Saturday, January 9, 2010

Boyd K Packer, Porcupine Love, and Self-Generated Warmth

So, I've had a lot of thoughts swirling around the ol' noggin about relationships--especially close family ones--and the emotional impact we all have on each other and I wanted to get all deep and philosophy-ish on ya . . . BUT turns out I'm too tired. So I'll just point you to the people who have been stirring me up and maybe they'll stir you too. In a good way.

The First Thing: I read this article, Solving Emotional Problem in the Lord's Own Way, by Boyd K. Packer in the January 2010 Ensign and was pretty offended. I was thinking, "What?!? You're going to tell already isolated and vulnerable people that they can't talk to their bishop as an avenue of support? How dare you!! Depressed and other mood disordered people need more support not less!!" But then I read the full text of the talk and backed off a little. The truth is this: your bishop, no matter how inspired he is, is not trained to deal long term with a real emotional/psychological issue. If you need real help--whether it's because you've got the crazies like I do or because your marriage is falling apart or because you just can't tell up from down anymore--your bishop is a starting point, but not the long term answer.

I think the thing that really bothered me was that the title of article made me think it was not just advice for bishops. I thought there was going to be some specific guidance for someone like me who has trouble telling the difference between her anxiety drive and/or intrusive thought patterns and the Spirit. But there wasn't and I felt let down.

The Next Thing: But then there was this video with Elizabeth Gilbert (who apparently I am the LAST person in the world to have heard of!) on the PBS special This Emotional Life , called Porcupine Love.

And that felt so true. And it was sort of the same thing Pres. Packer was saying. We've got to figure out how to make ourselves warm enough so that we can avoid getting pricked and pricking others. We can't ask our bishop to make the warmth for us, or our visting teachers, or our spouses, or whoever. Because if we do they are just going to end up pricking us. That's the nature of our fallen world. We've got to warm ourselves.(Why I took this message better from Schopenhauer/Elizabeth Gilbert is good food for thought. I guess I'm just a sucker for a great metaphor.)

The Final Thing: I found myself leafing through our copy of the last General Conference Ensign and decided to read Being Temperate in All Things. This talk blew my mind when I first heard it and it offered some good insights again. Turns out this talk was the one with the specific guidance about solving emotional problems! The thing I'm meditating on now:

"Being temperate means to carefully examine our expectations and desires, to be diligent and patient in seeking righteous goals. . . Security for [ourselves and] our families comes from learning self-control, avoiding the excesses of this world, and being temperate in all things. Peace of mind comes from strengthened faith in Jesus Christ. Happiness comes from being diligent in keeping covenants made at baptism and in the holy temples of the Lord."

Doesn't quite cover intrusive thought and over-active anxiety, but it does give some specifics (especially if you read through the 18th-21st paragraphs). And I feel comforted. After all, when it comes to being depressed I'm not necessarily searching for soaring, gleeful moments of JOY. I just want to be steadier, stronger. I want to be the kind of gal who doesn't break into jagged, harmful shards when under stress. I want to be, well, temperate.

(Of course, the bad news about that is that tempered glass undergoes a pretty stressful heating process to make it strong. But that's another post for another day!)


Jill Knapp said...

I loved this and needed that talk!!

Misty Lynne said...

Those porcupines are so cute! I'll have to read that talk. I'm pretty sure I slept through it.