Category Archives: Advice
In a few days, my family is moving from a small town in northern Idaho to a much larger city in the western United States.
It’s hard to believe that we have to move on, yet there’s a sort of completeness that fills me as I think about it. I have no doubt that it’s time for the next phase of our lives…and that we’re ready for whatever comes our way — thanks, in large part, to the preparation of this phase.
And my, what a phase it’s been! My husband was in graduate school for Acting. I think I was in graduate school for life. I’ve learned seriously important lessons over the past 4 years. And since new beginnings are always a time to reflect, I thought I’d share some of them here…
1. The only way out is through.
2. All I’ll ever have is a small glimpse into what is eternally True.
3. God is good.
4. Love means honoring people’s freedom…then giving them all kinds grace when they use it to screw things up. MOST IMPORTANT PART: this goes for me, too.
5. From our greatest trials spring our greatest blessings.
6. It is more important to be authentic than liked. Of course, with few exceptions, it is possible to be both.
7. Wherever I am today is because I chose it.
8. At least 35% of the Avett Brothers’ songs should be canonized as scripture. Case in point:
9. The Kingdom of God is within.
10. I married the right dude. Just look at him.
11. The church is as true as the gospel. Especially because of its flaws.
12. God’s love brings freedom to live from what’s real.
The past few weeks have been some of the most transformative I’ve ever had in my recovery from OCD. They haven’t been particularly easy weeks, but of course I never expected this journey to be easy. I want to share some insights I gained from a massive breakthrough I experienced recently, in case others who struggle with OCD might find them useful. I’m not sure, but I have a feeling this might also be of value to folks who are perfectionistic or have a tendency to worry. But because I am speaking from my experience with OCD, I’ll address OCD directly.
(Disclaimer: I am NOT a counselor and this is NOT scientific. This is just an analogy that has helped me lately. If you’re an OCD sufferer and it’s useful to you, wonderful; if not, please ignore me and listen to your therapist instead.) 🙂
My last post was about doubt, something with which I am intimately acquainted due to my lifelong battle with OCD (often called the “doubting disease”). Obviously, chronic doubt, like the kind associated with OCD, can have a profound impact on one’s spiritual life — so I wrote the post in an attempt to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned in my quest to cultivate faith anyway. I hope it can be a source of help and strength not just for OCD sufferers, but people who struggle with doubt in any way (which, let’s face it, is all of us).
It occurred to me this morning, though, that spirituality isn’t the only thing impacted by OCD. It has also has a major effect on emotional health. So today, I wanted to share some of the strategies I’ve learned about being emotionally healthy, despite managing a mental illness. I haven’t always been great at these — and, in fact, am still mastering most of them — but they are useful principles that I work on daily.
My 20-year-old sister is in the process of deciding whether or not she should serve a full-time mission and sent me an email asking me about my experience. Of course, prayer and personal reflection are her primary decision-making tools; still, she feels that an important part of her process is gathering as much information as she can about what missions are really like.
Knowing that several of my readers are returned missionaries, I asked for her permission to share her questions on my blog. She jumped at the chance to get wider feedback. So here are her questions and my responses. If you’re an RM, please take a few minutes to respond to the questions as well (if you feel comfortable, you could even include where you served — not necessary though)! We’re happy to take responses from everyone, regardless of how much you enjoyed your mission (or didn’t!) or whether or not you are still an active Mormon.
Thanks in advance for helping her out. 🙂
WARNING: This post contains a frank discussion of human sexuality. If that makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you skip it.
NOTE: This post is rated PG-13 for swearing. I got fired up. You’ve been warned.
A self-described “Molly Mormon” named Kathy wrote in to Dr. Elia, who I guess is some sort of shrink. Kathy is having an ongoing conflict with her husband over their level of church activity. She’s fearful for her family’s eternal salvation because her husband says you can still get to heaven without listening to General Conference (gasp!), occasionally missing church to go camping (horrors!) or…brace yourselves now…not attending the temple and “just living good.”
Dr. Elia, she writes, am I being too churchy? What can I do to help my marriage?
Dr. Elia’s answer: “The main issue afflicting your marriage is lack of spiritual intimacy.” He then goes on to offer the solution–which is, essentially: “Change your husband” (because, obviously, that always works) by doing the following things…
- Have a heart-to-heart with your husband, and bring in the bishop if necessary to “moderate” the discussion (because I know I’m always so grateful when I get ratted on)
- Read the scriptures and your patriarchal blessings together
- Ask him if he wants the kids to become heathens?
- If all else fails, remember that everyone always gets what’s coming to them, and at some point your husband is going to realize how much he needs God; let’s just hope it’s not too painful when it happens (though he’d totally deserve it, the bastard)
Uhhh…hello? There’s so much wrong with this advice, I don’t even know where to start.
You see, on many levels, I was Kathy, just a couple of years ago. I can totally picture her, struggling day after day to do everything she thinks she’s supposed to do—raise the perfect children, have the perfect family—and she’s terrified God’s going to keep them from her if they don’t measure up. And what bothers me most is that in five short paragraphs, this so-called “expert” succeeded in further entrenching this miserable woman in her perfectionist, legalistic worldview…set her up to take a confrontational, oppositional position against her husband…and utterly failed to correct her destructive doctrine.
Who the hell pays people to come up with this crap?
WORST. ADVICE. EVER.
Well, I’m no shrink. But if I were in her shoes (and I was), here’s what I’d wish someone would tell me: Read the rest of this entry