Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On my crunchiness and ineptitude -- and my strengths!

I always thought it would be fun to be  outside of Utah for the election.  And not so much because a Utah vote for a republican president is somewhat inconsequential at best -- although true -- but more because I wanted to be a part of the conversation, a voice saying "Hey.  Mormons aren't all crazy.  Look at ...uh..." and I would finish that sentence with someone I didn't know very well in my new ward.

Because (it goes without saying) I really couldn't finish that statement with "me."

And while the things that make me, me, (I never know how to write that) are often tied into my personal religious philosophies, and I feel come from a very Mormon place in my heart, most of them are total humbug to everyone else, members especially.

Sometimes I wonder which came first: my ideas being different from mainstream, and then me just eventually getting comfortable with it, or me just being a person who has to live outside the norm, and eventually finding these ideas as my way of making a "hey-wait-I'm-totally-an-individual" statement.

Although, I guess, if you're going for accuracy, the way things really unfolded for me indicates it had way more to do with personal revelation I chose to accept in order to get pregnant.  And that light lead to further requests for light, which lead to further deviations from standard American culture.  And on it has gone.

This isn't to say I'm a zealot.  For lots of reasons.  Those who never touch table sugar, whose children have never had store-bought bread, who have raw diets and are vegan to the core -- I admire them.  But I'm not one of them.  And I have my reasons -- but that's for another day.

However, I know our lifestyle would still overwhelm some.  Yes, we hardly ever buy anything from a box or a bag.  Yes, I read the labels on everything.  And please don't get sick or I'll have you drinking tea and taking tinctures all. day. long.  (It works!)  That's okay.  Most things about the way other people live (like without seventeen loads of laundry to fold!  or whose floors are so clean vacuuming isn't just a dream! or who -- and this is beyond my comprehension -- put a few things on a to-do list and don't get distracted right after starting!) is totally overwhelming to me.

But here's what I've learned: Just because my skills are different, doesn't mean they don't exist.  And I don't do anyone any favors by dwelling on my can'ts and pretending I don't have any assets or strengths.  It serves no one.  It blesses no one.  Especially, especially, especially not my children.  How can I be so down on myself and expect them to grow up with any sort of understanding about where their own self-worth comes from?

Yeah, we don't want to be self-righteous and priggish.  And nobody likes a perpetual expert or a Prideful Polly.  (Pretend I didn't just make that up.  Pretend you hear it all the time and you read it without even blinking an eye.  Thank you.)  But I see so many of my wonderful sisters, whom I love so much, who are totally oblivious to their strengths, or who cannot look upon one of their gifts without insisting on seeing three shortcomings in the same instant.  And this is not what we want for our daughters, or our sons.  So why should God want it for us?

Nobody could say it better than Sister Hinckley.  I've really tried to let these words enter my heart, and change my heart.  To be different because of them.  It's a work in progress, but I'm surprised how much happier I am.  Heavenly Father made me just the way I am, and although there's plenty of work to do, he doesn't want me to spend all my time wishing I were someone else.  There's one other quote of hers I've loved and wanted to share here, too.

"As you create a home, don't get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family.  Don't dwell on your failures, but think of your successes."  She's giving me permission to thrive -- thrive now, not someday when the laundry is done or I've learned to sew.  Now.

Thank heavens.


Amanda said...

Were you in my brain last night? Because I had these EXACT SAME THOUGHTS driving home from a gathering of friends. You put them so beautifully and eloquently. (I don't consider writing well to be one of my many talents...) :)

Why do we feel like we have to compare so much? Why do we feel if we're not doing it the same way as "Sister Soandso,"(you know she's in everybody's ward), that we're not doing it the right way? When did that confidence that was so empowering in college (and, for me, as a single person after college) disappear? (Ok, maybe that last one is just me...)

I'm seriously wondering how this will be addressed at General Conference in a couple of weeks because MAN it seems to be the thing on the minds of a lot of women right now.

BTW--have you read anything written by Brene Brown? ("The Gifts of Imperfection" or "I Thought it Was Just Me"...or she has another one that just came out.) I think her work on shame resilience goes right along with being content with who we are--opening ourselves up to vulnerability and connecting in a very real way that we can't do when we aren't content with what we are.

Jeff & Michelle said...

I love that Sister Hinckley quote! Also, how did I miss all of these awesome posts?!

The Weed said...

Um, I'm totally using "Prideful Polly." I loved it. It is happening. And I laughed at your parenthetical aside after it ;-)

Also, good on you for thriving now.