6.17.2017

"If Everyone is Special, Nobody is Special"

I recently watched The Incredibles for the first time in a long time and became mesmerized by this scene between mother and child. Watch this:

 

So many messages in this short little clip!

#1 - "You always say, 'Do your best,' but you don't really mean it.  Why can't I do the best that I can do?"

I remember a moment when my oldest was working on his handwriting.  He started to throw a fit because it wasn't as easy as he wanted it to be.  My response at the time was, "It's okay.  Just do your best."  Looking back I noticed that such a response was really saying, "Don't try too hard to be perfect."  His handwriting is not horrible today, but I wonder if asking him to do his best rather than giving him an opportunity to improve and truly reach his potential taught him the adverse principle.

For example, fast forward about 5 years.  I'd been teaching him piano and he came to a tricky song or technique.  He immediately began to throw a fit because it wasn't easy.  For who knows how many minutes I sat there and made him practice that line over, and over, and over again.  I have to say, his piano playing is much better than his handwriting!

My point? What do we really mean when we tell our children to "Just do your best?"  Are we using this as a phrase in such a way that they simply settle for mediocre or are we really expecting them to reach for their best and to achieve what is seemingly impossible?


#2 - In response to #1, Mrs. Incredible says, "Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in and to fit in we just gotta be like everybody else."

What is it about fitting in that seems so enticing?  What does "fitting in" even mean?  Why are we sometimes afraid to stand out?  I have a couple of teenage daughters right now going through this lovely identity discovery.  One wants to wear name brand clothes so she doesn't look different than her peers.  The other is hesitant to talk in class because she doesn't want to draw attention to herself (and her strong thirst for learning new things!).  I love this quote I found online:

"There has always been a tension between freedom and equality. This tension does not only exist in the world outside of us, but within us as well. We want to belong and yet we want to be true to ourselves. If we pretend to be someone else that we are not in order to fit in, we are always insecure that we will be found out and that we will lose the love and respect of those around us. At the same time, though, we fear that if we are true to ourselves we will never be loved and respected for who we really are. And so we are driven by our fears and our insecurities, unable to be content with that we have or able to grasp and seize our deepest dreams." from https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/07/15/if-everyone-is-special-then-nobody-is/

C.S. Lewis describes this "fitting in" phenomenon as an "Inner Ring."  We all want to be part of an circle of some sort, he says.  He states, "Until you conquer the fear of being an outside, an outsider you will always be."

I know when my own insecurities start to take the better of me it's often because I'm worrying about being accepted by others.  Or, I worry that my personality is such that I might come off a little too strong and thus offend someone.  We all have personal fears for why we don't embrace our true selves and we all desire to be accepted.  Maybe showing acceptance to others is the key to overcoming our own worries of being accepted.


#3 - "Everyone is special, Dash."
        "Which is another way of saying no one is."

There is also clip toward the end of the movie where Syndrome says, "I'll give them heroics...And when I'm old I'll sell my inventions so everyone can be heroes, everyone can be super!  And when everyone's super, no one will be."

Brene Brown calls this phenomenon scarcity.  If someone has a talent, then I can't have it.  If someone speaks highly of another, then I must not be so great.  If they have a big house, I will probably never get one.  These are obviously thoughts from the adversary, for nothing can be further from the truth!  The Lord has promised everyone all that He hath (Luke 12:44).  God is no respector of persons and will grant to each of us that which we need in order to return to Him.

Lynne Twist, author of  The Soul of Money writes, “We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency....Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances. " 

So, next time we think, "I must not be great because look at her!" Let us quickly tell ourselves that's a lie and remember that we truly are children of a loving Heavenly Father who is watching over us.  We have enough.  We are enough!

 - - - - -

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. ...It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship..."

C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory

4.26.2017

A Visit from Sister Wixom


Sister Rosemary Wixom, former General Primary President, came to speak to the women of BYU-Idaho last night.  What a precious, gentle and loving woman she is!  Her words were timely and beautiful.  I just want to record some of the messages I received from this sweet woman. 

Question:  If your life were a book, what would be it's title? 
Have you ever thought of the answer to this question?  It's one I've been chewing on since Sister Wixom first posed it.  I'm still pondering....

Question:  How do you see eternity every day? 
My friend and I discussed how scripture study is essential for keeping our eye on eternity.  Sister Wixom then introduced us to a beautiful phrase: 

SACRED IDLENESS

What is sacred idleness?  It is purposeful time alone; a focus on sacred (highly valued) things;  a moment in our day that rejuvenates, renews and restores us!  Don't you love that?!  

Sacred idleness is not about wasting time or filling your quiet moments with distractions like social media and television.  

Sacred idleness is personal time in which we focus our lives on the things that matter most. 

Sacred idleness is about pursuing small moments that matter, those things that give you energy back! 

When we focus on creating a sacred moment in our days, we will be able to live in the moment while keeping our eye on eternity! 

Question: How do we take control of our lives? 
The adversary wants to keep us "busily engaged."  We need to seek the light of Christ in our live, determine what the essentials are and focus on the big things in life.  

We do this by keeping our covenants.  Covenant keeping is about trying - - maybe failing sometimes, but always getting up and trying.  Elder Maxwell has said, "It's good to remember how young we are spiritually."  

There is an abundance of blessings for keeping our covenants.  Keep your covenants to bless your family! 

Then, she said so cutely, "If we Mormons can't have fun, I mean, crazy fun, then we are missing the mark!"  

Final Invitatiton
Lastly, Sister Wixom invited us to make a list of those things which have enriched our lives the most.

 - - - - - - 

"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come."
D&C 68:6

3.08.2017

Why Gender Matters


"Teach your children: Being a real man means using your strength in the service of others...Being a real woman is who you are inside."  
 Dr. Leonard Sax, Why Gender Matters, p.240


Since 1995, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has boldly declared, "All human beings - male and female - are created in the image of God...Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal destiny of His children."

When The Proclamation on the Family first came out, I understood the importance of it, but honestly questioned why this particular paragraph was included.  I didn't understand why it needed to be stated so explicitly.  For me, at the time and even now, being female was not a question.  Understanding the need for both male and female was not a question. It seemed pretty clear.  And so, being a teenager, I just went on my merry way and questioned no further.

Fast forward over 20 years and I can now see why this particular paragraph was so necessary, valuable and important.  I understand, also, that for some gender distinction is not so clear.  I can validate that there are real questions and doubts circulating out there in our society.  Most of this uncertainty is being inflamed by media, social media to be exact.  As we hear and see more about gender and identity confusion, we begin to assume that such thoughts are normal and even may begin to adopt them ourselves.

Gender is the focus topic for the Proclamation tips in the March Ensign of 2017.  Though it may not be so clear out in the world, President Uchtdorf explains, "We know some things but not everything...But there is someone who sees all things clearly.  There is a source of truth that is complete and correct. That source is our wise and all-knowing Heavenly Father (emphasis added)."   As with any wrestle we may have with gospel principles, this one is no different.  We must go to the Lord for answers on such matters.

How do we come to terms with what conversations are being had in the world while teaching our children in our homes?  How do we teach compassion and understanding when what is shown as normal is not how God intends it to be?

First of all, I think we need to distinguish equality from being the same.  Dr. Leonard Sax is a renowned physician who has worked extensively on this subject.  He is a strong advocate for same-gender segregation in schools and has some very valid points as to why he believe this.  Ultimately his stance is this:  BOYS AND GIRLS ARE DIFFERENT!  Period.

For years scientists have been showing us that male and female brains are different.  John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus, states, "Not only do men and women communicate differently, but they think, feel, perceive, react, respond, love, need and appreciate differently."  I think when this book first came out (and since) this idea of men and women thinking differently has become almost comedic.  We use these differences to make fun of or make light of certain situations.  I think of the commercial where the wife has a nail sticking out of her head.  It's hilarious.  And we laugh.  And that's a good thing!

However, we also need to take into account that these differences are REAL.  Dr. Sax adds his expertise to the puzzle when he expresses our need to acknowledge physical differences as well.  In studying youth sports programs he has found unaddressed distinctions between boys and girls. He says, "Today we all agree that girls and boys should have equal opportunity to participate in sports.  But that doesn't mean that girls and boys should be treated the same...As a physician, I have seen first-hand how this confusion results in more girls injured on the field....If we pay attention to the hardwired differences between girls and boys, we can decrease the risk of injury.  If we ignore the differences between girls and boys because it's politically correct to pretend that girls and boys are the same...then we put girls at risk."

Equal does not mean the same.  I think this is where the conversation becomes skewed.  I think this is the understanding we all could come to.  EQUAL opportunities for women, YES!  I am all for that.  But treating boys and girls the same can be very detrimental.  Dr. Sax gives warm-up suggestions that are more appropriate for the muscle structure of girls than boys.

 Academically, Sax also advises that we teach boys and girls separately, at least in certain subjects, because the boy brain develops differently than does the girl brain.  With such knowledge, teachers and parents can adapt their teaching styles and have much better success in raising girls that love math and boys that love to write (our stereotypical society may be founded on scientific data here).

It is true that gender identity and confusion are a part of our culture now and our children may have many questions to answer for themselves as they become more immersed in this world.  This is a valuable discussion to have with them as they seek out answers for themselves.  I find solace in knowing that we do have a loving Heavenly Father who knows us, who prepared us years ago for this current wave of curiosity and doubt.  I trust in His all-seeing clarity on the matter and I will raise my sons and my daughters equally, but not the same.

 - - - - - 

“[Gender] in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary. … The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness”  - - Elder David A. Bednar

2.06.2017

God is Good!

image from lds.org

I believe we all have righteous desires simmering in our hearts.  For days, weeks, months and years we plead for these desires to come to fruition.  We hope for and seek the promised blessings to come into our life.  As time goes on we may become filled with doubt, tears, even anger that we are not receiving what we feel is something good.

And then, sometimes and miraculously, our will aligns with the timing of our Father in Heaven and the promised blessing is realized.  This, in turn, brings forth a whole new range of thoughts and emotions.  First, we are extremely grateful and filled with joy.  Then, reality sets in and we think, "Wait!  Is this really what I wanted?  I'm not so sure this is really what I was asking for."  And yet, we are still grateful.

Then come the more destructive thoughts.  "I don't deserve this.  All I did was whine and complain for all those years.  I begged and was angry and frustrated.  Why am I receiving this blessing when I was such a murmurer?  And what about all those other people still praying for their desired blessings?  Why have am I getting what I want?"  These thoughts and questions lead to feelings of unworthiness, a different kind of doubt, and despair.  This is where the adversary wants us to stay.

But if there's one thing I've learned it is this:

GOD IS GOOD!

Our Father in Heaven is kind, loving, patient, understanding, trusting and compassionate.  I believe that Heavenly Father wants to give us what we want.  However, "there is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven," a law that He is bound to, a law we may not fully understand.  I believe that even though He would like to give us every desire or our heart, He cannot.  He is bound.  And I believe He cries when we cry.  He mourns with us as we are to mourn with others.  He is also there to bless us immeasurably!  I believe this brings Him great joy when He can finally grant us the blessings we desire.

Our Father in Heaven is not some vindictive parent wagging His finger at us saying, "If you just stop whining I'll give you what you want."  Or "If you would just learn this one lesson...."  Or "Well, you've messed up this time, now you cannot have that cookie."  No!  This is not the God I have come to know. Again, God is so good and I believe He wants us to be happy, which often means giving us what we want when He can.

Now, in the waiting period that is oh so excruciating, we have a couple of choices.  We can continue to pray in faith (which is different than whining, but still has a pleading element to it), asking for that which we desire.  Or we may need to change course and simply accept that there must be something else in store for us.  Something better that we just can't see in the moment.

In my own searching and pleading for another baby, I tried the latter.  I tried with all my heart to change plans, to change my desire, to hope that Heavenly Father would lead me to a different path if the plan I had was not correct.  But each time I tried, it didn't work.  There was no change of plans (this time).  I simply needed to be more patient, keep praying, and even change my prayers to some degree.

And so when I go back to those debilitating thoughts Satan wants me to have: you are unworthy, you don't deserve this, why would you get this blessing?  I push him away and remember that God is Good and He wants this blessing for me as much as I do. No, I don't deserve the blessings I receive.  After all, we've been taught no matter how much we do we are still indebted to the Lord.  But I can turn my heart from those negative thoughts and simply be grateful to a God who loves, gives, cares and blesses.  I can always remind myself that GOD IS GOOD!

 - - - - - - - -

"O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit." 
2 Nephi 9:10

1.31.2017

Between Parent and Child

image from amazon.com

Just a quick shout out to the best parenting book I've read in a long time!  I used to tear through parenting books, finding purpose and vision in my calling as a mother.  Then, I took a hiatus...maybe I got a little prideful not thinking I needed to read them anymore. And then I had teenagers and was not prepared for the transition.  After a great discussion with my dearest friend I felt inspired to get to reading some more.  This was the first book I picked up and loved every minute of it! 


A couple of quotes: 

"Children whose parents do not consider their feelings and point of view may conclude that their ideas are stupid and unworthy of attention and that they are neither lovable nor loved (p.84)." 




"Emotions are part of our genetic heritage. Fish swim, birds fly, and people feel.  Sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are not; but sometimes our lives are sure to feel anger and fear, sadness and joy, greed and guilt, lust and scorn, delight and disgust.  While we are not free to choose the emotions that arise in us, we are free to choose how we express them, provided we know what they are...Many people have been educated out of knowing what their feelings are.  When they felt hate, they were told it was only dislike.  When they were afraid, they were told there was nothing to be afraid of.  When they felt pain, they were advised to be brave and smile (p.27)."

The last couple of years I feel I have become more of a manager than a mother. Dictating became my #1 form of communication with my children.  Dictating, managing, scheduling...this does not create a relationship with others.  This book gave me a glimpse of how better to connect with my children; it's helped me to think about them as people with feelings, not as my children who need to be taught and trained all of the time.  

Looking for motivation in your role as a mother?  I recommend this book!

1.23.2017

As a Mother of Young Children




"Just enjoy them." 

As a mother of young children, I remember hearing this all the time!  Every time I heard it I would privately roll my eyes and think defensively, "Duh! I am enjoying them."  And I was.  I did.  I loved having my kids around me.  I loved the busyness and the constant chatter in the background. 

BUT...Being a mother of many young children was also really hard.  I remember going to bed some nights thinking, "What am I going to do tomorrow?"  I remember calling my mom crying because of a particularly challenging day.  I remember the child who would never sleep - - day or night - - and the child who never took a bottle.  I remember days in a row when someone would spill something at dinnertime. And there's the time I walked into my daughter's room ten minutes before church to find her entire body covered in Desitin!! Being a mother of young children is challenging!  

But all of those memories were just days, moments.

I have now been a mother for 17 years.  To some, my children are still very young.  Yet, I can look back at that time and recognize what I truly miss from those younger years. I'm beginning to better understand why people would tell me, "Just enjoy them."  


What I MISS from those younger years: 

Laughter coming from their bedroom.

Hugs and kisses (my teens just don't give these quite so readily!)

Play groups and park days.

Being needed constantly (hard to explain).

Complete control of my little brood - - in control of our schedule, their bedtime, our daily plans.

Childlike messes - the unfrozen otter pops cut open, the flour fight, the 2-year old getting eggs out of the fridge (thus all over the floor) - these are all just funny stories now!

Simple days.

The magic that only a child can bring to an ordinary day - - everything is new and exciting!

Quiet nights holding a baby (I appreciated this most with my current youngest).

Being forced to sit still to nurse a baby - best time to read a book! 

Cooking dinner with my children all around me (now they scatter!).

Halloween and Christmas are much more exciting with younger kids! 

Their childlike innocence and darling things they would say.


What I DON'T MISS from having younger children:

Car seats

Nursing

Walking the halls at church


I'm sure in another 17 years I will be doing the same about this particular stage, but for now...
 I'm just going to enjoy them.

 - - - - - 

“'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live....The family is ordained of God."  

1.12.2017

The Lord's Timing



I just read this tender article on lds.org and it made me think about my own experience with the Lord's timing.  In the article the young woman easily recognized the purpose behind the waiting.  Though I have finally received the thing I've been desiring (a new little one coming to our home!), I still don't understand the timing of it all.

Why did we have to wait?

Why did I have to go through so much pain to get to where I am?

Was it just in the struggle that I needed to learn the lessons or is there really a greater purpose to why now instead of then?

There have been other times in my life when I have been able to see what the Lord's purpose was in the end, but this time I'm still kind of baffled!  Ultimately, it's nice to know the Lord knows what He is doing with us.  I try to take comfort in that knowledge as I wait patiently for more answers to come.

 - - - - - 

"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have." - - 2 Nephi 28:30 - - 
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