Welcome to Monday! Another week ahead, and, after the crazy day I had yesterday, I’m hoping it will be a little easier. Having one sick kid is bad enough, but two… Yikes! And my four year old goes crazy after being cooped up for too long. I thought I would lose my mind!
I have decided to start something new on the blog. Each Monday, I want to share some thoughts. I’ve been really good at sharing crafts, recipes, printables, etc but not too much lately about myself. And I have had some experiences this past year especially that I want to share in hopes of connecting with others with similar situations. It always helps to share thoughts and strengthen each other right?
So, here we go for my first post on Monday Muses.
Last year, I experienced some great adversity in dealing with anxiety. I’ve shared a little about it before. I didn’t know it then, but I had struggled, unknowingly, with anxiety for a long time. It wasn’t until I had a really horrific panic attack that I finally inquired about therapy and started sessions.
I was really blessed too. My therapist was a perfect match for me. He understood what I was trying to say, even when I couldn’t communicate it exactly. And he was able to help me see my weaknesses without making me feel badly about myself. Instead, I always came away feeling better, like I could conquer anything.
In many of our sessions, we addressed a problem that kept coming up in things we discussed.
My therapist pointed out that there was a part of my personality that was both a strength and a weakness. It was what I call “people pleaser” syndrome. I bend over backwards worrying about others, but sometimes get the short end of the stick in return. And it’s not like people intentionally do it. It’s just that those who are not people pleasers don’t think outside of themselves the same way.
So I would give and give and give. But I wouldn’t get much back. The people around me would get used to me saying “yes” to everything. They would never hear my true feelings because I feared starting a fight or getting the other person upset with me (although I can argue pretty well when I want to!).
It was an endless train ride that had no stop.
And, if you have experienced this, you understand the heartache and hurt that can accompany it. It’s exhausting! Thankfully, I am able to get over things quickly. However, in therapy, I did begin to see that, while I didn’t remember experiences, the feelings of hurt still lingered.
And then my therapist pointed out that I could turn this personality trait into a strength.
How is such a thing possible? Can a weakness really become a strength?
Consider this passage from The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ and a book I believe to be true with my whole soul:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
And there it is, directly from the Lord. Our weaknesses can become strengths, if we humble ourselves and turn to Him.
Admittedly, it was hard grasping at all of these weaknesses of mine. Therapy really opened it up. But I needed it. I needed to see them. I needed to turn to the Lord, and I had certainly been humbled by my experiences.
As Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) observed:
“It is not an easy thing … to be shown one’s weaknesses. … Nevertheless, this is part of coming unto Christ, and it is a vital, if painful, part of God’s plan of happiness.”
Some people feel defeated by their personal weaknesses and succumb to despair. Some attempt to hide, ignore, or compensate for their shortcomings because of pain and embarrassment. But, as the Lord told Moroni, recognizing and acknowledging a weakness is a necessary part of overcoming it: “Because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong.”
Throughout the rest of my sessions, we began looking at ways I could better communicate with others. We talked about the need for me to let my feelings show, even at the risk of upsetting another. I was given homework in which I listed the things that I wanted, and then worked on allowing myself to not always give in to someone and do what I wanted. It was hard to learn to do that; it went against who I am sometimes.
But it was liberating, too.
The past year has been difficult, and yet I feel stronger. However, the anxiety is still there. My weakness is too. While I have begun to learn how to change it into a strength, I feel it will be a life-long process. And I know the battle against anxiety will continue.
Anne C. Pingree shared this:
Sometimes, in spite of all we do to “make weak things become strong,” the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, does not take away our weakness. The Apostle Paul struggled throughout his life with “a thorn in the flesh,” which he said served to humble him “lest [he] should be exalted above measure” (2 Cor. 12:7). Three times Paul asked the Lord to take away his weakness, and three times the Lord declined to do so. The Lord then explained that His grace was sufficient for Paul and that, in fact, His strength was actually “made perfect in weakness.” Then Paul wrote, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:9–10).
Perhaps I will never see this particular weakness taken away fully. But I can say that I have felt the Lord’s strength this past year. He has been with me every step of the way. It hasn’t been an easy journey.
While I would have never said it while in the throws of it, I am grateful for my experiences. I can see that the Lord, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, knew that these things would teach me, groom me, and make me a better person. And, even more importantly, it reminded me of how much I need Him in my life. It’s so easy to forget how much we need Him while we battle each day.
Thankfully, He never forgets us.
For more information about my beliefs, visit mormon.org