Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Finding Purpose

I am the sort of individual who needs to have a purpose in life - something to work towards, put my energy into. Having recently finished a writing project I'd been asked to do, the last week has left me feeling a bit listless (this typically happens after I've finished a big project).

If you read my last post, you know I've been trying to re-sort my priorities. Over the last few months I've been given several opportunities to attend the temple, but there have been too many worldly (and sacred) things that I have allowed to take first place. As children are preparing to get out of school for the summer it hit me quite hard that my opportunities would lessen with the kids home.

This morning I took firm hold of the free time I'd been blessed with and headed off to the temple. I spent two absolutely beautiful hours there, and had a good "chat" with my Heavenly Father, thanking Him for so many good things that have happened lately as well as asking for some help.

More than anything today I wanted to know what my purpose needed to be for the next little while. I've been doubting so many things - one of the biggest being whether or not I am truly supposed to be in our Young Women's presidency. I'm not over anything specific, like preparing and giving lessons, monitoring personal progress, nor even making lists. Without something specific to do I have begun to wonder what my purpose in this program is supposed to be.

Along with my questions there I have also wondered what I needed to be doing as the wife of a bishop. Talk about someone with purpose - he's got so much it's oozing out his ears. But what about me? I often find myself stuck in this funny middle ground where I'm either expected to do everything, or absolutely nothing.

Today as I finished my prayer and began to put some things away before changing out of my temple clothes, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see a darling little woman with beautiful white hair and a name tag that read "Sister Adair" (I think). In a sweet voice she asked, "May I give you a hug?" Of course I said yes! We embraced in a way that easily spoke love, offered one another thanks and farewells, then I watched as she spoke with another temple patron before turning the corner. I didn't see her again as I left.

Into my heart came the most beautiful feeling of utter happiness. That is your purpose it said to me, and I rejoiced. For if there is anything I can do with gusto, it's show love. Whether I am a bishop's wife, a young women's leader, a mom, a daughter, a wife, or a friend, one thing I can do in any role is to show pure love to those with whom I come in contact. I can show them one tiny little glimpse of the love our Father and Brother have for each one. Just as this sister was an angel to me today, I can be as such for someone else.

I have found my purpose.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Uncooked Rice and Plastic Eggs

No, I promise, this is not going to be a post about some weird recipe I found. This past Sunday a gentleman gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting and gave us an example of something I'd like to share with you today, as it's had me rethinking where my priorities may be skewed.

Think of a jar - large or small, doesn't matter. The jar is empty and the lid is off. Now think of two bowls. One bowl holds some uncooked rice, while the other contains some of those plastic Easter eggs (though this has nothing to do with Easter). Our goal is to fill the jar with both the rice and the eggs, and still be able to put the lid on when everything is filled.

First we put in the rice. It manages to fill our jar to a little over half. Next we take our plastic eggs and begin to stuff them into the jar. It doesn't take us long to realize we're not going to get all the eggs in. Way can try to stuff them in, but eventually they begin to crack and break. Nor will we be able to get the lid back on.

Knowing we need to rethink things we take the eggs back out of the jar and put them back in their bowl, and do the same with the rice. Being the absolutely brilliant beings I know we all are, this time we try putting in the eggs first. They fit perfectly into the bottle, but now is the true test. We take our bowl of rice and begin to pour it over our plastic eggs. To our amazement each individual piece of rice finds a little nook or slot to make a home. Sometimes we might have to shake the bottle to help everything find a place, but before we know it not only is there room for eggs and rice, but the lid fits on top as well.

Think of the eggs as the spiritual things in our lives, while the rice represents those things of the world that are necessary to keep us going, or we would just like to do. When we try to fit in all the secular things, we rarely have room for the spiritual. However, if we put the spiritual first, everything else will find it's place.

Life has been chaotic lately, not only for me but for so many I know. For myself, I have come to realize I've gained a recent "poor me" attitude. I've been so busy trying to take care of so many things for so many other people, my own spiritual needs have been slipping through the cracks. In other words, I've been filling my jar with rice.

This isn't to say the things I've been involved with have been unworthy causes. These activities and service provided certainly have merit. But when I begin to feel as though I'm being stretched too thin, the words of the counselor I saw last year starts running through my mind: you can't take care of others if you're not taking care of yourself.

And so I am forced to look at just how I am living my life lately. Here's what I've come to realize: no matter how fortified in vitamins and minerals, one cannot make it through an entire day on a bowl of cereal. Time to start eating better; even if the distance from the front porch to the mailbox feels like a mile, it does not count as a full day's exercise. Time to get moving; and no matter how much I ignore the laundry or attempt to master (or at least develop) the art of telekinesis, the laundry and bathroom simply will not do themselves. Time to get the house clean.

These are not difficult things to do. I managed a few loads of laundry today. My biggest problem is in recognizing where I really need to start. Reading the scriptures daily. I'm horrible at this. I can look and look and look at my Bible or Book of Mormon all day long, but it will do me know good unless I actually open them up and read the words. I need to pray more often. A few halfhearted sentences at the end of a very long day don't do me, nor my Heavenly Father, a whole lot of good. I need to begin my day with prayer, and keep a prayer constantly in my heart. I need to remember to ask for what I want and need. I'm fantastic about allowing things to happen as the Lord sees fit, but I always forget to ask in prayer for those things I want. And a request never sent out will simply not be fulfilled. Even if the request is for one little hour in which to read a book of my own choosing.

It is in the spiritual areas I need to focus on first. When I build up my spiritual reserves, the physical, emotional, and mental reserves will find themselves filled as well. All other things will naturally fall into place. I might have to shake things up a little for all my wants and needs to find a perfect fit, but it can be done.

So how about it? Is it time for you to take out your eggs and rice, and see where things really need to fit?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Little Things

I have just returned from mowing my front lawn. This may not seem like something I should be boasting about. People have been mowing their front lawns for many a year before I was born. This one particular responsibility is not typically mine, however, and so the mere fact that I got outside to do something physical is in itself, noteworthy.

Since my extreme bout with depression many of the things I used to do with dedication fell to the wayside. Even as I am doing so much better there are certain things I have not been able to push myself to do. For example, the checkbook. I used to monitor the checkbook on a weekly basis. Any receipts would be promptly accounted for. Checks were cataloged. And the balance would be compared to what the bank actually claimed we still had. I could tell you within a few dollars just how much we had to spend. And once a month I would carefully reconcile all accounts.

For the last several months my husband has had to take over this job. I don't know what has changed so much, but the moment I would sit down to take care of things, like a trigger my mind would immediately rebel and I could not physically make myself do it. I hated to admit this, as my darling hubby had already needed to take over so many other things, but he knew and without a word he began to do what I could not.

Over the last few days I've been thinking about the little things we do to tell those we love the most just how precious they are. My children often utter the words, "You're the best", making my heart squeeze with joy. In return I've been trying to be better about finding little ways to let them know they're the best in my eyes. It's not always easy, as it means an awful lot of sacrifice on my part, but I can wholeheartedly testify it has been worth it.

This morning I have found myself with what my family has coined, "Mom's alone time." I've been trying to decide just how to spend it. There's definitely not a lack of things I could/should be doing. In fact there are about thirty things I should be doing besides sitting at the computer boring you all with my random thoughts.

I sat down to write today for one really big reason: I love my husband. And because I love him I chose to mow the front lawn so he wouldn't have to. It will be one less worry for the week. He has taken on so much to help me through some very difficult times - and that's not including all he's facing at work and church. But he's done it because he loves me as well. That's one of the most wonderful aspects of showing love: it's give and take.

I cooked dinner for my family last night. My hubby washed most of the dishes, then Mr. B took over and did the rest of the dishes. Miss M helped me to accomplish some things with our family home evening last night and Mr. J tidied up the living room. And what of Miss A? Well, she gives the best hugs ever.

Love is a wonderful thing, but those around us may not know we love them unless we put those four little letters into action. Don't just say the words. Live the words. Your actions don't have to be grand gestures. Sometimes the biggest ways in which we feel loved, are due to the little things.