It feels like for weeks and weeks I have been trying and failing. Every day I carve out 30-60 minutes to devote to the Lord. I read my scriptures, read gospel themed books, and I pray. I cling to this routine. Some days it’s the only time I feel any sense of peace in my tumultuous mind. Sometimes I still feel lonely and lost despite all my best efforts.
I think I got to a point where I needed to go out and do rather than sit and read. Thinking is great. Doing is better.
Like a cartoon character I feel like I have walked around with a cloud over my head. If I’m lucky I can leave the cloud behind when I leave the house. Peter Pan found his shadow and my cloud always finds me. If I knew how to shoo it away I would. Especially when I came home feeling more despondent after visiting teaching. That’s not supposed to happen. Service is like exercise. It should make you feel good, not worse.
Just to be clear, nothing was said during my appointments that would perpetuate my gloom. I think it’s just my cloud that’s always there. In fact, I felt great as I visited in each home. It was when I walked through the door to my house that the heaviness returned. I started to wonder at what point do I seek professional help? Or is this all part of the mourning process?
I realized that I refer to my August trip to Utah as if it happened six months ago. It was just last month. The last several months feel like ten years. I need to be patient and realize it will take time. I will never be the same again but one day I will return to a sense of normalcy. It’s only been a few months, just relax, right? Easier said than done. However today just clicked.
Our school district is offering training on a reading program designed to serve at risk students. This is the year I have planned to actually volunteer at the school. I heard about the reading program from Gwen’s kindergarten teacher last spring. I told her I would volunteer in her classroom when Gwen was in first grade. The paperwork for the program came from Gwen’s teacher so I wasn’t sure who to work for.
I decided to go to the kindergarten training because I liked the timing of the training best. The lady in charge said I could take the first grade training packet as well. She said first grade isn’t much different from kindergarten and I could probably figure it out on my own. She hadn’t scheduled me at my school yet because I didn’t have any time preferences. My schedule is flexible. I learned that first grade has a greater need for tutors than kindergarten so she scheduled me for Monday afternoons in Gwen’s classroom.
The training was at a school just over the hill from the elementary school my kids attend. I was supposed to be there 30 minutes after school started. Since I saw Gavin had gotten on the bus before we left I knew I didn’t need to waste time and gas driving back home. Armed with Ensign magazines I drove to the other school to read in the parking lot.
An article on depression caught my attention. The man talked about his earnest prayers for understanding and relief. He felt like some days the Spirit lifted him out of his hopelessness. He felt confidence to continue – if only until his next prayer. As he humbled himself to seek help through prayer he found himself growing closer to Heavenly Father.
Studying a particular story in the Book of Mormon helped him realize that there was a purpose to the trial. The winds of adversity blow us where we need to be. He realized he had been praying for those winds to be calmed but without them he wouldn’t reach the blessings the Lord had in store. It was a good reminder for me.
I especially loved the last part by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
Never Lose Faith
“How do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. …
“Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. …
“… Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.”
With that boost to my spiritual confidence I walked into the school for my training. All morning I had joked with my kids that I was going to school too. It all came rushing back. It was as if I was back in college feeling so inspired to change the world.
The more I learned about the reading program the more my heart grew. I will be working with the students that have always held a cherished spot in my heart. The kids who don’t qualify for branches of Special Education but are drowning in a regular classroom. Those kids I pulled aside to work with one on one when I was a regular classroom teacher. The same kids I enjoyed testing for Resource but they didn’t qualify and I hated telling their parents the news. I am so excited for this opportunity.
After my training I felt so light and happy. The feeling continued even after I came home. I am so grateful for this break in the clouds. I’m sure there will still be dark and stormy days ahead but for now I am appreciating the filtered sunlight shining down moments of joy.
Volunteering at the school is new to me but service is not. Sometimes things just click. I’m looking forward to this opportunity.