Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Permission Granted

As Suzy’s birth is quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking about the journey we’ve had with our little Lily for her first year of life.  In particular, I’ve been thinking about my journey through the first year of motherhood.  So, come back with me to January 2011 when my visiting teachers were over.  I was in a new ward and getting to know two sisters who I’ve since come to love.  One of them is elderly and was asking me a lot of questions about myself.  I was apparently putting on a really good show of competence and of “having it all together.”  I answered that yes, my baby was two months old and yes, she was sleeping well and yes, I was slim again and yes, I was making dinner every night again…etc, etc.  Then, my wise, visiting teacher asked, “So, what is hard for you Lauren?”  I stopped and thought about it and didn’t have an answer for her off the top of my head.  Turns out I was only fooling myself about having it all together.  As I continued on with my day though, I realized that I’d been tricking myself into thinking that because I had a new baby, everything should be perfect.  I had been pushing aside the fact that I was extremely tired and my hormones were out of whack and I was struggling with some postpartum depression.  It was as if her question gave me permission to admit that I was having a hard time adjusting.  Even with eight younger siblings, there was no way I could have been completely prepared for the rigors or having a newborn.  Her question also made me think deeper about what I was struggling with internally and helped me uncover some tricky lies that Satan was getting me to believe.  I spent the next three months or so battling the lies that I had started to believe about myself as a wife and as a mother.  I’m so grateful for that visiting teacher who followed the Spirit and helped me recognize that everything wasn’t ok – because then I had the power to start changing it, to start working on it.

Alright, so lets fast forward to June – now life really did seem perfect and it has been for a while.  Lily was sleeping through the night, I was pregnant with our second little baby and so excited to find out the gender of the baby – Jon had a stable job, we were a happy family – life seemed perfect.  In President Uchtdorf’s recent talk, “Forget me Not” he spoke about not forgetting to be happy now.  I wanted to ask him, “President, what do you do if your life is perfect and you’re incredibly happy?”  I realized that I had been tempted to feel guilty for being so happy.  The truth is that I should just let myself be happy while it flowed so easily to me.  It was as if I needed permission again to admit that everything was wonderful right now and that’s ok.  I thought about Lily and about the percentage of time that she is crying…its not that high, maybe 10% at the most.  Some of the time when she’s crying, its because I’m trying to teach her something so she’s in time out.  But most of the time she is happy and playing.  I realized that Heavenly Father does want to teach me and will allow me some heart ache, but most of the time He wants to grant me tremendous joy.  I should just enjoy it! 

I’ve learned that life does go through natural cycles of time when everything just feels hard or when everything just seems to flow easily and happiness is the default.  When things are hard, I tend to remind myself over and over again, “man, this is hard.”  When things seem easier and I’m happy, I want to be better at reminding myself often that, “I am happy!  I am blessed!  I am grateful!”  I feel like our little Terry family has been blessed with six months of pure happiness.  I’m so grateful for the blessing of being a wife to someone as wonderful as Jonathan, of being the mother to children as sweet as Lily and Suzy.  I’m so incredibly blessed and happy.  I suppose I’m ready for another phase of hard, and that’s ok.  I’m going to allow myself to admit that sometimes things are hard and I’m sad while other times I’m just happy.  Both states are normal and are part of life. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Humble Beginnings

Last Sunday was our Christmas program since so many of our ward members are students who leave for the Holidays.  As I was contemplating Christ’s entrance into the world, it struck me how humble it was and what a tender mercy that is for me.  Christ, the” King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16), “Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (2 Ne 19:6), came to earth surrounded by animals.  I thought of Mary, who had to endure the rigors of labor amidst the smells of that place and of the hospital where I will soon be delivering little Suzy with an epidural and a clean environment.  I thought of Joseph, who saw his wife suffering, and wasn’t able to give her everything he wished he could have.  I then thought, “you know…if Joseph had been rich, he probably could have bribed someone to give up their room.”  But he wasn’t rich and that didn’t really matter.  I thought about how the world measures greatness and success with such inaccurate standards.  A “successful” person usually means a wealthy person – but what about family life or being a good spouse and parent?  What about the callings the Lord has given us to serve His children?  I felt that it’s a blessing that Christ came to the world in such low circumstances because it helps me realize that money really doesn’t matter as much as I sometimes convince myself.  I felt that the way Christ condescended and came to earth is a blessing to remind us that “he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” (Luke 9:48)  When we measure our worth by the worlds standards, whether it’s a paycheck or our weight or our material possessions then we begin to believe a great lie.  If worth is measured by worldly success then what of Christ’s worth?  “He [was] despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” (Isa 53:3-4).  He was cast out of his own town and people tried to stone Him (John 10:31), He was poor, and He was the greatest of all.  I know that Christ is real.  He has a body and someday we will see Him.  He has power to heal our wounds.