Thursday, July 2, 2015

Taking it Personally

I was writing in my personal journal. When I finished, I realized there is something about my heart and mind right now that other people might need to hear. I try to be vulnerable here. It is easier, behind the protection of an online persona, to share the uglier parts of my personality. The difficult part of trying to serve God. My insecurities and doubts.

I know that distance makes it easier to hear, and not to worry about me. Because I'm ultimately all right. I've been through a refiner's fire, and I am stronger than a little sadness. But I find that allowing myself to be sad is a powerful thing. It helps me grow, keeps me humble, and gives other people a chance to feel safe and acceptable. Hiding the bad parts only makes us all feel like we can never measure up. So here it is:

I find myself strangely down, lately. Not in the usual mild mood swings, but in a way that does not fit the pattern of my life. I feel frustrated in my job. I was so happy to finally be doing what I want to do. They seemed happy to have me, and so very supportive. It felt great, like things might actually turn positive for me...for the brief time it lasted. But now I'm caught between differing opinions of what I should do, and all I seem to hear from either end is how bad my choices are. I know I shouldn't take it personally. But I do.

I take life very personally.

And maybe that's my problem. I have a hard time just shaking off people's thoughts and opinions. I want to make people happy so badly. It may be because when they are happy, it feeds me, energizes me. It makes me feel like I have a purpose and a positive place in this world. Like maybe I'm doing this for a maybe God really does need me here. That instantly makes the bad parts worth it. I'd go through almost anything if I knew it would help someone.

Times like this, I am ultimately left to draw only upon the Gospel and my Savior. It is a wellspring of power, yet it has its problems, too. It's hard to separate God's power and faith from fear of the demands of righteousness. I learned long ago that I am not righteous. I seem exhausted far too often to not be "weary" in serving Him. But that is what I want more than anything else: to tirelessly engage in His work on this earth.

When I was a child, I thought the three disciples who tarried were crazy. Why on earth would you choose to stay here and WORK until the end of time? But I get it now. I get it so deeply. If I were given that choice, heart-weary as I am, I would choose to stay and serve: to know I could have some kind of positive impact on the salvation of my brothers and sisters.

Yet, like Nephi, I also "groaneth because of my sins." I am simply not meet to the task of being His disciple the way I want. I fail at visiting teaching. I phone-in Motherhood. I simply can't do everything I NEED to do, let alone a quarter of the things I want to do.

So while I AM down about my life for the moment, as I dig through the layers of sadness and feeling like a failure I hit the point where I know I have no other choice but to keep plugging away. I have committed to this path of discipleship, failure or not. My failure is a relatively small thing in the great work of our God.

So yes, I fail. I am a failure. But it isn't going to stop me from trying.

The Supreme Court requiring the States to authorize same-sex marriage is a hot topic right now. I don't know how to share my feelings, because they don't fit into a nice little box. I have so many friends who choose to support marriage because they feel like Love Conquers All, or marriage is a Fundamental Right, or Live and Let Live, or because being against gay marriage Kills People. And I have other friends who don't because Children Have a Right to a Mother and Father, or Don't Mess with Something Until You Know It Will Work, or Let the States Hash it Out, or even simply because Our Prophet Said To.

My problem is that I believe in all these things. On both sides. I believe in love, I believe in children having a right to a parent of each gender, in letting people make their own choices, and in following prophetic counsel. I have a fundamental, can't-change-it-no-matter-how-I-try NEED to make people happy. I want to wave a magic wand and say, hey, if it makes you happy, go for it. It doesn't hurt me. But I also trust that when the Apostles of the Lamb of God, (that same Sacrificed God who is the author of happiness) says that it will bring upon us the "calamities foretold," it is not simply bigotry or hatred which fuels them.

And I take it all very personally. When people are mad at me, and call me a Hater, it is personal. When the people who are supposed to be on the same side I am vilify and hurt those who are not, I take it personally. When I watch our people crow over bending the Constitution which has been a banner and a standard for the world, I worry for the hearts and souls of people on both sides of this insurmountable divide. Because I love them all, and want to make everyone happy. I cannot. And it is very, very personal.

I know I can never make everyone happy. So ultimately, I choose my Savior, and the men He has chosen to represent Him. I choose to try my best, knowing I will fail. There is a high cost to that, whether that cost is the shame of never accomplishing my Visiting Teaching, or sorrowfully telling someone, "sorry, but I am not going to vote to support this thing that you believe is your only path to happiness."

I hope that somehow this puts me on God's side. I don't know, but I hope. It is the best I know how to do. The Savior is no stranger to grief. The Father Himself has wept for this world. I may feel very alone at my job AND in the world at large, caught between differing opinions and knowing there is no way to make everyone happy. If I weep, it is the closest I can come to weeping His tears. I am no God. I am a failure. But I know in whom I trust.

And He, also, takes it personally.


  1. Some what sideways of this I recommend to all listen to Brene Brown's TED talk on shame and read her book Daring Greatly. It has deepened my understanding of what God is trying to do with us and how, and refined my understanding of the way Satan works. Once you've read the book you can see her research all over the Temple.

  2. This week I have been reading and pondering the 16th and 17th chapters of John; Jesus counsel to and prayer for his disciples, knowing the difficult circumstances and hating and personal weaknesses they would live through as they continued the path of devotion to both the Father and the Son. His prayers for their connection with the Father, his full commitment to and love for them, his trust and gratitude for their understanding and their devotion in spite of their human nature is wonderfully articulated. And then today I read your post. And I thought of the last phrase in John 17, the close of his intercessory prayer. And I thought, "yes, again, she is learning. And that prayer and those words embrace her discipleship too."
    Sending love.


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