Wednesday, January 8, 2014

:::Reading the Book of Mormon:::

I have three goals motivating my endeavors in 2014. The first is this - I will stop and read the Book of Mormon in the evening when I start to feel anxious, depressed, worried, and hopeless. 

Usually I don't read my scriptures until I'm ready to fall into bed, or should I say roll into bed from my kneeling prayer position. Not surprisingly, I've been well aware for many years that when this is my sole approach to scripture study, I miss a lot of information, and more importantly, I'm not really opening myself up to spend quality time with the Spirit. 

When I read in the earlier part of the evening my brain is still turned on, and I have time to just sit and be with what I'm reading. Mull it over, or let my mind extrapolate meaning from ancient words to my own life. I'm retaining more information, and actually processing the difficult situations these Book of Mormon heroes/heroines endured. Contentious families, living as refugees, raising children in a wilderness, subsisting on what they could provide for themselves, avoiding attacks from within and without, and managing difficult personalities. Building societies, establishing righteous laws, preserving gospel traditions, trying to establish a promised land, bearing the spiritual responsibility of teaching and correcting, and all of them walking only in the light their faith could provide. There are so many things written and unwritten in these stories that you just miss with one leg in bed. 

Like how many of them had any idea what they were really being called to do? The actual scope of their appointed work? I'd guess most had absolutely none. Nephi admits that he himself had no clue what his plan would be when he returns to Jerusalem for the plates. 

But I feel Nephi's very conscious decision to be brave when he says that he knows the Lord never commands anything without opening up pathways to success. I feel that even though his faith was strong, he was an intelligent man who had a clear understanding of odds, a familiarity with worry, and a desperation to keep his family alive. It's okay to be scared. Nephi had to have been scared, even if for just a little while. 

As for the medicinal benefits of scripture study? It's too early to say. But I'm banking on two promises. First, countless prophets have testified that the Book of Mormon changes lives through the powerful messages, testimonies, and
truths it contains. Second, I know that any time you try to do something good, anything good, the Lord will bless you. As I get older and the depression and anxiety I struggle with wrenches and twists its way through my life, I look for more and more heavenly assistance. Something good will come of this. Probably not a complete healing, as life is  a long and difficult journey, as any reading of the Book of Mormon will teach you. But maybe some peace, and maybe some clarity. Or maybe just a direction to start in when I have no clue what my plan should be. 


Jill said...

Beautifully written Rebekah! I love your list of difficult situations we can learn from by reading The Book of Mormon, it's amazing to see them listed out like that.

I too need to read during the day when I'm more coherent, because I'm usually a grumpy, tired mess when I get into bed at night.

Joie said...

I was seriously contemplating writing something similar. Now I'm just creeped out, so I'll just get it all out in the comment section. I have also been reading the book of mormon more consistently, in fact it's an instagram group in which I find it helpful to keep me reading since I am checking my feed first thing in the morning anyway. Plus, the commentary has proven to bouy me up in my perceived isolation.

Speaking to the medicinal benefits of the Book of Mormon, this is my theory/experience: in my journey to understand how to best help my children progress, the only therapies or forms of treatment that have made sense to me are those that address the root of the issue. So while traditionalist will list all that I can do to address their symptoms, I have seen the most dramatic results from stripping chemicals from their diet and doing exercises to help their little brains develop so that all the "symptoms" will take care of themselves as a normal healthy brain should.
So it is with my spirit. Like you, I have struggled with great anxiety that is paralyzing. As a church we tend to compartmentalize the things of the gospel and if I started thinking about all the things I was NOT doing, then it kept me from even trying. I realized that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I needed to focus on him and then sooner or later I would naturally have a desire to be better and do better. And I figure there is no better way to get to know Christ than through his book.

Wow, that was a lot, but what can I say? Stop reading my mind.