Don’t you hate it when you have great spiritual moments, moments in time that you don’t want to end? And then you’re thrust back out into the crumminess of the world and you wish you didn’t have to wade through the muck of everyday life?
Best Of All Christian Women Conferences
I just got back from a nice three day (semi) vacation that I and my mother and sisters take every year. At the end of April, we visit BYU for a local christian women’s conference, and take about three days to just be spiritually filled beyond capacity. It’s excellent timing being so close to Easter.
We stay in the dorms, eat what we want (mostly), get outside into the beauty of nature, attend excellent classes, hear from beloved teachers and leaders, serve, then do a little shopping to round it out.
No worldly cares.
Of course, I did do a little work. I would get up early, exercise and use the free wifi to continue sharing wonderful posts with you, like the personal development insight I gained recently from watching a popular drama.
So I wanted to share a few of the things that I learned, enjoyed, and realized while away. Because, honestly, every woman needs to get away and find herself again at least a few times a year.
Recognizing And Coping With Mental Illness
Anxiety runs in my family. My husband has it. I have it. I can see it in my oldest son…
Mental health is always on my mind and I’m starting to take steps to live with it better. So this class, when I saw the title, leapt off of the page and spoke directly to me. “You need to attend this,” it seemed to say. And honestly, I think it’s the one that I enjoyed the most.
The physician that spoke started off the lecture with a simple request. He asked us if we were dealing with any sort of mental issue, or we had someone in our family dealing with a mental issue, to please stand up.
I was on the front row. I stood up.
Then he told us to look around. I turned.
I saw that EVERY SINGLE person in that room had risen to their feet.
He explained that approximately 75% of us will deal with some sort or form of mental illness at some point in our life. And we need to TALK about it more. We need to open up and express how we are mentally healthy or not. It shouldn’t be shied away from and hidden from the world. There SHOULD NOT be a stigma about having anxiety or depression, or any other mental difficulty you may have.
One book that he recommended to all of us was Matters Of The Mind, which I immediately added to my list. I cannot wait to delve into this book. And it’s catered to those of a spiritual nature, which makes it even better.
I loved a few things that he expressed about mental illness that I’ll paraphrase here, those that truly struck home with me.
- This is NOT your fault.
- You didn’t create this.
- You’ve done nothing wrong in order to be afflicted with this (whatever IT is).
- It is NOT a sign of weakness.
- There are many things that can be done.
- You only need to TALK to someone and willingly be vulnerable.
- Mental illness is TREATABLE.
- Never assume that it’s just a phase you’re going through (I have this problem).
- You can live a happy, successful life, even with a mental illness.
- There’s hope, just please open up about it.
℘ We recently attended the funeral of a young man that was married to a good friend of ours. He had committed suicide because the struggle of his anxiety and depression was too great. Our friend was heartbroken at the loss of the love of her life.
℘ Last Christmas my husband took it upon himself to share his struggle with anxiety with my entire family. Then many of my relations chimed in about their struggles. It opened the eyes of some family members and my parents.
I hope that the members of my family will be more open. Perhaps no tragedy will happen because of it like it did for our friend.
Nurturing Marriage Through Acts of Kindness
This class was taught be a funny, charming young couple. They taught many things that we can do on a daily basis in order to nurture our marriage so that it blossoms and grows into an eternal structure that will stand for time and all eternity.
Using the acronym K.I.N.D., they taught a few valuable insights that we could all implement within our own marriages.
K – kneel: pray every day together, for each other.
I – interact: take a genuine interest in each other. Ask, “how can I help you feel more appreciated?”
N – nurture & no negativity: don’t neglect each other by daily doing things that show your love. Pray for the love that makes your spouse’s weaknesses seem small.
D – deity: the closer we become to Christ, the closer we become together.
Even from those few little tidbits come mountains of needs you can serve in our marriages. You may have perfected most of these points already. I feel I need to work on all four areas. I’m glad I attended this because I have a greater understanding how I can better my marriage.
Effective Communication Through Difficult Conversations
At first, I thought this class would be about communication with adults, particularly our spouses. But it turned out to be more for helping us understand how we should best speak to and with our children. Which was great too because I picked up on a bunch of things that I was doing with my sons that I need to work on.
One of the ladies teaching us was an early childhood educator. She displayed this awesome image about facial patterns on children and what emotion they meant. Haven’t you been trying to talk to your child and they just don’t respond to you? It’s frustrating. So knowing what you see on their face can indicate how you can proceed so that they feel safer and calmer.
Another awesome anecdote I picked up was the fact that we often say something on a regular basis with our kids that we really shouldn’t be. It’s the word “okay?” after a sentence.
For example: “When you pick up your toys, then you can have a treat. Okay?”
Apparently the problem with this is that when we ask “okay” after a request or statement, it confuses a child. They don’t have the developmental capacity to realize that when you say “okay”, you’re really just confirming that they heard you, or that you’re wanting them to response in the affirmative.
But actually, this confuses kids because they believe you’re giving them the option to do that request or not. They translate that into a choice. And what do they often say after that? NO! So we keep requesting and asking in different ways, still ending with “okay” and they keep saying “no”, right?
When we stop using the word “okay” in that manner, children will better understand the boundaries around your conversation and learn quicker, garnering more appropriate responses.
Now, I’m no childhood educator. I may have three boys but I’m no expert at all. I’ve simply tried to implement Love & Logic techniques (which are fabulous by the way!). But I found myself doing this exact thing.
So I consciously attempted to speak in ways for a moment without using “okay” at the end of my phrases, and my oldest son understood me better. He responded more favorably and happy to me. He learned little bits of information faster.
I encourage you to try this in the way that you speak with your children as well. If it can work for me, a fresh newbie mother with toddlers, then I’m sure it will work for you. She even highly encouraged us to read the book Use Your Words. I too have added this to my ever growing list.
Overcoming Self-Doubt, From Discouragement To Joy
I was awestruck and in tears, choking back emotions in my throat, as I listened to the story of a quadriplegic woman. She was traveling with her fiance, just days before their wedding. In the middle of nowhere, the car lost control.
They weren’t wearing their seatbelts.
She broke her neck and was told she’d never walk, sing, or dance again. She loved singing and dancing; it was her livelihood.
From the very start, she did not believe a word the doctors were saying to her. She did not accept the only possibility of being confined to a wheelchair as a complete invalid her entire life.
She did not doubt or falter.
She eventually walked again. In fact, she stood the entire time upon the stage. I did notice that her one arm was unusable, but the other was completely normal. It did not deter or affect her presence in any way.
“Do not let Goliath frighten you,” she said.
Then she sang… She sang two glorious songs, one about our Savior, the other about a woman achieving her dreams. The second song she even sang acapella because the recording wasn’t working. We in the room gave her a standing ovation after she finished. I and my sister-in-law and my mother there with me, we turned to each other and couldn’t even speak.
It was a powerful reminder that our difficulties do not compare to some. There is always someone overcoming something much more difficult in life. It is inspirational when you can gain strength from others’ trials and how they still came out on top, shining like heavenly beacons to the rest of us.
I learned that each of us are seen as that divine strength to someone else. So we much never discredit ourselves but always be humble in overcoming our trials.
I could go on and on about many more things I learned at this wonderful conference. But starting with self, moving onto marriage, then children, and then back to self in relation with our God, certainly brings your entire personal world into perspective.
There are always things to get better at. The key is to not get discouraged and to lean on those gone before.
When it comes to preparing for that natural birth you may be desirous of, that’s an area where I can definitely help you.
I want to know your thoughts on what I’ve shared here. What insight can you give someone who is struggling with a mental illness? How do you nurture your marriage? What ways of speaking with your children are effective? How do you best overcome your challenges?
That’s a lot of ideas. But perhaps just one struck you. If it did, write it down, plan something with it, and you’ll improve your life. You can do hard things.