One of my favorite songs of all time is the song "Blessings" by Laura Story. The chorus says:
'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?What if Your healing comes through tears?What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?
I connect with this song in so many ways-- tears, sleepless nights, praying for comfort, and sometimes praying for the suffering to ease. But even more, its message rings true to me and has become a new goal for the way I want to live-- to look at everything as a blessing in disguise.
Recently, God has blessed me with a greater ability to see how different trials and experiences in my life are really blessings. I never would have recognized these as blessings without His help, so this is in no way me saying that I "deserve" to see all of this goodness and light through darkness. But here are some recent blessings in disguise in my life:
- I had experienced depression and anxiety before (for the last 4 years), so when the bipolar started, I knew that it was different; it felt different. I can only imagine if I had never felt depression or anxiety before, how scary and confusing it would have been, along with how it would have taken a lot longer for me to realize what I was experiencing. I wouldn't have been able to say, "I know what anxiety feels like, and this is different," when describing the mania. I might not have been in a place of feeling unashamed about mental illness, so it would have been difficult for me to get help if I hadn't already accepted help for mental illness in the past.
- Carole Stephens gave a TALK in the Women's Session of General Conference and touched on the experiences of a girl with bipolar disorder. At the time when I was sitting there listening, I had no clue that I would be feeling the same darkness enter my life in just a few short weeks. Her talk allowed me to have a reference to turn to when I started feeling overwhelming darkness. It allowed me to begin accepting the fact that it might be bipolar disorder, even before going to the psychiatrist.
- This same talk inspired me to write down my story with depression, which the response to that, inspired me to start this blog. I started this blog with faith, faith that God would give me something to write about (since I wasn't feeling depression anymore at the time), faith that I could bravely share my experiences, and faith that I could help others. This blog has been one of the biggest blessings to me through the trials of these last several weeks, and I'm so thankful that God knew what I needed before I did. He has brought so many wonderful, inspiring people into my life who have taught me that I can find joy through whatever circumstances I face.
- A few weeks ago, my daughter and I both got sick at the same time. I had been thinking the day before we got sick that I couldn't handle anything more added into my life. The thought crossed my mind that someday my daughter would get sick, and I would need to be able to care for her more than normal, but just the thought of it made me feel overwhelmed. When we got sick, the heavy burdens of mental illness were completely lifted off of my shoulders for a couple of days. I got to enjoy all the snuggles with my daughter and do all the extra things to care for her while she wasn't feeling well. I have never felt so thankful to be sick before in my life, and I'm positive that sickness was a blessing straight from God!
- From January to October, my husband and I were wanting to get pregnant with another baby. My heart ached as we continued to not be able to get pregnant, and I prayed that God would help us bring another child into our family. Now I realize that I need time and help before I can have another child to care for. I am able to take care of my daughter and provide her with all the basic things she needs, but I can't imagine having a newborn to care for right now as well. God knew what He was doing in not providing me with what I desperately wanted.
- One huge blessing in disguise is the rapid cycling I have been experiencing. Although it is intense and exhausting to experience mania and depression every single week, the rapid cycling has allowed me to find patterns in how I feel since I've already gone through 6 cycles, to explain exactly what I am feeling since both are so close together, and to feel the urgency to get help since it is very intense. I can't imagine suffering for years through slower cycles before recognizing what is going on and getting help
I'm sure there are more blessings that I didn't write down, but I am so amazed at how God is able to take even the worst experiences we face and make them into our greatest blessings, and how He is able to give us the eyes to see the blessings in disguise.
P.S. If this isn't the coolest thing ever, I was "blessings in disguise" for Halloween. I promise I was not planning this blog post when I chose my costume :)