It wasn't until my late high school years that I really began to appreciate the first weekend in October and the first weekend in April. Twice a year, I - along with the whole world, have the opportunity to listen to a general broadcast conference where we hear from the prophet. That's right, the prophet. I believe there are prophets and apostles living on earth today who are guided by the Lord to lead and guide us in the right direction. While some might not agree that this is possible, the messages from this conference are ALWAYS full of love, kindness, and provide peace and understanding. So, regardless of whether you believe in living prophets, the message of hope is extended to all who believe in Christ. That just ROCKS!
In high school, I remember my religious teacher, also known as my seminary teacher, tell us that conference was time we would receive a lot of answers to our prayers. He challenged us to write down questions we had in our lives, pray to God about them, and listen for the answers during the conference sessions. This past week, I listed off my questions, and sure enough, I received my answers.
As an example, last week I struggled to understand my role as a caretaker of someone experiencing depression. I found myself going under, which is actually quite common for someone taking care of someone else who has a behavioral issues (I don't like the word disorder). It seemed like no matter what I did, too much love, tough love, regular love, parent love, sisterly love, companion love, whatever, was not enough to help us fight this battle without a lot of tears, anger, and frustration. I started doubting myself, and found that I wasn't motivated to do much of anything anymore. That is when I decided that I needed to understand my role more and included my study as part of the Happiness Project. However, when I started studying about it, and it only made me more depressed. Trying not to get even more down, I read how important it is for me to take care of myself, being the caretaker.
This thought is super hard for me. I am the oldest in my family. I grew up with the responsibility of taking care of my siblings. At the time, I was just bossy and told them what to do, because at the end of the day, I was responsible for their shortcomings. That's right. There is a joke in my family that the oldest is always at fault. It wasn't a joke growing up. If Jamie and Brendon (my younger siblings) were fighting, I was the one who got in trouble. I am glad we can joke about it today, but back then....not so fun.
As such, I have inherited this sense of responsibility for all those I associate with. If things don't go according to plan, it is my fault. If my caretakee is struggling and lapses - which typically results in physical and emotional blockade, it is my fault. This is something I struggle with, despite the attempt my caretakee has made to help me understand that it isn't. Trying to separate myself from the depression lapses and breakdowns as the person at fault is difficult.
It is also difficult to want to take care of myself. It seems so selfish. But in the end I know that if I don't take care of myself, and let myself go down that spiraling road of depression - which I know I can get out of, because I have done it before through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ who loves me - I won't be able to take care of anyone. That is the truth. As I struggle through this understanding, I sought peace.
During conference, my prayers were answered magnificently. It was nothing short of a miracle. The talk given by the apostle Jeffrey R. Holland was exactly what I needed to hear. It reaffirmed my limited studies. It lifted me up, giving me hope that I can succeed as a caretaker with someone who has behavioral issues. It provided clarification for what I should do given how close I am with the caretakee. It reminded me of what I need to do to have faith to overcome by illustrating a true story about one of my heroes, Stephanie Nielsen. I can't begin to tell you my joy in feeling peace for the first time in 3 months in regard to this issue.
The text is not up yet, but the audio is available, and I have included the video below. I will highlight some important takeaways in another post.
I testify Heavenly Father is divine, and ALSO very aware of me and my needs, and is very aware of the needs of ALL of His children. I testify that He is a loving Heavenly Father who wants what is best for us. He gives us opportunities to grow and be better, and all of this is possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for letting me share my joy in true answers to prayers.