All Things Witness

Thoughts on the mission and power of Jesus Christ

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A Man of Sorrows

In my last post, I talked about sadness – and my own lack thereof – and how it is a necessary part of our life, ultimately allowing us to receive a greater happiness.

I thought at the time that it was a distinct topic from my series on the sacrament (you can read the posts in that series here). But as I sat in church today listening to the sacrament prayers, I realised that wasn’t the case. Obviously, all gospel topics are inter-related in some ways, but this was more so than I had imagined.

To bless and sanctify. Bread and Water. Emblems of His death and suffering. To our souls. Hmm.

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My Psalm of Sadness

I don’t feel sad.

I don’t mean just at this moment – although I don’t feel sad at this moment. I don’t even mean in the last week or month. I simply don’t feel sad, well, ever.

The last time I remember feeling sad and crying was when I was 8 years old. I was living in Australia, and my big sister had just got married and left the country. I remember crying that night because Debbie had left me. My parents, brother and three other sisters were still around, but somehow my big sister leaving made me sad. That was 40 years ago.

I’ve had numerous events in my life since then that should have made me sad, of course. And when others learn of them they are often sad for me.

As I’ve spoken of before, I’ve suffered from pretty serious bouts of depression through the years too. But my depression isn’t sadness – it’s hollow (although discussion of that is for another day). I feel depression. I don’t feel sadness.

Now, you might be thinking that not being able to feel sad sounds great. No tears, no bursting of the chest, no… whatever you feel when you’re sad. But it isn’t. Because sadness is an important emotion that helps us process important events in our lives.

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Depression and Church service.

© Copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Christ taught the importance of both faith and works

© Copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Christ taught the importance of both faith and works

I was very blessed to have been born into a Christian family. My parents never wavered in their testimonies or Church attendance, and I grew up learning from them the importance of it.

I’m not sure at what point I began to understand the difference between the Church and the gospel – the earthly (though divinely mandate and approved) organisation through which gospel ordinances are performed in our day, versus the eternal principles by which our future happiness is governed.

At some point I did, though. And at about the same time, I also began to notice other principles we often conflate within the Church. Believing versus faith. Doing versus becoming. Reading  – or even studying – versus feasting.

Whichever set of words you look at, they’re both necessary: essential even. But our ultimate aim is always the second. We strengthen our belief until it grows into faith. We study the scriptures until we come to a point where we love them: our soul “hungers”, as Enos put it, and we desire to feast (see Enos 1:4). We do the things the Lord commands until we become a people who would naturally choose those things anyway – even without commandments, and without thinking about it.

It wasn’t until my darkest time of despair, however, that I realised my understanding of these things was intellectual only, a mere grasp of the theory. Continue reading


Really? Wow!: A Discussion about Mental Illness and the Atonement

Stairs up to the lightI’ve found this a particularly difficult post to write, so I hope that a) I can do it some justice, and b) those with particular insights and experience will comment*. It is a subject we rarely discuss, but which I feel we need to gain greater insight into, so that we are better able to comfort those in need.

A few months go I posted a couple of articles on the subject of depression, one of the great plagues of our age, and how we can find relief through Christ. Those posts can be found here, and here. While depression is fortunately becoming increasingly discussed in the Church (not enough yet I think, but we’re making some positive progress), other aspects of mental illness or disability are generally discussed either rarely and on obscure internet forums, or (more likely) not at all.

But if Christ suffered for ALL of our pains, sicknesses, and afflictions, that means he suffered also for our mental illnesses and disabilities; it means that through His atoning sacrifice there is power for those suffering. Elder Joseph B Wirthlin said, “No grief is so great, no pain so profound, no burden so unbearable that it is beyond His healing touch.” (Special Witnesses of Christ, Ensign, April 2001).  That includes Continue reading