Nate and Vanessa Quigley: Finding Enduring Joy in Parenting
Like many young couples, Nate and Vanessa Quigley had big dreams and a firm vision for their little family after getting married. They had read the Book of Mormon scripture that promises if you keep the commandments, you will prosper in the land (2 Nephi 4:4). Over a quarter of a century later, they believe the Lord has blessed them in their efforts to raise their children in the gospel of Jesus Christ—those blessings just look a little different than they imagined. On today’s episode, the Quigleys share the challenges they've encountered as parents and why they are convinced their family is perfect for them.
As a parent, you just jump in the lake and you swim. You can’t possibly help yourself. ...It’s unsafe to be a parent because you love your children so desperately.
See more about the photo printing company, Chatbooks, that Nate and Vanessa founded: Chatbooks.com
President Nelson's talk: "Joy and Spiritual Survival"
Quote: "In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost” -President Nelson (see full talk here: "Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives").
Elder Wirthlin's talk: "Come What May, and Love It"
See the updated temple recommend questions that now include the word "Strive" here: "Church Updates Temple Recommend Interview Questions"
LDS Living article about Scrupulosity: "OCD, God, and me: One woman's experience with scrupulosity"
Laken's Music on Spotify: "Laken"
Read 2 Nephi 4:4 about being blessed when keeping commandments: 2 Nephi 4
Real in Alma 7 about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His empathy: Alma 7
1:43- Family Narratives
6:48- The Perfect Family?
9:25- Watching a Child Struggle
13:22- The Pandemic of Pandemics
17:47- No More Sweeping Under the Rug
22:57- The Price Paid To Be Someone’s Angel
26:19- Trust God and Do Your Best
31:30- Talking About Mental Challenges
36:09- The Wheel of Wellness and Safe Love
42:30- The Perfect Family Learning Together
45:58- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Morgan Jones 0:00
Boy meets girl, boy serves mission, boy comes home from mission, boy marries girl, boy and girl have children, boy and girl start wildly successful business, boy and girl live happily ever after–it sounds like a fairy tale and before they got married, Vanessa Quigley did work as a character at Disney World. But this family narrative is also what others might perceive from the outside looking in at the family life of Nate and Vanessa Quigley.
Still, as is the case with most families, the Quigley's are learning that the perfect family may not be a family without challenges or trials, but instead, the family that best helps us become what we are meant to be, and the family that teaches us the lessons we came here to learn.
Nate and Vanessa Quigley have been married for over 25 years. They're the parents of seven children, and in 2014, they founded Chatbooks, a company that allows people to easily print photo books straight from social media. Today, their Chatbooks app has over 100,000 5 star reviews, and has been featured in Good Housekeeping, The Today Show, and in The New York Times.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am thrilled to have Vanessa and Nate Quigley on the line with me today, Vanessa, and Nate, welcome.
Hi. Thanks for having us.
Nate Quigley 1:34
Great to be here with you.
Morgan Jones 1:35
Well, I am grateful for your willingness to do this interview with me. I want to tell those listening that this is something that Nate and Vanessa and I spoke beforehand, and as we talked, I felt really strongly that this was something that they have to offer, but something that a lot of people will relate to, and that it will resonate in people's hearts. And so like I said, just so grateful for your willingness to do this. But when we spoke in advance, we talked about family narratives. And I loved Vanessa, you brought this up, this idea that we all have a narrative in our mind of what our family will be like. And so can you start by telling me when you first got married, what was the family narrative you imagined that the two of you would create together?
Vanessa Quigley 2:31
Yeah. Family narrative is everything to us. It's our family story. I mean, we've built a whole business around helping to capture and share this. It's the stories that make our family, you know, what we are, but . . . I would say Nate and I both up until the point we got married, we had led pretty fairy tale lives. You know, a couple of bumps in the road, but up to that point, we were like, all signs were pointing to just happiness and all the things and we wanted a big family.
Nate Quigley 3:01
And it was an important bump in the road, when I got back from my mission, had been writing Vanessa for two years, she'd been writing me, and she was dating another guy.
Morgan Jones 3:10
That IS a bump in the road.
Nate Quigley 3:12
Quite a Bump.
Vanessa Quigley 3:13
That was a big bump.
Nate Quigley 3:13
But we made it through that bump!
Vanessa Quigley 3:15
I know, because we fell in love as freshmen at BYU in the dorms, it was love at first sight, you know, who makes it through the mission? Right. But we did. So we conquered that big bump.
Nate Quigley 3:26
No, that was the first . . .
Vanessa Quigley 3:27
I think that like, added to our story.
Nate Quigley 3:29
Vanessa Quigley 3:30
That we both felt like individually and together, we were guided by the star that was just going to take us to new heights. And you know, when we got married, and we were thinking about our family, we knew we wanted a big family. We knew we wanted to live overseas. We both had like aspirations for our careers. And everything was going pretty well for a while. Other than I got pregnant right after we got married.
Nate Quigley 3:54
No, that was good. It was a surprise but it was amazing.
Vanessa Quigley 3:55
That was not the plan. But it did support our big family goals.
Nate Quigley 4:01
Yeah, but you're right. I mean, it all felt very fairytale. Because you know, we had this great life at BYU with our little baby who we've just completely crazy about. Our poor cat got shoved to the side really quickly. Then we got to live you know, four blocks from the beach in California and go for Sunday night walks under palm trees and we get to live in Paris with you know, the Eiffel tower out the window and geraniums and you know all this sort of fairytale-y stuff. We got to go to live in the east coast where I grew up in the northeast, and just have our little growing family with just beautiful children–and then we got to live in Florida. Where you grew up.
Vanessa Quigley 4:39
I know, where I grew up
Nate Quigley 4:40
So yeah, we really do feel like we had–have had–and, you know, and continue to have, good grief, a really charmed existence and we're super grateful for the–this family narrative that we have. And we even came up with the Quigley creed along the way. Like we tried to codify something about what we're about.
Vanessa Quigley 4:57
Yeah, well, that was out of desperation. We had–I think I just had Claire–number five, and I was drowning in babies and I needed some order. I needed some structure around this chaos. And so we came up with the Quigley creed, "Quigley's are . . . "
Nate Quigley 5:11
Vanessa Quigley 5:12
No, this is–that's the reformed creed. "Kind, obedient, cheerful, and polite," right.
Nate Quigley 5:17
Vanessa Quigley 5:18
Kind obedient, cheerful, and polite. If you kids can just be that, we're gonna be great. Everything's gonna be okay. As we started getting teenagers we did modify the creed. It is now, "Quigley's are respectful, responsible, considerate and kind," a little more mature.
But I think when we got married, and we thought of all these things we want to do together and our family, we expected our kids to be very similar to us, you know? I knew that they would have probably different interests and things but . . . didn't you expect like, the boys are going to be like you and follow in your footsteps and at least have personalities and see the world like you do? And that is not the case. We have seven children that are all amazingly wonderful and varied in every nuance. And they are all very, very different from Nate and I.
Morgan Jones 6:12
Well, I think that is so well said, because I think a very similar thing could be said of my family. And I'm sure there are tons of people listening that are like, "Relatable." Because we all, I think, have this idea – and it's honestly like the age old nature versus nurture debate, right? But I think I look at my siblings and I, and I think back and I'm like, there was a time where we were all quite a bit alike. And now we are very different people and I love them. I love them for who they are, but we're all very different.
So, one thing that I loved when we spoke beforehand, is that I was thinking about–having looked up your family on social media before we spoke–and that I think it would be very easy for people to look and think, "They have the perfect family. They have the kind of family that I wish I had, and what happened to my kids?" But as we spoke together beforehand, I really appreciated the fact that you were so open about the fact that your family has had some struggles. So what have you learned about how no one has the perfect family?
Nate Quigley 7:29
It's funny, I mean, because we do have the perfect family.
Vanessa Quigley 7:32
And honestly, I look at our family photo, and I think, "Oh, I have the perfect family."
Nate Quigley 7:37
Yeah, there are moments of, "Everything is absolutely perfect and I just can't even possibly imagine, you know, being any more blessed in any possible way, wherever you just–literally perfect." And I just want to freeze time and let's have this for the eternities. This is amazing.
Vanessa Quigley 7:51
And the photo hanging above our fireplace in our house did freeze that in time.
Nate Quigley 7:56
Golden hour, beautiful mountain behind us.
Vanessa Quigley 7:58
Our oldest son had just gotten married. We had another son just come home from a mission, everyone was healthy in that moment.
Nate Quigley 8:04
Yeah, I guess that's it. I mean, I think everyone can feel that way, like–but the difference I guess for us in our, you know, growing understanding of what life is really all about is that it is perfect, and it is amazing, and it is just so incredibly joyous. And then it's also just so hard and so painful. And there's so much like terrible suffering that you just can't even imagine.
And this is from people who, if you rated us on sort of the how much difficulty have you had, we're still hovering like "Very little difficulty." But for us it's been absolutely agonizing on you know–
Vanessa Quigley 8:43
Because it's been so far off of what we imagined. When we started it just–
Nate Quigley 8:49
And it's funny, because it's more just like how you feel when you watch your children suffering in any way, shape, or form. That is the most agonizing thing I can . . . for me, that I can dream of that just absolutely is . . . is so tough. And so when you think well, we kind of were doing all this stuff in like A plus B plus C should equal perfection and total happiness and no suffering or sorrow, like no, actually. That's not how it works.
Morgan Jones 9:20
Yeah, absolutely. And I want to come back to that thought. But I also want to talk a minute about this idea that your children also have, or anybody's children, right? They come with not only unique personalities, but unique hardships and struggles. And I was thinking as you were talking, Nate, about something that my mom recently told me.
She said that she was sharing a lesson at Church and she kind of opened up about some things that had been hard for her as a parent and she said that all these older women in the ward came up afterward and thanked her for her lesson. And she said, none of the younger women in the ward said anything. And she said, "And I thought, it's because your kids haven't grown up yet. And you feel like you've still got it all figured out."
Vanessa Quigley 10:15
Nate Quigley 10:16
That was us, I mean, 100%. I think the . . sort of, one of the, you know, back to a bump in the road, you know, Vanessa's got a boyfriend, okay, that hurts, but we made it through that one. We were, we were together as a family for Thanksgiving, and it was like, 4:30 in the morning and I had my phone. We were traveling.
Vanessa Quigley 10:35
This is in the last four years
Nate Quigley 10:36
In the last four years, yes. So four years ago, when the phone rings at 4:30 in the morning, it's, you know, it's not usually a good thing. And I picked it up, and it was our daughter Laken who is serving a mission in Montreal. And I picked it up because I saw that it was a call from Canada. And it's, you know, 4:30 in the morning, I was like, wow, what is this? And I answered, and it was just, you know, on the other end of the line, I could just hear sobbing.
Vanessa Quigley 11:02
And this is before, you could call every week and see your missionaries face–thank you, thank you, thank you for that revelation and that change, because we would have known much sooner than that day that she was having a hard time because you can fake a lot through an email.
Morgan Jones 11:21
Vanessa Quigley 11:22
And she was a hard working, wonderful missionary who wanted to be happy immersing herself in the work, but she was really, really struggling. And we had no idea until we got this phone call.
Nate Quigley 11:22
Yeah. So I remember, we were actually in Santa Cruz on the beach. And I remember, you know, getting up putting my shoes on, listening to this sobbing and she couldn't, you know, make words that talk yet it was just–I could just hear her crying. So I went for this long walk down the beach. And eventually she was able to talk a little bit and tell me what was happening. And it was just such a shock. I mean, I really felt like somebody just come from the side and just punched me in the face.
Because hearing . . . you know, hearing my daughter, my dear daughter who was doing everything she could to do the right thing, the suffering the way she was, was just agonizing to hear. But yeah, she had been struggling with anxiety and depression that had been building and building and building and here she was at sort of month 10 of her mission, and it just gotten to the point where she was just truly, truly injured and hurt and in danger. You know, it had gotten to that point where she was–I was worried very much for her safety. As we talked again a few more times that week. And as I counseled together with the mission president.
And that was just again, coming at you . . . you struggle, I'm sure everyone who has struggled with any kind of grief or suffering, you just say, "Why, why, why?" and I could not get the "Why" question out of my head. You know, she's doing absolutely everything to dedicate her heart, might, mind and strength, in the most incredible, you know, selfless way that missionaries do. Every time I see missionaries it literally takes my breath away. They're so beautiful. So yes, hearing her struggling like that was just such a . . . such a punch. And I think kind of at that moment, I think our eyes got just a lot more open to the reality of, you know, pain and suffering here on earth, and the struggles and trials and tribulations, because that was a long road. And a road we're still on. You want to talk about, you know, kind of we were like–"Wait, what's, how do you spell anxiety?"
Vanessa Quigley 13:43
Nate Quigley 13:43
"What does scrupulosity mean? What are you talking about?"–to where we are today.
Vanessa Quigley 13:49
Yeah, I feel like we have, we have quite the education now. Flashback to 20 years earlier, we had a member of our extended family who was suffering with depression. And Nate and I, as you know, 21 year olds, did not have the experience, the vocabulary, like any of the empathy. We had, we had no understanding of what he was going through and therefore was unable to be supportive to him or anybody, if anything we were–
Nate Quigley 14:19
Yeah, we were a part of the problem, I'm sure, just because we had no way of empathizing and understanding what was happening. And you know, now we have a lot more empathy, in a real, I think we can mourn a lot better with those who mourn on this particular topic. Which is so, as we've now discovered, of course, kind of like your mom coming out of that lesson. So much more widespread than we ever could have possibly guessed.
Vanessa Quigley 14:48
I would say every single one of my friends has . . . this is top of mind, they have a child or a loved one or somebody that's going through some type of mental health challenge and–
Nate Quigley 14:59
And all this statistics show that especially for this, you know, younger age group and you know, kind of 18 to mid 20s, just sort of the trend line on this is crazy. This is the pandemic of pandemics.
Vanessa Quigley 15:14
Morgan Jones 15:15
Vanessa Quigley 15:16
But up to that point, Morgan, it was like we had the answers for everything. Like, I'm the oldest of 12 kids, I basically raised some of my younger siblings, I know how to do this mothering thing and change diapers, and, you know, we were really good parents. But that was the first time where we were completely bewildered. We had really no idea, no experience of our own of how to handle it, but we're also mourning this like, loss. It did feel like a loss. And it was a lot of confusion too, tied up in like, "Wait, isn't there a scripture that if we keep all the commandments, we're gonna prosper in the land?" Like, "Is this really what . . .
Nate Quigley 15:55
What does prosper mean?
Vanessa Quigley 15:56
Yeah, what does that mean again? That was really, really hard for us.
Nate Quigley 16:00
It is amazing, though, when, you know, for us, for me, that one morning, for example, right, I just was so devastatingly sad for my dear, amazing, wonderful daughter, who was just trying so hard to do the right thing, but struggling and suffering the way she was. You know, that morning, I had this just sort of miraculous hand of God in my life in the form of a Beach Boys song,
Vanessa Quigley 16:25
God speaks the language that we hear.
Nate Quigley 16:29
It was absolutely incredible. I literally heard a chorus of angels to comfort me in my hour of need,
Vanessa Quigley 16:37
Give us a refrain. How did it go?
Nate Quigley 16:39
No, it was "Don't Worry, Baby." And I literally heard those exact words, as I picked up a croissant. That was for some reason right next to a bottle of sunscreen in the little hotel gift shop. So it was a croissant, because French speaking Montreal and then in that exact moment, I mean, it really was a miracle for me. And I held on to that, to that miracle.
In fact when Vanessa sent me, when I went to go pick up Laken in Montreal a few days later, she said, "Hey, make sure you bring your patriarchal blessing." I was like, "My patriarchal blessing? I got a hundred things on my mind." And she's like, "No, you need to take it." So I did take it, and I read it on my way on the airplane, and there was a promise there that basically let me know that the Beach Boys were, you know, the . . . that was heaven speaking directly to me. Anyway, that's how it meant for me. But those little miracles like in the exact hour of our greatest need, man, I'm so grateful for that.
Morgan Jones 17:38
Yeah. I first of all, love that. Who would have thought the Beach Boys answering prayers? But–here we are. But I also want to come back to something Vanessa, that you mentioned, you said, you know, we–this is probably much more widespread than we think. And you mentioned the other day when we spoke that in previous generations, there's kind of been this practice of sweeping any deviation from this perfect family narrative under the rug, and avoiding speaking about it any further, but that that is changing, and that it's actually very important to talk about these things. Why do you think it is important for us to change that practice and to no longer sweep these things under the rug?
Vanessa Quigley 18:24
Yeah. My mom, she was so good at keeping family scrapbooks. She made this scrapbook of her life growing up. In her school days, her college years, her courtship with my dad and their young married life. And I loved that so much, because I saw my mom in a whole different light rather than, you know, busy mom of 12. I saw her as a young girl tackling hard things. Living overseas, adventuring, exploring with her cousins. And that gave me a real sense of confidence and adventure and self esteem, like knowing what she'd been through.
And I just found out recently, there's a whole lot more to the story that was edited out of that beautiful scrapbook. And going back generations, she shared with me some things that happened to her mom and her grandmother that were absolutely, like dumbfounding. And I know why they were swept under the rug, because they're terrifying and hard to talk about. But I really, really feel strongly that those hard things in life is what helps strengthen us to get through the future. You know, every time you listen to President Nelson speaking he talks about . . . he's got such optimism, right? All around us we see signs that the world is getting harder and darker, and there are more challenges and more suffering, and yet he remains light and optimistic, and counsels us to stay in tune with the Spirit, stay worthy of personal revelation and cling to that. He's not saying we're not going to have hard times, he's just saying there is a way to find–
Nate Quigley 20:04
In the titles to those talks, because those talks are just so incredibly . . . so exactly what I need right now, I keep coming back to them. I'm so grateful we have President Nelson for so many reasons. But those two talks, you know, guess what?–Prophetic. At least for us. It's actually, its joy, and you're like, "Oh, joy, happy talk" and spiritual survival, like "survival" is the word that he chose. And then the other talk about revelation, it's the need for revelation to survive spiritually, like the word survive is also in the titles to those two talks. And it feels apt sometimes, I mean, in our last four years, I have felt like I'm trying to survive. And I'm trying to help our children survive, and I'm trying to help people around us that we really love–survive. I mean, "survive" is the word.
Vanessa Quigley 20:55
Nate Quigley 20:56
Which is incredible, but I love how President Nelson also said, and it's, we can have joy in those moments of "We're surviving."
Vanessa Quigley 21:04
Right. And he's not saying that things aren't hard right now. And I think when we, when we, you know, sweep under the rug the hard things that our families are going through, we do a disservice, even in our own family. Like our children, by watching us go through hard things, and Nate and I sharing personal struggles that we've had, and you know, sometimes things don't work out the way we want. But we're still here. We're still striving. We're still like, smiling at each other.
Nate Quigley 21:31
"We're still here" is one of my favorite phrases, actually.
Vanessa Quigley 21:34
But that gives, that gives our family a foundation of strength and resiliency, and grit. Like that's the buzzword in the parenting world, we want to teach our kids grit.
Nate Quigley 21:43
Well, there's that awesome research that we've come back to a bunch as we talk about why we're doing what we're doing in our business and why we think it does help strengthen families. And you've got the details on this better than I do, but the basic idea is when families can talk about the good times and the bad times that the kids are more able to deal with the bad times that are inevitably going to come our way.
And since we're in vaccination season, I have . . . another thought that I always have in my mind when I learn of some new, you know, terrible suffering that I just have such a hard time reconciling is, "vaccination." I keep thinking that this terrible pain that you're suffering right now, is an inoculation against something to come. That you're getting a little bit of, you know, COVID-19, so that you don't get the full dose later. And I know, I know that's not exactly how these vaccines are working, but I keep coming back to that word that like, "Why is this happening?" Maybe in part because it's Heavenly Father inoculating us for challenges that are to come and making us more able to handle those next sets of challenges as well as be able to give care and help to those who haven't yet been inoculated in the same way.
Vanessa Quigley 22:56
And even in our own family, like Laken, our oldest daughter, her struggles, you know, opened our eyes to anxiety and depression and what that looks like. And it wasn't long after that we looked over some of our other children. And we're like, "Yes, you too," like, all of a sudden we were able to help our kids in a way that we couldn't have before. And they also–because we didn't shield anything from them–they could see that and learn from that. And it's just been . . . it's been a growing, bonding, strengthening experience.
Nate Quigley 23:32
And then our daughter Laken, who we started this conversation about, is–I mean she's just so brave and so giving and so open and her desire to share some of her experiences, and she does that through her music, and talks openly about some of the challenges she's been through but I've also watched her more closely, and listened to her very closely, and her ability to empathize with and counsel with and help someone in a time of crisis is breathtaking to me. The only thing it reminds me of . . . okay . . . is the . . . is the Savior.
You know, Alma Seven is like, just such an amazing description of how the Savior can help us because He's felt what we've felt. And He knows therefore how to comfort us, and that, I've just, I've seen Laken do just that. And it's so hard for you . . . you know, I'm amazed that she's able to help someone in their incredible time of need. I'm so grateful that she can be this angel. And there might not be anyone else who could be that angel other than Laken. But the price she had to pay to be able to do that . . . you know, the dad me is . . . I don't know if that's, I would never ask her to do it. I would never ask her to pay the price she paid to be able to offer that help, but it is really, truly awe inspiring when I do see it.
Morgan Jones 25:09
Yeah, I think that–and you've mentioned this a couple of times, both with yourselves as parents, being able to empathize with other people going through similar things, but also with Laken and her being able to empathize with other people and to help others. And I do think that's one of the most beautiful things about going through something hard, is it opens up your eyes to an experience that without having gone through it, I don't think there's any way that you can understand it.
So until you've had a child that you feel like you're worried about their safety, and their health, or until you've had somebody that has passed away at a young age, I think there's just these things that until like, I haven't experienced those things. I'm an older sister of siblings that have struggled, and so I feel like I have a small taste of it, but not the taste of a parent. And so I think, until you've gone through those things, you don't get it. And then you do get it when you go through it, and that is the beauty of going through difficult things in this life.
I want to come back to–you guys have shared so many good things already and I don't want to miss anything, but I want to come back to something Nate, you mentioned earlier. I think it was you, about how you have this idea in your mind that you know, we do these things, the set list of things, and then we expect a certain result. And Vanessa, you were like, you know "What does prosper in the land," like is that a scripture? And it is a scripture. And so that's where we get these ideas from, and that's why we expect certain things, but what have you learned about when doing the right things doesn't necessarily add up to the result that you expected? And why that might be part of the plan all along?
Vanessa Quigley 27:07
I've come up with my own definition of what prospering means, what prosperity looks like. For me, it's just feeling close to the spirit. We're not promised wealth, We're not promised health, we're not promised happiness, but we know we will feel happy when we feel close to the spirit. You know, I believed in a formula as a young girl, I think it was a primary song, right? "Keep the commandments," you know, "We will have safety and peace."
And I'm not saying that's not true, I'm just saying that that safety and peace looks really different to me now, as a mother of 7, 25 years at mothering. And like Nate said, I mean, we have not even come close to experiencing some of the suffering that people in this world, other people in this world have. But in our little family, with our little flock of children that we love more than anything and would do anything for–that formula doesn't add up. Doesn't seem to, at least. And it's only through the grace of Jesus Christ and His Atonement that we physically have been able to make it through. Because there are moments when you see your kids suffering that you just want to, you feel like you are going to die.
The Atonement is an amazing, powerful thing that I just cling to so desperately that will cover the pain that I'm observing, that I'm seeing, that I don't have the answers for, that I can't heal with a sippy cup and a show, like we did when they were little. But that will also give me the strength that I need and the optimism that I need. That is something that's really hard to stay optimistic when it feels like everything's crashing around you.
But . . . now I'm emotional. I'm so, so, so grateful for the testimony that I've developed through the years leading me up to this point, that has strengthened me and steadied me for this storm that has hit us. And I just cling to that, according to the grace of Jesus Christ to help get us all through it, and in the idea that His ways are not our ways, and that this eternal family is going to go on beyond this. And . . . that's my lifeline.
Nate Quigley 29:30
Yeah, there's a–I love that talk from Elder Wirthlin, it was a little earlier than the other talks we've talked about, but the "Come What May and Love It" talk. I think that might have been his last talk . . .
Vanessa Quigley 29:40
That's my favorite phrase, I love that.
Nate Quigley 29:42
"Come what may and love It" is amazing. And, you know, finding a way to just smile and laugh a little bit in the really–what feels like–dark times is such a huge part of it. But I also just–I think, he kind of wraps up that talk talking about just trusting the Lord and doing our best. And I also love in the temple recommend interview they use the word "Strive" three times, it's such a . . . encapsulate, "Do your best." But it isn't like, "And you're gonna fix it and it's gonna be perfect,"–you're just going to keep striving. And then you have to trust the Lord.
Vanessa Quigley 30:17
And honestly, Morgan, that's something we still really struggle with.
Nate Quigley 30:20
Vanessa Quigley 30:20
We want to fix it. We want to make it perfect. We want the answers. We were just talking about this last night.
Nate Quigley 30:27
Vanessa Quigley 30:28
And thank goodness for revelation and our understanding of that. We can get answers, they might not be the step by step, "Do this, and then this will happen," but we can at least have the comfort to know that we're not alone.
Morgan Jones 30:40
Yeah, I love that. And I think that with personal revelation, you've mentioned that several times, and then you also mentioned the education that you feel like you've gained as you sought answers. And I think it's interesting, because like you said, Vanessa, sometimes we have this idea that we are going to get a prescription of exactly what to do to fix the problem. And often, it's actually just enough to take one more step forward. And sometimes that step feels like it's even in the dark a little bit. But I think that it's great that you both have sought, not only spiritual answers to these questions and concerns, but also have tried to educate yourselves on how to help your kids.
And so I'm curious, as you've learned more about depression, and specifically, we had an article on our site this week about scrupulosity, and I think that it's something that people are not super familiar with. But judging simply based on how this personal experience with scrupulosity performed on our website, I think it's something that a lot more people experience than we have any idea. So can you share a little bit about what you've learned about these specific mental health challenges?
Vanessa Quigley 32:02
Wow. Yeah, we did not know what scrupulosity was until just the last couple years. But as we were learning about it, we could think of people that we've known and worked with, served with, that probably suffered from the same. For those that don't know what it is, it is like an OCD in a religious form.
Where it looks like, wow, they are really righteous. Like they get up, they follow all the rules, they do everything to the tee, like almost to like, you know, the what, what are those things? Peter Priesthood, Molly Mormon, we don't say those, but you know what I'm talking about, like, they just look like they just can't help themselves. But knowing that, you know, it does come from a good place, like you want to be so good. You want to do all the right things,
Nate Quigley 32:52
But it's kind of amplified and chased by anxiety right underneath the surface,
Vanessa Quigley 32:59
And it makes it really hard to ever feel like you're enough. And that you're, you just, you don't feel like enough because you can't possibly feed that, you know, voice in your brain that's just demanding, you know, more and more and more and more. And in our, you know, religious culture where we're constantly striving, "Be ye therefore perfect," we're always you know, chasing, you know, perfection, it just–it feels like more than a person can handle.
Nate Quigley 33:27
I think the thing we've learned the most is how helpful it is to be able to–when you're dealing with thoughts and feelings like that–to just to be able to open your mouth and share them with somebody, that until they get out of your mouth, they just keep ping ponging around at different angles in your skull. And every bounce gets more distorted and more terrible and more and more dangerous, honestly. But the simple act of like opening your mouth and letting those thoughts bounce out, somewhere, can just release some of the pressure valve.
And so one of the things that's, again, I'm just so grateful for Laken and her courage and willingness to talk about some of the challenges that she's faced, is that she can just be part of the process of normalizing this conversation. And we feel the same way we just want to be able to talk about mental health in the same way that it's just completely normal to talk about dental health. And if you ever encountered somebody who's you know, tooth was rotting out, you would help them get to a dentist and he would say, "Hey, we can fix that." And you would help them learn preventative things like brushing their teeth and flossing and you know, whatever else we do, and you wouldn't even think twice about it. Of course you would help someone get their dental health, both preventatively and curatively like in order.
But because mental health is harder to spot, harder to understand, harder to put your finger on or take a picture and X ray of–and for lots of other reasons I'm sure–it just isn't yet out in the open as much as it needs to be. And similarly, if someone has diabetes, you just immediately–they know what to do. They go see a doctor, or there's a treatment program, they can follow, they can manage their diabetes, which doesn't go away, but can be completely managed and have an amazing quality of life. And if you encountered somebody who was suffering from diabetes, and they weren't getting the care they need, you would help them get that care. And we just feel so strongly that mental health is so incredibly treatable, and you can . . . people with mental health challenges can absolutely overcome them. But on your own, with dark thoughts bouncing around inside your skull, and no other context or frame of reference, it can just become incredibly, incredibly dangerous.
Morgan Jones 35:49
Yeah, I agree completely. And I think that's another reason, right? That it's so important that we're not just sweeping things under the rug, but being open and honest about the experiences that we've had, the experience that our parents have had, grandparents, and I know that the two of you in your–outside of your family, you also have tried to help people both in professional and volunteer capacities learn more about these things and to feel comfortable talking about them. Can you tell me a little bit about-I know you have something called, "The Wheel of Wellness," that you talk about a lot, Nate, can you tell me a little bit about that? And then why you believe that raising awareness for mental health is so needed not only in our homes, but in our communities as well.
Nate Quigley 36:42
Yeah. So Vanessa and I are serving with the young single adults in Provo, just south of BYU campus and it's been just an incredible experience and opportunity and privilege to learn from these amazing young people and be inspired by them just regularly. They're just absolutely incredible. And the kids are all right. And the youth of America are healthy and happy and wonderful and amazing. But, you know, they're suffering and struggling with the same–in the same context that we've just been talking about. And the mental illness challenges are, you know, are prevalent, and really, you know, difficult and dangerous and scary sometimes.
When we were first called, my Uncle Lou and Aunt Julie had been serving with young single adults in Provo. And so this sort of, as soon as we were called, we just drove up to sit with them and say, "Okay, what do you need to know." And I'll never forget my Uncle Lou, I think his first, the first thing he suggested was, you know, when you're counseling with someone who is struggling, just ask them when the last time they ate a vegetable was. And I remember pausing for a second saying, "What?" and he said–and that was just kind of his way of talking about our overall health and wellness, and it's something that we've really come to believe in.
Because so often, if someone's, you know, dealing with, you know, a spiritual health challenge, it's just directly connected to the fact that they're not able to sleep and they're not able to eat, and they haven't been outside and been able to exercise in a long time. And as a result, their mental health is also suffering, but they don't have anyone helping or supporting them there. And it might be compounded by difficult social health challenges, you know, from a breakup to a parent's breakup, or other, you know, just the kinds of things we run into in the world–
Vanessa Quigley 38:29
The things that happen in families.
Nate Quigley 38:31
Exactly. And so I love this scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants that reminds us–and I think this doctrine is unique to our faith–where we believe that the body and the Spirit are what constitute the soul. And so if your body is suffering your spirit may also suffer, and these things are all wrapped up together. And it's really hard to, for example, strengthen your spiritual health independent of, you know, also at the same time thinking about your physical health, your mental health and your social health. So we do talk a lot about that. We love wellness, and our overall health and strength, and the stronger our bodies and our minds and our social relationships are, the more able we are to live the gospel the way that we want to.
Vanessa Quigley 39:18
I do not think that you would have come to this opportunity to serve with such a strong testimony of the power of the wheel of wellness if you had not seen it working in the lives of our children. So when he was called I had such a strong confirmation that he–we–had been prepared to serve young single adults all over because of the hard things that we had gone through and . . .
Nate Quigley 39:45
And the flip side of course is we're being blessed and further prepared and strengthened to serve in our family by these incredible kids that we get to interact with, you know, south of campus in Provo. And it is very much you know, a circle and a cycle and round and round we go.
Vanessa Quigley 40:04
There is a big difference, though, then, you know, we feel very, very lucky to have had the perspective and the opportunities to learn and be prepared to help and serve the young single adults in our ward. But there was a phrase that Nate learned a long time ago from a friend, and it was "Safe love." It was how to help someone without hurting yourself. And that's something that we've kind of clung to, as we've, you know, reached outside and helped others.
Nate Quigley 40:34
And it's hard to do. I mean, it's very hard to . . . but it's certainly something we, I try to, you know, counsel and advise others who are helping their loved ones who are struggling, "You got to find a way to stay healthy yourself. You have to practice and think about safe love, you know, I know you're a dedicated ministering sister, but you know, we need you to stay healthy as well, or you can't help anyone else." And I talk sometimes about the boy scout lifesaving training, "Reach, throw, go." It's like you try to reach into the lake, and then you try to reach a, you throw something that floats into the lake, and then you run for help, you go for help. And that all makes a ton of sense. But as a parent, you just jump in the lake and you swim, you swim, you can't possibly help yourself. So you don't follow the safe love counsel. It's unsafe to be a parent because you love your children so desperately. And I don't really know that there's a great sort of solution to that, other than we do our best to stay healthy and stay strong. So we can be useful. But yeah, not in the lake.
Morgan Jones 41:40
I think even that, though, is a form of empathy. You mentioned earlier that you feel like Laken, and I just want to give a shout out to Laken if she ever listens to this and say thank you for allowing your parents to talk about this, because I do think that's an incredibly selfless thing. But you mentioned earlier, Nate, that the only thing you can compare watching her help other people to is the Savior. And I think as a parent, you have empathy for what Heavenly Father must feel like watching us down here floundering, trying to figure out what the heck we're doing, and going through hard things. And so that's a form of gaining empathy as well.
Before we wrap up, I just wanted to ask you one more question before we get to our "all in" question, and that is, we talked earlier about this idea of the perfect family and Nate, you said,–later you said, you know, "We still feel like we have the perfect family." And one thing that I have had to learn in my own family is that while my family that I grew up in may not be the model of perfection that I once thought we were, that they are absolutely the perfect family for me personally. And so what have you learned, or why are you grateful for the family that you have and the challenges that you've faced together?
Vanessa Quigley 43:14
I love that you said that. I get to speak to moms a lot in my work and the message I always want to just shout from the rooftops, "You are the perfect, right, mother for your children." There's no such thing as a perfect mother. There's no such thing as a perfect family, but I know that we've been divinely, divinely connected and put together here on earth to learn from each other. You know, I had this misconceived notion that I was going to be doing all the teaching, but I think we can both say we have learned so much from the act of parenting, but also watching these incredible children navigate the world.
Nate Quigley 43:58
I couldn't agree more. And I think you know, because God is eternal and doesn't have the same kind of linear timeline that we do, we just happened to be set up with our kids where we’re the parents and they're our kids, but in the end, we're just–we're bonded together, forever as eternal souls. And I am absolutely learning you know, more from my kids than they're learning from me. And my own attempts at spiritual progression are happening because of my kids and what I'm learning with them. And so I absolutely agree, this idea of we do have the absolute perfect family.
We're the perfect people to be together to help each other in our strivings to progress and to do what Heavenly Father hopes that we'll do. You know . . . just maybe full circle on this story about going to Montreal to pick up Laken, I had one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life . . . coming back, coming back home from Montreal with Laken and I looked over her, and she taught me about the Atonement in the most powerful way. And I, I learned, she didn't–she taught me about the Atonement in about four words that she said to me and the spirit just testified, that, you know, without that plane ride home, with Laken my missionary, I don't think I . . . I don't think I'd have the testimony that I do of the Atonement in my own personal life. And having my daughter, you know, is the reason I have that additional witness and testimony that I'll cherish for forever.
Morgan Jones 45:48
Thank you both so much for sharing these things and for being so, so willing. I appreciate it more than you know. My last question for you is, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Vanessa Quigley 46:05
I'm gonna go first.
Nate Quigley 46:06
Go for it.
Vanessa Quigley 46:08
It means that I'm here for it all. For the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the jubilant, the absolutely heartbreaking. Like, I'm here. And even when things start to feel hopeless, I know where to turn. And I'm always going to turn to my Savior. And I'm so, so grateful for that.
Morgan Jones 46:37
Nate Quigley 46:38
I'm going to go with . . . I'm going to hang in, I'm going to hold on, I'm going to endure, and hopefully with joy–hopefully more enduring joy. Back to President Nelson's teachings that enduring joys become, you know that that's a real goal for me right now, because I'm pretty good at hanging in there. It's the joy part I could mix in a little bit better.
Vanessa Quigley 47:03
Grumpy old man.
Nate Quigley 47:04
Yeah, I'm getting old, getting grumpy. But there's so much to rejoice in and so much to celebrate and be grateful for and find joy. And I just want to do a better and better job at that.
Morgan Jones 47:17
Well, I love what you mentioned earlier, Nate, about those kind of seemingly oxymorons that President Nelson uses in his talk titles. I was reading one of his talks recently, and I noticed that it said the word "Exhausted." And I was like, that is how I feel. I feel exhausted. And then later, he's talking about joy again. And I think we're so lucky to have a prophet who acknowledges the hard, but also finds joy in the life that we're all living and we're fortunate enough to live in a beautiful world. And so, I'm so thankful for people like you that make it what it is, and just appreciate your time.
Nate Quigley 47:59
Thank you. Thank you, Morgan.
Morgan Jones 48:03
A huge thank you to Nate and Vanessa Quigley for joining me on today's episode. We are also so grateful as usual to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six studios for his help with this and every episode of this podcast. We feel so blessed to get to spend time with you every week and appreciate you taking that time to spend with us. We'll be with you again next week.