Tuesday, November 16, 2010

my last lecture, if i had one.

i've been thinking a lot.

a lot about being a mother.

a lot about being a wife.

a lot about being a daughter, a friend, a neighbor, a member of my religion.

a lot about being a human.

about why we're here, walking around, living life.

i mean, honestly.  what are we doing here?

what's the point of us going to work every day....to school every day....making beds every day....doing laundry every day....loving, hurting, celebrating, living, enjoying, disappointing, dying, enduring?

is there a point?

i believe there's a point.  most readers know that i'm a member of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints.  and as a member of this church we are taught that there are reasons for all of it.  to gain a body, to be tested, to return to a loving Father in Heaven.

i am a big believer in all of this.

before i became a mother of real, live, breathing, screaming, smiling children, i was idealistic and naive.  i dreamed of adorable, chubby infants dressed head to toe in baby GAP clothing.  smelling constantly like baby lotion, cooing and giggling as if that was what they were born to do.

when i actually became a mother, my idealistic views wore off quickly.  oftentimes {more often than not} fear gripped my heart.  i was now responsible for this screaming, not-sleeping, pooping mess?  who in their right mind thought this was a good idea?  not only was i constantly worried about accidentally dropping the child, but also was i feeding them enough?  too much?  was that a temperature i detected?  a runny nose?  are they rolling over on time?  talking late?  talking too soon?  not to mention all of the extra complications that caleb brought with him.

there was so much to worry about.

and yet, i was so absolutely in love.

i also changed, as a human being.  i was pushed to levels i didn't think were possible during my single, idealistic, non-mother days.

so i became a mother for the second time.  and was again molded, formed, pushed, changed.  and my heart grew to let another little person in, with a love that is indescribable.  it's almost a painful type of love.  it's a constant ache, bursting-at-the-seams adoration.

for a while, my goal as their mother was to let them know that my love for them was unconditional.  that they would never have to go through this world wondering if they were loved by me.  that if i could do just that for them...no matter what other mistakes i made as their mother....i would consider my job as their mom a success.

i was a mother on a mission, a mother determined.  a naive mother.  

as my kids have grown older i've realized that my fears and worries have adapted.  now i'm more concerned with how they're going to do in school, with peers, will they make good choices?  will they stick up for the underdog?  will they be the underdog?  will they stay strong, even when they are hurt?  what do they worry about?  will they overcome their insecurities?  are they going to know how beautiful and amazing i think they are?

for the past 6 months or so, caleb's favorite song to sing at night is "april come she will" by simon & garfunkel.
the last part of the song has words that, if caleb is extremely tired, make him cry.

August, die she must,
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold;
September I´ll remember.
A love once new has now grown old

when he cries about the song i ask him what's making him sad and he always tells me that the song has made him think of me, and that he never ever wants me to die.  never ever ever.

it's really sweet, and i hug him and tell him that the most important thing to remember is that right now i'm alive and that i love him. and that even when i do die, that i will always be with him.  and that we'll have a chance to see each other again one day.  i tell him that he can say a prayer and ask for comfort in times when he feels lonely, and Heavenly Father will help him to feel peace in his heart.

i was thinking today about those conversations caleb and i have.  sometimes i feel like i'm at a loss for words when he says these things.  i want to reassure him that i won't die....or at least not for like another 60 years....but that may not be true.  so do i calm him down in the moment, so that he can go to sleep untroubled?  or do i tell him the truth in the best way that i know how so that i don't set him up with false hopes?

and that was when it hit me.  the naive mother had evolved.

the goal of reaching what i deemed "success" as a mother...teaching my children that i love them unconditionally..... was just a small piece of it.

because there undoubtedly will come a day when i die, and if all i teach caleb is that his mother loves him no matter what.....well, what happens when i die?  what will he hold on to then?  not only that, but there will also undoubtedly come a day when i fail him in his eyes, when i make a mistake or screw him up in some way.  there may come a day when he questions the love i have for him because of a mistake, or a different point of view.  i am an imperfect being, as much as i would love not to be.  the odds are high that i may be the very person whose relationship sends him bee-lining it straight for a therapist's chair.  

when we put all of our faith in people or things, even if it's with good intentions... like loving a child or loving a mother or loving a husband, or in our success, or in our education, or even sometimes in a religion....well, it's like putting all of our faith into a feather that we hold in our hand and let go in the wind.  we don't have control over any of these things.  

people are not perfect.  they have their agency.  i remember as a newlywed sometimes i would think to myself "if ben dies before me i have no idea how i'll be able to continue living without him."  well what if ben does die?  or what if he doesn't die, but decides to go through a mid-life crisis and leave me to marry some 18 year old bimbo?  the odds aren't likely, but it could happen.  it has happened, to men just as amazing as ben.

so if i've put all of my love and all of my faith and my competency as a human being in ben....where will that leave me if he decides to exercise his agency?

i did not know that at the time, i was naively setting myself up to fail.  to find someone to blame if life brought me pain, whether it was ben...or God, or whomever else who i could put at the forefront of an oncoming trial.

life is unstable.  our home could be hit with an earthquake tomorrow morning, wiping out all of our possessions.  or ben could be in an accident that causes permanent brain damage, making the past 2 years of pursuing his education worth nothing.  

last night, for family home evening, i wrote a kid-friendly version of the story of Job.  the man who had everything, and had it all taken from him to test his faith in God.  he lost his children, his home, his animals and wealth.  he had sores covering his body.  {my stick-figured Job with sores all over was pretty funny.}  he had all of his previous roles stripped from him; as a father, as a successful, wealthy man, as even a physically attractive person.

his friends came to him and told him to denounce God, that God had abandoned him in his time of need.  but he refused, and praised God even through all of his trials.  and finally, Job received all of his blessings back and more for never turning his heart away from his Heavenly Father.

i have heard many people go through difficult things in life, situations that i wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.  i personally don't believe that God plants trials just to cause us pain, or cause us hurt.  sometimes we are given trials to humble us, or to teach us.  sometimes we suffer trials at the hands of others, who are just exercising their free will and we are simply innocent victims along their path.  but for  me, the why is not the most important thing to worry about.  the why seems to be what people can get caught up in, and it actually can become such a distraction in the big scheme of things.  

i have heard many ask, "why would God put me through this?  why would he want me to suffer this way?"

and the answer for me is very simple:

to bring us closer to him.

whether it's a trial deemed by God or not, it doesn't matter.  a trial is a trial is a trial.  and you going through it may just be life.  but it's what you do with that trial that counts.  where your heart turns, where your thoughts turn.

i've thought so much about the post that my friend andrea wrote, and have re-read the scripture she referenced about a dozen times since.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
Helaman 5:12

and then she wrote:  


and this is what it's about for me.  
if i could teach my children one thing, just one.  

it would be that no matter what, that they are not, and will never be, alone.  no matter how lonely they feel, or how sad, or how angry, or how unloved.  no matter what mistakes they make, or which path they choose.  which religion they decide to belong to, or if they decide none of them work for their needs.  

even though i know how important it is for them to know that their father and mother love them no matter what, it is more important for my children to know that they are loved by a God who will never die, who does not go through mid-life crises, who can't be destroyed by earthquakes or brain damage, or terminal illnesses, or hatred.

the rest of the things in life that i mentioned before.....going to work every day, to school every day, doing laundry, getting your heart broken, changing diapers, getting married, making friends....these are all amazing blessings and also simple distractions to what is most important.  but to live in this world, we have to participate in these things.  i just want my children to remember that all of these things are great, but they are also feathers in a wind that is always changing, and never in our control.

the only constant they have is our Heavenly Father. 

and i feel like....if my children really do come to know this, that the rest of their lives will be spent living in harmony of things that are good.  they will already be kind, hard-working, loving, honest, respectful, humble, God-loving people.  all of those things will fall into place if they truly know and feel deep down in their souls that they are important to the Most Important One.

i think that my role as their mother is also extremely important.  that by me unconditionally loving them, it is a small example of the love that God has for them.  to plant this seed of a foundation of unconditional love in our home will hopefully help them to someday see the bigger picture.  

i've gained a new appreciation of my role.  children learn by example, so my new goal is not just for them to have this foundation in their lives, but for me to have it in mine.  to live every day with the knowledge that i am also important, and that i know that Heavenly Father loves me as much as he loves them.  that aside from all of my roles, first and foremost, i am a daughter of God.  i have worth just by merely existing.

and yes, i am other things on top of that, but it is who i am first.

so now i walk around, picking up their laundry and driving them to school, supporting their father as he pursues his higher education, and changing their diapers knowing that there are greater purposes at work.

and that no matter what happens to me, i will not lose faith.  that the feathers i grasp in my hands are just feathers, but that my foundation is built upon my Rock.

and that there is a purpose in this life.


Rachel Chick said...

Lynsey. This is one of my favorite posts I've ever read. Thank you so very, very much for sharing.

Rachel Holloway said...

You always seem to say it the best. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent of expression and writing. I really appreciate all I learn from you...

Deanna said...

Rachel directed me to your sweet post, and it is brutally and genuinely honest. Thank you. Thank you for opening your heart, and your mind.

K Harker said...

rarely do I cry or in this case weep over a post on a blog. Leave it to you, Lyns to make me weep :)
Seriously though,I can SO relate to this and what a reminder it is to me to not worry so much if my husband left me or my children die before I do. I liked your analogy of those things being feathers and that we need to have a Rock.

THANK YOU for the wonderful reminder of what really matters in this life!

Love ya!

Doug and Tiff said...

It's so true... we all get caught up in the "worldly" every day life and forget about what really matters... Thank you for reminding us! Thank You!

Nana said...

That made me cry. You truly are amazing and are learning lessons that it takes some people their whole lifetime to learn. Yes, Heavenly Father loves us and we are important to Him.

Marci Ward said...

Thank you for posting this. I needed to hear it. I need to live it and teach it to my children. Having had a father go through a mid-life crisis and how it devestated our family...I hope that I can teach my children where to put their trust and when things seem to rock their worlds, they will be firmly anchored. In the meantime, I will continue to work on it myself. Thanks.

Melyni + Alma said...

Thanks Lyns. What you said is amazing. Exactly what I need to hear!

Sarah and Addison said...

Ok, so last night was a little rough for me. I was asking myself the same questions. A lot of whys were said. I find it amazing that the women who I think "have it all" still ask the same questions. Anyways, I asked the Lord and he answered me. Lynsey, you never know when the Lord is using you as an instrument in His hands. Thank you. I really needed this.

Mills Family said...

I am speaking in the morning at Church on God's Love. So, I am just going to print your blog and use it as my talk....not really, but this is perfect. I thanks for sharing.

Rayanne said...

Wow Lynsey. I really needed to read that. Thanks for sharing.

The Pyne's said...

Lynsey, this is so the perfect thing I needed to read today!! You are such a GREAT mommy and love your kids so incredible it's amazing. Yes I love my kids, but some days I just try not to kill them, let alone teach them all these great things that you are teaching your children. I'm so glad that I have someone in my life like you that I can look up to and have such meaningful messages to read about!! Thanks for sharing your blog with all of us and being such a great person!! =)