December 13, 2015

Shine On!

Sometimes I feel a desperation to know someone who is succeeding in a life more difficult than mine.  I need to know that it is possible to maintain your physical and mental health while parenting a large family.  The whisper that I hear trying to pull me down says, "Nobody can do this.  You can't do this.  It's too hard. You're sick, you're tired, you're weak."  

Isn't it sad that we unconsciously echo this voice to one another?  In our effort towards compassion we actually confirm unhealthy thoughts in one another.  We do this as women when we talk about pregnancy, our husbands, toddlers, teenagers, mother in laws, and keeping house.  Compassion can be crippling.

How do we change our inner dialogue?  

You see, there are two paths of belief that battle for dominance in my mind.  One part of me feels blessed, good, hopeful, joyful, grateful, and powerful.  The other part of me feels afraid, miserable, lazy, inadequate, abused, sick, scarce, and incapable of doing all that my family requires of me.  

When I'm feeling low, I have a tendency to stop moving forward and focus on changing my thought patterns through prayer, analysis, phone a friend therapy, or journaling (like this).  If you had to label me depressed or anxious, I am definitely one who tends towards inactivity and isolation when I'm down, as opposed to frenzied, worried, cleaning or doing.  (I have often thought anxiety sounded much more productive!)  I hate when I feel discouraged and wonder what is wrong with me that sometimes I really hate this heavy load I'm pulling.

This scripture hit me the other day--

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 2)

I felt as though I had been attacking life all wrong at times.  Here, I heard God saying that I would ALWAYS have those feelings of inadequacy, temptation to curl up and stop trying, mixed with feelings of strength and voices inspiring me to press forward.  Those competing thoughts are not only natural, they are essential in this life of TESTING.  I have to CHOOSE and I have to ACT.  When I choose to numb out, despair, and doubt, I am choosing to listen to voice number 2.  When I choose to serve, love, and hope on, I am acting in faith.  But, BOTH FEELINGS HAVE TO BE THERE FOR ME TO BE ABLE TO CHOOSE.  

 "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other."

Don't you recognize the lies that repeat in your thoughts?  I do.  And yet, I don't always know what to do with them.  

Here are my demons-

-Nobody can have eight kids without a nanny or housekeeper and stay sane.
-You are not well, you're fragile, weak, and exhausted.
-You're selfish when you take time for exercise, scripture reading, or spend money on clothes.
-You don't know how to do this.  You need to learn more, read more, talk to more functional people to figure out how.
-You're standards are too high.
-You're priorities are off.
-You're hurting everyone.
-You're abused, martyred, taken advantage of.
-You don't have enough time, money, or energy to do all that you are required to do.
-You have ruined your children and you are an awful wife.
-You work too hard and you are killing yourself with hard work.
-You are a victim, you don't like being a mom, you have way to many kids, this is never going to end.

There are other voices in my head that I know.

Even though God knows my weakness and sees my inadequacies, He trusts me to parent these children.  He inspires me daily.  He fills me with His love and His power.  Like me sweet toddlers who hug me tightly when I'm crankiest, He has continued to stay close even as I try to turn away from Him.

I feel like one of God's favorites.
I know mothering is natural to me.
I LOVE being a mother.
I feel healed and believe in God's ability to heal.
I know I can do all things with God who strengthens me.
I know how to repent and have felt the cleansing and strengthening power of the Atonement in my life.
I hear God and see angels guiding me daily.
I know the way.
I am not alone.
I believe in miracles and I see miracles daily.
I am abundantly blessed.
I am loved.
I am living my dream.
I have dear, dear friends and the best family.
My life is so, so good.

Too much of my time has been spent mentally measuring which of my competing thoughts are "REAL".  Am I really an awful mother or really a wonderful mother?

Let me admit something to you, I really am BOTH.  Really.  (If you think that you're awful and I'm amazing it is only because I haven't blogged about my worst moments.)  I can stop gathering evidence to prove my guilt or innocence and standing these evidences up against each other to pronounce myself good or bad.  I am good because I choose to try again to be good.  HIS grace covers all of my sin and HIS power makes me eternally enough!  I think I get to choose every day which part of myself I'm going to ACT on.  

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my sojourn in the hospital, was that faith is a choice.  Every day I had to CHOOSE to curse God for abandoning me to health trials so painful and depressing that I could be forever angry.  Or, to SEE the mercy and miracles in my situation.  When I chose to see God and tell others about the little miracles in my life, my ability to see Him increased.  

prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the fields, saith the Lord of Hosts. (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi, 3 Nephi 24)

If I choose to waste my time whining about how hard my life is, I will feel those negative feelings more.  No matter how many people on Facebook tell me what a wonderful mom I am or how it is natural for us to lay around and take a break some days, my actions can influence my mental state.  If I choose to get up, get dressed, turn on some happy music, and really SERVE my family in deed and in thought, I will FEEL happier.  If I stop doing good and choose to feel abandoned, I place an umbrella over my head that makes it difficult to feel the great dews from Heaven that God is pouring on me.  If I open my heart and my mind and my eyes to bask in His light, I will SEE His hand in my life.

The windows of Heaven are open and the dews are pouring out!

There are times when we go through the motions of serving while our mind is playing over and over the prideful, martyr soundtrack.  I actually think this is preferable to laying on the couch, because negative emotions are released as you move your body and doing good with your body qualifies you for blessings of Heaven.  Doing good does good for your soul.  Exercise and serving others will help you feel good.  But, true joy can only seep into a heart that is open to receive it.  Put away your umbrella, open your vessel that you may be filled!

It is not compassionate to coddle fears and commiserate with lies.

We must shout encouragement to one another as the mother on the sideline of the cross country meet.  "Run!  You can do this!  You're almost there!  Just stay with him.  Pace yourself!  You're prepared, you're strong, and you're fast!  Go!  Go!!  You are a runner! You can do this!"

God loves His children.
He is with us.
This life is a test and a time for training.
Hard things are blessings.
We have access to divine inspiration and divine miracles.
We know the way.
Mental health, physical health, purity, endurance, patience, and joy are possible and they are influenced by our choices and our desires.

Faith is a choice.
Doubt is also a choice.
Faith and doubt cannot not exist in the same person at the same time, for one will dispel the other.  
If you want to get rid of doubt, choose faith.

This is an idea taught by Joseph Smith and repeated by President Monson.  It does not mean that a faithful person cannot feel doubt (nor that a heterosexual person can't feel homosexual tendencies, a good mother won't want to beat her children, a kind person won't be tempted to scream unkind things, a loving spouse won't ever dislike her companion, a healthy mind won't ever feel depressed).

We actually MUST feel tempted inorder to choose.  If we don't have options there is no choice!  But, we are promised that as we are choosing FAITH the doubt will flee.  One WILL dispel the other.  It is a law of Heaven.  Doubt can dispel faith when you choose to dwell on it.  But, choosing to act in faith, choosing faithful thoughts can also dispel doubt.  That is SO powerful.

A room will stay dark until you turn on the lights.  If the lamp is not plugged into the power, the act of switching the light on won't bring light.  But, when the lamp is plugged into the power, switching the light on will ALWAYS dispel the darkness.  Yes, darkness is how the room really is.  Light is how the room really is.  You just choose whether you switch the light on or keep it off.  You have a choice only because there really are two options!   
Darkness is not proof that the lamp is broken!!!!!

Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.
If you see the good or see the bad, you're right.

If we could see ourselves as God sees us we would be amazed at our potential for good.  I know it.  

If we could see our spouses and our children as God sees them, we would be humbled and inspired.

Because we are children of God, He has given us access to His power and light!
We can shine!

Oh God-- open my eyes to SEE you and to see me through your eyes.
Help me to discern truth and possibility.
Help me to choose decisively to go forward with faith.
Inspire me to ACT, to do good, to love more.
Fill me with gratitude.
Strengthen my body to perform the work I was sent here to do, strengthen my mind to be clear, kind, and constant.

Today and always, I want to act with power, choose with clarity, and go forward with FAITH.
I want to love like I am loved, and serve because I am blessed.  

I can do eight children, together with God I could mother a nation!  
One plus infinity is infinity.
I can handle physical infirmities with one who creates bodies.
I can organize a home with one who creates worlds.
I can parent near the ultimate teacher.
I can budget with the fount of every blessing.

Yes, God is with me, He is with you.
When we are yoked together with God, we can pull a heavier load.  
Our yoke is easy and our burden is light.

I love this work.
I love this life.
I know bed rest hurts.
Give me this mountain! (Joshua 14:12)

We've got this!
You can handle your toddler.
Potty training is easy.
We live in 2015, it is easier to clean our homes now than it has ever been!
We have time for every needful thing.
You know what to do.
You are strong!
You are kind!
You are patient!
You are more powerful than you know!

I can do 8 kids!  You can do your hard.
If God had commanded us to do all things, we could do them.

50 And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi, 1 Nephi 17)

"It is a serious thing," says Lewis, "to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."

--C. S. Lewis, From The Weight of Glory.

Oh friends, thank you for reading my ramblings as I preach to myself this morning.

I feel the negative thoughts that are speed bumps in my life and I just know that exposing them can help me flatten them.  

Life is good.
God is good.
And YOU are better than you know.
We both are!
Let's live up to the power within us and walk in the light together!


Tina said...

I ran across this post this morning as I am quickly putting together my SS lesson and throwing some things together to do Singing Time with the Sr. Primary... feeling exhausted with the past few months and a busy Sunday, etc. etc. etc. I really appreciate how you express what I often feel - I just don't have the gift of putting it into words. I'm a little further along in [family] life than you and have less children (although I have often told myself we cannot compare # of children as if it means someone's life is harder/easier than another's), but I DO know that I have to literally make a choice EVERY DAY, EVERY DAY, EVERY DAY to keep trying. I only have my youngest left at home right now, who struggles with constant negativity, and it has been a challenge for me to help her see that each day is a new beginning and that she can choose to think positive thoughts and nurture hope, or she can choose to live in negativity. The day will pass, whichever path she chooses, but isn't it more pleasant to choose hope and faith?? YES! I will probably come back to read this at a gentler pace (not frantic and frenzied haha). Thanks for taking the time to share.

jenifer said...

Thanks for your comment Tina! I absolutely agree with you. Our lives and our trials are different, but we are learning the same lessons! Keep on hanging on!!

L said...

This is exactly why I missed your bkog so much when you were so busy last month. You took the words from my head and made them make sense!!! I have been feeling so run over by kids, sickness, laundry you know the list!!!
I so appreciate knowing thru your blog that im not just pathetic.Life in charge of a family isnt always sunshine and roses like it appears watching others.

Evaly said...

I needed these thoughts. Thx.

Heather said...

Onward!!! March...
Keep Moving Forward...

You are strong!

"Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured, and then have overcome." President Monson

Catherine Andrews said...

Thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling. Isn't is crazy as women we all have these feeling yet we feel like we can't admit to them or voice them. Crazy! Thank you for the pick me up I needed!

Catherine from Wyoming

Stephanie said...

Were you a cheerleader in high school?!?! Love it!! I think you are so right that we need to encourage each other, instead of enabling each other to wallow or stand still.

As I read this post, I remembered a Conference talk from April 2014 (I think!) by Elder Bednar. He compared trials to a load in a pick-up truck and told a story of how a heavy load gave a man the traction he needed to get his truck out of the snow where it had been stuck. (Go read his version. It is SO much more eloquent!!)

Your blog is so encouraging to me. I love that you choose to focus on the positive (most of the time, since none of us are perfect) and that you advocate hard work. It truly is the best medicine and is a gift from God. I honestly thank God some days for the ability to work. You know what it's like to not be physically able to work. It sounds awful!! And yet, not all work is of a physical nature, and we each have a work to do on this earth. Let's put the shoulder to the wheel, and God will strengthen us and send angels to help push.

Merry Christmas from Florida!!

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