Last winter in the wake of a string of heartbreaking events in my family, I found myself in an old familiar position: doubled over with stomach pain, sleepless, sometimes vomiting because my insides were wound up so tight. Ever since I was a little girl, deep emotional stress has manifested itself in my physical body. By the time I was 12, I was diagnosed with a duodenal ulcer that was irritated by stress. But it took living the past 10 years without such stress to make me realize how bad it used to be. I was surprised by my recent reaction and surprised that I had lived so long thinking it was normal.
Most of the credit for that goes to my incredible husband who does such an excellent job keeping our lives on an even keel. After growing up in turbulence that sometimes resembled a hurricane, he has made our married life more like a smooth autumn canoe ride. Not only does he have the power to diffuse the daily frustrations and an amazing capacity for unconditional love, he has also blessed me with the sense of permanence and security that my life lacked for nearly 30 years. His love and trustworthiness have healed me physically and spiritually.
When I read Melonie Cannon’s “The Skin I’m In,” for most of the essay I empathized with the skin ailments (having suffered from eczema as a child and psoriasis as an adult). But as I continued to read, I was struck by her testament to the healing power of love. What healed her skin? “It wasn’t a prescription cream, a homemade oatmeal paste, or an ice-cold bath. It was love. Cell by cell, love reinvented my skin.” It has happened to me, too, and I know it’s real.
Cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish wrote a book called Love & Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy & Health. In it, he states what Melonie and I already know:
“Love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing. If a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for their patients. It would be malpractice not to prescribe it.”
“Anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering. Anything that promotes a sense of love and intimacy, connection and community is healing. Healing is a process of becoming whole. Even the words ‘heal’ and ‘whole’ and ‘holy’ come from the same root.”
As each day, week, and month of my wife- and motherhood fly by, I begin to understand why families and intimacy are part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us. Or should I say why it IS Heavenly Father’s plan for us. I am only getting glimpses of what love really is, of what faith really is: part of that Light spoken of in Doctrine & Covenants section 88 that comes from God and fills “the immensity of space”—that brings us healing, wholeness, and holiness. It’s the light and the love of the Savior that flowed through my husband to me and healed my stomach and my heart.
PS: [TANGENT] Here’s my favorite Father’s Day thought, from the April 1995 General Conference/ Solemn Assembly sustaining President Hinckley (I get choked up just reading this–try to wrap your brain around the title of “Father”). Enjoy with my wishes for a wonderful Father’s Day :
“Although our thoughts are centered in this sacred and solemn assembly on the noble titles High Priest, President, Apostle, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, the heavens are not offended if we at once speak of father, mother, child, brother, sister, family: even dad, mom, grandma, grandpa, baby.
If you are reverent and prayerful and obedient, the day will come when there will be revealed to you why the God of heaven has commanded us to address him as Father, and the Lord of the Universe as Son. Then you will have discovered the Pearl of Great Price spoken of in the scriptures and willingly go and sell all that you have that you might obtain it.
The great plan of happiness revealed to prophets is the plan for a happy family. It is the love story between husband and wife, parents and children, which renews itself through the ages.”
”“Boyd K. Packer, “The Shield of Faith”