Saturday, March 9, 2013

Strength in Weakness

This will be a bit of a rambly post, probably because I still feel a small war within myself. I vacillate between wanting to share and hiding my name forever from an essay I recently wrote. I don't want people to feel pity for me, for one thing. We ALL have our stuff, and I don't want to make it sound as though I am a special case. I know I'm not.

That said, I also hope not to be seen only through the lens of my weakness. Although I know we are getting better about understanding mental illness, I still feel the stigma and even with myself it's hard not to see myself only based on my fallen, natural self.

But that's the rub, and that's why I want to share what I wrote. Because God is teaching me otherwise in ways that no human words could ever teach me, and I want to give Him glory for what He is working in my life. The real me is not my weakness and ultimately, you can't understand me without understanding some of my weakness and how God is teaching me through it. And so I have decided to share some of my weakness in hopes to give the testimony I seek to share some context.

Some of you know that I took a break from my online stuff for a month last fall. It wasn't just a noble technology fast (and it wasn't a complete fast -- it was a nuanced break...too much to explain here). It was a sacred something between me and God. It's hard to capture all the layers, and it's impossible to do so in one essay, but some of the miracles that unfolded in the months that followed that break are recorded. I want it to be part of my chronicle of life.

Even as my mental and physical illnesses remain, I know God's healing power is real. Even if it comes in ways we don't expect.

I'm not quite to the point of consistently glorying in weakness as Paul did, but I've tasted a little of what he meant. I also understand more of what Elder Bednar recently talked about. If you haven't had a chance to listen to his CES devotional address, I encourage it. It's so profound. I love Elder Bednar. I also miss Elder Maxwell something awful. For me, it was as though he was talking through or with Elder Bednar...that somehow Elder Bednar is carrying Elder Maxwell's message about discipleship forward in a clear and powerful way. I was moved when he mentioned that he had filled Elder Maxwell's vacancy. In this talk, that felt significant to me.

Anyway, here's Elder Bednar's talk.


  1. Michelle, thanks for sharing those heartfelt thoughts. I loved Elder Bednar's message too. It was a powerful talk and I felt it was for me. There have been three times in my life when I had a condition that was never totally diagnosed because the symptoms were so strange. The last time I had it was about 20 years ago. Each time I experienced this condition it would last for about 9 months. I felt so sick I could barely function. I feel so blessed that it has been in remission for about 20 years. I learned many lessons of life during those moments. I do know that God has a perfect plan for us and if we endure we will be blessed.
    Blessings and hugs to you!

  2. You might be interested in the book Weakness is Not Sin by Wendy Ulrich. I found it very helpful in articulating the process by which we can use the atonement to find strength in weakness. I learned a ton from it, and I think you'd probably love it. (Deseret Book's website has the 1st chapter posted so you can see what you think of it.)