Pardon My Introspection


Disclosure: this post is long and largely personal. But I felt that it was important to both document and share.

I stopped by the Church building on my way to the gym, knowing it would be unlocked due to the Stake Women's Conference being held that morning. I needed to organize and disinfect all the toys in the nursery as part of my new calling, but I'd been too tired to do it the previous Wednesday night. Thus it was now a chore squeezed between my morning workout and Grandpa's 94th Birthday Party that afternoon. 

I sorted through plastic dinosaurs and matched the Little People to their farms and schoolyards, all the while feeling rather sad and disgusted with myself. Do you know how sometimes unhappiness can feel like a weighted blanket across your shoulders? At that moment, mine felt as heavy as bricks. I spent an hour tidying and categorizing, all the while berating myself for my shortcomings in an attempt to give myself some kind of psychological kick-in-the-pants. 

When my task was completed, I readied myself to go but became distracted by sounds drifting down the hallway. I'd forgotten about Women's Conference. I wandered towards the source, acutely aware of my inappropriate attire, and was startled to hear a live speaker-- not a broadcast, as I'd been expecting. 

I turned to leave, but just as I did, my sister in law stepped into the hallway with her infant son fussing in her arms. She took in my tousled hair and paint-splattered gym clothes, and with a comforting smile convinced me to sit next to her in the back of the Chapel. 

The woman up front was in the middle of her presentation. She was talking about self-image and how the destructive acts of comparing and belittling ourselves prevents us from accomplishing the things that the Lord would have us do on this Earth. The story she told next resonated in my soul to such a degree, I haven't stopped thinking of it since. I've discussed it with three different people, and do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that I believe it has changed me. She said:

Seven years ago, her marriage was falling apart. Although things between she and her husband were later repaired with the help of counseling, repentance, prayer and hard work, it was a very difficult time for her. Because of the nature of the problems, she felt that she wasn't measuring up to some 'ideal'. Her self worth was very low and she despaired, wondering why this had to happen to her. {wow, that all sounds familiar!}

It was Christmastime and she was 8 months pregnant. She took her young daughter with her and to an overly crowded Walmart and attempted to get all the shopping done in a single miserable trip, figuring she was unhappy anyhow. 

With her cart filled to the brim, she got into a long, slow checkout line and then looked down to find her daughter gearing up to throw an all-out, screaming, flailing, bawling-at-the-top-of-her-lungs fit. Nothing she did calmed the little girl, so eventually she was forced to abandon her cart and drag the child out of the store, past gawking strangers, to the very back of the parking lot and into the car. Having strapped her child into the car seat, she collapsed into her own seat and and then heard in her mind with perfect clarity, "You are a bad mom."

She covered her face and began to weep, the thoughts continuing to barrage her.

"What made you think you could have more children? You can't even handle the one you've got. You're marriage is hanging by a thread and you are a failure."

Then, through the sobs, she heard a small tap, tap, tap on the window. She raised her tear-streaked face to see a woman with four older children huddled behind her standing at the door. The woman motioned for her to roll down the window, which she did.

"I saw you struggling with your daughter in the store," the woman said kindly, "and then I noticed you here crying. I felt I just had to come and tell you this: You are a good mom."

"We've all had those days" she continued. "You're doing a good job. I can see that you love your daughter and you're handling her just right." The woman patted her shoulder and murmured more comforting words until the mother had calmed down and was able to drive herself home. 

At this point, I was sitting in the back of the room struggling not to cry. Not even 20 minutes earlier, I'd been listening to that voice. The voice that tells me that I'm a bad mom. That I'm unattractive. That I don't measure up. That voice feels real. It sounds right. Sometimes, I even convince myself that the words it says are exactly what God would say to me. I listen to it and hang my head in shame, feeling the weight of my imperfections. 

Sitting through the woman's account made me realize: I have forgotten the true nature of God.

All throughout the scriptures are examples of God's mercy when dealing with fallible humans. He invites others to cast the first stone. He weeps. He heals. He forgives

I have heard His voice through blessings and from Prophets. I have felt it in answers to prayers. Always it is gentle, tender, loving and infinitely compassionate. 

He does not berate. He does not condemn. He says, "Thou art mine" and "Go and sin no more." His words lead me to all things virtuous, lovely and praiseworthy. When I allow myself to hear Him, to truly believe that I am a daughter of God, it empowers me in ways that no kick-in-the-pants self-despise ever can. How could I have allowed myself to forget?

I know that not everyone believes in Satan. Or God for that matter. But I do, and this weekend I decided that labeling that voice as depression is not enough. That voice, the one that berates and belittles, is Satan getting a foothold on me, discouraging me to the point that I am unable to reach my full potential. 

Well, I'm not having it. From this time forward, that voice is going to have a fight on his hands.

PS- Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha? Martha was busy about the house, preparing and worrying over many things, while Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to his words. On Saturday, I felt like Martha. I was weighed down and busy, scurrying between chores and parties and motherly duties. But my Sister in Law was there at the church, dressed appropriately and listening to Women's Conference- just like Mary. Luckily for me, she pulled me into the Chapel and allowed me to be Mary as well for a while. I will be forever grateful. Thanks, Lu. 


hukolb said...

Thanks for sharing! I needed that, too! I often am grateful when I can be in the right place at the right time...I think that is where most of my blessings and impressions have come! What would we do without the gospel!

Marci said...

I loved this! You have a great way of saying things that make it all seem so clear. I think we all need that reminder at times!

janeofwisconsin.com said...

I too had an epiphinal experience this week end, life changing I would say. But back to you and yours,big hugs, for recognizing and acting on your feelings of being drawn into the conference. It was meant to be. There is good books that go along with that experience:

"Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World- Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life"Joanna Weaver

I really enjoy the creativity of your blog and personally wonder how you do all that you do, have come to the conclusion you are a driven super woman AND a great mom! So there..:-)

aimee said...

Loved this inspiring post. I need to tell that voice to go into time out more often than I am afraid to admit. I hope you can sustain this passion! The best thing we can do for ourselves is to be madly in love for who HF has created us to be.

The Queen Vee said...

You are not alone in having feelings of mom inadequacy, I think every mother feels that at some time in their life and more than once. Heck, I'm still feeling it at times and I'm a grandmother. It really is destructive to constantly compare ourselves and feel that we don't come up to scratch compared to others, once again most of us do that too.

I'm constantly amazed though that the Lord knows each of us so well and places people or circumstances in our path that lift of us up when we need it the most. Sometimes we aren't in tune to the spirit to realize what is happening but you were.

Thank you once again for sharing such personal and tender feelings. You are young and will continue to have experiences like this that will strengthen you, may you always be receptive to them.

You are special, you are gorgeous and you are a wonderful mother, when you doubt come back and read this post. Oh, you're right about Satan, he is real and so we must all keep up the good fight.

shoutingforha said...

What a beautiful post! I think we all need to be reminded to stop listening to the voice in our heads and start focus instead on the One who loves us unconditionally. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Laura said...

Beautiful post. I am 6.5 months pregnant, as huge as a house, and trying to potty train my son. I have no patience and feel like Im doing an awful job at mothering. This is exactly what I needed to hear today, after a huge emotional breakdown. I love your blog, thanks for not being afraid to share how you feel sometimes.

merelyLooking said...

As one of the three women you talked to about this experience this weekend - for my benefit - I want to thank you for posting this, putting it in black and white to remember and reflect on. Heavenly Father is never who I build Him up to be in my mind. My interactions with Him in real life are always so tender, and soooo positive and brimming with hopefulness and encouragement. When I try to imagine a heaven filled with people of the same heart and mindset, I just can't wait to get there. I'd like to be part of a group like that.

Apis Melliflora said...

You are a tender soul, Melancholy. Just the kind of person Jesus yearns to sit at his feet and listen. Good job listening!

P.S. By the time you left the church, you were dressed appropriately too: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25

Laura said...

Thank you so much! I found your blog somehow a few months ago from This Little Miggy Stayed Home, and for some reason reading your blog gives me great relief and comfort. Perhaps its because I know I'll never be alone, but this post was what I needed as of late. I think this realization will help me b a better woman, wife, and church member to be able to remember this lesson you shared (no kids yet).

Thank you!

Janae said...

I just love you! I love that you share personal things with us on the blog. This post hit home for me, and I just want to reach into the computer and give you a hug. You are such a wonderful example--the older sister I never had! :)

Sharon Johnson said...

You don't know me. I read your blog every now and again. I'm a new mother. I suffer from depression. I'm an artist. I am a photographer. I am a wife. I am struggling. I NEEDED this... right at this moment, I needed this. Thank you.

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