“And He Has Sent Me Here”

After the birth of my fourth baby, I braced myself for a new, crazy life. With four children under the age of six, I knew that life was going to be hectic; however, I was unprepared for some of the challenges that came my way.

When my youngest was about a month old, I noticed that I was having frequent, unbidden thoughts that caused me great anxiety. These thoughts were affecting my ability to be positive and happy. Some days, the anxiety consumed me so much that I had a hard time thinking about anything else. I struggled to keep up with my various responsibilities, I lost patience with my kids too easily, and I felt hopeless.

One of the feelings I have experienced most often is fear — fear of the world around me, which was seemingly spiraling into deeper and deeper turmoil; fear of terrible things happening to myself or my loved ones; fear of never being able to achieve my goals and dreams, for one reason or another. The thoughts of these fears coming to fruition made me unbearably sad, and sometimes extremely panicked. At times it was difficult to think about the future or feel any sort of hope, because I would immediately think “But what if…?” My mind was becoming trained to think that happiness was never coming.

With the support of my husband, I visited a mental health counselor to try to get some of these feelings sorted out. The counselor was very helpful and supportive, and immediately recognized my symptoms as signs of postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. While the diagnosis was somewhat frightening, it was also somewhat relieving to finally have a name for my feelings — a label to put on an existence that was previously mysterious.

At the height of this trial, life went on. I had four young children to care for — feed, bathe, clothe, take to the doctor, and clean up after. The commonplace routines could not stop. It was one of those commonplace routines, however, that ended up giving me a major boost, right when I needed it.

I was putting my two-year-old son to sleep. It had been a difficult day, full of fearful thoughts and a generally troubled mind. When I asked my little boy what bedtime song he wanted, he requested “I Am a Child of God,” which is a song the children at our church sing very often. I began to sing,

 

“I am a child of God,

And He has sent me here…”

 

I froze. Many different phrases of this song, in their beautiful simplicity, had struck me before, but this was the first time this particular phrase really jumped out at me.

“He has sent me here.”

This world that I felt so afraid of? God sent me here. I believed that, and I had believed it from my childhood. And yet, if I really did believe that, how could I be so afraid all the time? Why was I afraid of this place that my loving, all-knowing Heavenly Father had sent me to? Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t need to be.

The peaceful feeling I had when I sang those words that night made it difficult for me to finish the rest of the song without quite a few tears. But as I have thought more about this phrase and what it means for my life — for all our lives — I have come up with a few ideas that have helped me battle my anxious thoughts.

 

1) There is a plan for my life.

God didn’t send me here without a purpose. Why would he? Why would he make us, his children, face life’s challenges for no reason? I believe that as loving Father, God sent me here because He has a plan for me. He wants me to learn, grow, and become better. Any challenge I face has that ultimate purpose.

2) God is at the helm.

I didn’t end up here by chance. God deliberately sent me here. He sent me to this time and to this place. He knows what He is doing. If bad things happen, it is because God knows that they need to happen in order for us to reach our full potential. He does not direct or inspire wickedness, but he does allow it to happen, and He has taught us how to persevere through it and in spite of it.

3) Earth is the best place for God’s plan to be carried out.

I was sent here, to Earth. This place, and its people, will help me to achieve God’s purposes. The bad things that may happen here will not stop His plan from being carried out. As long as I don’t let them, they will also not outweigh the tremendous happiness and joy that I can experience here.

 

It is not easy to remember these things in the midst of an anxiety attack — when my mind is racing and my heart is pounding and I feel like the world as I know it is ending. But the more I reflect on these truths during my good moments, the more they become a part of me, and the more power I give them to push away my anxiety and my fears.

I’m still facing my mental health challenges, but I have faith that God wants to help me overcome them and help me grow because of them. I have faith that God wants me to find help: He wants me to visit all the counselors I need to visit, to take the right medications if necessary, to care for my body and my mind in ways that will lead to happiness and peace. He wants me to be healed.

The fact is — I know that God is there. He is real. I know that He loves me. I know that I am one of His precious children. And I know that He sent me here. Knowing these things has given me strength and solace throughout my life, and I have faith that this knowledge will continue to help me through this trial, and through all my trials to come.

Power, Love, and a Sound Mind

With Mother’s Day approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about faithful women — the struggles they face, the strengths they exhibit, and the amazing potential they have to truly make a difference in the world.

In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, he mentions Timothy’s “unfeigned faith,” which dwelt first in his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois, two women who clearly took care to pass their faith down through the generations. (2 Tim 1:5)

Following this reminder of the influence of these women, Paul then writes this meaningful passage:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)

As we strive to recognize and remember our divine, extraordinary nature as daughters of God, I would submit that we too strive to become women of faith like Eunice and Lois, developing and displaying power, love, and sound minds.


Power

First I’d like to talk about power. What does a woman with the spirit of power look like? She is a woman who does God’s will and trusts in His timing. She relies on Him, and trusts that He knows how to overcome any trial she may face.

Women face great trials. Single life, unhappy marriages, guilt for working outside the home, guilt for not working outside the home, terrifying surprise pregnancies, infertility, motherhood, cancer, body image issues, etc. Haven’t we all met women facing similar challenges, and so many more?

According to many researchers, women feel shame when they think that they are not perfect. That is, when a woman struggles with anything in her life, she feels that something must be wrong with her. What does God think of this misunderstanding? I’m sure His heart breaks to see us struggle with feelings of inadequacy.

The truth is that we are not perfect. No one is. But does a powerful woman let this discourage her, or let this make her feel bad about herself? No. A powerful woman recognizes that God is on her side in all her trials, and allows His will to become her own during hard times. She uses the power of the truth that she has been taught to have power over any efforts to discourage her.


Love

Next, let’s talk about love. I think that women understand love very well. In fact, I often feel as though women understand love so well, and feel it so often, that we sometimes forget to deliberately express or show love as much as we should.

As women, expressing love is important for a reason: we need each other. We need acts of love to help us feel noticed, wanted, and appreciated. Certainly, the grander gestures — stopping by a friend’s home with a treat or babysitting her kids for a few hours — all have their place. But I would encourage each of us to think about the small things we can do to make others feel loved: the text messages, the quick compliments, the “thank yous”. Don’t think about what others could do for you; trust that your needs will be taken care of as you take care of others. Trust that you will feel love as you show it.

Developing the spirit of love within us will strengthen our bond as women. We will learn more about the divine capacity for love that God has given to women. We will feel of that love, God’s love, which will give us confidence and purpose.


A Sound Mind

Lastly, let’s focus on having a sound mind. To me, this means seeking truth – in our homes, in our churches, in the scriptures — anywhere we can find it. As the scriptures say, “The Glory of God is intelligence.”

How will having a sound mind help us recognize our divinity as women? Most important, I think, is that it will teach us that the doctrine of the divinity of women is real. It is there for us to find. The scriptures teach us of Eve, of Esther, of Mary, of the woman at the well (to name a few). We also have many examples of women in our own neighborhoods and families who know who they are and what their purpose is.

I believe that if we earnestly seek it, we will learn that the divinity of women is not something said only to make women feel good about themselves. It is not idly taught. We will learn that we are literally daughters of our Heavenly Father. We will learn that we play important roles in the world. We will learn that we are inherently equal to our husbands and to all men. We will learn that we are not women by accident – but by divine appointment. There is a doctrine of women. Using our “sound minds” to learn it will allow us to recognize its reality, and apply it to our lives.

 


Conclusion

There are many real fears that come with being a woman. We may fear inadequacy or loneliness. We may be afraid of not being able to pay our bills. We may be afraid to fully repent. We may be afraid about the health or well-being of our family members, or of ourselves. We may fear being ridiculed or unaccepted. We may be afraid to speak up. We may be afraid of not being able to become better. I know that sometimes I personally feel overwhelmed by how far I have to go; I worry about the things I have to do and the responsibilities I carry; I fear that I will not earn or deserve the approval of others, or of God.

We do not need to be afraid. God has not given us the spirit of fear. He has given us the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. These gifts are readily available to us, if we will just work to develop and use them. As we do so, we will learn of our divinity as women. We will learn that we are not “just” mothers, wives, friends, sisters, or daughters. We are not “just” women. Whatever we are is what God has called us to be, because it is what He needs us to be. We can and will find purpose as women of God. We will discover that we are more capable than we ever thought possible. And we will have the impact we want to have, in our families, in our churches, and in the world.

To all women everywhere: thank you for your example, your love, and your light. I’m grateful to be a woman. We truly are extraordinary, and we can do extraordinary things.