I have being prepping for the lesson I teach Sunday and thought I would share a little about George Albert Smith. I REALLY like him! He was the first monogamous prophet and did not remarry after his wife, Lucy died.
He was blind in one eye, and he suffered from anxiety and depression. I found this article and was touched profoundly.
Mental Illness and George Albert SmithJanuary 4, 2012 — J. Stapley
I think that the Curriculum Committee of the church missed a tremendous opportunity with the production of the manual for study this year. Most of us know someone who has struggled with mental illness. We know someone who has or have ourselves taken anti-depressants, stimulants, lithium or AAPs. It is no secret that in the past, church leaders and church members have often misunderstood mental illness. However, we live at a time when we can all safely view mental illness as a biological problem, like cancer, that needs to be treated. I think however, that many people who suffer with these issues still feel stigmatized, and some yet think that it is simply an emotional or spiritual failing.It is therefore tragic that the new manual does not even mention George Albert Smith’s lifelong struggle with what appears to be some sort of chronic depression and anxiety disorder. Instead it describes his health issues and years of convalescence as strictly physical maladies (which though technically correct, obfuscates the real mental illness component of his suffering).
Unfortunately, though the primary documents are fairly explicit on the matter, there has been fairly little written on the topic. One exception to this is a Journal of Mormon History article authored by BYU Rel. Ed. Professor Mary Jane Woodger entitled, “‘Cheat the Asylum of a Victim’: George Albert Smith’s 1909–12 Breakdown” (the article begins on p. 120 of the linked PDF). Woodger’s article is not a complete study of George Albert Smith’s mental illness, and she is very conservative in her analysis, but it is a good look at the major crisis in then Elder Smith’s life.
What should be clear to all Latter-day Saints, however, is that you can suffer from mental illness and still become the President of the Church, sustained as a prophet, seer and revelator. Church leaders, including the highest offices in the church, can and do suffer from these illnesses. In casual conversations over the last few weeks, this understanding of the example of George Albert Smith has been tremendously comforting to many people I know.
I also found this
As I made notes for my lesson Sunday, I found I copied nearly every quote from the lesson! He said some good stuff and thought some deep thoughts!
Here is what I am handing out to the sisters:
Are we doing as much as we should? And if we are not, let us turn around and do better. If we are doing as we should, if we are reaching out in all directions to do good to the children of our Father, then we will bring to ourselves the blessing of an all wise Father, and we will rejoice in the good that we accomplish here. …
11 ideals that he committed to live by:
“I would be a friend to the friendless and find joy in ministering to the needs of the poor.
“I would visit the sick and afflicted and inspire in them a desire for faith to be healed.
“I would teach the truth to the understanding and blessing of all mankind.
“I would seek out the erring one and try to win him back to a righteous and a happy life.
“I would not seek to force people to live up to my ideals but rather love them into doing the thing that is right.
“I would live with the masses and help to solve their problems that their earth life may be happy.
“I would avoid the publicity of high positions and discourage the flattery of thoughtless friends.
“I would not knowingly wound the feelings of any, not even one who may have wronged me, but would seek to do him good and make him my friend.
“I would overcome the tendency to selfishness and jealousy and rejoice in the successes of all the children of my Heavenly Father.
“I would not be an enemy to any living soul.
“Knowing that the Redeemer of mankind has offered to the world the only plan that will fully develop us and make us really happy here and hereafter, I feel it not only a duty but also a blessed privilege to disseminate this truth.”
I would like to say to the Latter-day Saints, if we are worthy to be called Latter-day Saints, it will be because we are living the lives of saints, and it is the purpose of the Gospel to qualify us in that way. The world has gotten into such a condition and has been deceived by the adversary for such a long time and has declared that the mere belief in God is all that is necessary, that I am fearful for it. That is only a trick of the adversary
It is not those who say, “Lord, Lord,” who enjoy the companionship of His spirit but those who do His will
How many of us, learning the will of the Father, are doing it? How many of us day by day are laying a foundation and building a structure that shall conform to the dignity of the stature of our Master? ‘Yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.’ [D&C 93:35.] He has given us intelligence and wisdom above our fellowmen. A knowledge of pre-existence has been given to the Latter-day Saints; a knowledge that we are here because we kept our first estate, and that we have been given the opportunity of gaining eternal life in the presence of our Heavenly Father, by keeping our second estate. We will not be judged as our brothers and sisters of the world are judged, but according to the greater opportunities placed in our keeping. We will be among those who have received the word of the Lord, who have heard His sayings, and if we do them it will be to us eternal life, but if we fail condemnation will result.
The world seems to think that they can come whenever they are ready. Our Father’s children do not understand that there is some preparation to be made. The adversary has so deceived them as to make them believe that no preparation is necessary, anything will do, but in this message that the Savior gave in a parable to his associates we are informed that there must be some preparation, and without that preparation no one will be permitted to partake of the more precious gifts of our Heavenly Father. That applies to the membership of this Church who have an idea that because they have been invited, and because their names appear upon the record among those who have been called, there is nothing more for them to do. … They have forgotten the Lord and are not preparing for the feast to which he has invited them.
If there ever was a time when we should examine ourselves, to find out if we are doing what the Lord would have us do, it is today; if there ever was a time when we should be sure that we are in the pathway of eternal life, it is now. We can’t slight these opportunities. God will not be mocked. When he has offered to us a gift, when he has placed within our reach a blessing, when he has invited us to partake of a feast and we ignore it, we may be sure that we shall suffer the distress that will come to those who refuse the blessings of the Lord when they are offered
Let us do better than we have ever done before. Let us renew our determination to be real Latter-day Saints, and not just make-believe. … I do not know anybody who can not do a little better than he has been doing, if he makes up his mind.