from here on out the view will just keep getting grander and grander. In the dead of winter, in the talons of unrelenting cold and soul crushing torment: a bowl of oranges. This winter will end, and Spring will come, both figuratively and literally. The snow and ice will melt away, seeds will take root, colorful buds will begin to bloom, brightening up this incredible land.I am loved! I was created! Even better than just that, the one who created me actually wants to see me succeed. He is elated every time I find joy, because that’s what he wants me to experience. He does not want to see me succumb to frostbite or be beaten down and hate his, the Lord God’s, creation. He wants to see it spring forth something beautiful. So, I need to make it to Spring and I need to remember His promise. “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying … , Fear not; I will help thee” (Isa. 41:13) Thank you Lord! I totally need your help! I fail so hard, I want to give up and go pay someone to hold me or take a pile of medications to cope with the myriad of ailments in front of me. Truth. I did not expect life to hit me with these things, but I don’t want to go to Him addicted to medications or mad that things didn’t work out how I wanted. I want to be a servant of the living God. I want my hands to do goodwill, which means I need to ask Him for help not try to come up with some crummy solution. If I’m faithful He will take my hand and lead me, or carry me.
I deal with chronic pain, muscle spasticity, fatigue and arthritis. I have a dizzying array of diagnoses falling under the umbrella of Multiple Sclerosis and it really sucks. I spent more than a couple of years on prescription narcotics, because nothing else worked. It wasn’t until a day in Barstow Community Hospital when I was given toradol, dilauded and morphine, and I was still in pain that I vowed to find another way to endure to the end. I was determined to get off narcotics once and for all, even though at the time, I could hardly stand up straight much less hold my own head up. I would wear scarves to cover the pain patches on my neck and the brace that often helped me to keep my head up. I read articles about how others were able to get better by reducing stress. I just wanted someone to make it better for me, but no one could. I decided that for me, in order to reduce stress I needed to have more adventures. I love the outdoors and I feel rejuvenated by being outside. I started in the desert searching for beauty. I found a lot of it and made small steps sometimes just parking as close as I could and walking 15 feet, or climbing over some rocks right by the car. I took my kids to a bouncy house place and I bounced and climbed and slid right by their side. I went to playgrounds and tried to climb, even though I could hardly walk. Eventually I was standing up straighter and I can now say that I have been narcotic free for more than a year. I can swing from the high bar, flip, and land on my feet. I can hike, climb, run and best of all I can walk and not be weary. Okay, sometimes I get dizzy, and sometimes I hurt a lot, but with prayer, and becoming learned, I made it through to the other side of addiction. Granted some might say, it’s not an addiction, it sure feels that way when going for Vicodin is chosen above asking for a blessing. I now ask for blessings first and make finding nature and playing a priority. One day soon I will go to the temple again, all because of the strength the Lord gave me, when I made the decision to follow Him and look at the bigger picture. I was created and I am loved.
“Every one of us needs to know that we can go on in the strength of the Lord. We can put our hand in His, and we will feel His sustaining presence lift us to heights unattainable alone.” W. Craig Zwick, of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Some days I feel really inspired, other days I feel lost and broken. Scripture study brought me to Nephi where one can find the story of the Iron Rod. This story shows how some can be holding to it and still end up lost, but if they pray for guidance they’ll be lead aright and make it back to the rod and on to the tree of life. I’d certainly prefer to be on that side of the river, than climbing up a soon to be fallen tower criticizing people. I know I don’t appreciate being criticized. I much prefer the understanding steadfastness of at least trying to hold to the Iron Rod, even if it’s not cool.
I am 30 years old, was married at 21, when I was a hip fashion-core hairstylist in downtown Seattle and not super active in the church. I was kind of a lost puppy, dying for the validation of a man and I desperately wanted to start a family. Now, before my 31st birthday, I will be, yet again, single, but this time with health problems and 3 children whose father exists in a very different reality than the rest of us. This is not what I wanted to happen, but alas, I have prayed diligently, sought counsel, asked for priesthood holders to come and offer blessings from my Father in Heaven, and I know deep down that given the circumstances, as much as getting divorced sucks, the blessings that the Lord has in store for me cannot not be obtained if I were to remain married to this man. Subjecting myself to the daily agony that I had to endure in my marriage was not what the Lord had in mind when He sent me here. I have faith that the Lord will carry me through this time. I pray for the man that I stood by for over 10 years. I will always love him, even though there was so much suffering. I pray that one day soon he’ll realize his worth and the worth of our children, but I’ve realized my own worth and that of our children, so I must do things in the way the Lord would have me do them.
Living in this world, this time, these choices, there were days when I just felt that my spirit was being sucked out by a vacuum of darkness. I would listen to sad music and beg for winter to end. Then slowly but surely I started reading. I started going to church even though I was terrified and wanted to hide from everyone. I prayed more. I was in massive amounts of pain and going through a very difficult and confusing marriage. I didn’t know how to make friends, but I saw the pictures of the temple and knew I wanted to go there again. I started small, and it was still super hard. I not only had my own problems, but I was mirroring the Post Traumatic Stress that my Husband was suffering from. I felt attacked when someone would walk up to me, I had to sit in the back of the room in full view of all exits. I was scared all the time, and I still deal with this today, but it’s gotten so much better. The point is, just going to church was hard. I think I wore pants a lot at first too. I stayed in the nursery and turned up the sound from two rooms over so I could listen to sacrament. I read about healing together in times of trials. I read about Post Traumatic Stress. I read about marriage, love languages, family, apology, psychology, and Christ. I started reading my patriarchal blessing religiously, begging for answers, thinking how grateful I was that I hadn’t been married in the temple, because the idea of enduring this that long just made me hope I didn’t make it that far, but that thought confused me. So again, I’d read what God could bless me with, if only I’d realized what it meant that I was His daughter.
So who am I, and why does my story matter? I am a daughter of God, chosen to live in this time and I’ve been forgiven, and I can find joy and happiness. “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” I’ve been forgiven for leaning on the crutch of narcotics during my time on earth and I’ve been forgiven for my decision to marry without a firm foundation in Christ. After all, the foolish man built his house upon the sand. The cool thing is that I don’t have to be the foolish man anymore. I can come back to the rod, by asking for guidance. I can build my house on a firm foundation and with hard work I can gain wisdom, learn of Christ and my promises will be restored. The atonement is pretty awesome. I get to begin again, and this is going to be the greatest chapter yet!
~ Brittany Mullikin ~
**Stay tuned. She is embarking on a new journey. More to come about her gospel-centered love story and progress toward getting endowed. It’s all happening!