Monday, July 25, 2011

My mom was inspired...

Out of the blue last week I think it was, I got a package in the mail from my mom. Inside was a little red book called "I Hope You Know How Much I Love You" by John Bytheway.




Of course any mail other than junk is always a treat but considering the rough times I've had, it was especially nice to know that someone was thinking of me and loves me.

I stuck it in my purse intending to read it and just things kept happening- you know that thing called "LIFE". Plus Burt died and that threw me for a loop and then my mind got caught up in various craft projects and it was sorta forgotten (sorry mom).

SO I was supposed to teach a lesson on Sunday abt welfare. Super fun topic wouldn't you say? SO needless to say, I wasn't feeling it AT ALL. I mechanically went about writing my lesson Saturday night, stuck it in my purse and was on my merry way to church. Come 2nd hr during Sunday School (that's when my ADD kicks in), I pulled the book out and started reading it.
Right from the beginning, my heart started pounding (was that the spirit???!!!), I got goosebumps and a lump in my throat! It's a short book mind you but from the very beginning, it was talking abt the exact thing I have been struggling with!!! The words I've been longing to hear from anybody that would say them were clearly written on those first few pages.



This book is an answer to a prayer I didn't know I had been praying! So even though this had nothing to do with church welfare, I truely felt inspired to share these words with the RS yesterday. If for no one else, for myself to be able to say them outloud.
SO if you heard my lesson yesterday, forgive me, but I wanted to share with you all the same passages that have impacted me so quickly and unexpectedly.



First I have to tell you- after church, I texted my mom asking why she sent me the book. She said she knew I had been struggling and sad and when she was in the bookstore looking for some books on tape, she saw this book and thought of me solely from the title. She never read it- just wanted me to know she loved me. My mom was truely inspired. Thank you mom! I love you too!

Enjoy!

Comparing, Competing, and Being Content
SOME OF THE GREATEST life lessons I know have come from the women in my life. And I am sure it is the same for many of you. The women who have been there for us, supported us, and buoyed us up know about life and its hardships and how we can make it through with graciousness and hope.

I remember hearing President Hinckley’s daughters talk about their mother at a women’s event I attended. When they showed Marjorie Pay Hinckley’s photo on the screen, we could all see a life of goodness reflected in her countenance. We could see the wisdom of years written in her face, along with a twinkle in her eye that revealed her delightful sense of humor. She spoke to women as only another woman could, and her words were backed by experience and endorsed with testimony. She said:

We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are.
—Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Contentment is a difficult commodity to obtain in a world that is busily trying to convince us that we must have it all, we must have it all of the time, and we must look gorgeous, sophisticated, and brilliant while having it. You can jump on that treadmill if you want, but you’ll never be able to keep pace with the mythical image of the superwoman the advertising agencies have created. Instead, within the gospel, we are counseled to focus on finding contentment. The Apostle Paul shared what he had discovered in these words: “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

Being content allows you to be yourself. It means you can stop comparing and competing with the other people around you. I’m convinced that contentment is a spiritual gift, while competition is a manmade distraction from what is really important. Sister Hinckley found that the moment she quit competing was the moment she felt happiest:

Fifty was my favorite age. It takes about that long to learn to quit competing—to be yourself and settle down to living. It is the age I would like to be through all eternity!
—Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Saying “yes” to contentment and “no” to competition means we are not threatened by the accomplishments of others. Patricia Holland once taught:

There seems to be an increase in our competitiveness and a decrease in our generosity with one another.

Those who have the time and energy to can their fruit and vegetables develop a great skill that will serve them well in time of need—and in our uncertain economic times, that could be almost any day of the week. But they shouldn’t look down their noses at those who buy their peaches, or who don’t like zucchini in any of the thirty-five ways there are to disguise it, or who have simply made a conscious choice to use their time and energy in some other purposeful way.

And where am I in all of this? For three-fourths of my life I was threatened to the core because I hated to sew. Now I can sew; if absolutely forced to, I will sew—but I hate it. Imagine my burden over the last twenty-five or thirty years, faking it in Relief Society sessions and trying to smile when six little girls walk into church all pinafored and laced and ribboned and petticoated—identical, hand sewn—all trooping ahead of their mother, who has the same immaculate outfit. Competitive? I wanted to tear their pleats out.

I don’t necessarily consider it virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy—but I’m honest in my antipathy toward sewing. If even one sister out there is weeping tears of relief, then I consider my public shame at least a partial blow against stereotyping. I have grown up a little since those days in at least two ways—I now genuinely admire a mother who can do that for her children, and I have ceased feeling guilty that sewing is not particularly rewarding to me. We simply cannot call ourselves Christian and continue to judge one another—or ourselves—so harshly.
(love this!)

—Patricia Terry Holland
When Alma returned from his mission, he happened to run into his former companions whom he hadn’t seen in years. Alma learned of their tremendous successes while they were apart, and what was his response? Wow, you guys did really well. Now I’m depressed. Did Alma look at his friends as competitors or rivals? No. Alma was thrilled with the success of others:

But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren. . . . Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy (Alma 29:14, 16).

We are brothers and sisters. We are in this together. We are not competing against each other, but against evil. And yes, as we confront the busy-ness of life, and the endless to-do lists, inevitably, some things will be left undone. And you know what? That’s okay. A phrase I learned once at a women’s conference about choosing to let some things go undone is called “selective neglect.” As Sister Hinckley has said:

Choose carefully each day that which you will do and that which you will not do, and the Lord will bless you to accomplish the important things that have eternal consequences. At my age, I’ve edited the scripture just a little: “For it is not requi-site that a woman should hobble faster than she has strength.”
—Marjorie Pay Hinckley

The bottom line is, we simply cannot do it all. And that’s okay. The challenge is, given all we have to do, to spend our time on the best things. This process of choosing how to spend our time is where the gospel becomes immensely practical. The gospel helps us see what is really important and what isn’t. It clears the mists of darkness and lets us see into eternity.

I’ve heard it said that cleaning the house while the children are growing is like shoveling snow when the clouds are still snowing. One step forward, two steps back, right? In my home, we have two cleaners and six messers. When you’ve grown up hearing that “cleanliness is next to godliness,” it’s a 24/7 challenge to meet that ideal. In our home, cleanliness is next to impossible. What do you do, when you have to choose between being a mom or a maid? My wife discovered this poem and shared it with me:

EXCUSE THIS HOUSE

Some homes try to hide the fact that children shelter there.
Ours boasts of it quite openly, the signs are everywhere!
For smears are on the windows, little smudges on the door.
I should apologize, I guess, for toys strewn on the floor.
But I sat down with the children and we played and laughed and read;
And if the doorbell doesn’t shine, their eyes will shine instead.
For when at times I’m forced to choose the one job or the other,
I want to be a homemaker—but first I’ll be a mother.

So what do we do? We do the best we can. All you can do, is all you can do.

Therefore, dearly beloved [sisters], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed (D&C 123:17).

When you do the best you can, you can be at peace, and with the Lord’s spirit, you can feel content.


2 comments:

Alice Wills Gold said...

Shannon,

I am so glad you got what you needed when you needed it.

I gave a talk forever ago about thou shalt not covet and learned a lot of what you said in this post.

Wanting what other people have in any form is coveting. We should not compare to anyone but the Savior.

We should not think it is up to us to tell the Lord what talents we should have but be happy with what he has given us.

Thanks for such a great post.

Jampacked with vital truths when it comes to us being happy.

Becca Sue said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's exactly what I needed to hear! Love ya:)