Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vitamins Aren't Enough

I sit in sacrament meeting, watching a couple in our ward report on yet another mission and wondering why it irritates me. Shouldn't I be glad they are serving? They are only doing what the Lord has asked (as they point out several times in their talks.)

I don't know exactly why I feel so tense and distressed. They speak of how much the Lord loves the people in wherever-it-was-they-just-got-back-from. Which is true, I know that is true, and the thought brings me joy. So what is my problem?

My thoughts wander. I remember that I forgot to give my daughters their vitamins that morning. And, as I usually do when I think about vitamins, I remember my best college friend and her work with vitamins and herbal supplements during her Masters study.

She told me how, because herbal supplements and vitamins weren't regulated by the FDA, they varied wildly in effectiveness and intensity. Vitamins can often only be absorbed and used by the body when taken with other substances which are often found alongside them in natural forms, but are hard to identify and include in supplements. And, because herbs vary incredibly in chemical content by how they are grown, it is difficult to predict dosages in natural supplements. Sometimes to highly detrimental effects.

I think of a friend from some time ago who was prescribed the wrong herbal supplement by a doctor, putting her at risk of fatal cancer.

I think of a woman I met suffering from anemia, though she was taking iron supplements enough to make herself sick.

I have been as consistent with personal scripture study as I have been about taking vitamins. Nor have I lately pushed my prayers through rote recitation and towards meaning and connection with God. And I often fear I am not teaching my daughters the things that I know will nourish them throughout their lives. Even though I read scriptures with them every night, we are in the Isaiah chapters and I know they don't understand what they are repeating back to me. And though they love to pray, I don't know if they understand that they are supposed to be speaking with God.

And while I do speak with God often, I feel anemic myself. I don't connect with scripture the way I long to connect. I don't connect with my fellow saints much at all. It is as if I'm taking in all the things I should be, but I am unable to absorb them. And I hunger for the real nourishment of the Spirit.

Feeling the full force of my disconnectedness, I listen to the Bishop thank the couple for their service and give them their missionary plaque. And I wonder what I am missing.


  1. Well written. It seems to describe a form of psychological dissociation often an appropriate response to trauma that buys time for healing.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Howard.

    You are correct, that psychological dissociation can happen as response to trauma. But I'm quite certain that this is not that. :) Truthfully, the trauma is over for me.

    I think this is about drinking deeply from the waters of Life, learning to crave true spiritual nourishment and not be satisfied with supplements that can not fulfill.

  3. I'm happy to hear the trauma is behind you. Don't forget the time delay migraines often arrive after the stress is over.

    I like your explanation very much it describes church for me. True spiritual nourishment comes from our connection with the Spirit not with the ritual or the church they are simply outward signs and cannot fulfill us.

  4. SR, great post. It is so easy for us to nibble only at the edges, and to convince ourselves that we are content. I find I need to remind myself to feast.

    Sometimes the season of our lives has an impact. When we had only small children, then small children and surly teenagers, it became more and more difficult to feast.

    And yet it is worth the effort to find the way.

    (I hope when those returning couples speak, that they really teach the gospel in their talks. I remember my mission president teaching us not to give a "homecoming talk," but to really teach the gospel if we were given a chance to speak.)

  5. SilverRain, thanks for this post. I think a lot of the talks we hear in sacrament meetings are like vitamin pills. They contain some of the necessary spiritual nourishment, but not always in the form we need it. I like what Paul said: we need to teach the gospel, rather than just provide a spiritual dessert.

  6. "True spiritual nourishment comes from our connection with the Spirit not with the ritual or the church they are simply outward signs and cannot fulfill us."

    This comment seems to assert that you can't have connection with the Spirit through ritual. I don't think that is true. They are part of a whole, imo.

    To the OP, I recently read a talk, and this quote seems to go along with what you are saying here in this post. Real spiritual nourishment takes work. I have been feeling some of the same thing myself...that I'm missing some of the real nourishment by going through the motions.

    ""All commandments of the Lord are directions for achieving spiritual progress. All require obedience, and to the extent that we obey is the consequent blessing. Giving, serving, loving, understanding, being unselfish, charitable, being honest and chaste--all have spiritual consequence. Keeping the word of wisdom, paying tithing, keeping the law of the fast, praying always--these actions ease us into a position where the things of the spirit flow unto us and nourish us without compulsory means. When we attend our meetings with a right heart, we give strength and receive strength from others. When we prayerfully study the scriptures, we reach beyond time and space and learn from the testimonies and experiences of those who have gone before. And when we qualify and receive our ordinances and make our covenants in the holy temples of the Lord, we place ourselves in a direct line of spiritual assurance, power, and strength. But we must will to do these things; they cannot be done for us." -Richard Ellsworth

  7. Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

    I agree with you, Michelle. After all, I still take vitamins. It is not that they have no value, but that they are not sufficient by themselves. And, when taken incorrectly, can actually cause damage.

    I think the same thing is true with the daily commandments. Reading scriptures can be damaging if our pride in our scriptural knowledge overcomes our ability to learn from them. Even prayer can become damaging if done as the Zoramites did.

    And, even if our daily practices are not damaging, they can leave us thinking we have eaten, but in reality empty inside.

    But obviously, I don't know any better than anyone else how to delve more deeply, else I would have not posted this. I find that continually striving to teach by the Spirit, as Jeffrey mentions, is difficult.

  8. I recognize your feelings SR. For me often this is because I feel wounded and fragile, it's the natural woman in me protecting myself from any possible criticism or guilt. I get defensive and critical so that I don't have to open up my heart and listen. Not every Sunday is going to be a spiritual homerun.

    We've had missionary discussions with an investigator in our home and it has been inspiring for me beyond what my personal scripture study provides. There really is something about the IRL personal interactions (bearing testimony) that makes the gospel sparkle.

  9. I think it's appropriate for returned missionaries to give reports.

    But, I don't get much from them bearing Testimony in a language I don't understand.


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