Monday, January 7, 2013

Droughts and Resolutions

Something I've come to realize and admit to myself more and more the last couple of months is that the last year and a half took their toll on me, spiritually and emotionally.  The unemployment, obviously, but all the other things that went on (or failed to happen) over that time wore me down more than I realized in the middle of it.  I've felt like I've been in a writing drought (not just on my blog, but all of my writing) for more than a year.  Oh sure, there've been a few moments here and there, but for the most part, I just felt like I've had nothing to say--at least coherently and in any meaningful way.  But the writing drought has just been a symptom.  Part of me feels very badly that, after many years, I finally got to be close to a lot of people I had missed so much, only to have them see about the worst adult version of me that has yet existed.

The problem is, once the stress is off (to some degree), you don't automatically snap back to where you were before it hit.  Its like being at about an average fitness level, then getting pregnant and doing nothing and eating a lot of junk.  Even with concerted effort, it takes time to get back to where you were, functioning at the same level you were before.  You don't just hop out of bed and go jog five miles, you have to put in the work.  And I don't think I've been doing a lot of that.  I have felt more impatient, irritable, lazier and unfocused than at any point since becoming a mother, and I've no one to blame but myself.

So my primary resolution is to move forward, and stop looking back so much.  I won't give up reflecting, obviously--it is an important tool, and one too deeply ingrained in my nature to ever remove, anyway--but I refuse to dwell.  I will not focus on what I've lost or failed to do, what I don't have or can't get yet.  I will focus on the task in front of me at the moment, instead of being frustrated that I am not five steps further along.  I will work to be better, but not give up when I fall so short of perfection.

And with that, I will not demand perfection from others, or be frustrated with them over where I think they should be.  I will love people where they're at, and show that love in word and deed.  I will be gentle with people, not just in my interactions with them but in my thoughts about them as well.  I will apply everything I have just said to my children.  I will remind myself that their hands are small and unpracticed, that their spirits are young in this world and they are still learning to recognize and articulate all the feelings and emotions that come with their still rather new little bodies, and I will take a deep breath before I respond.  I will return to being that mom, who on the days when everyone is fighting or whining or crying, starts to sing a silly song and picks up a not-always-completely-willing child and starts to dance, until everyone is laughing hard enough that they've forgotten why they were mad.

My primary resolution can be summed up in these two quotes:

"Think the best of each other, especially of those you say you love.  Assume the good, doubt the bad." ~Jeffery R. Holland

"Our kindness may be the most persuasive argument for that which we believe." ~Gordon B. Hinckley

I have found that simply assuming the best about everyone's intentions with you prevents many disagreements and hurt feelings before they ever occur.  Always interpret things in the best possible manner available to you.  A couple of years ago, a third party relayed to Doug something that a friend had divulged about him.  It was nothing bad or embarrassing, but because of the circumstances it could've possibly been a dicey thing to reveal.  Immediately, Doug and I both assumed that there must've been some good reason this friend felt the need to pass on the information (and, it turns out, there was), but not for a second did we doubt his loyalty, integrity or judgment.  I hope that I can get to a point where I can react as well to everyone else in my life.

I have come to see very clearly the past few years that I would far prefer to assume the best and be proven wrong than to assume the worst and be proven right.

I am a terrible missionary.  Part of that is that, though I've come a long way in making myself at home in company with whom I share a common background and lifestyle, I am still nearly-paralyzed by nervousness and self-consciousness when I step outside those comfortable circles.  Yet there are many in my life who I am quite certain the Lord expects me to be a missionary to, people I do know well and am comfortable with, and I could be a much better missionary if I were more charitable.  It is such a simple thing to be kind, and yet it seems always to be a struggle with those we are closest to. I'm not saying I'm unkind, but I simply don't put as much time and energy into consciously to choosing to serve and reach out as I should.

As I work on improving myself in order to to quench the dust of my little spiritual drought, it should begin to clear up my writing drought, which in turn should help me to better accomplish some of my other, long-term resolutions.  But this is long enough already, so more on that later.

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