Here’s Kate’s Letter #8 from my novel Dates With God, in which Kate learns the power of the “praise principle” to be at peace with her obesity and her husband’s cancer.
Kate’s Letter #8
Last week in class we talked about praise. One of the moms said that she had just learned the “praise principle” from a blog she read. I can totally see how praise is a principle. Praise is a desirable action and it is universal. So it applies to everyone and every situation. I see it as a way not to increase our bargaining power to get what we want from Thee, but to feel closer to Thee and Thy vision for us. It is a way to see as Thou seest, God. For example, the blog I read had a story about a man who was stranded on a desert island. So he built a hut. His hut caught fire, but fortunately, the next day, a helicopter came and rescued him. He asked how the pilot knew to get him. The pilot answered that he saw the smoke from the burning hut. I started wondering about that. My hut certainly feels like it’s burning down and I’m losing everything. But the smoke ascending from the fire is getting my attention so that I will see God rescuing me.
Lauren shared with us what she learned as she applied the praise principle to her own life. I learned so much from what she shared that I am going to write some of what she shared here. I took notes because I was so blown away by what she said. Here’s most of what I can remember:
“OK, so here goes. Let me introduce you to Lauren. Lauren has 4 kids and is stressed to the breaking point because of her many jobs. She’s a very capable midwife, doula, childbirth educator, nonprofit manager, and blogger. Her marriage, however, is falling apart. Her husband works 12 hours a day so he can avoid being home. Her oldest son is a porn addict. All of her kids are failing school. She has the sorrow of knowing that her son got two of his friends addicted to porn as well. She has a knack of making enemies online. She has plenty of money but can’t relax and enjoy it because of all of her stress.
“Praise God that Lauren has stress. That allows her to see that some things in her life aren’t working for her and it’s time to change. Praise God that her marriage is falling apart. Because of that, she is asking herself how much her marriage is worth so that she can show her husband how much she really wants him in her life. Praise God that her husband works 12 hours a day. She can see that he can provide easily for the family even if he worked 8 hours a day, so that she can cut back on her outside commitments and spend more time with her family. Praise God that her son is a porn addict. She is learning to love more than she ever thought possible as she feels the atonement of Christ there for her son and for her. She relies on that love flowing through her in a way she has never felt before as she reaches out to him without shame, in total love and willingness to support him as he fights his battles every day.
“Praise God that her kids are failing school. That allows her to turn to God to learn what He would have her do to serve them. Praise God that her son got two of his friends hooked on porn. That allows her to feel on the other side of mercy. She is used to being in a position of deciding whether or not to give mercy to others, because, at least according to her, she is always right. Now she is on the other side, feeling the need to feel others’ forgiveness and mercy. She knows that God is bigger than any of her problems or any addictions and that God is always there for her. Praise God that she has plenty of money but too much stress. She knows she can live on less money, and let go of some of her money-making jobs that give her stress.”
That’s as best as I can remember what Lauren said. When she was sharing it with us, I started tearing up a bit.
Now it’s my turn.
“Let me introduce you to Kate. She is fat and her husband is dying of cancer. She is addicted to food. She hates the way she looks when she sees herself in a mirror. She is so embarrassed to go clothes shopping. She has heard kids snickering when she walks by. She feels exhausted all the time. Kate has no idea if her husband will be around to see their kids get married and have kids of their own.
“Praise God that Kate is fat. (ooh, that one was hard) She knows this is a weakness, and as she turns to God in her weakness God will make her weakness strong. Praise God that she is a food addict. She has plenty of food to eat and the ability to enjoy it. Because she has plenty of food and enjoys eating, she can learn to know what food is best for her body to give her the nutrients she needs to feel satisfied and nourished, and then stop eating. As she does this consistently, she can then lose weight. Praise God that she has a body that she can learn to tune in to so she can tell what foods nourish her. Praise God that she has this addiction so she can learn what emotions are causing her to turn to eating. She can learn to identify those emotions and find the root of those emotions so she can learn to deal with those emotions in other ways besides eating.
“Praise God that her husband is dying of cancer. (ooohh, that one is even harder!) She sees how blessed she has been to have a husband who is truly in love with her. She sees how amazing and precious life is, that every day is a new day to feel the wonderful hand of God in blessing her with a husband and children to love and serve. Her husband’s possible death allows her to feel the power of her covenants and the reality of Christ’s atonement and resurrection. His possible death also shows to her that death can truly be sweet to those who die knowing Christ. Praise God for this for she knows Christ on a closer level than she ever did before. She absolutely knows it is true, through the witness of the Holy Ghost, that her husband will rise again, to live with her forever. She sees how many marriages are failing. Praise God that she can be a beacon for others to show that marriage is for love, selfless service, happiness, fostering the growth of children, and to lay a foundation for a happy family life that will never end. Praise God that she gets embarrassed going clothes shopping. It gives her motivation to get to the bottom of her emotional eating and change it.
“Praise God that kids laugh at her when she walks by. She knows the pain of people not liking her appearance. That gives her deep compassion for all people who are shunned because of their looks or other surface reasons. It gives her a bigger heart that helps her connect better with people so she can serve them better. Praise God that she doesn’t know if her husband will live to see grandchildren. She can preserve all the wisdom that her husband has by writing down his stories and memories so her children and grandchildren will know him and know he is saving a place for them in heaven.”
I thought that would be hard but once I got going it was fairly easy. And I felt more energy and love as I wrote those praise statements. It’s really true that praise and gratitude lift us to a higher level, to the level where Thou art. I think of Nephi and how he praised Thee all the day long even when tied up by his brothers (1 Nephi 18:16). Whenever I start to think I’m in bondage to depressing thoughts I will think of Nephi and start praising Thee in whatever situation I am in.
I decided to look up “praise” in the scriptures. Here’s my favorite, Alma 26:14:
“Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.”
Copyright 2015 by Celestia Shumway