Last week had been something of a mini-disaster for me, mentally and emotionally. The weekend had been terrible, and the week's news was awful and discouraging and disappointing (someday I will learn to fight the temptation to read the local paper). I was having sort of a "run away and hide" time. I just kept looking at all the things I wasn't getting done, all the ways I was failing to be the sort of person I should be.
I went to Enrichment Thursday night, and it was all about remembering that there's a person inside the mom/wife/employee/friend who needs to be growing and learning and improving, and gave us some tools to do that in a pro-active way. I made detailed, reasonable and scheduled to-do lists and have been getting so much done.
Saturday, I went to the General RS Broadcast, and President Uchtdorf's talk hit on so many things I didn't even know that I needed to hear. Most importantly (for me, at this moment, at least) he said, "Forget not to be patient with yourself. God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect. Let me add that God is also fully aware that the people that you think are perfect are not." He pointed out that we spend a great deal of time and energy comparing ourselves to others, often comparing our weaknesses to their strengths.
I have wonderful, amazing friends. I guarantee you'd be jealous (well, maybe you wouldn't, because you're better about such things than I am, but you'd love them), because they are incredible people, fantastic friends. I watch them deal so graciously with their challenges in life, and deal at least diplomatically, if not downright kindly, with people who have been unkind to them, and I feel like I'm just doing lousy for feeling angry or impatient, that I'm never as patient or compassionate or kind as I ought to be. Suddenly, as Elder Uchtdorf spoke, it occurred to me that several of my closest friends are coming up on 40 in the next year or two. They probably are better at those things than I am, but they've also had more than a decade more practice and learning than I have. As long as I'm still trying and moving forward, I ought to be more patient with myself. I'm not even 30 yet, there is likely still lots of time to become the person I want to be.
As President Uchtdorf continued, I realized that I have my strengths, as well. The next thing he said was, "Forget not to be happy now." He talked about how in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory, people got so obsessed looking for that golden ticket, that they completely forgot the joy they once got from a simple candy bar--only the big prize will do. So many people wait for that "golden ticket", whatever it may be in their mind, instead of enjoying the blessings they have right now. When he said that, I remembered that I am good at that. I had a rough week, but generally one of my strengths in life is that I can find joy and happiness in the little day to day moments. I am constantly amazed at the many wonderful little blessings scattered throughout each day. My life is filled with little tender mercies, and I know that. I enjoy the little things in life, and that is a big blessing not just to me, but also to my family.
What helped the most in putting me back on an even keel was an enlightening conversation I had with a friend on Friday. She passed along some information that helped me step back and look at the big picture a bit differently. I had a few things she said in mind while I was listening to Elder Uchtdorf's talk and suddenly a memory popped into my mind. Years ago, I was attempting to comfort a friend who had been hurt by a loved one's actions, and she said, "I don't know how I supposed to feel. . .am I the victim here?" And my response to her was something along these lines: "Well, that's one of the hardest things about addiction [addiction here defined as any repetitive, habitual, destructive pattern of behavior we rely on]. He's the victim. You're collateral damage--you definitely got hurt, but you're not the one that has to break this pattern. You can pick yourself up and dust yourself off. He is the biggest victim of his own behavior; he's probably going to need a lot of help getting back on his feet."
I realized it was high time I followed my own counsel. My family got hurt, my friends got hurt and I don't respond in a very Christlike manner to that, but I had forgotten (or in this case, just didn't realize) just how hurt some of the people I was directing my anger at were. Far more hurt than I am. I just needed to be reminded that compassion is the quickest way to quell anger. Because one other strength I have is that when I can see that someone is hurting, every instinct in me pushes me to offer comfort. I innately have this sort of "must make it better" response when someone is hurting--I have to fix it, I have to love it away. But I had let frustration and distance blind me to the pain that was there. I needed someone to show it to me, so that compassion could take root and push the anger out of my heart.
I was a bit frustrated with myself for taking so long (relatively) to finally reach that point, and then my sister (who is trying to get back into a running routine) posted a little sign today that said, "Whether it is a 14 minute mile or a 7 minute mile, it is still a mile". I needed that. The Lord knows I'm not perfect, and he doesn't expect me to run faster than I have strength. He just asks that I keep moving forward. And I trust that, even if no one else notices, he sees my little victories and cherishes them just as I silently cheer when I see my own children win their little battles.