Fear is a Roadblock

I’m tired.  That may be obvious because I haven’t created a post in quite awhile.  It wasn’t intentional.  I tend to let life carry me away instead of trying to be more in control.

I believe another reason why I’m overly tired is because I seem to have constant issues with myself, my family or my job to worry over.  What am I worried about?  The fear of something more to deal with, something worse happening.

We all have fears.  We fear failure, rejection, disappointment, disasters, not being chosen, not going to be where we want to be at this point in our life, not being good enough, not being strong enough, not being in control, the unknown, just to name a few.  If you are a person that believes in God, you may fear that He has forgotten you, or that you are being asked to withstand a trial that is beyond your capacity to endure.

For me, when I experience strong fear, it’s always a roadblock that prevents me from moving forward.  I think my greatest fear is that I’m “not enough”.  I’m not strong enough, smart enough, physically fit enough, “Mom” enough, “Wife” enough, “Supervisor” enough, “Grandma” enough, rich enough, healthy enough, spiritual enough……you get the picture.  Couple fear with being tired all the time?  I’m lucky some days to just get out of bed.

I read an article I’d like to share, because the premise mentioned is what helps me to break out of the chains of fear and helps me to start moving again, in any direction.  The article is entitled, “Divine Discontent”.

First quote:  “Divine discontent comes when we compare ‘what we are [to] what we have the power to become’.  We yearn for greater personal capacity.  We have these feelings because we are daughters and sons of God, born with the Light of Christ yet living in a fallen world.  These feelings are God given and create an urgency to act.”  I very much resonate with this statement.  When I feel stifled or stuck, I start to get irritated with myself, feeling that I am wasting time and that I am letting fear win.  It’s this feeling of discontent that helps me try to jump start my ambition, to move out of the place I’m stuck in.  It starts my inner problem-solving process.  It helps me shed my pride and drop to my knees to ask Father for help and guidance.  It causes me to reflect and realize, that in many ways, I am more than “enough”.

Second quote:  “We should welcome feelings of divine discontent that call us to a higher way, while recognizing and avoiding Satan’s counterfeit — paralyzing discouragement.”  Yep.  That’s me, through and through.  Paralyzing discouragement.  Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Horrible place to be.

Third quote:  “[Paralyzing discouragement] is a precious space into which Satan is all too eager to jump.  We can choose to walk the higher path that leads us to seek for God…or we can listen to Satan, who bombards us with messages that we will never be enough.” Uh huh.  Yeppers.  Totally true.  Put my picture on that meme.

So how do you know the difference between divine discontent and paralyzing discouragement?  “Divine discontent is not an invitation to stay in our comfort zone, nor will it lead us to despair.  [It] motivates us to follow the example of the Savior.  [It] leads to humility, not to self-pity or the discouragement that comes from making comparisons in which we always come up short.  With Christ’s help….we are enough.”

While I completely related to the main content of the article, the conclusion spoke volumes to my soul.  “Jesus’s miracles often begin with a recognition of want, need, failure, or inadequacy.  Remember the loaves and the fishes?  The story begins with the disciples’ recognition of their lack.  [They] were right:  they didn’t have enough food, but they gave what they had to Jesus, and then He provided the miracle.”

Oh wow.  Huh.  WOW.

I am enough.

I am enough, if I trust that Christ will make up the difference.  He will “multiply my efforts”.

Have you ever had those moments in your life where, as you reflect, you don’t know how you got through them?  I believe those moments are times where you did all you could and Christ multiplied your efforts.  I do.  For me, there is really no other explanation.

I keep telling myself…I matter.  I matter to someone.  And that makes all the difference.

Is There a Way Off of this Ride?

I Matter to Who Matters.  I still struggle at work with feeling invisible.

It will never go away unless the people treating me like that do, and they aren’t going anywhere.It really feels like a constant battle to keep my spirits up.  It’s getting to the point now where every little thing they do is irritating.  Have you ever been in that situation?
Try as I may to just shake it off – the irritation is still there flying around my head like a nasty little gnat that is too small for me to find and swat.  For example, a person I work with continually skips past me and goes to my Lead and assigns them To-Do items without my knowledge.  I have no idea what their workload is because of this…is it a one-off moment?  Does it happen all the time? Is this meant to be passive-aggressive?  I don’t know.  It sure feels like it.  Grrrrr.  And, is there any problem (really) with my Lead taking on this work.  Not really.  I just wish the requests didn’t happen behind my back.
During a Sunday School class I was in the other day, a topic that came up gave me pause for thought.  The topic?  “Life up your Head and Rejoice”.  The tagline?  “As we face hard things in the Lord’s way, may we lift up our heads and rejoice.”  REJOICE?  AT WORK?  With all the nonsense that is surrounding me?  Huh.
The lesson pointed out that many of us get in a “why me?” attitude.  But, “asking why, however,  never takes away the hard thing.  Sometimes the Lord asks us to do a hard thing, and sometimes our challenges are created by our own or others’ use of agency.”  So what was one piece of advice as to how can we get through the trials of life?  Forgive others. Another Huh.
So I thought – ok….I have to forgive these people for hurting my feelings.  Can I do that?  I think I can, but the seemingly passive-aggressive moments happen all the time.  By the time I’m ready to move on from the last moment and new one comes up.
Then my second thought was, other from the active pushing me down, what, exactly, are these people doing to me that is causing me to be so irritated at them.  Answer – absolutely nothing.
The truth?  I haven’t forgiven them.  OUCH.  The fact that everything little they are doing causes me such irritation, tells me that I’ve not forgiven them and I’m still hurt and mad at them.
*Sigh* – okay – dang.  I need to work harder at forgiving.  At this point, I am choosing to let them bother me.
I guess I have to figure out how to repeatedly forgive someone. Maybe there is a lesson here I haven’t learned, so I have to experience this again and again?  Maybe this person just has issues with me?  Jealousy?  Competition?  Irritation?  I don’t get any negative feedback from this person, so I can only guess that it must be personal?
I keep telling myself that I matter to who matters.  I have a good friend that also reminds me of that (Thank you, Karen).  That phrase helps me a lot.  This person’s treatment of me should feel like “pfft – whatever” – here they go again….. I shouldn’t let it get to me.  I definitely shouldn’t let me get so upset or angry that my soul is consumed with this negative energy.
This negative experience is but a moment in time.  A trial that I need to come out on top of.  It won’t last forever and I can take the high road while they are taking the low road.  I am in control of how I feel, and I chose to feel happy and count my blessings.

I Matter to Me

When I was a single Mom, there were a few years where I didn’t have dental insurance for myself or the kids.  Any dental procedure that welfare didn’t cover basically didn’t get done for myself.  If I had any extra cash or leeway on the credit card, the kids were the ones to receive the extra treatment.  I put my children first at the expense of a few of my teeth.
I’m in a different place in my life now.  My youngest is 22.  I’m not exactly an empty-nester, as my Mother and a daughter and her family live with me right now.  But, I’m not in the position I used to be in having full responsibility for my children.  I (good or bad) neglected my physical and mental health for quite some time because of competing priorities with working and being a single parent.  Now, I’m at a point where I can and should be taking care of me.
It was a paradigm shift for me – to actually think about myself and put some of my needs first.  I grew up with a mentality that doing so was selfish.  When you are a Mother and a wife, you take care of your family first.  It’s your job.
And then seeing the effects of the Me generation – where individuals do what they want, how they want, at the expense of others, really solidified that doing something for myself felt like I was ditching my responsibilities and leaving those I cared about to fend for themselves.
It took some time after my last child left home to get to a healthy point of understanding that if I don’t take care of myself (and I sure can’t expect someone else to do it for me, much as I’d wish), I’m not going to BE taken care OF.
So, I’m slowly getting to a point of laying down some boundaries, and taking time for myself that helps me decompress.  It hasn’t been easy as it sometimes still feels selfish…
One of the first boundaries I recently had to set was how and what was cooked for dinner.  I have diabetes.  Not everyone wants what I have to eat.  Not everyone gets full with what I am allowed to eat.  It was literally driving me insane trying to find food my Mother liked and having enough dishes available to fill up the others eating with me.  I thought to myself so many times, if I only had to worry about myself, half the nights I’d have a salad and the other half would be TV dinners.  Also, apparently I have a food addiction.  It was almost impossible for me to turn away from the “extras” that I would include in a meal to help fill up everyone.  Rolls, macaroni and cheese, pasta, rice, bread, pizza (you name it), it’s a favorite of mine, I love to eat it and I can’t.
How’d I solve this problem?  I finally enlisted help.  My daughter who’s living with me offered to include my Mom in some of her meals.  I also spoke to my husband and told him what I needed to do.  It came together pretty nicely and I only have to make one meal for dinner.  Mine.  I make enough to feed my husband and he knows there is extra food in the kitchen to eat more if he’s still hungry.  I don’t have to stare at a table full of carb-laden foods and say “no”, “No” and “NO” to every dish.  It’s depressing.
And that is my first discovery of how to take care of myself.  Sometimes if you are able, you just need to ask for help from others.
I’m still figuring out how to do other things for myself (like exercising regularly) where I’m not taking too much time away from my husband and Mom.  I’m also trying to get a healthier attitude about mattering to myself.  Done in certain contexts, it’s not selfish.
To be, being selfish means that I am not being considerate of others.  Exercising, eating right and getting the rest/downtime I need isn’t being inconsiderate of others.  I am taking care of myself SO THAT I can live a longer, happier life to continue to take care of my family.

Who Really Matters? – Part 2

In my prior blog, I mentioned that I was also thinking about people that may argue that they have no one.  No family or friends that matter to them OR no family or friends where they feel like they matter to that person.  How can any of these philosophies that I’ve mentioned applied to them?

Well, that is where the faith-based comment I have in my tagline comes into play.  If you believe in a Higher Power that cares about your well being and loves you (to me that is Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ), you have at least 2 beings (or whatever applies to your belief) that you should know loves you and has a vested interest in your development and progress through life.

There have been a few bleak times in my life where I felt utterly and completely alone.  Even with my wonderful children around and knowing my extended family loved me, I just didn’t feel like I really mattered to anyone (I’m sure I was in the throws of a huge pity party.)

The pressures were just too much and I needed someone to take over.  No family lived in the state I was in.  My children were just that. KIDS.  I never expected them to deal with adult issues.  I had no significant other.  My time was spent at work or with my children, so I had no close friends.  I had no money to pay for counseling.  I needed something.

So, acting in faith, I turned to God.  In my “free time”, I read scriptures, prayed, kept going to church every Sunday even though I really just wanted to sleep in, read books on how to increase my faith and how to tap into the gifts and blessings of the Atonement (just to name a few).  And what was the result?  Miracles?  Not really – although I saw blessings throughout my week(s) regularly.  The biggest benefit?  I just KNEW that Father and Jesus Christ were watching out for me.

I felt peace on days that I thought I should be checking myself into a nuthouse.  I felt joy with the little things in life.  Small, medium and large unexpected blessings would come my way.  My relationships with my children strengthened.  I was able to deal with all the nonsense at work and leave it at work instead of bringing it home.  I was able to sleep at night.  The panic went away.  I was able to make it hour by hour, day by day, week by week and month to month.  And with all of these positive feelings and blessings coming my way – I knew there was a God in Heaven and I knew I mattered to Him.  It was no coincidence.

So, even if you feel like you have no one close to you – family, friends…anyone – that you matter to – if you believe in a Higher Power that watches over you and loves you – you can at a bare minimum, know that you matter to them.  Hang onto that.  Forever.

I really don’t know how some people make it through the trials of life without an anchor in a greater belief that there is a reason for our experiences and that we are not alone.  I know I would have given up.  A looonnnngggg time ago.

Below is a quote from a teaching manual from the church I belong to.  To me, it is a powerful statement about the power of Christ’s Atonement that I reflect on a lot.

“All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Christ.” 

If you can believe this, have hope in this, have faith that this is true, it will get you through the darkest and loneliest times in life.

Who Really Matters? Part 1

I had a great question posed to me from a comment on one of my prior blogs.

It stated: “What came to my mind reading this was: could “Who Mattered” change, depending on circumstance or timing?  Take your sister for example: many would argue that family always should matter- myself included. They are a source that one can invest in because no matter what happens, a sister will always be a sister. A brother will always be a brother. A parent, a parent.  However, there are families that dissolve one way or   another- like in divorces, for example- where it is actually healthier for a parent to be separated from a child (glad I don’t have to be the one who decides that!) So in this situation, did we see an unhealthy parent once mattering, and then not? Or do they always matter?  Maybe I’m being too philosophical about this, but I like the “mental candy” that this question is to me: what does it mean that someone “matters” to you?
Any thoughts?”

I definitely have some thoughts on this!  Actually as I thought about creating this blog, I tried to think of some arguments someone could pose to challenge my phrase “I matter to who matters.”

To my blog follower referenced above, YES!, who matters to you CAN change depending on circumstance or timing. [I hope I don’t lose any readers as I try to process through what has gone through my mind.]

My personal definition of who “matters” to me is this – it is a person that can have one or many of these following actions or feelings towards me:  invested in my happiness, cares about my well being, loves me unconditionally (meaning they would never withhold love from me as a “punishment” because I’ve upset them OR use love as a “reward” because I’ve finally pleased them), lets me be me and is okay with that, willing to help me, willing to listen to me, tries not to judge me even if they disagree, respects me, is considerate of my feelings, morals and values, supportive of my efforts, a cheerleader for my success and doesn’t get jealous because I may be “better” at something than them, doesn’t try to compete with me, cries with me, and prays for me (I can’t think of any more right now, but I’m sure there is more!!!)

So, at any time a person may come and go with feeling this way towards another, right?  Yep!  It’s human nature!

The comment mentioned my sister.  For those readers that have no idea what that cryptic comment may mean, my sister and I have a loving and comfortably distant relationship with each other.  Some years we are closer and more vested in each other and some years we make little to no effort at the relationship (no anger involved – just more invested in other life moments like children, grandchildren, spouses, work, etc…)  Have I had moments where she felt very distant from me, like I didn’t even have a sister?  Embarrassing to say, sure.  During some of the year stretches, I just didn’t feel close to her.  Once in a blue moon, she would really hurt my feelings and I’d back away.  I’m sure I’d really hurt her feelings and she would back away.  Moments like these are human nature.  IT’S NORMAL.

BUT – if you ask me if she matters to me.  I’d answer with a resounding yes, yes, yes and yes.  She’s my sister.  My ONLY sister.  I love her even those I’m not close to her at times.  I care about her.  I love her unconditionally.  I pray for her, my brother-in-law, my sweet niece and nephews.  If she ever asked for help from me, I’d give her the shirt off my back in a heartbeat.

For me – family will ALWAYS matter.  They are my family and I will always value my relationships with them, close or distant.  That may not be the same for others.  Truthfully, I believe there will always be moments where someone matters more than other moments, but the importance of that relationship is always there.

Now – for me – friends are a different story.  I have had some friendships where a person mattered to me and now they don’t.  I’ve also had some friendships where they mattered, they didn’t matter and now they do again.  People change over time and so do the relationships they are involved in.  Sometimes the change isn’t always good and it can affect the relationship. The friends that matter to me now fit all or part of the definition I mentioned earlier in the blog.  I am invested in their happiness and I believe they are invested in mine.

I was also thinking about people that may argue that they have no one.  No family or friends that matter to them OR no family or friends where they feel like they matter to that person.  How can any of these philosophies that I’ve mentioned applied to them?

Read my next blog 😀

 

 

“A Who is a Who No Matter How Small”

I love this quote from Dr. Seuss!  It aligns perfectly with “I matter to who matters”.  You have value.  You have worth.  Your voice counts.  Your opinion counts.  Your life matters.  It matters to those who care about you…who love you…  It matters to God.  Especially Him.  And His Son.

In the last two blogs, I talked about a couple of Christmas memorable moments that I had.  The reason these times were memorable was that I knew I mattered to someone I cared about and that I knew cared about me.

There is nothing that brings me more joy than to have a conviction that someone I love or care for deeply returns those sentiments.  There is something grounding about it.  Those people and/or your relationship with Deity are your anchors  in life.  Something you can hold on to when the waters get rough.

Another Christmas memory spang to mind this morning that I wanted to share.  It’s not about another Christmas memory I had where I felt or knew I mattered.  This memory is about Christmases past where I tried to help someone feel that they mattered.

Ever since I was a kiddo, I had this overwhelming desire to give “things” to people to help them feel my love for them.  I had some pretty good moments for a 7-9-year-old:  saving up money to buy my Mom a single flower at the florist, sharing beloved Bazooka bubble gum or penny candy from Harvey’s that I bought with friends or family, trying to get the most “bang for the buck” when spending a certain birthday budget on friends or family so they would have a lot of gifts to open instead of one, buying one of my parents a special Christmas gift that I knew they would really like (  Aren’t these new plastic dinner plates so cool Mom????) and so on.

I had some bombs too.  Of course, I had no money to buy anybody anything at Christmas.  Dad was the funder of any gifts that came from me.  Thanks, Dad!  So, what bright idea did I have?  I decided one year to root through my things and give them as gifts to my family.  Unfortunately, my sister received most of them as they were little girl things.  I still remember the look on her face when she opened a pretty crappy necklace I had given her and she knew it was a re-gift.  Needless to say, that was the one AND the ONLY year I pulled off that stunt.

There was another time where my “biggest bang for the buck” failed miserably when I was entrusted with a $20 budget from a group of friends to buy my best friend, Sharon, some birthday gifts.  They envisioned a magnificent present and (if I remember right) it was a bunch of $1 – $2 gifts.    I believe I lost some friends over that one…..

Anyhoo – I have always (even do so now) daydreamed about how I would or could help people to know they mattered if I had the means or knew exactly what they needed.

As a teen, I wanted to be that person that gave Jerry Lewis $1,000,000 for his telethon .  As I was “sponsored” for Christmas as a single Mom, I wanted to one day return that favor and sponsor a family for Christmas (‘s, ‘s and MORE ‘s!!!!).  I want to be able to contribute significant cash to the St. Jude Hospital fund to help sick children.  I want to buy a car for each of my family members that drive pieces of junk so they can drive safely.  You get the picture…..these ideas I’ve had over the years are just the tip of the iceberg from all the countless number of thoughts I’ve had.

So where am I going with this?  We all need to realize that a “who is a who no matter how small”.  Try to think of someone in your life that matters to you.  Do they know that?  If they know that, have you shown them or done something for them recently? Have you helped them to feel valued?  Appreciated?  Do they know you are thinking about them?

Christmas is a great time of the year to think of that one special gift that may touch the heart of someone you care about so that they too have a Christmas memory that they mattered to somebody.

I remember a few Christmas moments where I believe a gift I gave helped the receiver to know that they were special to me.  One of my sons struggled with a math class that was necessary to pass in order to graduate from high school.  It was such a challenge for him that we really worried that he’d graduate.  I swore to him that I would do all I could to help him pass that class and we registered him in a college math class where the high school he was at recognized as credit for graduation.  I taught him the math concepts and he took the tests at the high school proctored by the high school guidance counselor.  He passed !!!!  HE GRADUATED!!!!   That year for Christmas, I made a shadow box of his favorite high school memories and gave it to him.  He cried when he opened it.  I cried. Six other siblings cried.  That inexpensive little shadow box had the biggest impact on all of us.

Another year one of my daughters, who is a single Mom of 2 and was very broke that year, had a wish list item for her birthday (in December) that was expensive.  She didn’t have the money for it and neither did I.  But, I scrimped and saved and watched for Black Friday bargains and I was able to purchase the birthday gift.  When she opened it, not only was she elated that she got her (seemingly unaffordable) wish-list gift, but she was touched because she knew the sacrifice I had made to be able to buy them for her.

One more example?  OK!  One of my younger daughters was in love with this Sock Monkey that I bought for my (then fiance) husband.  Every time we went to his house, she would hold it and threaten to steal it.  One year, I asked him if I could replace his sock monkey and give her THAT sock monkey and he agreed.  I’ll never forget the look on her face when she opened that gift.  Another precious memory for me and the hope that she felt loved and cared for due to that selfless act.

I have a challenge for anyone that reads this blog.  Whenever you read this, whether it’s December 2018 or months down the road, whoever has come into your mind as you’ve read this…do something or say something to them to let them know they matter to you.  We all love to know that we matter to someone in life – let someone else have that gift.  They matter.  You matter.  I matter – no matter how “small” we are.

 

I Mattered at Christmas – Memory 2

So segue from magical Christmases in the 1960s to 1970s to now the time spans from about 2000 – 2010.  Life wasn’t very much fun for quite a while – about 10ish years.  I was a single mother of 7 (#awesome) children.  From about 2003 – 2007ish?? on any given month I worried about paying the mortgage.  My home had been in and out of foreclosure.  My ex-husband was not able to pay child support due to some medical issues he was dealing with.  I was initially working at a county government job that morphed into another job that paid more, but not much.  It was a door, though, for improvement to my then salary, and I prayed that the day would come that I could earn enough every month to pay the bills without robbing Peter to pay Paul.

My Mom and Dad tried to help.  About once a year, sometimes twice, a check would come in the mail that would seem like the biggest blessing of that year.  It would help with critical living expenses and extend the budget by a hundred or so dollars.  Thanks, Dad!

Christmases were a nightmare.  Seven children – all pretty much deprived of everything during the year except the necessities, and me, wanting, wishing, hoping that I can pull off that “Santa” gift that would make Christmas worth something for them.

During the year they heard:  no vacations, no movies at the theater, no cell phone, no music lessons (unless you take band in school and grab the free instrument), no sports (fees cost too much), no name brand clothes or toys and be grateful for “pretty intact” hand-me-downs from other siblings, no TV (couldn’t afford cable and no “air” TV where we lived), and no name brand food (thank you church welfare and Food Stamps for feeding my children). I didn’t even have money to buy my medication and remember getting yelled at by my primary care doctor because I couldn’t afford to purchase it (see below) and the list of what we went without goes on.  The dread of wondering if there would be any extra money or any extra leeway on the credit card (how much can I buy before I max it out….again).

I always thanked the Lord daily for the blessings we received, because I KNEW it could be worse and it wasn’t.  I had a monthly paycheck (although insufficient) that we could survive off of it, we weren’t homeless…yet, opportunities for growth at work (tick, tock, tick, tock – when will someone leave so I can apply for their job???), health and dental insurance (I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes during this time), a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes for the kids, a car (sort of – #clowncar #howmanydidwegothroughkids????), and our health (except of course dealing with diabetes).

And yet, when I think back to all of the Christmases the kids and I spent together, I believe the kids had great Christmases.  Someone or some organization would get a hold of our names (again – thank you Food Stamps for the Free and Reduced Lunch program which put our names out there at Christmas time) and a few of the wish list items would get ticked off the list.  An unbelievable sale would happen on a Santa gift so I could afford it and more items ticked off the list.  A family member would give a generous, unexpected gift of cash and more items ticked off the list.  A friend would hear of our need and their family would sponsor us for Christmas and more items ticked off the list.

Every Christmas these were the experiences that I went through.  Every Thanksgiving looking at the budget and realizing there was NO way the kids were getting what they wanted or needed and every Christmas Eve thanking the Lord that once again, His tender mercies pulled us through to have a great holiday.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m not giving credit where credit is due.  There are so many people, named and unnamed, who will never know how in need I was and will never know how they made Christmas special due to their sacrifices.

But – I don’t believe it was by coincidence that year after year when things looked the bleakest, everything would always turn out alright.  I truly believe it was Heavenly Father looking out for us.  I considered all the help we got as help HE sent our way.

Those feelings of being forgotten, or passed over, or not good enough, or to poor to mingle with others in their realms was forgotten.  In its place was an overwhelming sense of gratitude to know that I MATTERED to my Heavenly Father.  ME.  MY CHILDREN.  Out of all of mankind on the face of the earth….I mattered too!  I mattered enough to Him that He made sure we were always taken care of.

I knew He loved me.  I knew He was aware of me and our situation.  I knew that one day it’d all work out and we’d get through the rough years because I knew I mattered to God.  I knew that if I had nothing else, I had my children and my relationship with a loving Heavenly Father and That. Was. Enough.