~ by Rene’
Sometimes, when I look at family photos taken when our six children were small and under our direction, I cry for dreams lost and expectations dissolved. Our oldest child was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and has other problems that continue to this day and continue to affect our family even as he is an adult. Our youngest child has cerebral palsy and demands one-on-one care and will live with us for our lifetime. Having a child with disruptive behavior at the beginning of our family and a child with mental and physical problems at the end has made for a life that I did not envision or plan for.
In Luke 8:43 we read of a woman who had a blood disease and had faith that Jesus could heal her. This account has been taught to students and believers in the power of prayer that faith in Jesus Christ will heal our hearts and our bodies. The story reminds us to have perfect faith and that Christ’s blessings require small acts on our part with great abundance of love on Christ’s.
With amazing perspective and humble knowledge, the recently retired instructor of the institute of religion at the University of Utah, S. Michael Wilcox, gave a talk entitled, “The Jesus We Need to Know.” In his lesson he opened my eyes to the truth behind this woman’s dilemma and desperateness. Brother Wilcox explained that if you had a blood issue as she did, the law of Moses as described in the book of Leviticus required that no one touch her. That even if she was to sit upon anything, that seat could not be touched. If anyone touched her, they would be considered unclean as she was. Her faith gave her the knowledge that if only Jesus could touch her she would be healed. Her compassion for others and for Jesus kept her from asking him for this blessing. She did not want to burden him or condemn him to this life that she endured. She thought, maybe if I just touch the hem of his garment, lightly, so innocently, he won’t know that I touched him therefore he can not be held responsible for this act. He will not be condemned. She desperately breezed the bottom of his robe, just enough she thought to capture his power and grace and indeed she was healed.
Her joy was brief however as it was instantly changed to fear when Jesus turned and asked, “Who touched me?” I love how his disciples responded. Almost sarcastically as if to say, “Really? We are surrounded by thousands of people and you ask, who just brushed against you?” Jesus pursued however and explained that this was not just a bump. He had felt virtue escape. The meaning of the word virtue here is “power” — He felt some of his priesthood power leave his body as if he had just blessed someone and yet he was walking.
When the woman saw that he knew that someone had touched him she was afraid. She was afraid that she would be condemned for her sin, for her breaking of the law. She thought she would hide but when their eyes met, she saw that she could not hide from his all knowing eyes and she began to tremble. She thought she had committed a sin that could not be forgiven and that she had also caused another to be condemned. Jesus looked upon her with love and tenderness and comforted her, acknowledged her and said to her, “Daughter, be of good comfort: faith hath made thee whole; go in peace”.
I’ve realize that my depression is coming from hoping for things that do not become a reality and for the belief that my situation is linked by not following commandments or something lacking in my nature. My truth is not what I had planned for my life or my children’s. I worry that perhaps my unworthiness has caused my prayers to not be answered. I fear and tremble over my sins and my unworthiness as a mother and a daughter of God. This daughter of God mentioned in Luke had faith that she would be healed and she was. Why can’t my temple attendance, prayers, and church attendance be enough to change my children’s hearts as quickly as this woman was healed? My marriage is being challenged by the disharmony in our home, my faith being tested because I don’t feel my prayers are being answered or even heard.
Brother S. Michael Wilcox’s wise words have augmented my knowledge of what faith really means. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true. The LDS Bible Dictionary explains, “miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness although miracles often confirm one’s faith.” The dictionary goes on to explain however that faith can not be based on untruths and that faith is a principle of action. We must do all that we can to fulfill our own destiny and that a lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity. EUREKA! The light bulb shines brightly! The depression that I have been feeling, the lack of faith that I have had is my own doing! That joy is found in faith that Christ heals all in his own ways and time, that blessings are to be recognized and that only thankfulness can bring the joy that helps you pull out of depths of despair also known as the world that we must live in. My despair over unfilled dreams are once again made known to me that either my dreams where not mine to dream, or that my truth is not my truth but rather based on the world’s standards.
It is not meant for all daughters of God to live the same life on this earth. We have all been blessed with our own destiny, our own path, our own story. The only thing we have in common is our duty to follow the commandments of God. To find out for ourselves who we are, what we are, and where we want to end. “I am a Child of God. He has sent me here, has given me an earthly home. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with him someday” (words taken from the song, “I Am a Child of God” written by Naomi W. Randall).
There are many examples of parents crying for the choices their children made including our Heavenly Father, Adam and Eve, and Lehi and Sariah from the Book of Mormon. I will continue to pray for my now-adult child but will find joy in all the blessings I have been given including my trials.
I so appreciate this post. I have a child who has CP and ADD and depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and is bipolar. He is 21, now, and it has been a tough tough tough 21 years. I, too, have come to realize that it is my unfulfilled expectations that have caused much of my sorrow and depression. My husband also suffers from depression and anxiety to the point where he often can’t work and I suffer from fibromyalgia and other ailments that make it impossible for me to work outside the home at this time. Much of this has come from the stress of our disabled/different child. YET we would not change one thing if we could. He has been such a blessing in our lives, such a path to righteousness for us. I tremble to think how much less patient, tolerant, compassionate, faithful, diligent, I would be if it were not for him. I wonder if you have read/heard that Michael Wilcox’s wife was recently diagnosed with stage 3 unoperable brain cancer. His comments on this can be read in the most recent issue of Mormon Times. He is remarkable. In the end, we all must learn to expect only what the Lord’s will is for each one of us. That can bring a lot of peace.