Friday, March 28, 2014

The Mother God Made Me

Ever since I can remember, I have had one goal for my life.  I wanted to have children.  I planned and prepared myself for it.  In high school when I my German teacher asked why I was taking Early Childhood Education instead of German 3, I responded that the most important job I would have is to be a good mother and I should prepare myself in every way to be a good mother.  In college while trying to pick a major, my first consideration was is this a career I can do from my home so I can be available for my children.  I have been an aunt since I was 4 and have 32 nieces and nephews. Children was always a part of the picture for me.
Me on the left with my oldest niece only 4 yrs and 3 days younger than me
When I was 14 I received my Patriarchal Blessing.  (For those of my readers who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Patriarchal Blessing is a blessing from an ordained Patriarch of the church who is set a part to give specific prophetic blessing to members of the church.  These blessing are prophetic eternal blessings, council, and promises.  These blessings are recorded on the records of the church. For me it is the word of God for me and my specific journey here.) In several places my blessing talks of my children.  In one place even saying that I will have a large posterity.  Oh how I looked forward to that day.
Not all but most of my nieces and nephews
So what happened?  For one thing I didn't get married until I was 31.  As my twenties dwindled down, I wondered how this large posterity was going to come about.  I reminded myself that Abraham was told that his posterity was going to be numbered as the sands of the sea and he only had two sons late in his life.  So I waited patiently.
Aren't they cute?  I love them so.
Then I got married.  Finally!  We both wanted to have children right away.  It was difficult to really time it since my menstrual cycle wasn't really regular.  I never knew when I was ovulating.  So I went to my doctor to work it out with him, maybe he could figure out why my periods weren't regular and then he also sent my husband to the doctor to have test done.  Well, the problem wasn't just me, but both of us.  We went through a lot of options and after A LOT of prayer and A LOT of discussion, we decided foster-adoption was our best option.

About this time my husband gave me a priesthood blessing ensuring me that I would know my children when I met them.  To me this clearly meant adoption was the absolute way to go.  Until we met with brick wall after brick wall.  (I may share more of this story later as it included so many life lessons for Gavin and I, but as this post is already getting to be the length of the Bible, I will sum up.) A funny thing started happening around this time.  I would be talking to a friend and the Spirit would whisper, "This is your child."  I would teach a Sunday School Class and the whisper would continue, "These are your children."  Being with my nieces and nephews, "This is your child." This started to happen over and over again, but never to a child we were hoping to adopt, not to mention the many road blocks and brick walls we kept facing each time we tried. (Again, a another long story for another day.)

After several years and many nights ending in tears and sorrow, we got off the adoption roller coaster and started to cope with our loss.  This was so hard for me with many complex and deep feelings of failure and loss.

During this time we volunteered to house missionaries in our home.  These boys became my surrogate children.  Most of them I still keep in touch with and still love with all of my heart.   Their losses are my losses and their joys my joys.  One of them even moved back in with us after we were done housing the missionaries and he was done with his mission.

My husband and I were called to be the Young Single Adult Advisers for our ward (congregation for you non-LDS readers) and more surrogate children came into my life.  I seemed to find new purpose and a new definitions for mother and motherhood.

I slowly morphed not into a MOTHER, but not the mother I dreamed of being as a child or a mother as the world would define it, but the mother that God made me.  Eve was called Eve because she was Mother to ALL living. (Genesis 3:20)  Not just those beings who would be born from her womb, but ALL living.  The title mother is not predicated on anyone's ability to give birth or raise children, but the ability to nurture and love. I believe these are qualities Eve had in abundance.

My new goal?  "Loving Mother to all I meet."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Giving Up

Worthiness is a tricky thing for me.  Somehow, somewhere in my existence, I got the notion to be worthy meant to be perfect.  Perfect is a hard thing. A really hard thing, so hard that Heavenly Father knew only one could do it, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

So what is a girl like me with a perfection complex to do?  Give up.  Yep that's right just give up.  Now before any of you get your panties in a twist over such a thing, let me explain further.
Carl Bloch's Healing at the Pool of Bethesda
You see this picture above by Carl Bloch?  I love Carl Bloch by the way, his paintings speak to me in such a personal way.  Anyway, back on topic.  Here we have Christ offering up healing for this crippled man enshrouded by darkness.  You would think that the two key figures of the story (Christ and the old crippled man) of the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda would be the center of focus, but if you look at the way different figures are illuminated, the man in the red cap and the Savior are really who this painting is about.  Yes, I've spent a lot of time looking at this painting.  I am like this man.  He is obviously in need.  His needs may not be as great as some in this scene, but greater than some others.  His eyes and attention are completely focused on the miracle that is going on right next to him, but his body does not turn to it.  You can see in his eyes his longing for healing, but he doesn't ask for it, maybe like me, he feels unworthy of it.  He clearly longs for it, he so wants to be found, but why does he not cry out for the miracle too?  Does he too feel like he is not perfect and therefore does not deserve to ask for help from the one being he longs to be close to and so is left to heal himself?

Years I have believed that healing belonged to those who "deserved" it.  Those who are faithful and to me faithful equates to perfect.  It's not that I didn't intellectually believe that I deserved to take part in the great and eternal Atonement, it's that I believed that is was for those that did those "really big" sins and for those that were "faithful".  Where did I fit?  There I was waiting at the side of the Pool of Bethesda waiting for the water to stir so I could lower myself into the waters.  Then I learned this important lesson while serving in the temple this week.  Faith actually equates to repentant not perfect.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Leaving Sodom

I've been thinking a lot about Lot and his family.  As it states in Genesis 13:12 ";...Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom."  As we know it did not turn out well for Lot's family in Sodom.  In contrast the people of King Benjamin "...pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple..." (Mosiah 2:6)  King Benjamin's people took upon them the name of Christ and were fully converted to the ways of God.

All too often we walk away from our Sunday School classes securely believing that our "tent door" is pointed towards the temple.  I know I have.  For years, I thought my tent door was pointed towards the temple and the Gospel of our Lord and Savior.  I also believe that most people that know me would walk into my house and believe that my tent door, the focus of my home, was pointed near the temple.  However what went unnoticed for years even by myself was the huge picture window pointed towards "Sodom".

Let me back-track a little bit to explain.  I have an auto-immune disease.  Please don't ask me what specific one I have, nobody seems to know and really it doesn't matter.  I have been dealing with it for about 20 years now.  This causes me periods of joint inflammation and pain (think hammer smashing a joint level of pain).  It has also caused some hormone issues and I believe my infertility problems.  Lately, I have also been dealing with excessive fatigue, depression, and anxiety which is fairly common with those dealing with chronic pain.

So what does this have to do with my picture window towards Sodom?  I promise, I'm getting to it.  In the last few years, I have noticed that a lot of my symptoms are increased or worsened by different foods.  You would think that any semi-intelligent person would just say, "hey this food is not good for me, I will stop eating it" and then just do that.  But for me it hasn't been that easy.  It has caused me to admit that I am an addict.  I am a food addict.  I'm not talking about the I-really-love-chocolate-so-I-always-say-I'm-a-chocoholic.  I'm talking about I-can-feel-the-food-making-me-sicker-and-sicker-and-I-still-can't-stop-shoveling-it-in-my-face-addict.

I went to see a well known and respected naturopathic doctor who specializes in chronic pain conditions and he gave me a list of foods I needed to avoid for at least 6 months and then he uttered the words, "no cheating".  I went home and cried because I knew I would fail. Instant panic and anxiety right there.  I would shop for foods in my new plan and cry as soon as I got done shopping because I couldn't bring any of my comforting food friends home.

If you are still reading this and still wondering what this has anything to do with that picture window towards Sodom.  I'm coming to it right now.  King Benjamin tells us that the natural man is an enemy to God and unless I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit using the atonement to root out the natural man, than I am longing after Sodom.  My food addiction is my Sodom.  Food has always been there for me, it has helped me bond with others including my family, but it is also keeping me from being healthy and feeling the ultimate joy the atonement brings.

I now can relate to Lot's wife.  She did more than just look back at her home being destroyed, she longed to be back in Sodom, but may I remind you that as a woman, her whole identity especially in that day and age was her children and her home (I'm not sure much has really changed about that).  She had a lovely comfortable home in Sodom.  We know she left behind two married daughters who with their husbands refused to come.  It is reasonable to think that if she had married daughters, she also had grandchildren; whom I'm guessing she loved and took great joy in.  What pains she must have felt, but she was not willing to leave behind her natural man/woman to follow the Lord.

It is time for me to close up my window towards Sodom, to flee the natural man and not look back.

PS One of the other ways the Spirit has told me to leave Sodom is to come out from hiding and let others get to know the real me...thus the blog.  Join me as I work through the ups and downs of life.