Today’s Reading: Alma 15: 1-12
3 And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat.
Has anything ever weighed so heavily on your mind that you physically felt the effect?
At the beginning of this year I set out on a journey to become more physically healthy. My goal was to cut out refined sugars and processed foods for 60 days. A sort of experiment, “just to see what happens” I said. I am physically active and a seemingly healthy person. My focus was getting to the next level physically. I wanted to be stronger and more energetic. I wanted to simply: understand my body, keep up with my children and feel comfortable in my skin. In the beginning I experienced fast results. I felt stronger, less tired and lighter on my feet. I was excited and motivated. My physical changes affected me mentally, I was happy.
After the first 30 days, the physical changes slowed. I worried and stressed. I wondered what I was doing wrong. My mood toward myself darkened and I needed a change of attitude. I spent several weeks of my 60 day experiment worrying that nothing was changing. As I worried, the physical changes I originally saw reverted back to where I started. I was tired and not sleeping soundly. I felt slow and weak. Worst of all, my mind was angry and my temper short. I was confused and frustrated.
One day after a morning prayer I thought to get back on my knees and pray again. This time about the problem that weighed on my mind. I asked to my Father in Heaven to show me what I was doing wrong. It seemed such a trivial thing to dedicate its own prayer toward. I teach my children to pray when they’ve lost a toy and once I beamed with excitement when I heard my three-year-old pray for his “TB” (T.V.) to work. Seemingly trivial things to me, but they matter deeply to my children, so they matter to me. The same was true in my case, but I was forgetting to tell my Father in Heaven.
The scriptures remind us that we should “[…] make our requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
In that moment I pleaded for help with a silly experiment that left me defeated. Almost instantly I knew I needed to improve my mind.
Physically I was doing what was right. I was fueling myself with good food, I was drinking water and getting sleep. I was exercising, spending time outside and even giving myself an extra pat on the back for teaching my kids healthy living.
But healthy living isn’t just physical.
I spent the majority of 60 days failing to ask Heavenly Father to assist me. Forgetting that he cared, even about this. I spent the majority of 60 days fueling myself with healthy things only to tell myself I wasn’t good enough. Figuratively, I strengthened myself only to push myself in the dirt. Over and over again. My mental anguish affected me physically more than I ever realized possible. Healthy living includes body, mind and spirit.
In in the October 2013 General Conference Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a powerful address titled “Like a Broken Vessel” about the reality of mental illness and the power that our minds have over our lives. He reminds us,
Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed.
I committed to improve my mind, to allow Heavenly Father to help me make changes and to learn to accept His grace when I fall short. This is no small task, but now more than ever I realize when our body, minds and spirit can function as one true harmony and happiness can occur.
In 2003, Pres. Boyd K. Packer shared a story when he was a young adult. As a child he was struck with illness and his physical body suffered. He received his Patriarchal blessing as a young man and it spoke directly about the cohesiveness of spirit, mind and body.
You have been given a body of such physical proportions and fitness as to enable your spirit to function through it unhampered by physical impediments. […] It is the instrument of your mind and the foundation of your character. [Patriarchal blessing of Boyd K. Packer, 15 January 1944, 1]
I found that it did not matter, really, what kind of bodies we have, so long as we understand that our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character.
I am excited and almost giddy at the thought of my body, mind and spirit cohesively working together toward one cause. This step toward better mental health, with the Lord by my side, has truly strengthened my spirit. I realize that body, mind and spirit each play a part – in all of my goals. In each and every one of OUR goals. We are so blessed to have a Father in Heaven that wants to help us with everything.