Friday, March 20, 2015

But For The Grace of God

I hope you know that, for your sake and mine, I really try to stick to topics that are either useful to you, or something I need help and reassurance on.  This is by nature a very personal blog, so I am constantly second guessing whether I've been guilty of over-sharing or not.  I am sure that at times I have been.

I keep a personal journal for the things I need to write down either to remember, or to sort through that are more private and not really appropriate for worldwide viewing.  But sometimes after recording something there, I feel quite strongly that I should also share it here.

Such is the case with my journal entry from last night.  All morning I've felt this pressing prompting to share it here.  So, hopefully, this is useful to at least one of you readers.

"I have felt empowered by the grace of God so much this week.

Every day has had challenges--many of them testing my mental and emotional resiliency.  I've had a lot of anxiety.  I've gotten down and I've gotten angry and frustrated.  I've wanted to turn to the coping skills that are easy and familiar, but harmful in the long run.

But instead, I've read my scriptures and the *Ensign.  I've listened to *Conference talks as I make dinner or clean the house.  I've asked for help (so hard!), I've prayed for help to stay patient with the kids and HH.  I've prayed for help in general.  And I've tried to take care of myself by exercising (might've overdone it a bit when the anxiety was really bad) and eating well.

And I've been blessed one hundred fold.  I've been able to stay patient, to return to a positive and cheerful mood, and even to be able to honestly say to HH that not one part of me doesn't want him to go on this "guy's hiking trip" he's leaving for.  I'll miss him and I'm a little worried about being on my own, but he needs this break in so many ways.

And the Lord keeps reminding me that I have enough--because He has given me all that I need."

That's it.  Short and sweet because I was in a hurry to get to bed. :)  But, I've had some amazing experiences this week and have been able to recognize some real personal growth that has been so gratifying and reassuring.  And I know that these steps I've taken are directly related to this added strength I've felt.

*Click these links for more information about the Ensign and General Conference.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Theme for 2015

Remember how instead of New Year's Resolutions, I do an individual theme for each year?

Yeah, I didn't remember that either.

Until I came across this post that I started writing back in January:

So, in 2014 I pretty much forgot that I had a yearly theme instead of New Year's Resolutions.

I looked it up and guess what my theme for last year was?  Hope.

Haha.  That's sort of a slap in the face.

And that's about as far as I got with that post.

But, it was a good reminder.  Mostly, because it reminded me that I had already come up with a theme for this year.  Or, more aptly, I knew what my theme for the year needed to be.

But back in January I was having a really hard time coming to turns with it.  It was so scary, it hurt.

Now it doesn't feel so hard.  And I can see why it is what the Spirit had prompted me to choose.

My theme for 2015 is Learning to Love Myself.

Darling A likes to play a game with me where I ask who I love and lists off everyone, usually ending with herself.  Today she switched things up and added me onto the end.  It gave me a moment's pause, but then I was really happy to realize that I could answer her question in the affirmative, without any doubts.

For someone who has spent a lot of time as a professional self-loather, that is a really big deal.

With the current changes and goals I have set in motion, I have to work on loving myself.  I haven't done fabulously well with our new diet the past few days.  But, I'm okay with that (and even willing to share this "failure" here) because I'm working on loving myself.  And the main reason I let myself slide on the diet is because it was creating more stress than benefit the way I was doing it and it became a matter of what I needed to do to really take care of me.

The funny thing is, my motivation for getting back on the diet (in a new, less stressful, modified way) is because I love myself.  And I love myself enough to not eat the sugar that gives me headaches.  Even though it sounds so good!

More importantly, I'm having to learn to love myself enough to believe in myself.  Because going back to college is really hard and really scary.

And I haven't even registered for classes yet!

So, I know it's going to get harder.  And I'm going to have to remember why I'm doing it--because I can do this and it's going to be the path to a different, better future for me and my family.

Today I worked on loving myself by not getting frustrated when I wasn't the fastest or the strongest in my class at the gym.  I got to the place where I felt good and the workout was putting a smile on my face and then I stayed there.  I didn't pick up an extra weight plate, even though the instructor had two.  I stuck with my one because I knew that it was workout enough for me today and it wouldn't make me so tired and sore that I would be a grump for the rest of the day with my family.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

More on Acceptance, Or Why I Want to Be a Currant Bush

First, I have to share a video story with you.  Many of you have probably seen it.  It's told by Elder D. Todd Christoffersen, an apostle of the Lord.

I love this story.  The very first time I heard it, I knew I'd just learned an important lesson for my stubborn heart.

And no matter how many times I hear the story, it's the same experience over and over.  It makes me want to weep, as I so fully understand how the currant bush is feeling.

Even in this very moment, I am frustrated because the word I really wanted to use in that previous sentence is not coming to me--something I experience frequently in my writing, ever since ECT messed with my brain.  I always considered myself to be a pretty talented writer.  But now, I feel like my ability to express myself has been reduced to the quality of a child.  And I find myself asking, "Why, God?  I know that through your guidance and grace, I have been able to help uplift and inspire others through my writing.  Why can't I have that ability still?"

The day before my most recent stay at the hospital, I sobbed into HH's arms, an utterly heartbroken lament, "I could be so great!"

I don't mean that in a conceited or arrogant way.  What I mean is, I know I have been given talents, as we all have.  And I know that I could accomplish great things, if given the capacity to develop those talents.

I have a willing heart!  I want to do so many things!  I want to do good!  I want to help others!  I want to be strong!

What I lack is the opportunity to focus on developing those talents.

Instead, I spend much of my time surviving.

At the worst of times, this means finding the strength and desire to keep placing one foot in front of the other, to walk away from the dark abyss my thoughts desire to lead me to.

But even now, when things are not so dire, I am rebuilding.  Learning how to be an engaged wife and mother again.  Trying to clean my house without wearing myself out and becoming a rage monster.  Struggling to remember how to make the recipes I've made for my family for years, but that ECT has now mostly erased.  Relearning how to become and be a friend.

And enduring the days when depression welcomes itself back into my life.

People have come into my life who are doing the very things with their lives that I want to do with mine.  And they are doing them very well!  As I believe I could.

And sometimes, it is hard to watch them and keep kind feelings in my heart.  As if their talents somehow detract anything from me and my life.

So, I keep coming back to this story about the currant bush.

And reminding myself that I am shortsighted.  As the Lord is not.  And He knows what I can be.  And what I can be great at.

And that what He wants for me is most assuredly greater than what I can imagine for myself.

For what He wants for me is to be as absolutely great as I can be.

And I can't do that on my own.

And I need to be cut back and trimmed on occasion.  Or maybe, all the time.

And I need to remember that the Lord is not only doing these things because He knows they will prune me into what He created me to be, but that He also knows I will survive every cut.

He knows that what I am learning as I navigate life with a mental illness is ultimately of greater worth, to me and those around me, than what I could be doing without it.

My brother recently told me that he is impressed at the burdens and trials the Lord allows me to have.  My brother is so wise and insightful.  And that new perspective was something that I really needed that day, and has stuck with me since.

The Lord prunes us back so we can grow into what He knows we are created to be.  He allows us to carry the burdens we have so we can develop the strength we need to be whatever that is.

He knows I have a willing heart and He is shaping it into what will ultimately bring me greater happiness than I can imagine.  In His garden, I am not a great big tree.  I am a currant bush.  He sees the big picture, of how everything in His garden grows and comes together and who is needed where.  He is not content to let me just grow haphazardly, as fast as I can.  He knows that becoming something truly useful takes time, care, effort, and patience.  He is the Gardener, not me.  Sometimes I get anxious and frustrated and I think I want to be the Gardener.

But, when I remember this story, I know I don't really want that.  I want to become what He knows I can be.  And that require faith in Him and His plan.  And more willingness to see the growth that having Bipolar II provides.  And less resentment for what I think it is taking away from me.

In life, I am His daughter, with infinite capacities.  I need to trust in Him.  That He knows how to shape and prune me.  And to allow Him the time that requires.  And that I don't have to be a great big tree to be happy.

I can be happy as a currant bush.