Someone told me this year how to make God laugh: Just tell Him your plans.
Here we are, nearing the end of the year. I like to take this time to reflect on my resolution I made for the year before and then plan my resolution for the following year.
I have to be honest, I thought I chose a really easy resolution for the year.
I took a scripture that spoke to me, "For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7)".
Really and truly my first thought was, "I totally have this one in the bag, easy year!"
And God laughed.
Honestly, this has been one of the most spiritually and emotionally and even physically taxing years on me since... ever. If you have read the blog you probably know how whiny I have been about my year of serious stress.
I've thought on this stress, I've worried and fussed all year and I finally know how describe this year in the easiest possible way (at least for me).
My Bogeymen got out of their closets.
I'm sure you have a few thoughts right now.
2. What do Bogeymen have to do with your resolution?
3. Why do I still read what this wackadoodle writes?
I can answer 1 and 2 for you in this post, but 3, well, that will take some therapy sessions. I would delve into that if I were you.
Back to walking by faith and Bogeymen.
It is really easy to "walk by faith and not by sight" when you know the path you are on, regardless of obstacles. For example, I can walk through my bedroom at 2am to use the, ahem, powder room (thank you Cinco for squishing my bladder so I need to go every 20 minutes) in total darkness and I'll step over every pair of pants, toy and shoe that has been left on the floor without any problem at all. Of course, that isn't so much faith as knowing what lies in front of me and merely stepping over those obstacles. I hadn't realized it until this year, but when we know our road and we know what lies in the way, we really aren't walking by faith at all.
Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things, Alma 32:21
Let's take my bedroom ritual again, only this time, while I was sleeping a mysterious man (who wears a badge and a gun and forgets the pregnant wife who travels a lot at night) changed out of work clothes and into jammies and left shoes, belts, pants and even a cup of water (please let that be water) littered along the same path. I get up to walk again and what happens? A lot of tripping, some grown up words being said and way too much frustration for 2am. I'm still trying to walk by "sight" (really more by assumption), but while the path is the same, the obstacles are new and now I have no clue what is in front of me.
This was the first of my lesson this year. I thought it was tricky.
It got trickier.
Even with new obstacles, I could still handle "walking by faith" because I knew the road and I knew exactly where I was going. I can get past anything if I know where I'm heading. You know that girl who reads the last chapter of a book or downloads the plot of a movie before she starts reading/watching? I'm that girl. I don't mind the little twists and turns as long as I know where the end will lead.
Again, God laughs.
Then, he somewhat gently picks me up and dumps me squarely onto a brand new road that led... somewhere.
How could this happen? I had the entire year planned! Do my church stuff every week happily, be a supportive police wife, go on a few big trips that were going to be amazing, run a 5k, get rid of all the baby stuff and move into the next phase of life and so many other plans, big and small that I planned out.
Not a single one went off the way I expected it to. Even simple conversations completely blindsided me more than once.
Things happened on my trips... sad things, scary things, stuff that made me stop and reevaluate the trajectory of my life.
What we thought Sam's job would be like this year was not how it went... but we had wanted this change and we knew that road! Yet, what we thought would be and the actual reality for completely different.
I saw some changes coming and I made sure to ask others for help through those changes and guess what? Those people let me down. Not in a malicious way, but just the same, they let me down and that lack of a safety net made for some big changes being a lot scarier than I expected.
I was running and I was going to accomplish this big goal and run a 5k, then I became too sick (and stayed too sick for many months) from a very unexpected bundle of joy and I had to just table that goal for another year.
Even if something good happened, it wasn't what, how or when I expected it to be.
By the fall I had no idea what way was up or down and when it came to this path God expected me to walk on... well, I was completely confused.
So, here I was, completely baffled, discouraged by these continuous twists of fate and physically ill FOR MONTHS. People, I have never felt so sick and in pain ever in my entire life than I have this year. It wasn't even the severity of illness that got to me either, it was the feeling that the pain would never end. I felt myself become more discouraged and depressed and just sinking lower into these feelings of fear and helplessness.
Sounds crappy? It was. Then it got crappier.
The Bogeymen came out to play.I was lost. I was weak. What better time?
What are these Bogeymen?
In my head they look a lot like this:
Well, we all have them. They are the things/people/situations that scare us the most in the world. They are bad memories and horrible experiences that we just aren't ready to handle. They are the worst moments of our lives, the things we want to unsee and undo. They are regrets, wrongs that we did or others did to us, unresolved feelings and every other little or big fear that we have shoved into our emotional closets to deal with "later."
Later actually does come, just so you know.
So, the Bogeymen came out. Some of the stressful experiences I had over the course of this year dragged them out and it seemed like once one got out the rest of them picked the locks to their closet doors and escaped too.
I was completely overwhelmed. I was sad and angry and frustrated. I have never felt weaker in my life because I was in a battle with myself and seriously, that girl plays dirty.
I needed to walk by faith but I was too paralyzed to take a step. What do you do when things are just too difficult to move past? What do you do when you realize you cannot take another step until you clean up the giant mess you have in front of you and you don't know where to start?
I was stuck on this for months. Finally, one long sleepless night I found the answer.
If they have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them, Ether 12:27–28, 37
This was a different faith than I've really ever relied on before.
I had to do some work, hard work. I had to face every single Bogeyman, say "BOO" and watch him disappear.
I'll be honest, that didn't always work. Sometimes I said, "BOO" and he just stood there and smiled. That wasn't fun. It took a lot more time to get to where he was more afraid of me than I was of him and with a few I just managed to weaken that Bogeyman enough to wrestle him back into the closet until I am a little bit stronger, a little more able to scare him off.
It took a lot of faith that I was actually capable of facing things that scared or upset me. About halfway through I finally realized THIS was more what walking by faith is about. Doing something without knowing for certain how it is going to work, but knowing it WILL work.
So, I was cleaning up messes and tucking back in the Bogeymen. It took a lot of different strategies.
*I had to simplify my life to the point where honestly, I'm a bit bored to tears right now, but I can handle the commitments I have and I like doing them all again.
*I had to evaluate my associations again and I realized I am surrounded by really great people. I mean, smart, funny, caring, just wonderful human beings. However, just because someone is good, doesn't mean that person is good for ME, at least not right now.
Giving myself space from good people and good situations was difficult, but ultimately a very liberating decision. I realized I spend a lot of time worrying about offending someone instead of sometimes seeing that a person or a situation has negatively affected me and I have a right protect myself from being mistreated, be it intentional or not.
*This finally gave me the power to make a change in my life that I should have made years ago.
My religious culture is one where people get over sensitive about "judging" others. We need to love everyone, we need to help everyone. I agree.
However, this attitude is taken too far.
There are moments, people, circumstances that make a situation or, hell, even a person, one that is too detrimental to associate with any more than necessary.
That doesn't mean we should badmouth people or things, but every last one of us has a right to say, "I am uncomfortable with this situation/person/people and while I love it/them and only hope for good things regarding it/them, I need space from that situation/person/people.
I'll tell you what, I got a guilt trip or two over that last one and honestly, a year ago I would have folded. I actually wouldn't have even tried to draw that very healthy and protective line in the sand. I would have just dealt with it and let that stress eat at me.
But this year, after everything, I realized I am strong enough to stand firm when something or someone hurts me more than helps me and God doesn't have a problem with me taking care of myself in a gentle way. In fact, this year I felt God was pushing me to do exactly that.
(Of course, this takes us down a road where we all need to learn to be more gentle with ourselves and where we realize we can't serve and help others if we don't take appropriate care of ourselves, but that is another long blog post for another boring day.)
All these things were uncharted territory and I had no idea if it was going to end with me feeling happy and peaceful or having people with pitchforks and fire on my physical or virtual doorstep. I just knew that these choices on this road were the choices God wanted me to make so I had to just keep moving forward and having faith that is would end the way it was supposed to.
Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen, Ether 12:6
I want to say that it magically got better and I am so happy it is over, but that would be lying. Some things are still a bit in the air here and there. I struggle with quitting things and giving up on people and I feel twinges about those things all the time. However, every time the ache gets too pinchy, God makes certain to wink at me so I know good choices aren't always entirely comfortable and they certainly won't please everyone, but they are still good.
I'm also starting to see where I needed these experiences in order to have more compassion and understanding for others.
Believe me, there are things I would harshly criticize about another person or situation a year ago that I now completely understand and won't be able to look at the same again.
I have also been able to see that even when I feel pretty weak, if I put my trust in God I'm a lot stronger than I realize.
Finally, I've been forced to prioritize my life and clean out the clutter, even the good clutter and I now see more clearly where most of my emotional and physical energy needs to go in this life... here at home. It isn't my job to save the world and help other families right now. I need to focus on my little house and these nutty, wild, brilliant loving kids and my hard working, kindhearted absolutely perfect for me husband and make sure we are all heading down this same road together. The rest of the world really doesn't matter as long at my little family is together and doing okay. I understand that much better now.
(Having said that last bit, I also understand there is a time and a season for everything. This year has been a season where I needed to draw back within, drop all but the essentials in my life and get through the turbulence. I don't believe this season will last forever, but in order for me to be prepared for whatever the next season brings--- please don't let it be snow--- this season has been very necessary for me and frankly, for everyone in Towerland. The kids call it a "building year". I like that name. We're laying a foundation for something great and I can't wait to see what it looks like over the years.)
So, yeah. Whew. That was a longy. If you actually made it through that, congrats. It probably seemed as long as 2012 was for me. Sorry about that.
Of course, now that I've rambled on, I need to actually score myself on this year. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being "I am lamesauce" and 10 being "I rocked this harder than The Rock would have" I'm going to say...
I don't think I understood what I was actually tasking myself with and while I know I did my best, I think I have a lot to learn. This particular goal (course, lesson series, whatever it actually is) doesn't have a final score or exam anytime soon. I think I need to just keep learning and hoping that I at least continue to progress as I learn what walking by faith really means.
Of course, there is a huge wonderful result that came from this year. One of the best parts of this year has been feeling our family draw
closer to each other. I've never seen Sam step up to take care of me
like he has this year. I've always adored him, but he really went above
and beyond this year, sometimes at great expense to himself. The herd
has really worked to step up too. They have tried to work together and
focus on being a team and thinking of others so much more. They've also
mastered a lot of chores that I was simply not able to do for months.
That has been such a blessing. I am so grateful that our family took
these trials and instead of letting it divide us, we have worked to come
together and be stronger together. I hope we always handle trials this
Of course, now we're on to 2013 and I need some goals.
Well, I'm thinking. I'm leaning towards making 3 goals in 3 areas of my life: Spiritual/emotional, physical and preparedness/financial. I haven't quite sorted them all out just yet, but I'm hoping this time I find nice challenges that will push me, but won't nearly kill me. I guess we'll see.