Monthly Archives: March 2020

I’m on a Podcast

I’m popping on here to say that this post says nothing interesting about the coronavirus pandemic, nor social isolation, nor the weirdness of life right now. Feel free to go read literally any other source anywhere if you prefer! I know it’s happening to all of us and it’s big and pervasive and bizarre.

Anyway, I did a thing.

I listen to podcasts when I do my workout, drive, and fold laundry. At least that’s when I listened when life was normal. Now I listen all the time, anywhere, because life is strange right now. One of my favorite podcasts is Listen, Learn, & Love by Richard Ostler. He began the podcast after being a YSA bishop who felt called to better understand LGBTQ people in his ward and elsewhere. He interviews lots of LGBTQ guests in the service of seeking understanding and improving our ability to love and serve people whose life experiences may be markedly different than our own.

But he also addresses a number of other topics relating to better knowing people in their unique life situations, especially as these factors relate to being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The central goal of these interviews is to humanize people and amplify their voices so we can better know them and help them feel seen and loved.

Since last summer, every time I’ve listened to Richard and his guests, I’ve had this little voice telling me, “do it.” Like, to reach out and be on the podcast, which I consistently ignored, because people, I did not want to do it.

And then, I went through months of building anxiety (and some depression) relating to the parenting of a certain kid, during which time, I definitely wasn’t in the right head space to talk about anything with anyone. My last post outlined the process I undertook to heal, and you guys, it worked. When the pandemic hit, I literally was like, “Meh. It will be okay.” And not in a “I’m fine because I will be okay” kind of way. I know it may be really bad. Life may never really be the same again thanks to Covid-19, but I am consumed with peace. Anxiety = Gone. I am kind of floating along in the assurance that Jesus remains our Savior, and our Heavenly Parents have never left us. They won’t. It isn’t in their nature.

The final piece of my healing puzzle came in the form of an answer I got in the temple last month. I was pondering how I could move on from the anxiety and turmoil, when I clearly heard this: If you want to move forward, you must first act on what has already been given to you. And I knew we were both thinking about the same uncomfortable podcasty thing.

So I did the next right thing and messaged Richard Ostler on Twitter. He graciously invited me on the podcast, and we recorded it shortly thereafter.

As soon as I scheduled the interview with him, my anxiety about kids and life and spirituality left. I’d been in the healing process for months, with some improvement at times, but also with an inevitable return to that default anxiousness.

Well I am here to say that doing what the Spirit told me to do brought completeness to my healing.

Mind you, I still go to therapy, and anxiety meds are a ubiquitous part of life in my house. I am in no way saying that prayers and temple visits cure our emotional health. Best-practice emotional health treatments worked in tandem with my devotional/spiritual methods to ultimately form my solution.

It’s a long episode–a thorough discussion, and Richard is his typical amazingly generous and kind self. Feel free to take a gander.

The Shadow of His Wings

It’s March now, and it snowed today. We are all home sick, with ear infections and colds. And what do you know, I’m sitting beside the fire and I’m writing something.

I’d rather not make too much of my writing hiatus. I’ll just give you a little background about what transpired during the winter months for me. The basics:

  1. I went back to therapy. This was to learn to separate my children’s emotions from my own emotions. Being an empath, man, it’s wild. More about this later.
  2. I went back to physical therapy to address the concrete column otherwise known as my neck. It helped.
  3. I went to massage therapy, to further attack the iron sinews of my neck and its accompanying stony knots from a multifaceted approach. This also helped.
  4. I resumed my weekly temple date with myself, which is quite restorative. It’s also part of what’s clearly my I’M IN THERAPY, YO–ALL THE KINDS BECAUSE I NEED IT AND IT’S WORKING year. Temple therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, massage therapy, physical therapy. All of it has helped and is helping. Therapy is cool and blessed by heaven.

So, I’ve learned a lot of things and had A NUMBER of really spiritually deep connective moments. I’ve also found that sometimes I need to write just for myself, without sharing every profound and precious experience, without feeling like I need to always be “inspirational” or testifying or even coherent. Sometimes I simply need to be.

Just be.

What a concept.

Thus, I haven’t written for an audience other than myself. But I’m here now, and I’m going to write a little. Just a snippet.

The child I wrote about in my January post is doing better, as well. He is also in therapy, and he and I are making small, subtle daily steps toward improvement. It frankly requires a lot of me. He needs a guide at every step to help him out of this strange place he’s inhabiting. But all of my therapy/healing is allowing me to be present and helpful to him, and it do it with love (which the Holy Spirit told me in the temple is what the priesthood of God is: Priesthood = Love. So that’s a whole lot of power right there, because the priesthood is God’s power on the earth. Anyway, WOW).

Love has replaced resentment and frustration for me, and it’s grand. That is the child update. All the other boys are doing great right now. Parenting is a game of Whack-a-Mole, remember, where they take turns–thankfully–needing extra help. I love them all, and am grateful they take turns being needy (says someone who also is in on the “needy” rotation).

My therapist asked me to envision a container where I can set aside overwhelming thoughts or emotions to revisit (or not) at a later time. It’s a safe place for them and for me. She asked me to close my eyes and tell her what I saw.

I saw Jesus.

This is not me being a goody two shoes.

He is what I saw. Specifically, like this:

He has a Minerva Teichert-esque watercolor painting look about him. He has orange, green, and blue “wings” made of fabric from his robes that are kind of billowing around and behind him. He is calm. His face is peaceful. There is warmth and texture in his clothing. He has his arms and hands open before him.

Over time, I’ve pictured myself taking the emotions and troubles that have been plaguing me, and placing them on a small altar that is by his feet. The altar has a velvet top richly upholstered in a deep marigold. The billowing fabric of his wings circles the altar and when I look again, the things I placed there are gone. Released. Neutralized.

In my journal, I’ve listed all the things in my life and heart that I’ve set on that altar. Here is an excerpt of what happened next:

“I can’t see them, because they’re hidden in the folds of his wings, the billowing blue, green, and orange silk robes. After I identified Jesus as my “container,” the tune of the hymn Jesus, Lover of My Soul” came to mind. I’m not really familiar with it and I didn’t know the lyrics, but I was humming the sweet, old-fashioned melody. I looked up the song and found it to be a second witness to my altar vision in numerous ways, but particularly in the last line:

Jesus, lover of my soul/ Let me to thy bosom fly,/ Where the nearer waters roll,/ While the tempest still is high.

Hide me, O my Savior, hide,/ Till the storm of life is past./ Safe into the haven guide;/ Oh, receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none;/ Hangs my helpless soul on thee./ Leave, oh leave me not alone;/ Still support and comfort me.

All my trust on thee is stayed;/ All my help from thee I bring./ Cover my defenseless head/ With the shadow of thy wing.

I keep coming back to my altar at Jesus’ feet. It is my peace, my refuge. It is my hope. It feels like the right answer. The gentle, effective solution.

I listened to a talk by Sharon Eubank which was yet an additional witness to everything with my altar and the hymn and the wings. Everything. In her talk, she referenced the show The Crown, and discussed an episode about a 1960’s tragedy in a small Welsh town where a disaster killed many of the town’s children. At the communal burial of more than 130 school-aged children, there was so much pain. There were no words that could help. And the town began to sing a hymn, Jesus, Lover of My Soul. I mean, whoa.” (Aside: there are two melody versions of this hymn. The lyrics are the same for both).

“She talked about our individual brokenness, and the healing which results from the golden touch of the Master. ‘Love God. Love each other,’ she said. ‘Our masterpiece is how we do this for the Lord.'”

In the process of feeling emotionally unmoored, I’ve felt unsettled but also free. I’m evaluating my core beliefs. It’s been an uncomfortable, yet instructive experience. Mother and Father in Heaven have been right there with me through it, and Jesus has saved and healed me again and again.

Again, from my journal:

“Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have the power to do these things.” Jacob 4:7

“For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Doctrine and Covenants 84:46

And so, with spring pending, I’m emerging from my hiding place beneath His wings. There is plenty of light, because he exudes it.