Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: 'Like a Broken Vessel'
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While those dealing with a mental illness or an emotional disorder may feel like a "broken vessel," they must remember the "vessel is in the hands of the divine potter," said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve.
"Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed," he said.
Speaking Saturday afternoon, Elder Holland directed his remarks to "those who suffer from some form of mental illness or emotional disorder, whether those afflictions be slight or severe, of brief duration or persistent over a lifetime."
These afflictions, he said, are some of the realities of mortal life.
"In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living — and chose to live — in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of Godliness will be tested and tried again and again.
"Of greatest assurance in such a plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive."
Elder Holland then concentrated his remarks on depression — "an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person's ability to function fully."
This "dark night of the mind and spirit is more than mere discouragement," he said. "I have seen it come to an absolutely angelic man when his beloved spouse of 50 years passed away. …. And I have seen it in young fathers trying provide for their families."
Once, Elder Holland said, he saw it in himself. "At one point in our married life when financial fears collided with staggering fatigue, I took a psychic blow that was as unanticipated as it was real. … With the grace of God and the love of my family I kept functioning and kept working, but even after all these years I continue to feel a deep sympathy for others more chronically or more deeply afflicted with such gloom than I was."
He said many have dealt with depression, including Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and George Albert Smith, the latter of whom became the eighth president of the Church.
"So how do you respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all never lose faith in your Father in Heaven who loves you more than you can comprehend. …. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles."
If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills and good values, Elder Holland counseled. "Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation."
If you are the one afflicted or a caregiver of such, try not to be overwhelmed, he added. "For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another's health, do not destroy your own."
Through any illness or difficult challenge, there is much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for, he said. "Whatever your struggle — mental or emotional or physical or otherwise — don't vote against the preciousness of life by ending it. Trust in God. Hold on to His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee."