Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's Okay to Say No and NOT Feel Guilty!

For someone who only made it through Primary today, I'm feeling greatly inspired to sit down and write about a particular subject. There was a comment made by our stake leaders to the bishopric and Primary presidency about our lack of participation in the recent Pioneer Day parade. Our stake had put together a float that was chosen to be a participant in our biggest parade day for Utah. The children of the stake were invited to walk along with the float, and I hear there was one of the First Presidency in the float just behind them.

It's true our particular ward typically has the most attendance (though really not so much during the summer months), so of course at least one child should have been present, right? Three of those kids happen to be my own. My husband is the bishop. I myself am in the Primary organization. If anyone should have had a kid present it should have been us, right?

I am going to sit up straight, put on my sweetest smile, and say no. No. No! And I don't feel one bit guilty about it. Saying that one little word was not something I could have done just a few months ago. There was a time I would have pushed myself to do something I not only didn't want to do, but did not have the energy or strength to accomplish. I also would have resented every minute I felt forced to do it.

One of the things my therapist and I have been working on is changing my beliefs that everyone else comes first, my needs come last, and if I don't do it I'm being selfish. Turns out this isn't true. My needs HAVE to come first.

In Mosiah 4:27 we read: "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order: for it is not requisite that man should run faster than he has strength."

"How do we know when we are running faster than we have strength? We develop physical and emotional symptoms. Continual stress triggers such physical symptoms as headaches, high blood pressure, stomach aches, ulcers, eczema, heart palpitations, etc.; ... stress is certainly a major contributor to depression and its symptoms, i.e. tiredness, crying spells, sleep disturbance - either sleeping too much or sleeping too little, appetite disturbance - either eating too much or eating too little, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and suicidal thoughts. If a person develops these symptoms he or she is certainly 'running father than he [or she] has strength.'"

This quote is from my therapist's book "Spiritual Therapy". In chapter 7 which goes into neglecting our own needs Dr. Shelton talks about a question asked by President Harold B. Lee regarding our priorities and responsibilities.

"An anxious physician worried that because of his profession and church responsibilities, he was neglecting his own son, (and) asked President Lee how [he] should handle [his] time? What is most important in life? How do I do it all? President Lee replied: A man's first responsibility is to himself, then to his family, then to Church, realizing that we have responsibility to excel in our profession as well. He then stressed that a man must take care of his own health, both physically and emotionally, before he can be a blessing to others."

Imagine that. A prophet of God saying the one who should come first in our lives is...ourselves! Let's stress for a moment the fact that there is a difference between the things we need, and the things we want. Needs are essential for balance in our lives. We must eat well, get plenty of rest, take time to meditate, pray, exercise, read scriptures, and make this time you put aside for yourself necessary. Feel free not to answer the phone. Tell your children you'll fulfill their wants as soon as you're done with your hour. Set up boundaries so others will see it's good to make your own needs as important as those of others.

Even Christ knew it was necessary to take time out for Himself. He spent so much of His time teaching and healing and walking and doing the work of His Father. Yet when His body began to suffer, He would willingly go into the wilderness to pray. Once when He visited Mary and Martha, the latter sister became frustrated because she found herself doing all the work while Mary sat and listened to the Savior. When she thought to complain, Christ reproved her, letting her know Mary had chosen something to help keep herself balanced. Housework would always be there. The time at hand needed to be spent choosing to feed themselves spiritually. Had Martha recognized this, the frustration and anger that popped up would not have been an issue.

Many of the symptoms of running faster than we can walk listed above have been things I've experienced an awful lot of most of my life. I'm hoping to go more into some of the negative core beliefs I've had and how they have changed in the next little while. I wanted to go through this one today for one simple fact: I have nothing to feel guilty about. I love my church. I love my ward. I love the members and leaders of our stake. But I also love myself, and I know when it's necessary to say no to the expectations of others while saying yes to taking care of me. And there is no reason to feel guilty about it.

The truth is, not only myself and my husband, but all the members of the bishopric and our Primary presidency either already had something going on, or felt it was more important to take care of the needs of our family first. We cannot control what other choose to do, or not do, and there is no need to feel bad for what may appear to be coming up short in the eyes of others. Not even when fingers are pointing.

If I could offer you one challenge this week (one Dr. Shelton gives me continually), it's to take one hour a day out and do things strictly for you. Say no to those who might impose on this hour, and when the guilt comes take a deep breath, hold it, and then let it all go.

1 comment:

Momma Ellen said...

Yay Laurie! I'm proud of you. Priorities. When Elder Groberg served his second mission in Tonga, this time as mission president, and with his wife and children, he made it clear to everyone that the first 2 hours of each day he was not to be disturbed. It was his scripture study time, and even though 2 hours may seem like a long time, it made all the difference in his ability to function in all his many responsibilities. So there's another example of putting your own needs first so you can more effectively serve others. Way to go!