Tender mercies (see also: small miracles, testaments my prayers are heard and my insignificance matters) from this morning:
1. Brandon had to fly to Kansas, and so he was gone by 4AM. This means I'm running #1 to seminary all week (no big deal, I do it often). Usually, I try to do it while all the other kids remain asleep and ignorant to us leaving, but sometimes, baby girl wakes up and I take her with us instead of making one of the other big kids wake up to watch her (they need sleep!). This morning was especially cold (10 degrees!), and so I didn't want to take her if I could help it. But she woke up right at 5:40AM... I started nursing her, and then five minutes later #1 came in to make sure I was up. I asked her to go start the van and that I'd be there as soon as I could. I said a prayer because I just didn't know what to do. Baby girl has been up a lot the last few nights and I knew she needed sleep more than she needed a quick trip in the cold in the van to seminary. But I couldn't leave her on my nice, warm bed because she's old enough now that it's unsafe (i.e. if she woke up, she'd roll/crawl, and thereby, fall) and when I try to put her in her bed (yes, still in our room) before she's ready, she will cry and wake up and fuss and we're back to square one. So I prayed. And then unlatched her and gently put her in her bed where she stirred and... went back to sleep. Immediately. Huzzah! I made sure she was safe and warm and then hurried down to drive #1 to seminary. And when I returned? All were still soundly asleep. Small? Yes. Big deal to me? Very.
2. For the past two years I have really struggled with being the kind of mother I want to be, and most of it stems from my own cruddy sense of self-despair (mental illness. Whatever). I'm also lazy. But the laziness is a by-product. Anyway, usually, I will get the kids up for scriptures and prayers, then sit on the couch and yell instructions for the rest of the time they need to get ready to go to school. If Brandon is around, I will... still sit on the couch and yell instructions. Usually he's working by then... Okay, sure, occasionally I'll get up and find a coat or make a sandwich, but for a while, they've pretty much been on their own. And I justified it, saying, "well, golly, these kids need to learn independence and how to make a lunch!" or "I'm exhausted because I've been up all night with a baby (or I'm pregnant) and up early and I'm so lucky to not have a job outside the home so whoo-hoo! I can sit here and not move my butt all the day long until absolutely necessary!" You get the idea. Well, I am happy to say that for the past two mornings (two in a ROW!), I have not sat on the couch and yelled instructions (much). I've make breakfast for the younger kids. I've helped find things for the older kids. I've made the younger kids' lunches. I've begun morning chores or sent emails, written in my journal, and read my scriptures (actually, I usually read my scriptures after the seminary run and before I wake the kids up for family scriptures, so that's not new). And today, as I watched my very insulated, warm little boys toddle off (I swear, they still look like toddlers to me) to the bus stop, I was happy and grateful. Happy I have some of my self-control back again, and grateful I have these kids to take care of...
3. This reminds me of the biggest miracle occurring in my life right now. It's the culmination of several thousand small miracles that happen all the time (and for years and years) and they have added up to a very great big miracle: a deep sense of peace. Peace and calm. It's the undercurrent to my days right now and I'm savoring every second of it! Peace is not something that has been with me very often, because I've been plagued with a lot of doubt, fear, despair, and real pain. And I'm beginning to feel the Light more and more in my life, and each time I let that light in, pieces of the old me slip away into the outlying darkness... I've been pondering why this is happening (and why now?), and I think it's for a myriad of reasons:
A. Long term psychiatric care and therapy
B. The appropriate medication dosages
C. Faithful study, prayer, church-going, covenant-cleaving, fasting, seeking-out-good-books, and knowledge-hoarding
D. Energy healing (I'm new to this and I'm a huge, huge fan)
E. A husband who keeps trying to understand and makes the effort to help
F. Good, good friends; friends who talk me down, who understand and validate, who call me out, and who love me
G. Eradicating toxic relationships and people from my life --some completely, some partially. Re-establishing boundaries and letting go of impossible friendships that only existed in my mind as well as co-dependency
H. Attending the temple and reading my Patriarchal blessing
I. Seeking a more personal relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by constant repentance
J. Learning to love my physical body the way it is; realizing the joy of eating healthy or exercising (still working on it, though) is found through genuine self-respect and has nothing to do with weight, size, or the mirror.
K. Embracing agency and realizing it's not just for external choices, but for internal ones as well
L. Attempting real charity. I say attempting because although I love people, I serve people, I volunteer, I help, etc. I cannot say I have the pure love of Christ toward all men, yet.
It's a long list, I know. And it's on-going! Although I did start doing these things one at a time, I'm now currently doing them all at once...
And some people would look at this list and think, "seriously? What is the point?" And I could tell you this: the point is for a deep, constant, undercurrent of peace, calm, safety, assurance, and hope. That no matter what challenges are thrown my way, it doesn't push me off-center, nor does it spiral my soul into despair. I'm not worried about things the way I used to be. I don't yell nearly as much, I'm not as angry, I don't have unrealistic expectations for myself and for my kids --nor for my husband (that one is huge, dear reader). That is the miracle! This peace that keeps me centered! The Light of Christ, pulsing in my core, the remembrance that I am a daughter of God and I have a job to do here on Earth, and that job includes finding Him again and again and again...
I'm not cured. My mental illness is not eradicated completely. But! For the first time in... wow, I can't even remember... I feel like myself, again. And not the self that was back "before" (before kids, before marriage, before college, before puberty, before birth??), but the self that IS. That EXISTS. I feel like ME. An unapologetic, messy, Christ-needing, happy, hopeful me! Cheryl!
Isn't that an amazing miracle? Honestly, I'm sitting here, thinking about how I'm going to go upstairs and clean bathrooms, purge closets and dressers, clean and clean and clean... and I'm not going to be angry I have to do it. I won't bemoan my inability to stay as organized as so-and-so. I'm not going to be angry with my kids for being kids. I'm not going to be upset with my little ones that will interrupt me several times. And if I am upset? If I do get angry? I'll repent and then try again. No ending of the world, no falling apart! Just me, being me, choosing to do my part and live up to my privileges and responsibilities. How cool is that?!
Ah, dear reader. God is good. I'm grateful I know who He is every day of my life.