Monday, October 22, 2012

Who am I and Whom shall I be?

Let me just preface this in saying that I think motherhood is wonderful.  But I don't believe that it is the ONLY thing that a woman should aspire to be in her entire life.  I believe in being a mom.  I want to be a mom.  But i don't want that to be the only thing I am.  (this is NOT an announcement)
Let me also say that I wrote this because it is one of the many things that is tearing me apart right now.  The things in the poem are literally things that i have heard either in Church indirectly, or directly to my face from other members.  and it's driving me insane.  apparently ambition has no place in a married woman.  my time to discover who i am is after my children are in college.  or in high school at least.  but how can i teach my children properly if i do not know who i am?  if something happens to my husband, shouldn't i be prepared to work and support our family in a job that i will find fulfilling as well as beneficial?  Apparently not.  My duty as a faithful married mormon is to seek only children.  After all, Medicaid will pay for it.  all of this is causing me a great deal of confusion because if you hear something so frequently for so long, you start to believe it.

Who am I and Whom shall I be?

Fathers prophesy of a better day
peace and happiness, love and charity
and all can be obtained if we obey
the laws of God with perfect clarity

Bit i was raised with an idea of who
i should be, i could be, i would become
but now i see this image start to skew
for thoughts of whom we should be is not one

some will say that motherhood is best
and all will nod and say that this is true
and that children bring joy to mother's breast
and importance to everything you do

but if this is not what you desire
from even before your very first kiss
then your soul is evil and in Hell Fire
you shall burn eternal in selfishness

Others will shake their heads and say "not so!"
"Only seek children when the time is right!
Prepare for them like you prepare for snow
So in love and patience they may gain sight"

Cannot a mother work AND be at home?
Should she work only if not a mother?
Will my marriage always be set in stone?
Is there no chance to choose something other?

The problem is that I truly believe
that my ambition was given from God
But many around give me no reprieve
and do not cease to tell me this is fraud

i am torn between these two paths i see
there is the one i grew up believing
a worker and a mother i could be
to take on the world and go conquering

and there is one that i hear everyday
that all i need is a small change of heart
desire only children and i may
be free of subtle and fiery dart

"your selfishness is apparent" they say.
"You cannot have faith if you do not see
The doctrine of motherhood day to day
if you are blind, then faithless you must be."

Who am I; who am I; whom shall I be?
Who i am told, or whom i wish to see?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Talk for Sacrament Meeting

This is the Talk for Sacrament meeting I wrote when Scott and I spoke the other day.

A compass is a mathematical instrument for drawing perfect circles.  It consists of two legs, one upon which the weight of the hand rests, and one that arches around, marking the circle’s boundaries.  Have you ever tried to draw a tiny circle or a large one with this instrument?  If you have, you may notice that small circles are frustratingly difficult to draw, while large arcing circles are very easy. 
I apply this principle to my own life.  The wider my base of knowledge, the more experiences I gain, the more I explore to see the world and understand the wonderful things in it—the steadier my leg in the center.  Because of this, I seek to understand God’s messages and doctrinal truths that are found everywhere and anywhere.  Particularly in music.  You may expect to find spiritually uplifting messages in songs from the hymnbook, or songs performed by the Tabernacle Choir, or other LDS or Christian groups such as Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Bands.  Perhaps you expect to find messages of hope and faith in mellow country songs or beautiful ballads sung by famous voices.  But I am here to testify, that messages and truths can be found everywhere and anywhere.  And I know this because I’ve found them and felt them.  I’ve found spiritual messages in the Hunger Games—in Harry Potter—in Lord of the Rings—and yes, even in Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica.  I have felt messages of truth and hope emanating from popular culture and music—thought at first it was not apparent. 
The following song was written by a band named Thrice, which is classified as Post-Hard alternative rock.  Would you expect a message such as this to come from a song that features wailing guitars, gravely screaming vocals, and a heavy bass?

All you great men of power, 
You who boast of your feats, 
Politicians and entrepreneurs:
Can you safeguard your breath in the night while you sleep, 
Keep your heart beating steady and sure?
As you lie in your bed, 
Does the thought haunt your head, 
That your really rather small?
If there's one thing I know in this life, 
We are beggars all! 

All you champions of science, 
And rulers of men:
Can you summon the sun from it's sleep?
And does the earth seek your council on how fast to spin?
Can you shut up the gates of the deep?
And don't you know that all things, 
Hang as if by string o'er the darkness, 
Poised to fall?
If there's one thing I know in this life, 
We are beggars all! 

All you big-shots who swagger, 
And stride with conceit.
Did you devise how your frame would be formed?
If you'd be raised in a palace,
or live out on the streets, 
choose the place or the hour you'd be born?
Tell me what can you claim?
Not a thing! 
Not your name! 
Tell me if you can recall, 
Just one thing, not a gift, in this life?
Can you hear what's been said?
Can you see now that everything's graced?
After all, 
If there's one thing I know in this life, 
We are beggars all!

I read these lyrics a few years ago during an FHE lesson with my roommates.  They applauded my ability to find truths everywhere.  But later that night, when I was playing this very song on my laptop, they implored me to shut that noise off.  my heart sank.  I was so very sad.  They had stopped to listen when I was speaking, and accepted the message of the lyrics, but once the message was buried… they did not try to find the light hidden within it.  They did not stop to really listen. 
Is this what Christ thinks of us?  In a way, yes, we are beggars at the feet of God.  He has given us all.  We are not perfect, and when we are burdened with failure and with sins, we must beg for forgiveness—and it is granted to us.  On the other hand, sometimes we do not feel the burdens of sins and failure.  Perhaps we are burdened with success and public praise.  And when we feel ourselves guilty of this pride, how much harder it is to fall to our knees and become a beggar, ever seeking to hear the words of Christ.
But does Christ look upon us as poor beggars?  Perhaps this next song will give us another idea of how He might see us, how He might think of us.

The silence keeps it easy
keeps you safe for the moment.
As you're walking away
your foot steps get louder.
All you needed was time
But now time will destroy us.

It will all be over, and here we are
we're here inside this salted earth together.
You'll pierce my lungs
my limbs go numb
as my colors fade out.

You watch me bleed.
You watch me bleed.

I gave you everything to die with a smile
all you wanted was to live for a while
you took everything but it left you empty
you can't replace me, you can't.

It's almost over, and here we are
we're stuck inside this salted earth together.
You'll pierce my lungs
my limbs go numb
as my colors fade out.

You watch me bleed.
You watch me bleed.

It will all be over, and here we are
we'll die inside this salted earth together.
You'll pierce my lungs
my limbs go numb
as my colors fade out.

You watch me bleed.
You watch me bleed.
You watch me bleed.
You watch me bleed.

Watch me bleed.

Did you expect these words from a band called “Scary Kids Scaring Kids?” probably not.  I know I didn’t.  but the truths and messages of these lyrics strike me to the core.  We are here inside this salted earth together.  All of us.  Including Christ, for he was here long ago.  Christ perhaps didn’t die with a smile on his face, but he died with gladness in his heart, knowing that it was over.  It is enough.  His purpose, this glory under Heaven was fulfilled.  And all because, all WE wanted was to live for a while on this earth.  We can take everything.  We can take pride, money; power over other men… but it will leave us empty of the eternal perspective.  These things cannot replace faith, or love, or humility. These things cannot replace Christ in our hearts.
Is not Christ crucified every day?  Does He not pay, every day, for our sins and misdeeds?  Do we not watch Him bleed in our minds, each and every day, grateful for the opportunity He gave us to live—just for a while—and have the chance to return with glory and immortality and eternal lives?  As we take the sacrament each week, are we not reminded of His sacrifice?  That the soldiers whipped Him, placed a crown of thorns on His head, nailed Him to a cross, and pierced his side with a spear, and left Him hanging as His color faded and his soul returned to Heaven—to rest from the torment and agony of mortality. 

The Spirit of Christ dwells in each and every one of us, and I’m not just talking about the people in this room, or the people in our stake, or even just the people at BYU.  I’m talking about everyone.  Every child born in the darkest corners of the earth has the light of Christ in him.  And we, as faithful latter-day saints, must strive to always seek out that light.  Sometimes it is hidden, for some put their candle under a bushel, but it is there all the same.  It is easy to find the city upon the hill.  It is easy to find light and truth, hope and faith, in messages that are prepared, constructed, and synthesized to increase your faith… but it takes no effort.  It takes no work.  And I believe that the things most precious to us, are the things we struggle for—the things we work for.  Like a special secret—a whisper from Heavenly Father straight to you that no one else can hear. You can see things that no one else can see.  I am here today to bear witness that if ever you’re feeling lonely or forgotten.  If ever you’re feeling like the spirit is no where to be found… all you have to do is look or listen.  All you have to do is seek for the light in any corner and you will find it. 
I bear witness that Christ is our Savior.  Whether he thinks of me as a beggar at his feet, or a spectator of his crucifixion—personally I don’t really care.  Because in either scenario, He loves me.   Whether I am a beggar or an observer, He loves me, and He died for me just as He died for each and every one of you.  This is my solemn testimony, and I say these things in the name of our dear Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Personal Fable and Misery loves Company

So, those of you who have kept tabs on me in the last year know that it hasn't really been a good one for me.  To my shame, I've lost sight of myself, hope, and even my faith.  And I was really caught up in that cursed "Personal Fable." the idea that what is true for everyone else is not true for me.  In my case, that translated to no one else I know is depressed, only me--there must be something wrong with me.  No one else is having these problems, only me.  No one understands because they've never had to deal with something like this all at once or for this long, so no one can help me. But as I said, this is a fable... and it's taken me a while to realize that.  Probably because it takes a while to see anything when you're buried in depression.
What I mean is, in the last week, I've had the chance to catch up with some friends of mine.  They've both been married longer than I have, and both have one child.  However we're all about the same age, give or take a few years, and both of them are very dear to me.
These two women that are my friends I see as brave, faithful, strong women.  On the outside, their marriages seemed perfect.  But as I explained some of the problems I've been facing in the last year I came to find that they had nearly identical experiences.
I say nearly because each couple has their own specific issues--that's just how it is.  A Marriage is a marriage.  not a fairy tale... at least not yet (I believe it will be when we get to heaven).  It's hard work.  And it's painful.  And you can lose yourself to it and hate it, or you can use it and appreciate it.  But the same doubts, the same fears, the same problems, the same long nights filled with tears had affected these two dear friends just like it had me.  I can't tell you how incredibly comforting that was.  For so long i had thought that i was alone, only to find that there were people drowning silently all around me. All of us have our heads above water, thankfully, but that doesn't mean there weren't those moments where we went under.  And it got me thinking about the phrase misery loves company.  Perhaps that means more than 'miserable people make other people miserable because misery loves company.' perhaps it also means that misery is easier to endure with company.  perhaps misery can only destroy you when it has you alone, with no friends to help or give an encouraging word.
the most incredible moment i've had, though, was when i went to go see one of my friends and when i was getting ready to leave, she thanked me for coming to visit with her and for helping her feel 'like a normal person.' Maybe everyone needs help just like i do.  maybe company is the cure for misery.
honestly, i'm at the point now where i don't want to know why i've gone through this last year of nothing but trials and tribulation and struggling to understand.  I really don't even care about understanding the reason why anymore.  i'm just ready for it to be over.  i'm just ready to be done and to move on and maybe, just maybe, remember how to be 'like a normal person' again.