A Modern-day Zion

Jane arrived at the ward filled with excitement.

She was young, vivacious, and had beautiful long red hair.

She sprang to the pulpit on her first fast Sunday. She was wearing a black dress and boldly started in her testimony:

I may be wearing black, but I am always happy!

So she was.

She moved into an apartment with five girls, each of whom had served missions. Within a year she was on her mission.

I was thrilled to work with her as she prepared for the temple and her mission. She never lost her zest for life. I envied her mission president. How blessed he would be to have Jane among his missionaries.

I followed her progress on Face Book and all seemed to be going well. Soon, her posts stopped. Then I got the sad news that Jane had returned home early from her mission.

She was burdened with such extreme depression that she could no longer serve effectively.

Jane, depression?

How could that be?

I feared Jane would be devastated by this challenging turn of events. I felt the key to her recovery would be a strong and supportive community.

She needed Zion – a place where the hearts and minds of people were knit together in righteousness. She needed a place where there was no poor among them.

With some effort, we were able to pave the way for her to return to the ward.

She needed us and we needed her.

When she moved back into the ward, the real work began.

We knew we couldn’t take away her depression. Hers was a lifelong mental illness. She had to learn how to cope.

How could we help?

We could accept her, engage her, and love her.

We could keep her involved in the ward community. We could rejoice with her when she succeeded and mourn with her when she was overwhelmed with challenges.

Most important, we tried to never judge her.

This was especially true from the returned missionaries. One misconstrued look, one ill-perceived comment, one insensitive suggestion from someone who served the full duration of their mission could have destroyed the slow progress Jane had made.

Over the next months, the Jane we had all known began to resurface. No, she was never that same girl in black who was always happy. But she was happy. With the aid of therapist, family, and a ward committed to Zion, she soon excelled.

Zion, in the days of Joseph Smith was considered a place. But when the saints were forced out of Independence, MO and when the isolation of the Salt Lake valley gave way to the American westward migration, the physical Zion was replaced with what Zion was always meant to be.

Zion is a community. It can be found is a stake, ward, or family.

Zion is a concept where hearts and minds are unified to provide all equal opportunity at financial, social, emotional, and spiritual excellence.

Zion, where the pure in heart dwell.

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