I have been in counseling with Family Strategies and Coaching (familystrategies.org) for nearly 2 years. Their approach to healing from emotional issues has literally changed my life. I will never forget my first session. My family and my life seemed to have fallen apart right before my eyes in 2 short months. The anxiety I was experiencing and the despair I was feeling had led me to a place where there was nothing but darkness. By the time I met with Floyd, I was completely distraught and couldn’t imagine that I would ever recover from the trauma that I was currently experiencing.
This wasn’t the first time I had experienced trauma. As a matter of fact, trauma seems to be a friend that hangs around to keep me entertained just in case I have a bit of free time. But as I sat in Floyd’s office and gave him a synopsis of my life, I was overwhelmed with despair and knew I couldn’t handle even one more problem. “Do you think you can help me?” I asked. “I will do anything you ask me to do if it will change the way I feel. I just can’t do this anymore,” I told him. He smiled, assured me that he could help, and then went to his white board. He picked up a marker, wrote four things, then asked if any of them were thoughts I had entertained on a regular basis. I was shocked! How did this man know my thoughts after only listening to me for a few minutes? But there they were, in black and white, four beliefs that were among the most prevalent in my life. They were:
1. I am bad, unloveable, unworthy, not good enough, broken, defective…etc
2. If others really knew me they would not love me or they would reject me.
3. I can’t trust others to meet my needs. I can’t trust others…period.
4. Life without depression seems impossible. Life without exposure to sexual addiction, dysfunction and abuse, seems impossible, too.
That day, I began a journey of healing that I suspect will continue throughout my life. Through the course of my counseling, I have worked with 2 different therapists in individual and group settings, and have addressed a myriad of issues, both past and present. I am no longer the woman who sat in Floyd’s office all those months ago. I have become a different person as I have followed through with my promise to do anything asked of me if it could change the way I felt. Unfortunately, I still have a long way to go, but I’m learning and growing and becoming who I believe my Heavenly Father intended me to be.
Perhaps the biggest change has been in my beliefs about my worth. I have lived my life trying to be perfect, trying to measure up to some unseen standard that would reserve me a place in the Kingdom of God. You see, I have always known there was a Savior, and I have always believed that through His grace and His mercy I could be saved. But what I didn’t understand was His deep and infinite love for me. I didn’t understand how someone so good, so charitable, so perfect, could love someone who is as flawed as I am. So I went about life, knowing that I’d never be completely perfect, but believing that if I DID enough, I might be able to earn a place with Him.
It started way back when I was just a little girl. I tried to make my dad happy by learning as many musical instruments as I could. I practiced all the time. I got really good. I was offered several college scholarships based on my musical ability. I kept my room as clean as it could possibly be. My dresser drawers had dividers in them, my toys were lined up by size in my toy box, and my books stood in a straight line on their book shelf. My bed was made every morning and I often cleaned and organized closets and cupboards throughout the house, trying to help my mother who was overwhelmed with raising five children by herself. As I got older, I involved myself in performing groups and clubs at school. I became Beehive president and Laurel president. I served on the institute counsel. And then I got married. I got pregnant immediately and had five children of my own. I went on every field trip, volunteered in every classroom and became the PTSO president, secretary and treasurer. I served as Young Women’s president, counselor, secretary, camp director, sports director…you name, if it was a calling within the Young Women’s organization, I’ve done it. I have held family home evenings on a regular basis, gathered my family for prayers and scripture study and attended church regularly. I have never turned down a calling. Nor has my husband. And I have attended the temple more than anyone I know. But all of my diligence, all of my work, has not brought me the desired peace and happiness I have been seeking.
This past week I have been thinking a lot about God, the Father, wondering exactly who He is and how He really feels about His children. I have experienced a bit of a paradigm shift in the way I view Him and what He wants from me. The peace I am seeking can’t come from things I am doing…it has to come from another Source, the only True Source of happiness. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I work, no matter how faithful I am, I won’t be happy until I learn to rely on Him.
In 2 Nephi 31:19, it reads:
“…ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in Him relying wholly upon the merits of Him who is mighty to save.”
I have not been relying wholly upon Him. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure I’ve been relying on Him at all! Sure, I’ve given of my time and talents, I’ve tried to be good, I’ve kept the commandments. But I’ve been so busy DOING that there hasn’t been any time to BE. Lately, I want to be someone. I want to find out who that someone is. And I want to learn to love whoever I turn out to be. I believe my Father knows who I am. I believe He loves me and wants me to find the time to reach my potential. He wants me to love myself…and He wants me to like myself, too. Only He can teach me who I am supposed to be…who He created me to be.
I have never had confidence or self-esteem around other people, but I believe that the journey I am on can restore the feelings of worth that were lost long ago. I believe that someday, I will be able to stand confidently before the Lord and hear Him say, well done. And then, He will embrace me and let me feel of His infinite love, the love that caused Him to sacrifice His life for a broken sinner like me. That day will mark the end of this journey of recovery. That day, my healing will be complete. I now understand that can only happen when I am wrapped in the arms of my Savior. I look forward to that day!