Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Unsteady Character?

Yesterday I had some down time (totally made that up just now) and so I was perusing through my blog archives. I noticed a very similar pattern: need, knowledge, change, reverse, repeat. Seriously, I'm kind of...wishy-washy? I'm surprised at how many times I've "lost the weight" and "conquered my depression" and "finally got the chore system down!" The truth is that I seem to cycle and recycle all of my bad habits. Sure, that's life, but it was still somewhat disconcerting. In fact, I left this comment on Facebook last night:

"Well, at least I'm following my own personality of quitting everything I start, eh? I quit quitting FB!"

It may have sounded funny, but it's true. I do quit things quite often. And this wasn't who I used to be, dear reader! I was steadfast. Immovable. Strong willed. I wondered, as I read my past posts, if I was being too carefree and blown about by any whim --where was my old steadiness? Where was my foundation and resolve? Why can't I be consistent with the kids? Why do I keep emotionally eating, even after all my education? And it really got me thinking. A lot.

I thought about the post I wrote at Real Intent about quitting. I was happy to remember that a lot of the things I quit was in order to do something more important. In fact, it was sacrifice. That is really the right word --sacrifice. I've sacrificed many things. 

I thought about Anne Elliot in Jane Austen's Persuasion and how she seemed (to Captain Wentworth and, in fact, Louisa as well) as a person who was easily persuaded to do things she didn't want to do. Throughout the book we see Anne reject Wentworth, reject Charles, serve her obnoxious sister Mary, listen to all the complaints of the Musgrove family, skip out on the dinner where Wentworth would be in order to appease Mary's feelings and help her nephew, play the piano for the dancing rather than dancing herself, travel to Lyme with great heartache at having to be with Wentworth so often, taking the time to speak and console Benwick, takes charge when Louisa falls, pacify Mary again by going back to Uppercross, join her father and sister in Bath (although she hates Bath), endure Mr. Elliott's attentions and her father's vain relations, visit her sweet friend who is so sick and poor (although that was more of a resolved choice), and on and on and on... It SEEEMS that she is tossed about by whimsy, that she is easily persuaded to change her mind. 

But that's not what the book teaches us (in my opinion). What we see instead is that Anne Elliott is of firm character --she simply loves the people around her and serves in the best way she can. If that means self-sacrifice, then so be it. True, her greatest regret was not marrying Wentworth from the get-go, but imagine how much they both learned in those 8 years? Also, by the end of the novel, Anne has learned a great deal of what she should sacrifice and what she should not. She is able to ignore counsel and reject Elliott in favor of Wentworth; she is able to reject her father's foolish vanity in pursuit of something greater. 

But is that what I'm doing? Am I being just silly in my pursuits? 

When I was talking with my walking buddy (Jill!) yesterday, I told her basically the following:

"I have felt that if I wasn't running marathons or signing up for races, then I wasn't truly exercising. If I wasn't doing weight-lifting for an hour without interruption, if I wasn't running 5 miles a day, if I wasn't doing it all hard-core, then it wasn't worth it! I told myself this, and so for the longest time I simply did nothing. Now I realize that simply walking for 45 minutes each day is enough for me. Walking is okay! Walking is good for my heart. It's better than not walking. It's better than not doing anything." 

Perhaps this is why I end up quitting and re-starting so many things I desire? I may simply be setting myself up for failure with my grandiose and unrealistic plans. Because here's the truth: most of these things aren't the ones that matter. Whether or not I can quit Facebook indefinitely or remember to eat less bread is not going to affect me nearly as much as the things that I can say I do consistently. Do you want to know what they are, dear reader? Great! Because here's the list!

*I consistenly tell my children that I love them. Hugs and kisses are the norm around here and I am always liberal with my love.
*I pray every day. I read the scriptures every day (well, 6 out of 7, usually). I go to Church every week, I fulfill my callings, I serve when I can. We pay our tithing and fast offerings, we go to the Temple. I do my best to keep my Temple covenants. (You could interchange all the "I's" and "We's" with each other --it's really a family and marriage thing here in our household when it comes to the religious stuff!)
*We stay away from harmful media. I try to read uplifting and educational things. I'm a consistent reader!
*We value education. My kids know that schoolwork is important and their hard work is expected.
*I am consistent with my hatred of laundry. Ha!

So, it's not all bad, eh? I may be inconstant with the details, but I'm pretty rock solid with the foundation. In the things that truly matter most --testimony, family, love --I'm doing just fine.


Mother of the Wild Boys said...


An Ordinary Mom said...

Amen! Beautifully written! You have summed up much of what I have thought of myself over the recent years of parenting young ones!

P.S. Yes, I am a blog stalker, but I enjoy reading your posts! They are honest and real ... and I think you at least know some of my real-life friends, so that should count for something :) !!

Amber said...

I have that all or nothing mentality a lot, too. If I can't walk both of the dogs today, I better just walk them another day. When I should just walk the one and feel good about that. Just one example.

I've been wanting your advice and counsel a lot lately. Maybe I can come visit?

Cheryl said...

Drops of awesome!