"The perfect is the enemy of the good." -Voltaire
I like to think I haven't written much (or quite frankly, anything) lately because I haven't the time. Unfortunately, it's the opposite. I have more time than I know what to do with. Since both of my children are currently attending public school and my husband has finally graduated college (no more editing papers about SWOT analysis and opportunity costs for me), it seems like there is no end to what I can accomplish during the day. From the 3-hour workout I finished on Friday to my meticulously decorated kitchen, the possibilities seem only as finite as my financial resources. And yet, the one thing I have always wanted to do--the one thing I know I SHOULD be doing--is the one thing that I have tried the hardest to avoid.
And why is that exactly?
As I sat through Sunday School yesterday, discussing an early founder of my faith who was persecuted beyond imagining for what he believed in and yet bravely endured to the very end, I came to a realization. Where there are still many areas of the world where Mormanism, and indeed Christianity as a whole, is still met with violent backlash, for the most part we no longer have to endure great physical persecution from others for what we believe. We no longer have to fear being tarred and feathered by an angry mob, or being run from our homes in horse-drawn carriages during the dead of winter.
What we do have to fear, however, is ourselves.
Some of us create such a complexity of expectations for ourselves that it is difficult to cope with the magnitude of them. Sometimes we establish so many particulars by which to evaluate and rate ourselves that it becomes difficult to feel successful and worthy to any degree at anytime.
I step back into my kitchen that afternoon, after having attended a large get-together at a close friend's house. Their home, spacious, beautifully decorated and chalk full of yumminess, was all a-buzz with the sounds of siblings playing, and adults richly varied in impressive and intimidating callings (ranging from auxiliary and priesthood presidents to bishops) chatting amongst themselves. My kitchen, in contrast, is still a mess from the day before (thanks to an depressive episode), my home quiet with the sound of no more than the two children my husband and I have miraculously been blessed with over the course of nearly 14 years of marriage.
It's a painful reminder of everything we've given up or will never have, thanks to all my mistakes, weaknesses, and inadequacies. The lack of a large family. The calling as Elder's Quorum President my husband felt the need to walk away from to aid me through my recovery after a total break down. The extra 40 lbs I put on through my emotional roller-coast ride of coping, and the complete and total inability to now fit into ANY of my clothes because of it. (I may or may not have indulged in pumpkin cookies, pear pie, and a phenomenal banana pudding last night.)
I spend the rest of the evening moping and crying over it.
One of the most liberating and joyful things a person can learn to do is to stop trying so hard to please other people— stop caring so much about what they say or think and simply try to please the Lord. -Brent L. Top
This morning I wake up feeling better, a fresh perspective rolling in with the now beautiful Spring sunshine. Sometimes having moods that are so directly affected by the weather can get really frustrating. The one good thing, however, is my ability to take a fresh look at what was really going through my mind at the time, now that my mood has so drastically changed with the departure of the storms.
The real truth is that it is not at all about what we think others think of us or how we believe they perceive us. I am very well aware of the fact that I have lots of amazing cheerleaders--including my incredible husband--who quite frankly think the world of me. What matters to me even more than that, however, is what I think of myself. I not only need to learn to let go of trying to "please others," but need to let go of trying so hard to fit some unrealistic image of myself that I quite frankly may never attain in this life.
I really, really need to stop beating myself up for not attaining temporally what may take an eternity to achieve.
Instead of torturing ourselves, we can speak gently, though truthfully, to ourselves as we would to a troubled friend or our own erring child; we can help, encourage, and understand ourselves as we would a lonely stranger in need; we can be patient and supportive, though firm, with ourselves as we would with family members or other loved ones in crisis. In other words, we must learn to treat ourselves as Jesus Christ would have us treat ourselves. Only then can we see ourselves as He sees us and become what He would have us be.
So why is it so hard for me to actually want to sit down and write? Why do I continue to beat myself up for not obtaining goals that would make an Olympian waiver? Why am I so ridiculously hard on myself? Because deep down inside, I know what I am capable of ultimately attaining.
And it scares me to death.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
I've always felt very strongly that life would be so much easier as a hermit. I know what I can do and am fully prepared to meet those standards. I can keep an immaculately clean house, when the spirit so moves me. I can craft and decorate my home and plan super-fun and motivating activities for my family like nobody's business. I can be beautiful and fit and well-dressed when it comes to prancing around in front of my husband in the comfort of our own home. I so totally got this! And I don't just got it, I can hit it out of the park and then sit back and enjoy the rest of the night.
But it becomes a whole 'nother ballgame once I walk out my front door. It becomes a whole different world when I hit that "publish" button and decide that I'm going to extend my talents and influence and motivations past my own walls.
And that's when suddenly the bar seems so much higher. And SO much more work!
That elusive feeling of self-worth and inner peace came not from what she could do, but from what the Lord can do with her.-Brent L. Top (from 'Finding Inner Peace: Lessons Learned from Trying Too Hard)
Unfortunately in the end I have to accept one simple and solitary truth. If indeed this is the work the Lord would have me do, if indeed the experiences which I have endured, my talents as a writer, and my insights into the world around me is truly what I am here to share, then it doesn't matter at all what I think. I does not matter how hard I perceive it shall be or whether or not I will ever, EVER live up to what I someday envision achieving. It does not matter if I can proudly step into a clean kitchen or hit that "publish" button with full confidence. All that really matters is that I try my best to follow the promptings of the Spirit, that I draw closer to my Father in Heaven, and that I love all those whom I come into contact with.
Why I Left the Church
The Importance of Friendship
Secrets to Staying Sane
Fighting the Rain