Saturday, October 5, 2013

Elder Holland's Talk in LDS General Conference

There may be some readers out there who might not know much about my religious culture. Today is a very significant day in the annual life of a Mormon. Known as General Conference weekend, it's two days of meetings where the leaders of the overall church (not local leaders) speak to the whole body of the Church. It happens every October, and every April. It's a big deal because we believe that these leaders are called by revelation and lead the Church under inspiration. As such, what they say during each General Conference is something that all Mormons treat with a certain amout of respect, even if they occasionally disagree with the authorities.

Today, one of the talks was given by an Apostle named Jeffery R Holland. He spoke passionately and directly about mental illness in all its forms, but depression in particular. He spoke about the need for those that suffer from it to not lose hope, but to pray and to draw on the strength of the Holy Spirit. In a slight departure from our common culture, he also spoke about the need for those that suffer to seek out competent and compassionate professional treatment.

Elder Holland also talked about how important it was for those of us that see and interact with sufferers to treat all with kindness and compassion and to not be judgemental.

He spoke of the need for caregivers to be aware that they must also care for themselves as the so selflessly give to the sufferers. He spoke of the need to be patient and to maintain hope for eventual recovery.

This may seem like old hat to many, but to hear those words spoken with such force and power from the pulpit of the Conference Center, by one in the highest ranks of the Church was liberating.

At one point, Elder Holland reminded us all of the core Mormon belief in a unversal and complete resurrection, where all will rise, restored with a full and glorified body, free of troubles and disabilities. And, yes, he actually used the word "Disabilities".

As he talked about that moment, a huge weight was lifted from me, not just for Jacob, but for myself as well. I had known this for my whole life, but it just didn't sink in like it did today.

His words brought me so much comfort. How many years I've struggled to maintain my own sanity in the chaos of my own life and my own caregiving for Jacob. How often I wondered if I were actually clinically mentally ill. I've been in counseling many times and I've been on medicine before. How wonderful it was to hear it from an Apostle that the struggle didn't mean I was weak or unrighteous (at least, not any moreso than usual). I could hope to carry on and find Joy!

Be sure to visit Mark's other blogs: Mark's Black Pot, and Mo' Boy

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