This is the 100th post on my blog! Celebration time!!!!! 🙂
Since it’s my hundredth post, and it’s coming up on the New Year, I thought it might be a nice opportunity for reflection. So I went through some of the old posts I’d written. WOW. What a transformative few years it’s been since I started writing my blog in June 2008.
In some ways, it’s painful to read. In other ways, it’s miraculous. I read between the lines and remember what this journey has been. In particular, it’s striking to revisit the agonizing confusion that came with my fight against OCD, especially before I knew I had OCD (I wasn’t diagnosed until December 2010, but I have been battling it my whole life). I see it in every post, every question. And yet, I would not change any of it. OCD has been my life’s greatest trial; but as is often the case with great trials, it has also provided many of my greatest gifts.
Today, I’d like to share some of the gifts OCD has given me — graces I would not have received were it not for my day-to-day struggle to live a rich, meaningful life despite my disorder. I write this for the benefit of others struggling with difficult trials of every variety (including myself!), but with a special place in my heart for those facing mental illness. I hope this will be a reminder that there is meaning in our battle, that God can create tremendous beauty from even the deepest despair, that there is hope for all of us.
Special Note about My LDS Lesson Recaps: Please feel free to use any of this material in preparation for your own LDS Relief Society lesson plan or sacrament meeting talk — no attribution required. 🙂
This lesson outline comes from a mini-workshop I taught this past Saturday at our stake women’s conference on Living a Christ-Centered Life. This is how it came to be: the stake relief society president caught me after church one Sunday and asked if I would be willing to teach something at the conference. I said yes. She said, “What topic interests you?”
I replied, “Well, Sister E., I’m happy to teach whatever you’d like, but you should know that I’m over the moon for Jesus.”
And thus this lesson was born.
2010 has been something of a rough year. I don’t say this to be dramatic or to elicit sympathy and pity: people have rough years. This was one of mine. But even at its darkest, I have seen purpose in it, have recognized that God is tearing away more and more of what I thought I needed but that I don’t, so that more and more of who He made me to be can be displayed with clarity.
Still, December 23 had me on the phone with my sister. Again. In tears. Again. Wondering how I could celebrate Christmas with all its joy and spectacle when I felt so distant from anything remotely resembling it.
Then I remembered. For all the lights and tinsel, for all the sparkling packages and clanking bells, for all the Hallelujah choruses, the decadent food, the elaborate parties, the ugly sweaters with sequins and snowmen and swirls — we are honoring the birth of a God who, ultimately, came to suffer; and in His sufferings, triumph.
That is not to say the triumph doesn’t deserve the joy and gaiety we lavish upon it; merely that this year I needed to focus on the humility of His beginning and the depth of His condescension — so lowly, so meek, that He came to meet me where I am.
So to the God born in a barn, not in a palace, not in a hospital, not even a clean bed, and laid to sleep in a feeding trough: Thank You. You have no beauty that I should desire You, You who are smitten and afflicted, bruised and forsaken — and yet I do. From the depths of my soul, I do!