As promised, here is the continuation of my rant from Tuesday. Enjoy!
Some of us want generalized answers for everything
When I first started writing what eventually turned into “The OCD Mormon,” I wanted to be broad. I wrote about “mental illnesses and Mormonism.” I paid to have a Mormon author edit my first draft, and she basically told me to focus. Focus! She told me to tell my story, in depth: “Put it in scene,” she wrote over and over again the margins. Basically, stop being so general.
I wish all Mormons could understand the importance of this advice. Sometimes it’s important to delve into a topic. Sometimes we can’t just overgeneralize everything and every topic. Sometimes it means more to focus.
I’ve been thinking about this when it comes to talk topics and classes at Church too. We are assigned something like “faith,” “charity,” “the Plan of Salvation,” etc. Like what the heck! These are immense topics! We could spend an entire year studying the Plan of Salvation. How about we talk about “mortal life” or “life after death” or something more specific. But then, when the Church tries to delve (as it is with fourth Sunday lessons right now for Relief Society and Priesthood), we get cranky. “How can we possibly talk about the Sabbath for five months?!” we say. We aren’t used to that kind of study. So I don’t know. We need to change our attitude. It’s good to focus.
Someone asked why we made our conference specifically about anxiety disorders versus all mental illness: why? Because I don’t know intimately or have personal experience with ALL mental illness, and I want to be able to do a good job. Biting off more than we can chew typically leads to mediocrity. I’d love to see conferences about bipolar disorder and Mormonism or depression and Mormonism or whatever mental illness and Mormonism. They each deserve focus and special attention. We who have these mental illnesses deserve more than a massive gloss over of all mental illnesses. Why? Because they are all so different and often require different, specialized treatments.
Sometimes there are not generalized answers for everything, and that’s okay. Why should there be? Life is complicated! It’s okay!
We are often too judgmental and critical of others
This is another human nature problem, but one that bugs me with many Mormons especially because some part of me feels like we should be able to be “better” since our teachings encourage love and charity for each other.
But let’s face it. We are judgmental. I’m judgmental. I’m critical. I get mad. We love to be “armchair quarterbacks,” telling the people who are actually doing something that they are not doing it right and that they should really get it together and be better. Do better. “What’s wrong with them?” we love to think. “I could do that better!”
Oh really? Then do it!
Not to bring it back to Ayn Rand (okay fine, I will), but it’s like “Atlas Shrugged”: okay, you can do it better? Then we, the pillars of civilization making sure everything is running smoothly, will just step down and go into hiding by ourselves and see how you pull it off. Things didn’t go so well, did they?
Isn’t this basically what we allowed to happen with the whole current American political administration? People said, “Let’s let the man who’s been complaining about Obama for eight years take over because ‘he says he can make America great again.'” How’s that going for us as a nation and society? How are people with their health care? How is our relationship with the rest of the world? How are our various administrations running now that many of the actual experts and people with experience have been pushed out?
Politics aside, it’s like, please let the people who are passionate, experienced, and able to do things do things. Instead, too many times what happens is that the talented, ambitious, enthusiastic, and intelligent people who want to make a difference get trolled, and eventually they just say, “Screw it. I don’t need this hassle. I don’t want to be harassed and told I’m evil and stupid. I don’t need that.” And who suffers? Everyone else. We all do. They are fine, being smart and brilliant on their own, while we all pay the consequences.
So stop whining, please. Or just whine to yourself.
We sometimes expect (or feel entitled to) miracles
Maybe this is universal, but I feel like, often, Mormons especially love to rely on miracles. We pray for miracles. We fast for miracles. We go to the temple and ask for miracles. We get priesthood blessings hoping for miraculous solutions. Why?
Do we feel entitled to them because of our righteousness? Do we have the faith to produce them? Do we not want to do the work? Do we not want to put forth effort to improve our situations ourselves? Do we lack faith in ourselves or in our medical community? Do we not want to do or go through hard things? Do we feel like we’re not giving God the chance to work in our lives if we don’t ask for miracles?
The truth is, God is working in our lives ALL THE TIME. And furthermore, the truth is, we are not all going to be miraculously healed. That might actually be the plan.The truth is, hard things happen to everyone. We are not saved from all difficulties and given a cushy life, most of the time. Maybe instead of relying on miracles so much, we need to make our own miracles. Go get the help you need. Stop complaining, waiting, and go and do something.
This is true especially when it comes to mental health and Mormonism. There is professional care available! Go get it! There is medication that works! Don’t tell yourself that it is against the Word of Wisdom or that you should be able to handle it on your own. Maybe God isn’t going to miraculously cure your anxiety or bipolar disorder. Maybe for some reason, that is your cross to bear.
AND PLEASE DON’T MAKE FUN OF THE CROSS THAT SOMEONE ELSE IS BEARING. I can’t believe I need to say that, but apparently I do. Don’t laugh at someone else’s mental illness, thinking yours is “worse.” What are you thinking? That’s rude, insensitive, and probably wrong. You don’t know what anyone else is going through. You really don’t! You don’t know what their mental illness has brought them to or made them suffer through. Don’t you dare make fun of anyone else for what they are dealing with.
We Want To Think We are the “Good Fruit”
It’s good for us to have a solid self esteem. But let’s stop for a second and make sure that we are actually acting with compassion, treating others with respect, not assuming we know the full situation, etc. before we make comments or accuse someone of something. SO MANY TIMES I’ve experienced or heard of a member of the Church, who probably thinks they are being a good person and “defending the truth,” being awful or saying awful things. When this happens, we are unfortunately not really upholding what Christ would have us (as supposed members of His Church) when He gave the whole “by their fruits ye shall know them” parable. Whose fruit are you if you are being rude, causing contention, belittling people trying to do their best, etc?
Just leaving that there.
So yes. It’s hard. Life is hard. It’s hard being a member of the Church. It’s hard being a person. But let’s try to improve. Let’s try to be better. Let’s realize that it’s okay to feel feelings. I honestly think it’s okay to be offended if someone offends you. We are not robots. Be angry. But work through those emotions. See what you can learn from those experiences. Tell God you love Him but are having issues with some of His children. I did that the other night. Let yourself feel. Christ let Himself feel. He got angry. He wept. But He also forgave, and He understood human nature. Guess what? He still does.
I don’t know. Try to be a good human, that’s all.