Monday, January 25, 2010

Highest and Best Self

I read the Porcupine Book. Again. I feel like as I've been searching and praying for answers about myself as a wife, a mother, and a person, I have been blessed with pieces of the puzzle of truth that come before me. Because I'm asking. Because I'm ready. And I have the intent to do something. The Porcupine Book has definitely given me some pieces of the puzzle.

Over and over, Dr. John Lund reminds us that whether toxic or not, the only person I have any control over is me. My goal should be to decide how I think a good person would act in any given situation and then live my life striving to be my highest and best self. Part of that must also be giving everyone around me permission to have whatever kind of life they want to have, and whatever kind of relationships they want to have. While it seems so obvious, it has been liberating for me!

It reminds me of years ago when Adam and I first went to see a marriage counselor and were discussing issues relative to blending our two families together. The Sabbath Day issue was a big one. With my children, the Sabbath had been observed a bit differently than what Adam was used to. He allowed his kids to do things that I never had. Our children sensed the Great Divide and the Sabbath became anything but reverent. I told the therapist that I thought the Sabbath should be a day of study and prayer and worship. Reading scriptures, writing in journals, writing letters, listening to music.

And her answer? "Well, then you do that."

Her point was that my example would have far more effect than would my guilt trips and manipulation, trying to control everyone into submission and ruining any chance for a sacred day. And as a side benefit, it would certainly prevent the resentment I was feeling from showing its ugly head. She was right. I had taught my family the purpose of the Sabbath. That is my job. But forcing them or guilting them to do anything is wrong. And completely useless. If they have been taught, and then I go about living the way that makes me happy, then my example and my resulting happiness will be the most powerful tool I have to influence my children. Amazing how that has changed the atmosphere of the Sabbath around here, especially the feeling that I carry in my heart.

Part of my goal to become less toxic has been to implement that lesson. My aim is to become my highest and best self. I also want to inspire my children to do good, not compel them to. I read my scriptures in large part because I always saw my father read his scriptures. I knew how important they were to him, and I loved him, so I came to value what was important to him, and my life has been blessed because of my love for the scriptures. I'm sure he did sometimes, but I don't remember him harping on me to read my scriptures. I just remember him reading his.

I feel full and at peace when I nourish my spirit. Reading the scriptures and writing in my journal helps me to do that. I determined to do those two things in the presence of my children so that they could see their mother in action. It was a simple change to make. I now read my scriptures and write nightly in my journal downstairs on the couch instead of tucked away in my bedroom with the door closed. Without me ever saying a word about it, I want them to see what I do to work on my spirit, what I value, what I am willing to spend my time doing.

It is amazing how much stronger I feel when I take care of me. That is my goal this year. It's astonishing to me how much more confidence I have in the Lord to help me with my children, my marriage, my schooling, and my other concerns when I put in just a little time each day to fill my tank. I am in awe at how much more love I feel for my husband, how much more understanding I have for my children, how much less judgment I feel for others when I am taking care of me. It's as though when I neglect myself, I turn to a life of self-betrayal and justification to quiet the nagging inside of my empty soul. It's as though because I'm so out of control of myself, I flip the switch on overdrive and try to control everyone else around me. Well, that doesn't work, let me tell you.

It's not even as if I didn't know this stuff on an intellectual level before. I suppose it's more that I just wasn't really ready to see how it all applied to me. I am so grateful to have wide open eyes now. I feel like I've just been given a key to unlock a room brimming with happiness.

*this week I will share some of the things that I am implementing so that I can be my highest and best self. I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for what works for you too.


Luisa Perkins said...

Wonderful! I am so grateful to you for introducing me to that book. What an eye opener. I, too, am trying to change my toxic ways.

The Damsel In DisDress said...

I love that statement, "Then you do that." I hope I can remember to do it and just unhook.