|The sun broke through the clouds as it set one stormy afternoon a few weeks ago|
Let me first tell you why I'm writing this.
A dear blogging friend of mine has made a point of authenticity in her writing. I find it refreshing and encouraging. I want to be authentic.
Also, my blog is where I record my life right now. I do not want my children to look back and wonder why I had it so perfect when they have real life troubles in their own lives.
My life isn't perfect. I want them to know that I have difficulties, that I overcome them, and that they can too.
My life is good and beautiful and full of love and joy, but it isn't perfect.
I sometimes struggle with anxiety.
I know it is a common problem. Many many many people, especially women, battle worry and anxiety of their own.
I saw some incredible counselors about it as a teen, and for the most part,
I have reached a point in my life where my worrying doesn't surface often, and when it does, I can quickly recognize what is happening and set my fears aside.
Aside from an intense few months of worries and fears when I was dating Kent and trying to decide if I should marry him (thank you, thank you, Kent, for not giving up on me), I haven't really had lasting trouble with anxiety since I was a young teenager.
Most of the time, I live happily and confidently and without fear.
This summer, however, was different.
I began having some strange and frightening physical symptoms. No one could tell me what was wrong-it seemed serious, then not serious, then serious again--and I began to fear. The summer was busy with my brother's wedding and everything else that went on and I was stressed, sick, and completely freaked out.
As the months passed, we discovered most of my symptoms were caused by a potassium deficiency, easily corrected, but even so, my fear became a cage that I could not escape. My usual tools and tricks were ineffective, and my worrying was affecting my life in a major way.
I wasn't happy anymore. Every single moment of every single day was spent in fear. I wasn't able to play with the kids. I was short-tempered and distant. My physical symptoms slowly began to fade, but I was hypersensitive and every little normal ache and pain and twitch set me off the edge into panic.
I had several panic attacks over the course of a few months. I hardly ate, and I would wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to go back to sleep for several hours because I was so worried. The anxiety had taken over my life and I wasn't able to function anymore.
There were moments of peace and clarity and spiritual confirmations, as well as priesthood blessings, that promised me I was fine, all was well, and I would be all right.
But I felt unable to trust in those feelings of peace. I set them aside every time a new "symptom" came up.
I began seeing a chiropractor in September, and my remaining symptoms improved.
The worries and fears, though, were still there, and I still felt like I was looking at my life from a distance, separated from the joy I normally feel because I was too busy being afraid.
And then, about five weeks ago, I felt the strongest impression that I needed to go to the temple.
I went. That very night. By myself.
And I have been changed ever since. That night, in the temple, I prayed with simplicity and intensity. I mostly just said, "I am here. I am here. Help me." I prayed this over and over as the hours in the temple passed.
And then, in a single moment, at the end of my time there, I felt my Heavenly Father's perfect love fill my broken heart. Tears ran down my face as I was filled with joy, peace, and assurance that truly, all is well.
Love has become my daily mantra. Anytime I feel that cage, that pit of fear, begin to close itself around my heart, I say to myself over and over again,
"You are loved. You are loved. You are loved."
And the fear goes away.
I have joy in my life again. I can be with my children and really truly be with them. I feel whole and present and happy again.
I have returned to the temple every week since then. There is a power and a strength in myself now that was not there before. And every time I leave those beautiful bronze doors, I look up at the spire, brilliant white against the night sky, and I promise that I will be back. Again and again and again.
I will continue to go,
for I have discovered for myself the power of the temples in my life.
I know that not every battle can be fixed just by relying on the love of our Heavenly Father. There are pains and problems that also need medical attention or professional help. I have needed that help before and I may need it again at some point.
What I have learned this time, though, is that God's love is perfect.
Perfect love truly does cast out fear.
He hears our prayers, and He is true to His every promise. His love binds our wounds, heals the broken hearted, and makes us whole again.
I am grateful.