I struggle with chronic health problems, including arthritis. One Sunday, I came home from church early, in pain and upset. It seems that when I’m in pain my mind gets involved, stirring and wrenching, agitated at dealing with something so overly consuming.
I had been easing off of some pain medication that I had been taking; it wasn’t taking away the pain enough and was causing side effects that I didn’t want to deal with anymore. I had tapered off to no medication. It wasn’t my plan to dip my lower legs in acid but that’s what I ended up feeling had happened to me. So I sat in a pew fidgeting and fighting the pain until I could go home.
When I arrived home it was sad to be in the house all alone and feeling horrid. Hoping I could sleep I took some ibuprofen and went to bed. Thankfully it worked and I slept for a while. When I awoke I laid there for a while, sorting myself out. Am I just stupid to stop taking a med that semi-worked, even with some unpleasantness? Will this pain just go on and on? How can my family put up with me? How will I manage the kids in school?
Not wanting to stand up, for fear of the pain jumping at me again, I decided to read.
When I was five years old, I became very ill. It turned out that I had polio, a disease that was completely unknown to the small-town doctor. I lay for several weeks on a WW I army cot in our front room beside a coal stove. Afterward, I could not walk. I remember very clearly sliding around on the linoleum floor and pulling myself up on chairs, learning to walk again. I was more fortunate than some. A friend walked with crutches and steel leg braces all of his life…
I found hope in my patriarchal blessing. The patriarch, whom I had never met before, confirmed to me that patriarchs do have prophetic insight. He said that I had a desire to come to earth life and was willing to meet the tests that would accompany life in a mortal body. He said that I had been given a body of such physical proportion and fitness to enable my spirit to function through it unhampered by physical impediment. That encouraged me.
This is from President Boyd K. Packer’s talk entitled “Counsel to Young Men” from the 2009 April General Conference. I have been reading the talks regularly at this time. This was the next talk on the page, after the talk I had read the night before. I was amazed that a talk to young men would hold something I needed right then.
As the kids are about to start school and I worry about what this school year will bring, the words at the close of his talk are comforting to me also:
It may seem that the world is in commotion; and it is! It may seem that there are wars and rumors of wars; and there are! It may seem that the future will hold trials and difficulties for you; and it will! However, fear is the opposite of faith. Do not be afraid! I do not fear…
…[T]he gospel plan is ‘the great plan of happiness’ and that happiness is the end of our existence. Of this I bear testimony….