Tag Archives: God

Day 6: Trader Joe’s, Beautiful Skies, Talent, and Grace

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This thirty day challenge may end up being a one year effort to put fingers to keys! Nevertheless, here’s day 6!

  • Several weeks ago I was subcontracting for a gentleman who had an exceedingly difficult client ; and I’m not being hyberbolic in that description. In fact, I ended up walking out on the job. Left for lunch and didn’t return. Of course, I let the contractor know, and he understood completely. There really are people in the world who expect what feels like superhuman perfection from us. “Sorry, not sorry,” but I’m disinclined to play that game. Life really is too precious to compete with extra human or supernatural forces in order to please people who give so little grace to the Universe.Late in the afternoon of my second day there, I paused for lunch. In my area, there is only one relatively close Trader Joe’s, and we moved further from it when we bought a new house three years ago. Now, it’s a bit of a time luxury to go, but considering this client was giving me a headache with her “hospital corners” exactitude, I was grateful for the close proximity of a store I consider a happy place.

    Why is TJ’s a “happy place,” a respite from a storm? Isn’t is just another grocery store? No, not to this artistic soul. The music is a perfect mix of oldies tunes to which one can easily make a fool of oneself in front of ten other people doing the same. It’s almost like the old “I’m a Pepper! You’re a Pepper” Dr. Pepper ads! The light isn’t overbearing, but “just right;” the store colors and packaging are spot on for an artist- bright and crisp- with beautiful line art. The flowers at the entrance are welcoming, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a grumpy TJ’s employee. So, when an overbearing client is harshing my mellow in the most excruciating of ways, where else would I rather be within a 2 mile radius? Trader Joe’s it is!

  • Beautiful skies, particularly those near sunset, speak to my soul and whisper the lines from Alma 30:44 in the Book of Mormon:  The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. 

    The majesty of massive cloud formations, the variety of colors filtering through the atmosphere, the miracle of light refraction seen in the manifestation of a multichromatic arc stretching across space- I cannot look at these things and deny the Creator of creation. There must be hundreds of cloud and sunset pictures on my phone from years of stopping to snap scenes that cause my heart to pound and words of gratitude to part my lips,”Thank you! Thank you for creating this just for us.”

   

  • I’ve often pondered the parable of the Talents from Matthew 25. Easily, one could interpret the Lord’s words to refer to finances or spiritual gifts. For my purposes here, I’m going with the latter and considering my artistic talent to be endowment. developing, increasing my talent hasn’t been my forte, though using what I have has been. With that, I’d say I’m like the second man in the parable, the guy who received two coins, then doubled them. He got a small, but adequate start. Image result for parable of the talentsNot so sad as to only get one coin worth of seed money, but not so respected as to get five. Have I doubled my coinage over my life time? No, I’ve still got work to do, but I am a problem solver, and I try to be realistic. As artists go, I’m good. Definitely not great, nor amazing, but in my very small sphere I do well. Figuring out where that sphere is, as it seems to keep bouncing away from me, is part of my problem (also known as ADHD). Nevertheless, there are those days when I finish a project or troubleshoot a situation at work, that a sense of gratitude overwhelms me, and I’m grateful for not burying those coins or giving up when the desire had my knees buckling.
  • Grace. Such a small word, but the whole of the eternities is contained therein. For my purposes, however, I’m not referring to the Grace Christ conferred upon us through his infinite Atonement, but rather the goodwill that we impart to one another when we acknowledge their good faith efforts in light of our own failings and limitations. As a fallible, imperfect human with limited sight, as a mother, a wife, a friend, and particularly as an #tinycontractor, I need Grace in abundant measure; when I’m doing my best, I need my efforts to be recognized, not praised, really, but at least noted…and likewise, I must do the same for others.Life is challenging! As a whole, there is no doubt that statement is true. Good days, bad days, moments in between where it feels all is falling to pieces, which often comes on the heels of all going swimmingly well! La vida est loco! Illness, kids, spouses, zigging when we should have zagged!

    Grace comes in when you pause to consider how your actions Image result for you never know what someone is going through mememight be affecting another- then you stop doing those things. Grace comes in when you’re disappointed with another, then you pause to consider what might be the root of your frustrations, and choose to give that person the benefit of the doubt. Grace comes in when someone is trying their best, but falling short of your expectations, and you take a second or two to reexamine your expectations. Grace comes in when you think of your own bad moments and how you wish others had treated you, then you chose to be kind in stead of pugnacious.

    Solo contracting is one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my 48 years. Success or failure is one one set of shoulders, and those shoulders are small and terribly human. I try to be careful about over promising, but I will admit to being the queen of “magical thinking” (read: I’m late, but no worries! I can drive 28 miles in 5 minutes!). By that I don’t mean I can’t deliver, but realistically, it IS going to take me longer than someone with a team or bigger, faster, sleeker equipment, and I’m likely to charge more because, like the local mom and pop store, I don’t make my profits by volume alone. With that, I’m so grateful when a client chooses me, despite those limitations; I’m even more grateful when they see those limitations and extend Grace when I’m “off” one day, and I need to rework something, or my family needs me, or I get a cold that puts me in bed or slows down my usually spastic self.

    May we all give and receive Grace in equal measure, one to another. Peace out!

 

Activism Over Obedience? Not for this Crazy (former) Red Head.

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Note: this is another post started a while ago, but which has been sitting unfinished in my drafts. Nevertheless, it is of sufficient weight for me that I feel the need to compete it for posting. Started in October 2018.

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I am a proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and every six months we have this thing called General Conference. It’s a big deal- lasting ten hours, spread over the first Saturday and Sunday of both April and October. Been that way forAChristus2 many, many, many years, and will likely continue that way for many more years to come.

At General Conference, the leaders of the church, collectively known as “General Authorities,” who include our prophet (also called the president), our apostles, our seventies (yes, we believe those are still necessary offices in the authoritative leadership of Christ’s kingdom on Earth), as well as women who serve in high leadership positions, speak on important topics concerning the Atonement, Christ’s mission, our doctrine, the world, our responsibilities as Christians, and a myriad of other subjects, all with the intent to push us to strive for a higher purpose.

Well, the other night in the course of the Women’s Session, which is held only once a year in the fall General Conference (the men get their own session in spring), our beloved prophet Russel M. Nelson issued an invitation, as seen in this graphic. It was a powerful invitation, and one I, and many other sisters, did not take lightly. Social media accounts went silent through out the world- some almost immediately. It was definitely an E.F. Hutton moment (Google that, youngsters).

Why? You might ask. Well, again, we Latter-day Saints believe in prophets, and most of us still believe they speak for God. As such, their counsel is not on level with just any old motivational speaker or religious leader. No, the prophet and apostles are more like Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Isaiah were for the Jews: men with a mantle of authority, called of God and able to receive revelation for the body of believers.

Alas, just as many in Israel took their prophets’ counsel for naught and mocked those anointed to leadership, so do plenty in our world-wide congregations of modern-era saints. Since I am a small, very small, business owner, I had to at least keep up with my business social media accounts, but I did do as asked and chose to steer clear of my personal accounts and new feed…mostly. Very quickly I repented of the “mostly” part of the preceding thought.

Apparently, asking women to temporarily and voluntarily minimize the negative influences of social media and digital devices, influences which I thought an abundance of digital ink had been spilled in recent years documenting, is tantamount to asking women to wear ball gags, handcuffs, foot bindings, and burkas!

Sadly, I only knew this because I failed to avert my eyes from the darn FB newsfeed, which was alight with stories of women howling to raise the roof about this “misogynistic” request, which was “clearly” meant to stifle women’s political voices in the run up to the mid-term elections. Not to mention the “obvious” fact that the men weren’t asked to do something similar (their (the brothers’) conference is in April… maybe they will (or maybe social media isn’t as big an issue for men)). The travesty! Like Lot’s wife in the Old Testament, I felt like I had been turned to salt for looking.

Nevertheless, yawn. In the popular phrase, I will take refuge: sorry, not sorry. Of all the things by which to be offended in culture, the simple request by our prophet to take a break from the negative and time sucking influences of social media, to read the scriptures, to attend the temple, and to participate in our church women’s group (Relief Society), should fall way at the bottom of the list.

But no, not in 2018. In 2018, everything just be questioned. Every benign request from a male to a female must be scrutinized for motives, for surely they are nefarious. Every suggestion to improve. Every comment that isn’t equally directed towards the men. Every opportunity to run down leaders and assert one’s “right to…” must be taken, and taken publicly, with as loud and large a platform as possible. Indeed, I found the response by some supposedly believing, active female members of my faith to such a simple suggestion to be akin to burning down a house to kill a single ant. The perpetual outrage is ridiculous… and usually misplaced.

Get. A. Grip.

There was nothing of love, perspective, grace, or even thoughtful consideration or constraint in the stories I read of the aggrieved. Unremarkably, in several articles I read on the “firestorm,” it seemed the conservative-leaning women moved more easily towards compliance or “obedience” to the prophet’s request, egregious as some may find those terms. Whereas, more left-leaning women, whose primary concern appeared to be political activism in the weeks after the Kavanaugh hearings, seemed to have a knee-jerk “Hell, no!” What the hay, ladies?

The later response left me shaking my head to the point of dizziness. I freely admit there are a things in my faith with which I struggle from time to time, but like Paul, who in 2 Corinthians urges us to keep our eyes on the prize of eternity, not the things of the world, I try not to get bogged down in what are often inconsequential matters of this terrestrial realm.

I’ll drag across the plains, but don’t you dare take away my tech!

Now, lest it be said, “You just don’t understand how important this election is!” I’m very politically active. I get that politics are important. Elections have consequences, etc, etc. However, elections don’t matter more than obedience to a righteous request any more than Saul’s unholy sacrifice to God did in I Samuel 15. Why must “But I…” or “Doesn’t apply to me” be the first response, like a petulant child who believes she knows more than her parents about most any situation?

Gratefully, Faith is one of my spiritual gifts. All things in me draw me towards an Eternal Father, Christ, our resurrected Savior, and the wonderful Holy Spirit. If I believe in those beings, and also believe Christ’s church has been restored in these latter days as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then I am compelled to take the words, challenges, suggestions, and exhortations of our leaders, most of all our prophet, whom I believe is called of God, with due soberness and a mind towards implementation.

What have we to gain by being contrary simply for the sake of being contrary? More importantly, what do we have to lose?

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.    2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 (KJV)

 

P. S. In true Murphy’s Law fashion, my desktop has decided to be a pain in the rear about opening my blog. Alas, I’m having to write in my phone, which I hate almost as much as I hate writing on a laptop. Hence, this post is, for the timeline, ridiculously devoid of appropriate placed visuals and links. As soon as I can get a desktop page opened for editing, I’ll liven things up!

When “Better” is the Enemy of “Good (enough)”

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When I opened my eyes after my daughter wrecked our car in March, one of my very first thoughts as I struggled to catch my breath and orient to the situation at hand was, “Seven more days. In seven more days, I will feel better (than I do now).” Every seven days for the next couple of months, I moved the bar, trying to give my sidelined self something to reach for, to hope for, and to push back the depression that not being able to exercise brought on.

The more weeks that passed, the further out the goal became, mostly out of necessity. Though my physical progress felt incremental, it was at least fairly steady; I was regaining some strength, some flexibility, some balance, even if the pain had not fully subsided. Still, after seventy days of twice a week physical therapy and copious workouts on my own, the sure knowledge I had (I think I’m a little too in tune with my body sometimes) that the surgery had failed to repair my bum knee made mental progress difficult. Truly, I felt that for all the improvements I could see, it was all for naught if the meniscus was compromised.

On July thirteenth, nearly four months after the wreck, I received MRI confirmation that my meniscus was still torn, that the first surgery had failed, as I suspected, and I cried. A lot. “Why me?” pou0_1187t, pout. “Surgery…again (3rd in a year),” sniff, sniff. “Fine, cut me open again, if it means I can get back on the road!” I was so tired of waiting, tired of sitting life out, and tired of being less active than I was accustomed to being. Nevertheless, in my mind, I started the “X-more-days” thing all over again. And for two weeks after that visit in July, I focused on my surgery day, August eleventh, and went to the gym on a near daily basis, trying to rebuild my atrophied muscles in preparation for more bench time. My head was and has been wrapped around the belief, the Grand Idea, that surgery will make everything “all better.” I’ll be made whole again by my surgeon’s tools. Right?

Well, a funny thing happened at the gym Saturday before last: I started thinking. It got even more funny when I went for a walk that evening because I thought some more. Shortly thereafter, a sentence popped into my head: “ I don’t have to do this.” At that point, I stopped thinking and began reasoning, pondering this idea of surgery as a panacea to my knee problems (of the moment). When I reasoned still more and allowed myself to entertain an option for living that didn’t include surgery right now, this wonderful, spiritually enlightening thing occurred. I ceased worrying so much about surgery, even about being made “whole” (as if at 44 with knees that have bothered me in one way or another since my teen years, my knees have ever been perfect!), and began to concern myself with what I could do now, despite the meniscus tear. After all, I have been getting stronger, walking more, doing more. Despite the pain and the limitations I have in that knee, I am improving. That lightning bolt of wisdom and the peace that ensued was exactly what I needed to shift my paradigm away from an injury mindset to one of contentment and clarity. It was truly, unmistakably a God send that put my mind at ease for the first time in months; and I couldn’t be more grateful or feel more blessed for it.

Come Monday morning, it took all I had not to just call my surgeon’s office and cancel the upcoming surgery without discussion, but  I controlled myself and made an appointment with him instead. In preparation for our visit later in the week, I created a list of questions to ask. At the top of the list was, “Will this surgery really get me back on the road or will it set me back more?” Other questions included, “Can I do a half marathon without a medial meniscus (or with a torn one) and what can I realistically expect from surgery?” During the course of our chat, my surgeon noted two things after I told him of my epiphany the previous weekend: 1) “I was hoping this was the conclusion you would have come to at out last appointment;” and 2) “Better is the enemy of good.” Hmmm, another lightning bolt of wisdom from God’s mind (via my surgeon’s mouth) to my ears.

He was SO cute in 1984! Why didn't he stop then?

He was SO cute in 1984! Why didn’t he stop while he was ahead?

Dr. J expounded on that last statement by observing that he often sees people trying to make things that are good, or good “enough,” better, but far too often they fail to consider the consequences of their actions in the context of their body’s and technology’s limitations. Surgery doesn’t always improve things, it can simply make things a different kind of “not perfect”…like Michael Jackson! Point taken; surgery is on hold. Reconsideration at Thanksgiving.

Rather like a child learning a tough lesson in delayed gratification, I have finally accepted, even embraced, that I can go much further than seven days, or even seven weeks, before feeling “better.” I can be okay with the wait; I can be patient in this “affliction,” and be productive, too. No need to just bide my time any longer. Unlike after the wreck, today I can appreciate the reality that surgery may or may not improve my knee. Truthfully, it could make things much worse. There are no guarantees either way. I lost sight of that for a while, but I’ve got it now.Happy

So, in the mean time I’m at the gym almost daily, pushing myself a little more at each session. Even if I’m wincing as I go, I’m dragging my muscles out of atrophy and into hypertrophy. And it’s O.K. I’ve even started trying to racewalk on the treadmill, and my knee is tolerating it well. In fact, I just printed off the Couch to 5K program. The long and the short of this post is it’s time to stop pouting and get myself back into form. Hopefully, my meniscus won’t be too much of a hindrance. But if it is, well…that’s a post for another day. Onward and upward, my friends!

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According to the site “The Spirit of Water,” the lotus flower symbolizes harmony, spiritual illumination and unlimited potential. The lotus is a water lily which rises from the sludge of muddy waters. It reinforces the concept of resurrection. Use as a reminder that “this, too, shall pass.” It symbolizes forgiveness, gratitude and compassion and invites a balance between humility and pride.

Chasing the Right Likes: Focusing Inward In Order to Focus Upward

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Back in May, just as I was planning my summer hiatus from Facebook, the article Chasing the Right Likes from Joshua Becker caught my eye. It came around at roughly the same time as the blog post by Jamie Martin that I referenced in my first posting: To the Mama Who Feels Like She Never Gets Enough Done (My Productivity Secret). Both commentaries have stuck with me these past few months and have greatly influenced my decision to exit Facebook on a more-or-less permanent basis.

Jamie got me thinking about what I truly need to spend all of my time and energy on- and it’s not worrying 24/7 about politics, or laughing at every meme, or seeing what everyone and their dog is up to everyday.single.moment.of.the.day, or trying to decode some people’s cryptic messages or passive examiner-size-woman-at-computeraggressive rants, or get sucked into their whining (mine included, ditto, ditto, ditto). I need to worry about my house, my kids, my pets, my husband, my house: my stuff. And I desperately need to get out of the “Oh, I have to post this!” mind set; the rewiring of the brain that occurs with social media abuse is simply horrific!

However, Joshua made me rethink the psychology of social media all together. In fact, he made me realize it is not a healthy place, at least not for me. Why, you may ask? The answer is simple enough: pride. One need only take a spin around “reality” T.V., Facebook, Twitter, or even the closest busy department store parking lot for evidence of society’s hyper-inflated self-importance. It is almost painful to see how full of ourselves we are. Selfies on the hour, every hour, posts about every meal, thought, gym visit, and bodily function; vanity plates, monster trucks and custom cars that scream “LOOK AT ME!”; clothes (or a lack thereof) that do the same; booming music vibrating the ground, annoying drivers or neighbors a block away, all because we are just so darned important that every one must want, no, need to see what we are doing or admire who we are.

According to Dictionary.com, pride is (among other things) a noun meaning:

1. a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

2. the state or feeling of being proud.

3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.

4. pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself: civic pride.

Pride is rightly listed among the Seven Deadly Sins, and Pride is essentially what set off the “War in Heaven,” which led to the fall of Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan, who in turn took a third of the hosts of heaven with him. The after effects of this terrible rebellion have been reverberating in our terrestrial sphere since the dawn of man and are evidenced throughout the millennia in story after story of human history.9a163183b432e70510fe1d2958e068c8 Holy scripture is replete with illustrations of man’s hubris, as is secular literature, and at no point does pride produce a favorable result. In the cosmic scheme of things, it may be possible for pride to be a positive thing, but… for the most part it is not, for the most part it is quite destructive to the self, the soul, and society as a whole.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis observed that a “proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that is above you.” Additionally, Lewis noted that the “natural man,” or what we might call human nature is “something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe.” How very true that is. Does that not explain the diseased state of the modern mind? We want to be admired, even by, and perhaps especially by, those we don’t know intimately? Isn’t it clear that man is so enamored with his ability to construct philosophies which exclude Nature or God, reconstruct scripture and society, devise experiments, and develop innovative idols to worship that he forgets to look up to the One who made this fragile, finite life possible?

In Herodotus’ The Histories, the master narrator tells the story of the ancient Lydian ruler Croesus who, while hosting the distinguished Athenian teacher Solon, came to ask of the well-traveled man, “Who is the happiest man you have ever seen?” Knowing Croesus was seeking to be flattered because of his wealth and the vastness of his conquests, Solon refused to feed the leader’s ego, and answered with tales of several men he’d known who’d not been particularly affluent or prominent, but who had had strong families, accomplished noble things in their lives, and died heroically while serving others.

Croesus was baffled by Solon’s selections and demanded to know exactly what his criterion for happiness were, especially considering the bliss that was apparent in Croesus’ own life. How could Solon have possibly failed to include Croesus? The shrewd instructor, seeing an opportunity to impart a bit of wisdom to the arrogant king, responded calmly,

Great wealth can make man no happier than moderate means, unless he has the luck to continue in prosperity to the end (death).  Many rich men have been unfortunate, and many with a modest competence have had good luck…Whoever has the greatest number of the good things I have mentioned (sound body, health, freedom from trouble, fine children, and good looks), and keeps them to the end, and dies a peaceful death, that man, Croesus, deserves in my opinion to be called happy. Look to the end…often God gives man a glimpse of happiness, and then utterly ruins him.

Croesus wasn’t satisfied with this answer, and he failed to glean the lesson learned Solon was seeking to impart. In the end, he was utterly ruined. His pride led him to lose all that he had amassed, including his beloved heir and the entirety of his kingdom. The man had everything anyone could want, save the praise of one man. How many of us seek after the same thing? We have everything we could possibly need, and very likely much of what want, but we still crave more. And we allow that drive to consume us, whether we’re conscious of it or not. I have come to see that the failure to enjoy the moment we are in without first thinking, “I can’t wait to post this,” is part and parcel of that unconscious lust.

In the days and weeks since my car accident and in the time I’ve been off of social media, I’ve had lots of time to think on these particular issues. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion (though I have been 83c0777a3ca6a31d425b84a3078c3eac4768e9dc03c694e9395b3cc8af5f110afairly aware of this character fault for more than a few decades now) that I am one pride-filled little lady. While I don’t believe God “let” that wreck happen or “caused” the “Nancy Kerrigan-ing” of my knee, the time that I’ve spent sidelined has been a God send (mostly).

Seriously, folks, I’m not so blind to my own faults to have missed the Napoleon complex, a.k.a “small dog syndrome,” to which I am prone. Nor have I missed the internal burn I feel at times to be recognized. In his post Chasing the Right Likes, Joshua tells the sweet story of an orphan girl seeking the attention of her house mother. His conclusion is that many of us continue to seek that attention well beyond when it is normal or healthy; and for some, even many, social media only enables these childish desires to flourish.

Women’s “Lib,” at least the modern incarnation of that movement, is not something of which I’m particularly fond. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I detest much of what is considered 4becc80bcd522e2337dadf2c7d7666b9“feminism,” particularly the way the left-wing politicos have practiced it since the 1960’s. A few strong, truly independent women who were a part of the feminist past do stand out to me, however. Sadly, theirs are not the voices we hear so prominently today.

Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of well-know pioneer Laura Ingalls Wilder, is one such woman. A pioneer herself, Lane is often considered the mother of twentieth century Libertarianism. In her fictionalized autobiography on Lane entitled A Wilder Rose, Susan Witting Albert has Lane speculating on the origin of the relational difficulties between mother and daughter.

Indeed, it has often seemed to me that in those days (childhood)— except for a brief golden hour after supper and before bed— I had no mother, for she had no time to give me attention or affection, and I was left to ask for it or beg for it or even misbehave for it, which earned instead her sharp anger and my sullen guilt. Then, I thought this lack of mothering was my own particular privation, and I resented it and pitied myself. Now, I know that many children do not receive the mother-love they need and that they keep on needing and wanting it for a long, long time, perhaps all their lives. Do I? Do I do what I do for her now because of the lack, the emptiness I felt then? I don’t know. Perhaps. Perhaps.

I know how she feels, or rather felt. My own maternal relationship often seemed as if I was trying to navigate waters filled sharks and shrieking eels in an attempt to get the “mother-love” I craved. I’m sure there were times my mother felt as if she were suffocating under the weight of my desire for her time and praise. What she could give or was willing to give me as a child didn’t satisfy my thirst to be “noticed.” I ached to have her all to myself, but my plans for us were always interrupted by someone or something else, like a sibling, a grandchild, work, divorce, dating, remarriage….

Still, there came a time when I was a senior in high school and Mom had foot surgery. She was off from work, recuperating at home for six long weeks. By that time it was just she and I, and much like the Harry Chapin song “Cat’s In the Cradle,”  I think she suddenly comprehended  just how little contact we had with each other (and how little influence she had over me). She sought to remedy it forthwith, but it was too late. I resented her efforts to manipulate me into staying home and being a nursemaid. There was my job, church, school, friends, a boyfriend…nothing that included her. Later, in my mid-20’s I recall she came to my workplace to request the use of my car for a two or three day solo road trip; I was frustrated by her request and refused. She observed that my coolness towards her at that moment could stem from nothing more than her reticence toward me in my childhood. “I wasn’t there for you, and now you’re not here for me.”  Spot on, Mom. Brilliant.

Marriage, twenty years, two kids, depression, and her death later, and I’ve learned much about the internal and external struggles Mom had; they were legion. I needed desperately for her to talk to me, to explain who she was to me so I could comprehend her, understand the choices she made- especially 10876bfa7e09bf75034a2dddaf98afc3those that directly affected me- but that wasn’t in her make-up, not for me anyway, the baby of the brood. This lack of meaningful communication made it exceedingly difficult for us to love each other on terms that the other could truly feel. Instead, we, two little Napoleons, mother and daughter, fought with each other from atop our mighty steeds, deeply wounding but never toppling the other.

Before she passed, Mom and I found a small, rocky patch of earth on which to meet, but there was not time enough to work through our problems. I persisted in never feeling I’d had “enough” of her, starving, in the most pathetic of ways, to hear her praise me, to put my “accomplishments” on a pedestal above those of my siblings, to admit that I was all that I thought I was, to open up to me… and to apologize for not being the mom I’d needed early on. Talking past each other was a hard habit to break. The last candid picture I have of her came from Christmas 2001, a month before her death. She is holding my oldest, who was a toddler then, and I can see the tension in Mom’s jaw; I know it was because of me.

Much of what separated us in the five years between that day the parking lot at work and the frantic phone call from a sister-in-law telling me that Mom had died suddenly, was nothing more or less than Pride. We were both so full of “it,” and I was certainly not going to be the one to lose grip on the controls.

Pride is a deadly cancer. It is a gateway sin that leads to a host of other human weaknesses. In fact, it could be said that every other sin is, in essence, a manifestation of pride. This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being “chosen,” “superior,” or “more righteous” than others. This is the sin of “Thank God I am more special than you.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Internally, Facebook is no different a struggle for me. “Look at me!” “Praise me!” “Like me!” “Affirm me!” Me, me, me. I, I , I. I don’t want to be a part of that anymore! No one needs me to link all of my apps to Facebook so that the world may know how far or fast I walked today (Fitbit, Map my Run), what I ate or how much weight I’ve lost (MyFitnessPal), what I’m reading (Goodreads), or what I just purchased (Amazon, Groupon). We each have our own worries, why do you really care about mine? Does it make us feel better to know some one has it worse? Or does it make us feel superior to know how good we are, comparatively, you know? Does it make us feel intelligent and astute to “correct” our friends’ views or comments (or grammar)?  Who really wants to hear me whine about my monthly migraine 50322206cycle or annual cold or bum knee? Do I really need eighty-five “Get well soon” posts to make me feel better?  I’ll bet your pets are just as cute as mine, your garden as pretty, and your neighbors just as annoying. Do you really want to give me feedback about a child who won’t listen? Are yours any better? And it goes on and on. Doesn’t it all just turn into a demand for attention that we should have gotten over decades ago? Doesn’t feeding one another’s egos just make us all into a bunch of meth addicts, craving more strokes, more likes, more approval?

Granted, there are wonderful, positive uses for social media, such as keeping in contact with old friends and family, especially when we are separated from those we love, genealogy, seeking for community services, asking for help without having to get on the phone (I hate the phone), sharing positive, uplifting messages, and supporting friends in pain, just to name a few. But, to those who are prone to addictive behaviors, social media can become poison to the soul and just another vehicle for unhealthy behaviours, such as attention seeking. Pride destroys all that could be good, twisting an opportunity to communicate into a Tower of Babel. Galatians 6:3 reads, “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. Indeed, there is much we do to deceive ourselves down here. In an attempt to be something by man’s measure, we puff ourselves up and forget that the only measuring stick that matters is God’s. I hope to do better by Him in the future.

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Thoughts? Feel free, the three of you who may see this, to add your own sentiments. I promise not to get too uppity to know I have a reader or two. 😉


Some good reads on the subject:

Pride and the Priesthood        Beware of Pride     Cleansing the Inner Vessel     The Great Sin

The Great Divorce