I honestly think that one of the hardest things for my mind to adjust to is the idea that I'm not supposed to focus on my failures in pursuit of my strengths. I'm not supposed to accentuate the light by comparing it to the darkness. Does this make sense? I'm not supposed to compare my weaknesses to others' strengths, I'm not supposed to assume I'm only fixable if I'm perfect, I'm not supposed to expect anyone else to fix me. The Savior is the Healer, and through Him and with Him, I am guided to others who can help me --but not ultimately fix me. That is His job. Sure, it's through other people that our needs are met, but other people cannot apply the Atonement to my own life. I have to do that. With Him.
Anyway, sermon aside, yesterday was one of the biggest light-bulb moments for me --while I was wallowing in the mire of my failures. I know --in my heart --that wallowing in that failure mire doesn't help. It doesn't help that I only see how much weight I have to lose as a whole. It doesn't help to be angry at my body for shutting down just as I was making headway on exercise. It doesn't help to take my weaknesses and failures and anger out on my innocent children who are simply just trying to live their lives.
My kids aren't trying to be bad on purpose. My kids aren't sassy and rude and selfish because it is their nature. My kids (mine. Not yours!) are simply reacting to their environment.
And what kind of environment are they living in? Where are they learning sassy, rude, selfish, and angry behaviors?
It is easy to become too focused on the things that simply don't matter, especially where my kids are concerned. If their socks match, if they get perfect grades, if they forgot to brush their teeth. Anger is wrong. It doesn't help anything. Rudeness hurts. Selfishness robs time and relationships. Sassiness is a mask of fear.
My kids are living in fear.
Fear because they are afraid for the next time their mother will start yelling again. Fear that their small --for they are VERY small --mistakes will be ridiculed. Fear that they are failures. Fear that mom will punish without grounds, that mom will fly off the handle again. They are afraid of me. And yes, they are afraid of their father a little bit, too.
Truth: I am also living in fear. I'm afraid I will never be healthy again. I'm afraid I will never lose weight again. I'm afraid I will never have more children. I'm afraid I will never conquer my mental illness, that I will die of lung cancer before I'm 50. I'm afraid my husband will not find me beautiful enough, smart enough, nor good enough at my job as a housewife and homemaker. I'm afraid the people who listen to me teach gospel doctrine will realize I'm a big fraud. I'm afraid my family members will continue to ostracize me. I'm afraid my opinions will destroy friendships. I'm afraid my small offering to The Lord will not be enough.
Therefore, my fears are translating into my anger, my sassiness, my rudeness, and my children are simply mirroring what they see and what they experience. Those sweet children, those beautiful faces, those wonderful souls who are trying so hard to be good, to learn, to grow, to exercise their amazing faith --they are simply doing what they are taught.
This revelation, made by the Holy Ghost (as a warning!) after I lashed out at my 6 year old son just before my 8 year old's soccer game (and after the 10 year old's soccer game), was like being slapped in the face. With a block of ice. With TWO blocks of ice. I looked at his eyes, his defiant look, and I saw his fear. His absolute terror. He was afraid of me. He was clawing a way to find some dignity, to see in my eyes some form of love. But he didn't know how to do it without being weak, without being a victim, without backing down and cowering. Because he is a child. A child. This is why the cycle of disobedience and anger kept going.
I don't want my kids to fear me. I want them to know, without doubt, of my love for them. I want them to experience protection, safety, support, empathy, sympathy, strength. I want them to trust, to believe, to know I am their greatest supporter. I want them to know Christ through me. I want them to know of love through me. I want them to feel safe. Safe and loved.
A dear friend once told me that when she was mothering young kids and came across some really hard decisions, the Spirit told her that she shouldn't think about being right --she needed to preserve the relationship. Because the relationship is what her kids would remember. The relationship is what would keep her children close to Christ. The relationship would center them and would have the power to bring her kids away from worldly influences.
I know it's easy to say that teaching kids to obey and work hard and all that are the most important things --but if they hate you? Fear you? Don't want to be near you --will they obey or work hard, anyway? Will they even want to try?
But there is good in this, because The Lord is merciful. I have made covenants to repent and be forgiven. I can keep trying. I can do hard things. I can improve with Him by my side. I really don't have to do this alone, nor do I need to be fearful of my future failures (for I know I will fail again. I'm mortal, remember?).
Wish me luck, dear reader. Better yet, pray for me. I am going to shift the dynamics of my stewardship --my beautiful little family --and I'm going to need my Heavenly Father's guidance.
Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.(Doctrine and Covenant 6:34-36)