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"Has life not gone as you planned and maybe it's taken some searching and some application to figure. How you can use it to benefit the world. And I promise you if you do, it brings happiness. And I want to tell you a little bit why that means so much to me. " -Julie Lee
Books: Broccolipunzle, I See You
I want to start just by asking you a question and that is, has anyone here been on a really weird date before? Yeah. Okay. Lots of hands raised. So I'm on this date here in Provo. Actually, this is my first date with a guy and he. Ask me this really weird question. We're walking home from a comedy show and he says, will you just tell me a story? I'm like, oh, you're like a 23 year old girl, man, this seems kind of weird. Like you want me to just story time right now, but I'll do it.
And so I told him the thing that came off the top of my head, and that was once upon a time there was a princess and he was like, wow. And she didn't have real hair. She actually had broccoli for hair and, and he thought that was interesting. So I just kept going with that. I was feeling invigorated and I said, yeah, she had broccoli for hair and she hated it because it made her so self-conscious and whenever she'd leave the castle, she'd put her hands over her hair.
And she looked down at the ground. So she couldn't see anyone. And even sometimes she'd, she'd wrap those hands over her ear. So she couldn't hear or see the way people were reacting to her because she's different. I went on to tell the story and he liked it so much that he, he was like, this is amazing.
You got to share this story. And I was like, you know what? I have an assignment coming up. I had a children's literature class final, and the final was to create an original story. And I went home and I always did like the least amount of work in school. And that did not change in college. So I was like, I'll kill two birds with one stone.
I type it up real quick. And then just a couple hours before it's due. I real. That you need to have pictures, and that is not align in heaven that I stood in. I do not illustrate, I am not gifted that way. And so I did what any, you know, pretty resourceful college student would do that. Doesn't like to do a lot of work.
And I found some really high quality clip art. And I found this thing that kind of looked green and leafy like broccoli. And I just pasted that bad boy on all the pages and stapled it and turned it in. And I got it back a couple of weeks later and I got an a minus. I was like, what the hell? I thought, I mean, this guy, he made me feel like that was a plus quality work.
I'd gotten quite entitled about this story at this point. Well, he comes up, we'd become good friends at this point and he comes over to my apartment and he says, he says, Hey, how's it going? And I say bad, I just got my assignment back. And I got an a minus and I hand it to him and he starts leafing through the pages.
His eyes are just kind of getting bigger.
I think I know why you got an a minus. I was like, why he's like that, that green leafy vegetable that you paste it all over the pictures. That's not broccoli. That's a marijuana leaf. It's ink. Well at BYU, I don't know why, but for some reason they weren't a fan. What's interesting about this story is.
I ended up marrying the guy. So that's cool. I guess it's a weird story, but what's interesting is I started using this story to talk to kids about what makes you different, makes you powerful. And I was teaching them self-acceptance I was going and doing these assemblies. I was even teaching adults about it with this children's book and the adults.
They would just cry. Cause it turns out we're just big kids. Right? Who still need to hear that we are enough. Can any of you relate to. Just still needing to feel comfortable in your skin. I know I can. And one day I'm standing in my kitchen and my best friend I'm she's, she's standing there with me and I'm just staring at my countertop.
I remember my black shiny countertop and I just say, oh my gosh, I just realized that this story I've been telling thousands of people about reading to them. It's not a story about a princess royalty or even up. This is a story about me. This is my story about what I didn't know. Then as a 19 year old college student walking home on a, a bizarre first date I didn't know that the next seven years or so, I would begin to struggle with something that made me different.
And I was sure No one needed to know about and would want to know about, because it was something I was so shameful about. So you see as we continue, I can't help, but wonder if maybe there's some parts of the story that relate to you as well. Have you ever had anything like that that just is different about you than what you'd planned?
Has life not gone as you planned and maybe it's taken some searching and some application to figure. How you can use it to benefit the world. And I promise you if you do, it brings happiness. And I want to tell you a little bit why that means so much to me. And as we're talking about cheerful Christianity, I'm so excited about Olivia's book tonight and about God wanting us to be happy.
I hope that that you will leave at least this part of the presentation before we get to hear from Olivia and our beautiful musical number that you'll leave thinking, not about my story or about broccoli, even for him. But that you'll think about your own and the things that make you different and powerful and the spiritual gifts that God has given you.
So when I was a little girl, um, I grew up in a home with a parent that had a severe mood disorder that had a mental illness, and we had so many good times as a family and our lives also kind of revolved around this disorder. You know, that was a time when we weren't talking about mental health, the way we are now.
And for our family, it was, it was kind of a secret. I would say it was, it was something that we didn't talk openly about. Like I said, those conversations just weren't happening and everyone was doing their best. And while I was very loyal to my parents and I just adore my family, when I turned 19, when I left that home, I ran from that and I never wanted to hear words like depression, anxiety, or suicidal.
I felt like I had done my part. I had done my part in helping someone that struggled with those things. I've always been a bubbly, driven, outgoing, cheerful girl, and yes, Christian. And so, I mean, by the time our first date was broccoli puzzle, we just like killed it with our dates, man, because our third date was me interrogating him of like, okay, I need to know.
Have you ever had like a bad day? Like, have you ever felt slightly depressed? Because if you have like, I'm sorry, I'm out of here. Right. And he was like, holy cow. Um, he hadn't those weren't those weren't his flaws. We all have some, but those weren't. And I didn't even want to just say flaws. Right. Cause that's not always in our control, but, but those weren't things that he carried with him.
He was like, I got a concussion playing basketball once. I mean, I mean, that's something mental, right. And I was like, okay, you literally have no idea what you're talking about. Great. Let's get married.
And my mind and my world would be blown. When about a year and a half into our marriage. I experienced my first panic attack and I was sure my life was over because I had seen the way that, that had, um, impacted me as a kid had impacted a marriage. And I knew that I. Not only would, would not be able to be the person I wanted to be.
There was no way. I remember my sister, Amy she's here tonight and that's sparking memories of me sitting across from her shaking, crying uncontrollably, just spiraling into this deep dark depression. And what later they would call PTSD like symptoms and flashbacks saying to her I'm never going to be a mom.
Like I can't even tie my own shoes. Like I was so debilitating.
Um, and we talk about cheerful Christianity. And in this, these moments, like I was not cheerful and I was with all my might trying to stay Christian, even though I felt zero connection. Community relate to that before. Have you had moments where I'm seeing so many nodding heads, thank you for being open and vulnerable with me?
As much as I share these kinds of stories, it's still like, I just want to connect with you because I don't feel like my story is that correct? I meet people through the podcast, through different speaking events at businesses, they come and tell me their stories and their unreal. They've had to also search out these same questions.
And so I love that. I just feel like as you're nodding and as you're, you're looking at me in the eye, you're seeing me right. You get it. You know, I remember one day, I mean, I was in and out of therapy on and off meds, just trying to run away from what I saw growing up. I felt this ugliness inside me. And I remember one day, um, at this point I had, I had two kids.
I had two kids, miracles, IVF, all the things we got him here. And a boy and a girl at the time, he was two, she was six months old and they were sitting in the living room and I stuffed her in her little Bumbo with her just fat, chunky legs. Like she couldn't move cause she was just a chunk and delicious.
And Sam, my son, he would shake toys in front of her face and make noises and faces like, um, he'd see me in his dad do, and I would go into my bathroom and I would turn on the fan and I would lock the door so that my kid. Couldn't come in and the fan so that they couldn't hear me sobbing. And I would literally just kneel down and lay my hands across the floor, the dirty, gross tile with my face, because I mean, bathrooms are not getting cleaned when you're this depressed.
Right. I would just lay my face against this cold grimy tile. And I begged as a Christian for Jesus to come. And I would say, I'd say, Hey, there was this lady in the Bible. And she had an issue of blood for 12 years and all she had to do was have enough faith and she touched your open. She was healed immediately.
I've read this story. I know it. I've learned it. I'm a believing Christian. I'm giving this everything I can, will you please just come heal me? I promise I will witness of you for the rest of my life. And he didn't come. And that was super hard and it was really painful.
Ooh, nice timing. That's like that. A little more dramatic. The stage goes dark. I was really painful. You guys, and, um, I felt abandoned to be honest, something inside me, luckily, which I would now call, I think the light of Christ, uh, helped me heal myself up off that floor. Go out and play candy land with my son and talk to him.
And a nice, happy voice and reassure him of things that I believe are true, but couldn't quite believe it for myself. And just a few weeks later, I remember, I mean, I had scanned all these lists of how not to be depressed. I was not going to be like the family I watched growing up. I was not going to impact my kids the way I was growing up.
I was not going to give this trauma onto them. And one on the list, some of the, it talks a lot about is it's like journals. It was like, okay, I'll draw, you know, learn a musical. You know, go read scripture twice a day. Like all these things I was doing, all of it. And one day I'm journaling and I'm crying and I'm sitting at my kitchen table and I have my hand against my face like this, so that if my kids walk in, they can't see me.
Right. I'm like ultra paranoid about it. And my little boy, he's two. And you guys know how it is with two year olds. Like they know what they're saying. But nobody else does. Right. They just like babble and they think that they're like, oh, blah, blah, blah. And they look at you and yeah, you get it. You moms are all like, yes.
And you're like, oh buddy, I want to know, but I just, you don't speak English. Like, it doesn't make sense. And, um, he was doing this at this point, at this part of his development. And, and I realized that he was one of the words he knew. He was saying, mom, mom, And I just wipe my face and I turned around, I said, Sam, I'm sorry, buddy, but what did you want to tell me?
And he looked at me in the eyes and he said, mom, Jesus loves you. And then he just toddled away. Now I can, I could chalk that up to coincidence, right. Because I did, I would take him and hold him next to a picture of Christ we had in our home. I would say, Sam, this is Jesus. And he loves you. So I could say somehow he figured that out in his brain, but I think, you know, And I know that a while I didn't see him calm or feel him come on the bathroom floor that he was there.
He had a different plan, a different kind of healing for me then I so badly wanted, because I don't think I really wanted a God on the bathroom floor. I think I wanted a magician. If you wanted that too, before, just to magician, just to make it all go away or to make it transform into this. I think God has a lot more confidence in our ability to be cheerful, amidst adversity.
Now, I believe I talk about ICU a lot when I talk to different corporations. And when I discuss different tools in my book of how to be a connected leader and things like that, but in the interest of time today, so we can get to our main, our main event, who I'm so excited to hear. I want to just share one thing with you about.
That. Yes, Jesus loved me. And he loves you. I still was pretty incapable of feeling cheerful and I don't think that was all my fault. I think we can agree on that. I remember one night, not too long after this rolling around in bed, just crying. My husband's asleep, asking in my mind, what have I not done?
And at this point I know so many of you nodded relating so that I know that, you know what. Super hard to feel the spirit or peace or anything like that. Right. It just feels like there's like a dark cloud. And probably, I think the I'm trying to be honest here. I think the only time I've ever had words come into my mind, um, like this in my entire life, I said, what have I not done?
I'm going to the temple. I'm reading my scriptures. I'm doing all these things going to therapy. What have I not done? And these words came in, like a bullet said, go to your doctor. And so I did, and I got on medication, which I'd been on before, but I was trying so hard to push out and it gave me the ability to work on myself, to level those chemicals so that I could be the cheerful Christian I so badly wanted to be.
I am so grateful for these conversations. We're having. I'm so grateful that I am able to feel cheer. I feel close to Christ and that I believe not only did he want to see me right at the kitchen table journaling, he wanted me to be able to feel cheer. I think God wants much more for us than to just survive this mortal life.
I just want to end with one analogy. That's been really helpful in helping me understand. What I think of as the character of God and in my limited experiences, I'm only 32 in about a week and a half. I know. Happy birthday. Don't, don't sing for me. Um, if you want to, I'm in. No, I'm just kidding. But the one analogy that I, and I ha I wish I could give, I wish I could take credit for this cause it's brilliant, but I saw it somewhere on Facebook.
So it's true. Obviously it's online. Um, he said sometimes I think of our ally. And it's like a favorite movie who has a favorite movie in here. And you want to call it out. What's your favorite movie sense and sensibility? Yes, I get you girl. I know you. I know you're kind. Anyone else? Favorite movie, princess bride.
That's always one of the answers. The greatest showman. Oh, the best. I just feel like there's one more, that needs to be said. Is it yours? National treasure.
Okay. I mean, Nicholas cage is not my jam, but you know what? He's a child of God cheerful. Christianity. What the heck? No, that's great. That's great. Now you have your favorite movie and have you ever said to someone and maybe it's not a movie, maybe it's a book and you're just like, you have to see this movie.
You've never seen the princess bride. You've never seen Nicholas cage and national treasure. You've just got to see it. And this analogy can use this. He said, I think maybe God is watching our lives the way we would watch a favorite movie with a friend. And I picture him sitting next to us watching the TV screen, and then it's good.
And then there's parts sometimes in movies, sad things happen. And sometimes we feel like, oh no, this is too sad. Turn it off. I don't, I don't. I don't want to do this part of the movie and heavenly father can give us that reassurance of just wait, just wait for the end. It'll be worth it. I promise. And I think that he wants us while there are sad parts to all of our movies.
I think he wants us to feel the light here and now, and that he will. Be fighting for us to be able to participate in a Christianity that is truly cheerful. In the name of Jesus Christ.
Amen. Thank you.