In reading through General Conference talks from April, I found myself surprisingly drawn to one titled, “Then Jesus Beholding Him Loved Him,” by Elder S. Mark Palmer. In the talk, he goes over the somewhat familiar story of the rich young man who asks Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life, only to be told to sell his riches and follow the Lord (see Mark chapter 10).
Sometimes we consider this a “parable” to avoid being too attached to riches, or we may have heard that it is more of a general story to be aware of what things hold us personally back from following the Lord. Elder Palmer decided to focus on the part of the scripture that mentioned Christ “beholding” the man and loving him as an individual.
One Thing Thou Lackest
As I read the talk and the inclusion of Mark 10:21, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me,” the phrase that stuck out to me was “One thing thou lackest.”
In one OCD group session, one woman was reading some reflections she had as she prepared to “graduate” from the group. She made the comment that “OCD can live off scraps.” My doctor referred to the same idea when he told me that I/people with OCD need to get rid of “embers” of OCD—yes, our OCD may have once been a bonfire, so some smoldering embers can seem insignificant—but those embers can quickly revert back to a full flame given the proper fuel. As she said, OCD can live off scraps.
To me, this relates to Mark 10:21 “One thing thou lackest.” I can try to fight my OCD, but if I do “everything” except one thing, that’s not quite enough. Yes, doing everything else is good and helpful. Everything else needs to be done too. Spiritual wellness and mental wellness require a lot of hard work. After all, when the young man asked Christ what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, Christ mentioned the commandments—the “everything else.” But then He knew that there was more that young man needed to do in order to truly change and be converted.
Similarly, to really get a handle on my obsessive compulsive disorder and retain control of my life and actions, I have to constantly be aware of the “one (or more) thing(s) I lack” and still need to do.
How We See Ourselves
Elder Palmer mentions that leaders need to see individuals with love, Christlike love, so that they will “desire to change.” We need to see ourselves in that way as well. We need to realize that we have potential and ability. We have the power to change. We need to remember the power that we have. We need to, as Elder Palmer states, see ourselves “for who (we) really are and who (we) can become, rather just for what (we) are doing or not doing.”
As he concludes his talk, Elder Palmer states that “anytime you feel you are being asked to do something hard—give up a poor habit or an addiction [I will add: do your OCD exposure response prevention] […]—think of the Lord beholding you, loving you, and inviting you to let it go and follow Him. And thank Him for loving you enough to invite you to do more.”
I believe that the Lord wants us to be happy. I believe that He wants us to get a handle on our mental health and mental illnesses so that we can feel in control of our ourselves and our own minds. He wants us to feel joy. Getting there might require some intense work and self reflection. But He asks us to do what we can—whatever that involves—because He knows that we have value, agency, and power. We are children of God, and that is eternally significant.