DEPRESSION, BIPOLAR & ANXIETY - LIVING AS A LATTER-DAY SAINT, LDS

Episode #213 - Healing By Degrees

January 28, 2024 Damon Socha Season 1 Episode 213
DEPRESSION, BIPOLAR & ANXIETY - LIVING AS A LATTER-DAY SAINT, LDS
Episode #213 - Healing By Degrees
Show Notes Transcript

Healing is such a personal topic.  Each of us desires healing and restoration but healing does not generally come from a dramatic miracle.  More often it comes through a process of healing rather than the miracle.  And often the Lord's healing and our healing will differ in time, effort and proceess.

Episode #213 – Healing by Degrees.  I am your host Damon Socha.

As one who suffers from autoimmune issues, anxiety and depression, healing is a consistent desire and often a topic of prayer.  I suppose that is true for almost anyone who suffers as any time in their life.  When the pain becomes real and emotions become overwhelming we so often cry out, heal me.  We may even ask what lack I yet to be healed as our suffering continues.  We question our faith.  We question our belief.  We question just about everything that we know about a benevolent, loving God.  Pain has the effect of becoming all consuming in our lives.  That is true both physically and emotionally.  We do not need to be bleeding, bruised or broken to have pains so extreme that they cause us to reach for any type of remedy that might help.  Pain most certainly brings us to our knees and to ask for blessings upon our heads.  But what does healing truly mean?  How do we know if we have been healed by the Lord?  Can healing be more than a complete transformation back to a normalized state?  Is a partial healing just a miraculous as a complete one?  I would assert that healing is not limited to the miraculous complete healing noted so often in the New Testament.  For the majority of us desiring healing, it comes far more often by degrees rather than all at once.  I think many times we see, read and feel the healings performed in the New Testament and we ask ourselves why not me, am I not worthy of such a healing?  And then we focus on what we see as been healed rather than what the Lord sees is best for our salvation.

There is a short miracle noted in Mark 8, verses 22 through 26, that I have always found very interesting.  The Savior heals a blind man in a very unique way.  When he is asked to perform the miracle, the Savior does not immediately heal the man.  Although that is very much what he might have expected.  We find the Savior leading the man out of town first, then making clay from the ground and his own saliva and anointing his eyes.  When the Savior asks if he can see the blind man says he sees men as trees walking.  The Savior again places his hands on the man’s eyes but this time without the clay and his sight was restored.  We don’t find any other time where an individual was touched more than once or where a miracle was performed in steps.  We are not given any explanation for the process the Savior used with this man.  He could have healed him right there in town by simply commanding him to see.  But he did not.  He led him out of town.  Took the time to make clay and anoint his eyes.  He then allowed for the man to be partially healed.  He the asked him about the healing.  He then completed the miracle.  The Savior did not do such things in a random way.  Each part of the process was important for a particular reason.  Now we are not told exactly why he did what he did but we can see that what he did was deliberate.

I once read a story about President Kimball.  Who had given a woman a blessing noting that she would be healed.  After some time he met with the woman who was still suffering although she had improved.  During this conversation the woman noted the frustration that she had not been fully restored.  After asking her about her improved condition, President Kimball noted that gratitude for what improvement that Lord had provided was necessary for continued improvement and her eventual more complete healing.

The concept of healing often constitutes a much broader and deeper definition than we often consider in our lives.  Mental illness is brought about by a variety of sources.  Genetic inheritances, traumatic events, accidents and a combination of perhaps all three are just some of the sources.  Our source of trouble tends to be complex simply because of the source of the illness but that it deals with the reality of our mind and soul.  We call it mental illness but emotional illness works similarly and perhaps it is more fitting.  Emotions while often predicable can like any other part of the body that relies upon chemistry be altered.  I know of individuals who have suffered a brain injury, other who have suffered terrible abuse.  I know individuals who have suffered because of a traumatic event that did not happen directly to them.  I know persons who have none of those things but have a genetic difficulty that causes similar troubles and trials.  The chemistry of our body that provides for our emotions is subject to our spirit and the nature chemistry of the body.  As Brother Holland noted, in his conference address entitled “Like a Broken Vessel”,

“However bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.”

When we seek for healing we should seek to understand the source and the difficulty before we quickly assume that the Savio will just heal me.  The Lord expects that we will use every resource good resource possible in our healing.  He also expects that the process will be difficult and fraught with setbacks, realignments, adjustments and a continual dedication to the healing process.  Brother Holland also stated as much in the same conference address.

“If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.”

We would all very much love to have the Savior comes to us take us by the hand and to heal our souls completely as though our emotional illness never existed.  But what we find is that dramatic miracles are far more rare and that healing for the most part will take the path of the blind man.  It will be more of a process, using the best medical care we can find and also asking our Savior for the help we need.

The first step in the healing process is to find the source of the problem.  If I was struggling to breathe, the doctor would not likely listen to my intestines to find the solution.  He or she would listen to my heart and lungs.  So it is with emotional illness.  Finding the source of the problem can be as important as the solution.  We should open ourselves up to what current medicine and psychiatric care has to offer and we should turn ourselves over to the Lord and to listen to his counsel.  Finding the source of our emotional difficulties is naturally the beginning but it puts your on the right road.  Using medical doctors and counseling one should seek out the problem.  Interestingly enough some of our emotional problems can be signs of arising difficulties in our physical bodies such as the thyroid gland or other imbalances and those should be ruled out.

What one should understand is that emotional health challenges like most types of medical examination are a process of elimination.  And working through that process is important.  However, I would assume that for most listening to this podcast the medical side of things such as glands and observable imbalances have been exhausted.  The next step is to determine if some type of trauma is part of the equation.  Now it is important to remember that the trauma does not have to occur to us specifically and we did not have to be at the scene of the incident either.  Not everyone experiences trauma the same way.  We find that soldiers experiencing the same events process them differently.  Some may end up with PTSD, depression or other afflictions and some do not.  Even head trauma can be very different from person to person.  It is important to isolate the sources of the problem.  For instance, if our emotional illness is based more in genetic backgrounds rather than trauma, counseling may not provide much help.  If it is more based in trauma, abuse or accident then counseling may provide significant benefit.  However, don’t get stuck thinking that abuse and trauma always responds to counseling or that a genetic defect can’t benefit from counseling.  That is the problem with emotional illness, the solutions vary by person not necessarily by the source.  However, it is important to start with the source.

I personally am an advocate of counseling and medication to the extent that it works.  For me, counseling does not provide significant benefit and this is also true for my daughter who suffers.  I have relied more upon medications.  But don’t throw out counseling because it didn’t work for your sibling, daughter or friend.  The same is true for medications.  Now I am going to get on my soapbox for a moment about medications.  I understand that counterculture that exists in society and especially within the church about taking what is termed psychiatric medications.  And I agree we should be cautious, especially with medications or cures that are on the fringes of medication understanding and advice.  But I don’t believe that we should be so terribly concerned because a medication will alter our emotions in supposed unnatural ways, or that it might be addictive, which additive is a strange term for that type of medication.  The Lord has provided knowledge to wise individuals and they in turn have provided for medications.  I realize that healthcare and pharmaceuticals are a politicized problem and men perhaps lacking some integrity might cause us to recoil at their monetary benefits from such beneficial drugs but that should stop us from working with what science has to offer.  I have for many years taken a variety of medication for both my autoimmune illness and my emotional health.  I have found great benefit in these medications and found them to be useful in many ways.

I have also found something important and that is they don’t affect my spirituality or my ability to receive revelation.  They temper my emotions so that I can feel the whisperings of the spirit and provide for me a much better life than I otherwise would have had.  Without my medications, I would be disabled unable to work or function and I would have limited ability to fulfill callings and provide help to others.  Without them I could not write this podcast every week.  What I am trying to say in perhaps too many words is that we should be wise and use all the methods that the Lord has to offer to find healing.

When we start our healing journey and while we are in the midst of it, we should acknowledge the Lord’s hand when we receive even a partial benefit of healing.  We should be grateful for what we obtain even if it is not exactly what we desired.  I admit I don’t like taking medications every morning and night but I definitely provides a healing blessing for me on a daily basis.  And yes like almost everyone I have tried to quit my medications several times and the result has been as expected.  We should also seek the Lord’s blessing through the priesthood and through revelation.  We should be open to listening to the Spirit and those around us as they help us through the midst of the crisis and then onto greener pastures.

Now perhaps the greater question.  Why? Why won’t the Lord just provide the healing?  I admit that I perhaps seek for myself in this answer but maybe you will find something you can use.  For me, my illness allows me to be consistently dependent upon the Savior for my daily bread.  We are told to ask for our daily bread and often the Lord provides long-term challenges that allows us to ask for this bread.  Through it I can see daily miracles, receive revelation, find peace and consistently depend upon the Savior.  For me, it is a teaching method, that has provided for a much deeper and richer relationship with the Savior.  I have learned a great deal about myself, my emotions, my body, my life and purpose and the plan of salvation.  Maybe it is that we seek more when we need divine help and in seeking we find.  My illness has been a great blessing to my life.  That is perhaps one of the main blessings.

Interestingly enough it has strengthened my relationship with my wife.  Yes my illness and hers has caused us some difficulties in our marriage and yet it also has provided great opportunities to deepen and develop our relationship.  Emotional illness in a marriage is not easy task.  But it gives great opportunities to learn service, compassion, develop love and become far more celestial.  That is my second why.

Third, I have come to realize that if we truly desire celestial life we must allow the Lord to train us in the way he sees fit.  If we truly desire celestial life then everything must be on the alter.  Only when everything is on the alter can the Lord supply the complete blessing.  When we only give a portion, then only a portion we will receive.  And so even my emotional and physical health must be placed on that alter, even though I admit those are two very difficult things for me to place there.  And they can’t be on the alter for a short time, they must be there until the Lord is done with me.  As much as I have pleaded with the Lord for a complete healing, he has kept my emotional and physical health on the alter and I expect that he will continue to do so until I have completed my training.

In the end healing is a process we travel with the Lord.  He knows exactly what we need and he will give us rest once in a while to catch our breath.  That road to healing will be individual to the person.  One person’s road may be very different from another even when suffering from the same emotional illness.  We must rely upon the knowledge we have and the mercies of the atonement of Christ to find the healing we desire.  Finally remember to let the Lord decide what, when, where and how we will be healed and to what extent it will occur.  Be grateful and you will find joy and rest to your souls and in the end you will find your sufferings will be your greatest blessing.  Until next week.  Do your part so that the Lord can do his.