I had a terrible day on Sunday. After church I visited my mentally ill sister-in-law and came home absolutely drained. Anyone who had dealt with mental illness in the family can understand the emotional pain. I was exhausted, depressed, and upset. I needed someone to talk to. I needed someone who could understand. And I needed a hug.
I got on the phone and began calling friends, leaving messages, hoping someone would call back. Then I waited that evening for the calls to come in. But the calls never came. I added the feeling of abandonment to my list of painful emotions and felt even more depressed than before.
Thinking there was nothing left to do, I got on my knees and began to pray. I told Heavenly Father about how sad I was for my sister-in-law and her illness. But to be honest, I was even more upset about my friends’ lack of compassion. I poured my heart out to him over how much it hurt to be deserted by them. Soon I found I had been praying for quite a while. And a miracle happened: all three of my needs were met.
The need to talk to someone
Sometimes friends and family are too busy with their own lives and problems. They mean well and they love you, but they may not always be there for you. This was never clearer to me than when I was desperately waiting for those calls. But on my knees, I found I was not alone. Someone was there, someone was listening—my Father in Heaven. His promise is sure—he will always listen. I don’t know how this miracle happens, but it does. I’ve often felt a conduit of light open, connecting me to a higher presence. And I’ve felt him patiently listening to my troubles. He has worlds without number to organize and manage, but he also takes the time to listen to me and my meager sorrows. That’s what the perfect father would do. That’s what our Heavenly Father has always done.
The need to be understood
There are times when problems of the heart are big and painful, and frankly, unsolvable. They need to run their course. Emotional stress can be that way. For me, the trial of dealing with a mentally ill family member is never-ending. Her illness will be with her for her entire life—nothing can “fix” her. This is so painful to watch, and it can be equally painful as I resign myself to the fact that I cannot make her problems go away. Few people understand this. They try to empathize with their comments by saying things like, “can’t she just pick herself up by her bootstraps and think positively?” Or they say, “I thought they adjusted her medication six months ago. Why can’t they get it right?” They don’t understand the complexities of the problem. But there is someone who does understand: Jesus Christ. He understands because he took on her pain and suffering himself, when he was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was a personal sacrifice for her. He knows the course of this illness better than the doctors, better than the family, even better than the patient themselves. If he knows that, then he knows just as personally the pains and agony of my heart in dealing with this as well. His suffering in that same garden was for me, too. In essence, he has walked more than a mile in both of our shoes—he’s walked a lifetime and felt all the pain. But his ending is a happy one, for he overcame the illness and sorrow through the resurrection. That gives me hope that my sister-in-law will have an eternal life free of this debilitating disorder. It also gives me comfort, knowing that someone, even one person, knows exactly what I’m going through in dealing with this. That someone is Jesus Christ.
The need for a hug
As I prayed and realized these two things—that Heavenly Father was indeed listening and that Jesus Christ understood better than anyone—I got my hug. It was a spiritual hug, the kind that warms your body, clears your mind, and gives peace to your heart. It was genuine, pure, and unmistakably divine. And it was from the 3rd member of the Godhead—the Holy Ghost. When Jesus was with his disciples, he told them he would not be able to be with them forever. But he promised he would send a comforter for them. The Holy Ghost was that comforter. He is a personage of spirit and testifies of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He gives us comfort, protection, warnings, and he has the ability to guide us in the decisions we make. Many people have felt his influence in their lives, although some may not attribute it to him, simply because they don’t understand. But that will not deter him from his duties. This is the promise we’ve been given.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—they are the true Godhead
The roles of these three individuals are distinct and separate, and yet they act together in unity. They are one in purpose. And their purpose is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”. (Moses 1:9). I am grateful I have witnessed the heavenly influence of all three of them. I am grateful I know of their power, and I can draw on it when I need it. I am so grateful I can continue to learn of my role as a daughter of God, that I can help others see the importance of the Godhead in their own lives. It is the least I can do to show them I love them.
About Nanette ONeal
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.