Friday, January 17, 2014

Working on weakness. Well, one anyway.

I don’t suppose it’s lies – the sides of me that the outside world sees. The blog world. The Facebook and Instagram world (and, as I type that, I can’t help but picture my kids reading “Facebook and Instagram” one day and laughing like I am talking about 8 tracks). I don’t think it’s half-truths that friends, and extended family, and ward members see.

It’s truth. Those good parts of me are real. They are the best and, I think, truest parts of me. The parts that want most of all to shine out with constancy.

But . . . there are other parts. Less good parts. Parts, sadly, saved for those who matter most – those who love me best and won’t quit admiring or loving me because PMS quite literally wreaks havoc with my patience, whining kids occasionally make me snap, and too many night-wakings make me wholly unreasonable.IMG_2992_edited-1

Those aren’t parts of me I am proud of. But I do see, now and then, that it is good we come all bundled up with weaknesses. I’d like to be perfect all of the time. I hope to keep getting closer. But the struggle getting there? I suppose it’s part of what this life is all about. It makes it easier to be humble. It makes it easier to have compassion. It makes it easier not to be too critical of others. (There’s not a lot of room for “holier than thou” when you are struggling with your own shortcomings – or, at least, there shouldn’t be.)

I’ve been working, valiantly, on improving one of my weaknesses lately -- a part of my behavior that is so habit and so natural, that changing has been hard. So hard.

I keep failing. Doing better. Then not. Over and over. So much failing.

I’d somehow been under the impression that it just took determination and commitment . . . and I’d pretty much fix that part of myself . . . well, immediately.

And each time I didn’t? I felt so worthless. So panicked that change was impossible. So unworthy to ask for forgiveness when heaven knows, I’d asked plenty before.

I prayed and plead with things like, “I need to see that I can change. I need to know people can change so I can give others hope.”

I looked up the scripture about weaknesses that I knew would tell me they could become strengths. And it did tell me that. But it told me something else. Something I’d never paid attention to the hundreds of times I’d read that scripture before.

Ether 12:27
. . . I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

It was that whole “my grace is sufficient” part. Sometimes, when something speaks right to your spirit, you understand it more personally, differently, than you did before. Tears sprung to my eyes. It felt like it said this:

“It’s not OK to be content staying weak. It’s important to change. And you will be able to change. And I will help you. But it won’t be immediate. You will fail often getting there. Luckily for you . . . my atonement isn’t just a pleasant idea. It’s real. What I did? It’s enough. It’s enough for you to keep asking for forgiveness and keep improving. Again and again. For how ever long it takes. My grace really is enough. Lucky you. How about quit being so ashamed to ask and keep using it?”

I already knew the atonement was real. I knew Christ paid the demands for perfection that justice insists upon. But . . . I think I kind of felt like that was . . . the first time I made a mistake. The first time I was weak. Once I knew I’d messed up? Well, I couldn’t expect forgiveness again, could I?

Turns out I can.

I feel so hopeful. So excited that this part of me that is weak . . . I really think will become strong. I already see it getting better; becoming easier. But I think it will still take lots of work. Lots of trying. And lots of grace. For the first time I feel like I really understand what “not relying on my own strength” means. What “doing something with the Lord’s help” means. It doesn’t just mean my own determination. And it doesn’t just mean Him taking over and making it easy for me to do. It means some of both of those things. And it means having someone who will keep working with me and letting me start fresh every time I need to until I get it right. Until it is a strength.

What a lucky thing.

Lucky for me. And lucky for these little people of mine (who deserve a pretty great mom).

And . . . in less “spiritual and life changing” news: This coming week I am determined to quit lazily only snapping with my cell phone, and to get more pictures of the four kids who are off at school all day (not that the two youngest boys aren’t plenty adorable to see lots of pictures of, mind). It may take a little work with Goldie. Notice how she is shunning the Daisy paparazzi as I braid her hair? She does that. Silly girl.

Also, I know kid bragging can get old pretty fast. Don’t fret. I’m sure these six will all have their own share of weaknesses and strengths. Some things will be easy raising them. Some things will be hard. Those things will be different than the “easies and hards” other parents face. Heavens, they will be different among each of my own kids.

BUT, indulge me in one easy: Abe.

He is so responsible. He is always where he is supposed to be. Always doing what he is supposed to be doing. I am constantly getting emails from his teachers about millions of upcoming projects and assignments. I am forever supposed to be checking the school district’s “portal system” to make sure I am aware of and helping him with everything he should be caught up on. It stressed me at first. But I soon discovered I didn’t need to bother with any of it. Abe simply is aware of and on top of everything he is ever supposed to be doing or have done. Always. If I ever do stop and look, he has far more done than necessary.

We had an appointment with his school counselor the other day to plan out his classes for next year. Upon opening his information and grades, she gave a little gasp of “Oh! My!” A good gasp. A gasp like, “I didn’t realize we were dealing with one of those kids. The kids everyone wants to be dealing with.” I really just genuinely like that oldest boy of mine so so much. Not just his reliable nature. His whole person. Who he is. I really like all of it.

There. Bragging done. I’m sorry. My other kids are all pure bad. Does that help? (Heehee. Just kidding kids). There are plenty of hards in mothering. It’s nice that the hards, in each of my kids, are mixed in with lots and lots of “easy”..


rantgirl said...

This. This right here? Lovely. Thanks for writing this.

Shannon said...

I think this is one of the most amazing things you've ever written. So beautiful. It also gave me hope. I love you!

Jamie M. said...

Beautifully said!! I loved that you picked out the part about grace, how true that is, and something we need to remember more often.

Linn said...

This made me cry. You are so wise. Man, I needed this wisdom. More than you could ever know. Thank you.

Michele Johnson said...

Nancy, this is so beautiful. You address reality honestly and package it within the uplifting context of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I think you give an eloquent voice to the thoughts of many mothers- including myself.

Nancy said...

Thank you, girls. These were some lovely comments for me to read. ♥♥♥

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