Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A GIANT Nod To Self-Respect

Sometimes, say every few months, I have a dream or a series of dreams that I just can't shake. The theme is always the same and I ALways feel completely broken for about a day or two afterwards. Usually, I bounce back from things quickly because i'm a pretty optimistic person. But these babies really put me through the ringer. It's terrible! But at the same time, I see it as a kind of gauge I can use in my life. I believe whole-heartedly that I am given these dreams as a way for Heavenly Father to teach me something. And as a way for me to see how much i've grown by how long it takes me to get myself back on track. Because if I know one thing about my Heavenly Father, it's that he does NOT intend to condemn me or have me wallow in misery. He wants me to progress and be happy!

Anyways...i've had this dream two nights in a row, and now I am battling against the fears that I have as a result. Fear. The word makes me shudder. Not because i'm afraid of heights or spiders, but because I know how much damage fear can cause. Fear is a tool used by the adversary...and it's a disfunction that we learn from the world and from our own parents. I am in no way belittling my parents...they did the best they could raising me and their best was pretty darn good! But they were not perfect parents and neither am I. My wonderful parents had a lot of fears! (they will admit to all of this and happily teach what they know) I got to inherit those fears through example...so now I need to battle the fears that I have ingrained within me as well as the fears that the devil sends my way. (this is true for everybody) Most of these fears are based around my husband, my relationship with my husband and my performance as a wife. First of all...these fears are ridiculous. My husband and I have a beautiful relationship with normal hardships that we have decided will never threaten our marriage. We struggle, but we are both committed to being married 100%. So why do I let these dreams elicit such fear and insecurity in me? Well, the answer is in the sentence. "Insecurity in me" There are a few talks and articles that I am starting to live my life by and right now...they all seem to center around my own self-esteem (or self-respect) and being kind to myself...so that way I have more to give to those around me and more ammunition to use to fight against fear. When I am neglecting myself, I have very limited resources. Let me just share a quick quote by a prophet in the LDS church.

"A lovely mother in a nearby community wrote this to me, “I love America, I love my husband, I love my children, I love my God, and why is this possible? Because I truly love myself.”

Such are the fruits of self-respect. Conversely, when one does not have that love for himself of which this sister speaks, other consequences can be expected to follow. He ceases to love life. Or if he marries, he has lost his love for his wife and children—no love of home or respect for the country in which he lives, and eventually he has lost his love of God. Rebellion in the land, disorder and the lack of love in the family, children disobedient to parents, loss of contact with God, all because that person has lost all respect for himself."        -Harold B. Lee; Understanding Who We Are Brings Self-Respect

This was the last message Harold B. Lee shared before his death 2 months later. And I don't think that was coincidental. I believe that our loving, and merciful Heavenly Father...knowing that Pres. Lee's time was soon to come...inspired his servant to teach us one of the most important things we can learn. Love for one's self. This isn't conceit or arrogance, it's simply a respect and regard for ourselves that the majority of individuals seems to be lacking. 

So how does all this self-respect talk tie into the personally brutal dreams I have? Well...the thing is, these dreams aren't even bad dreams. They just queue into my fears and insecurities in such a brilliant way that it's very difficult for me to recover. Now...i've done an experiment in the past...I took care of myself! Wow...can you imagine? I was kind to myself, patient when I made mistakes, had individual enjoyment each day for no reason other than to enjoy, did positive affirmations each night in front of the mirror, etc. And guess what happened to me when I had these dreams amidst all that goodness? I PREVAILED! I was able to bounce back quickly, analyze the dreams with a detached eye (meaning I didn't let fear overrun my reason) and I could take action and act on the things I had learned! This is the power that self-respect can give us! I won't even mention how much more effective I was as a wife, mother and person...because that could be construed as bragging. And I would never brag....ahem.

So it comes down to this...please, world...and especially the members of the LDS church, who seem to be extraordinarily hard on themselves...please, for pete's sake, stop being so dang hard on yourselves and get a healthy dose of Self-Respect! Christ didn't beat himself down...he didn't neglect himself for the sake of others (that's a whole other topic we can talk about later)...if we are to truly follow his example, then we need to get back to the work of loving ourselves! And enjoying our own righteous desires. Because i've got news for you...no matter how bad you think you are, you aren't trying to be that way. You are a spiritual being having a human experience! So go take care of yourself...it may take a lifetime to figure out how to do it effectively and consistently, but i'm pretty sure that's one of the reasons we're here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Birthday, Wyatt

This sweet boy's birthday was on April 6th and I just have to brag a bit. He isn't only the most hilarious little monster i've ever met...with a sense of humor that rivals his uncle Jon's...but he's also one of the sweetest and friendliest 3-year-olds to walk the earth. 

I'm a pretty friendly person...I enjoy talking to people in the checkout line at the grocery store, and I love moving and meeting new people in the neighborhood and ward, but Wyatt makes me move out of my comfort zone all the time! He loves people so much! We were stopped at a light and had the windows down in the car. I was zoned out, thinking about the morning and what needed to be done when we got home. After a few seconds of being stopped I hear Wyatt say "Hi!" from the back seat. A gravelly, high-pitched voice answered "Hi...How ya doing?" I looked back to see an old, leathery man who had (by the sound of his voice) been a smoker most of his life in the car next to Wyatt's window. He was talking to my almost 3-year-old. Wyatt proceeded the conversation while I smiled from the front seat:
"I'm doing good. What's yours name?" 
"My name's Wilfred." 
"Oh, that's a good name. Yours car is blue."
And then the light turned and I reluctantly moved forward in the line of traffic. 

 Do our children need to be wary of strangers in the alarming world we live in? Yes...but I hope that I can do more than teach my children to watch out for "bad people". I hope I can help them understand that while they need to take care of themselves and stand up for their values and beliefs...part of those beliefs we hold so dear is to love those around us. To be non-judgmental and understanding of others and their problems. To always give others the benefit of the doubt and be kind without being a push-over. I want strong kids...but caring and feeling kids.  I may have been a little taken aback by the sound of a smoke-worn voice speaking to my child, but my wonderful little boy was not. Who knows what Wilfred was doing that day or where he was coming from, but I know Wyatt helped him smile and made his day a little bit brighter. As he did mine.

 I love you, Crash. Thank you for teaching me to better love those around me. And thank heaven's Granny got you a spiderman helmet for your birthday to protect your cranium.

"Verily, I say unto you except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven."  -Matthew 18:3

Friday, February 6, 2015

Never give up! ...never surrender!

Oh boy...this post is going to be serious. And mormon-y for all my non-mormon friends. Don't be deterred! I needed to get some soul-searching out there. Hopefully somebody besides myself will benefit from my feelings. If not...then I will have to bask in the benefits all by myself.

I had a friend send me the link to a blog that had inspired her. Funny, because, when I clicked on the link, I saw a picture of a great past boyfriend with his beautiful family. I immediately thought "Oh, boy...if this is his wife's blog, it's bound to be awesome!" (I may have started off dating lemons, but I finished with winners! And married one, of course. A winner, NOT a lemon. Enough, Linsey!)

The friend that sent me this link had stumbled upon the blog when she was doing some web-surfing (do people still say that??). And I am so glad she shared it with me. It was inspiring to read about a difficult and life-changing experience for a valiant daughter of God. I'll call her Sally. Sally had a first husband who was addicted to pornography (because pornography is truly a serious addiction) and was unfaithful to her, and since then, Sally has started a whole new life.

As I read her story, tears came to my eyes. I began to feel so grateful for the grace that allows for a change of heart in sinners and for victims to find peace and happiness.

Is divorce always the answer? Of course not...I know of couples who struggle valiantly with addictions and struggles as BOTH try to mend their hearts and reach the goal of eternal happiness. For me, the most difficult aspect of these situations is that many times...it's another person's bad choice that is causing pain to both people in the situation. Speaking from my own experience, I have to say to these blessed souls, Do not give up! The road is long, and hard, and may not end in this life...but if you see hope and there is a mutual desire to fight for the light at the end of the tunnel, then please don't give up. And don't take your partner's weaknesses personally. Take care of yourself and build up your own defenses as much as possible to withstand the trials of life, but don't break down every time your partner decides to make their OWN rotten decision.

That being said, I can't believe that a loving Heavenly Father wants anybody to stay in a negative situation that is completely devoid of hope.  If you have a partner who is uninterested in change, or repentance, or is not upholding their covenants (regardless of which covenant it may be)...get help or get out. Please don't sacrifice your own well-being to try and stick it out. In the church, we have this strange misconception that the gospel is about self-sacrifice to the extreme! EVERYBODY else comes before we do. (moms, you know what I mean) I wish I could make this talk "required reading" for every woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Since I would be robbing people of their own agency by doing that, here is a quick excerpt:

"The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength.” (D&C 10:4; see also Mosiah 4:27.) This advice is good for all of us, though it is easy to ignore. I always used to feel that I was rationalizing when I invoked it. But now I know that when my energy is spent and I try to carry on as though it weren’t, I accomplish little good. I have to have strength before I can use it, and I’ve found that the more I develop within myself, the more I have to give to others; the fuller my own cup, the greater becomes my natural desire to serve and to share. Thus, this attitude is far from selfish. It makes service more possible." -Louise Brown

Did you here that? Taking care of yourself "makes service MORE possible!" And I believe that includes removing yourself from an unhealthy situation. If we stay in any situation where we can't rise above the grime, then we can't take care of ourselves. And in turn we have little hope of effectively taking care of those around us. It is hard to be strong and stand up for our own well-being despite the opinions of others. But the sense of gratification we get when we truly consider ourselves is worth "more than rubies." (If any of my YW end up reading this...remember that!)

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to learn from another's experiences today. And i'm grateful for the trials that Heavenly Father has given me. You hear people in the church say that all the time...and it doesn't really make sense. But it's true! Am I grateful that I had sex in high school? Absolutely not! I was seeking for high self-esteem in all the wrong places and the road to repentance was long and hard. But I am so grateful for the repentance process I went through because of that mistake. I drew closer to my savior at that time than I ever had before. And I made some wonderful friends that (unknowingly) helped me through that rehabilitation. Am I grateful for the pain of dating my husband (which sounds so weird, but is a completely different story)? No way! Dating Matt was hard because I was battling within myself. It's amazing he stuck with me through everything, and i'm still in the process of getting over the brattiness I pulled trying to get rid of the poor guy. But I learned to trust in the promptings of the spirit and now I am so happy that I listened to those promptings. That experience paved the way to my being more receptive to the spirit, and I have a beautiful family and loving husband because of it. 

The list of my mistakes and sins goes on and on...and I am grateful for each and every one because with each trial, I get stronger and am nudged closer to my savior.....  I am learning that Heavenly father is infinitely forgiving of all of our shortcomings. He loves us when it's difficult to love ourselves...and His word is a million times more accurate than our own. He wants us to have respect for our own wants and needs and he does NOT want us to suffer any longer than we need to by staying in crummy situations or by holding on to the mistakes of others or ourselves. Wouldn't it be easier if we could just go to him willingly?