
This is a question that my father taught me to carefully consider years ago. As I was growing up, my parents assigned me chores around the house and paid me an allowance for that work. I often used that money, a little over 50 cents a week, to go to the movies. Back then a movie ticket cost 25 cents for an 11-year-old. This left me with 25 cents to spend on candy bars, which cost 5 cents apiece. A movie with five candy bars! It couldn’t get much better than that.
All was well until I turned 12. Standing in line one afternoon, I realized that the ticket price for a 12-year-old was 35 cents, and that meant two less candy bars. Not quite prepared to make that sacrifice, I reasoned to myself, “You look the same as you did a week ago.” I then stepped up and asked for the 25-cent ticket. The cashier did not blink, and I bought my regular five candy bars instead of three.
Elated by my accomplishment, I later rushed home to tell my dad about my big coup. As I poured out the details, he said nothing. When I finished, he simply looked at me and said, “Son, would you sell your soul for a nickel?” His words pierced my 12-year-old heart. It is a lesson I have never forgotten.”
Joy and Spiritual Survival
By President Russell M. Nelson
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“Clearly, Lehi knew opposition, anxiety, heartache, pain, disappointment, and sorrow. Yet he declared boldly and without reservation a principle as revealed by the Lord: “Men are, that they might have joy.”6 Imagine! Of all the words he could have used to describe the nature and purpose of our lives here in mortality, he chose the word joy!
Life is filled with detours and dead ends, trials and challenges of every kind. Each of us has likely had times when distress, anguish, and despair almost consumed us. Yet we are here to have joy?
Yes! The answer is a resounding yes! But how is that possible? And what must we do to claim the joy that Heavenly Father has in store for us?
Eliza R. Snow, second General President of the Relief Society, offered a riveting answer. Because of Missouri’s infamous extermination order, issued at the onset of the grueling winter of 1838,7 she and other Saints were forced to flee the state that very winter. One evening, Eliza’s family spent the night in a small log cabin used by refugee Saints. Much of the chinking between the logs had been extracted and burned for firewood by those who preceded them, so there were holes between the logs large enough for a cat to crawl through. It was bitter cold, and their food was frozen solid.
That night some 80 people huddled inside that small cabin, only 20 feet square (6.1 meters square). Most sat or stood all night trying to keep warm. Outside, a group of men spent the night gathered around a roaring fire, with some singing hymns and others roasting frozen potatoes. Eliza recorded: “Not a complaint was heard—all were cheerful, and judging from appearances, strangers would have taken us to be pleasure excursionists rather than a band of gubernatorial exiles.”
Eliza’s report of that exhausting, bone-chilling evening was strikingly optimistic. She declared: “That was a very merry night. None but saints can be happy under every circumstance.”
That’s it! Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!
My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, …, and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy.”
Consistent and Resilient Trust
By Elder L. Todd Budge
Of the Seventy
Our son Dan got very sick on his mission in Africa and was taken to a medical facility with limited resources. As we read his first letter to us after his illness, we expected that he would be discouraged, but instead he wrote, “Even as I lay in the emergency room, I felt peace. I have never been so consistently and resiliently happy in my life.”
As my wife and I read these words, we were overcome with emotion. Consistently and resiliently happy. We had never heard happiness described that way, but his words rang true. We knew that the happiness he described was not simply pleasure or an elevated mood but a peace and joy that come when we surrender ourselves to God and put our trust in Him in all things.1
In a paradoxical way, afflictions and sorrow prepare us to experience joy if we will trust in the Lord and His plan for us. This truth is beautifully expressed by a 13th-century poet: “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”4
President Russell M. Nelson taught, “The joy the Savior offers [us] … is constant, assuring us that our ‘afflictions shall be but a small moment’ [Doctrine and Covenants 121:7] and be consecrated to our gain.”Our trials and afflictions can make space for greater joy.”
Grateful in Any Circumstances
By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
“Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.
It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?
Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful forthings, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.”
Shelby’s thoughts about her cancer
September 11, 2007
I thought I’d drop a note before the family rumor machine gets up to full speed and people get the wrong information. Over the past few weeks, I have had some chest pains when I overexerted myself. It wasn’t so bad, but it started happening more and more often. When I was in Arizona for Bazzill’s weekend getaway thing, I had a real bad night on Thursday and then when I got to Melanie’s house on Saturday night it became unbearable. She took me to the ER at about 2 am. (If you have to go to the ER, she’s the one to have take you.) It was fun. I told them that my heart felt too big for the space it was in. They thought it might be a clot. I got a CT scan and an x ray. Melanie and I were spooning on my cot (it was very cold) and laughing our heads off when a doctor came in and told us it’s time to get down to business. He said I have a mass in my chest and fluid around my heart. That part wasn’t as fun. They transferred me to another hospital. They told me there that it was quite a large mass – about 8cm across and that it was either a benign mass or one of 2 cancers. Jaymee flew out and talked them into letting him take me back to his hospital. We are here at the Siteman Cancer center – barnes-jewish hospital in St. Louis. I had a biopsy today and the preliminary results indicate that it is cancer, we’re just not sure what kind yet. It’s either lymphoma or thymoma. We’ll find out over the next day or two. So that’s the real story. This has already been an amazing experience and I see lots of ways this will be a good thing for me and for my family. I am happy and feel so much peace. Jeff gave me a great blessing and he said i’d have an extra abundance of the Holy Ghost and he couldn’t be more right. I have already felt my dad near and feel blessed to have someone who knows what this is like cheering for me on the other side, too. I am not scared. I know it’ll be a sometimes-yucky journey, but I’m not worried about it being anything more than that. I’m not going to die from this. I am going to grow closer to my Savior and to my family and come out a better person when it’s over…
September 15, 2007
hi everyone. i am here hoping that i’ll be able to leave this morning. This past week has FLOWN by. I can’t believe i’ve been in the hospital for a week. WHat a strange week. 8 days ago i was working at a show in Arizona. I had sneaked… snook?… into jaymee’s email and had seen that a radiation Oncology group here in st. louis wants to hire him. I was all stressed out – what should we do? they want to take us to dinner and i have nothing to wear! What side of the river would we live on? Can i really resist a big house? My hair is too stripey. These were my most important thoughts. Perhaps that is why the golden hammer bonked me on the head and said, “Hey shallow! take this!”
So I’m now a week later and all I can feel is gratitude. I’ve seen up close the love that has always been around me. My husband was a crumpled up dollar (to steal a phrase from sienna). My mom forgot herself and her fears and jumped on a plane and got here as fast as she could. I have every friend and family member praying and asking when they can come out to help me. My lawn has been mowed. My house has been cleaned. My kids have had a great week playing with their friends. My ward is all standing with their hand in the air saying, “pick me! ooh ooh! Let me do something!” It’s overwhelming. I am so grateful.
I honestly haven’t been scared or worried for even one second. And that’s not because i’m so great as all you say. It has not been a decision i had to make. It’s just the way I feel and i know it’s from the Holy Ghost. Jeff gave me a great blessing and i told sienna about it and she has reassured everyone around her, “Mom is going to be fine. She got a blessing and is hogging the Holy Ghost”. I feel like there is this huge blanket of peace all around and anyone who wants it just needs to crawl under and pull a portion of it up to their chin. It’s big enough for everyone. That’s why everyone who wants to – gets to feel this same peace i do. What a loving Heavenly Father to provide us with that.
Last night I was a little uncomfortable and I thought to myself, “This whole ordeal will make me better understand the trials my dad went through and it can make us closer.” His was much much worse than mine, but i’m still grateful to get a taste so that I can better understand him and remember him. That’s when it hit me. This is why the atonement took place. This is why our Savior took on not only our sins, but our illnesses and pains. So he can know what we are going through and it can make us much closer. It’s something I have known all my life but never felt as strongly as I do now. I am truly humbled that someone as beautiful and perfect and important as my Savior would take the time to find out how i will feel going through this little hurdle so he can succor me. Mami told me this week that Jeffrey R. Holland said “succor” means “run to”.