“You seem like you’re really irritated that I just asked you a question.”
As I pondered this statement from my 10-year-old daughter, I glanced down at the kitchen counter in front of me and saw the prescription bottle I had just brought home from the pharmacy. The medication was an anti-anxiety pill, it had been prescribed for a completely unrelated medical issue. The pharmacy had filled it for 30 days instead of just the 10 my Dr recommended. And right then I recognized it for the answer that it was.
For months I had been feeling extreme anxiety and feelings of not being good enough. While life has actually been pretty good, Satan has been busy attacking my mental health. I have struggled with anxiety and depression in the past, but it has always been due to life situations (like post-partum and unemployment while pregnant). It’s not something I live with daily, like so many others. So, this random attack caught me off guard and it took me a while to understand why I was so irritable and apathetic all the time.
All year, I have been working on writing, editing, and planning for the launch of our book “You Are Distinct & Different.” It has been both exhilarating and exhausting. I have learned so much through this process and am proud of what we have created as a worldwide sisterhood. As the finish line drew closer, that’s when the attacks on my mental health began. I know, from past experience, that Satan always becomes more relentless when something light-filled is about to come forth. And I think about how Joseph Smith was enveloped by extreme darkness just prior to the First Vision. That’s just how the adversary works and it’s actually comforting to know it’s a repeating pattern because it helps us know where to look!
As we were discussing all of the final edits, I sent Kay a message saying “We should ask all the authors to join together in a fast.” As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I wanted to take them back. Why in the world would I suggest fasting?! That is one thing I really truly struggle with. I struggle with low blood sugar and really awful migraines when I don’t eat for several hours. Intermittent fasting is not a diet fad I will ever be tempted to engage in. I eat breakfast first thing in the morning. But, the Spirit whispered to me that was exactly what needed to happen.
And so we designated a Sunday in November for all the authors to fast and pray, not only for the book to be a light to women all over the world but also for something each author stood in need of. My request was for the attacks on my mental health to subside.
That same weekend also happened to be Stake Conference for our local congregation. As Young Women President for my ward, I had the blessing of being able to attend the Leadership session in person. And what unfolded starting in that meeting allowed me to witness firsthand the power of combined fasting and specific prayer. From the opening hymn to the topics of each speaker to the impressions of the Spirit – every single thing each author requested prayers for was addressed, in some way, throughout the three meetings of that conference. I just sat there in awe as I compared the request list and the notes I was taking.
During the leadership meeting, our Stake President talked a lot about making sure that we (as leaders) were taking care of our own spiritual needs first. As he spoke, I realized that I had been so busy trying to make sure my family and the Young Women were okay I really wasn’t spending much time and energy on filling my own tank. I knew that was one way to improve my mental health. More time with God always equals less time with Satan.
The following Monday is when I was standing in the kitchen and my daughter made the statement about me being irritated with her. As I glanced at that prescription bottle in front of me, I knew that it was not a coincidence the pharmacy had filled a 30 day supply instead of 10. I had been doing all the self-care things I could think of that usually ease my stress – Epsom salt baths, prioritizing sleep, taking walks, meditation, reading good books – and I was still extremely anxious. It was time for an added measure of help.
We have an extremely gracious Heavenly Father. The gift of the Spirit is one of the greatest blessings He has given us. But, we have to be able to discern the promptings that come. Sometimes it requires us to think outside the box. Sometimes it requires us to engage in things that are hard for us. Sometimes we need that added prayers of faith from others. Sometimes we have to ponder the simple statements made by a child. But, no matter what, I know that He answers our pleas. He teaches us gently. He gives the best gifts.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh. findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.Matthew 7:7-8, KJV
Featured Image Painting by Tricia Robinson Art