I must be getting old because I feel like telling the same stories over and over again. Right now I seem to be looking back a lot to the time in my life when I was in the middle of a whole lot of drama. So I feel like re-telling that story. If you know this one, move on. For the rest of you, "When the chimes ring...turn the page." *Chime*
My son was 3 and I was splitting from his dad. We were in a whole tangle of "Well you did____ to me" and "Well I only did_______ because you did _______." It was a slew of back and forth, and the back and forth took place at high volumes. I was in the middle of a particularly good fight with my significant other one day when I took up a baseball bat and smashed all the terracotta planters in the back yard. A chard split off of one and cut open my leg.
So I called my Mom to come get me. My significant other followed me as I limped from the bakyard to the front porch, screaming at me the whole way. I sat there on the steps bleeding all over and unable to move. I had to sit there and listen to him tell me what a liar I was and what a dirty whore I was and how disgusted I made him. And instead of running away I literally had to take it. You may be thinking, "Oh my gosh, what a JERK!" and I did, too at first. But I finally surrendered and listened to what he said, even though it was awful and mean and hard to hear. And while it wasn't 100% appropriate to do it the way he did it, there were points that he was making that I couldn't deny were accurate. I had lied to him. That was true. Putting aside all of my justifications, point blank, I had lied to him. I had made a lot of mistakes and for the first time in my life I just said..."Yes. I did that." I was tired of wanting to make him see what he did wrong. It was NEVER going to happen. I realized he might not ever in my life time fully accept responsibility for the things he had done that had "made" me do what I did. I had to drop it and just accept my part. And I needed to change.
I sat in a wheelchair in the ER with a rag on my ankle watching TV. I was processing everything and just sat in near total silence. I prayed officially to God for the first time in a long time and I just pleaded, pleaded for peace in my life. I begged for this drama to be done and over. I immediately felt relief. I suddenly knew I needed to drop the fight on my end and focus on what I could control. Me. I couldn't control him or make him see anything he needed to see but I could control me. Sure I was hoping that if I started the process of accepting responsibility he'd follow suit, but it didn't happen. I made sure that in my heart I didn't expect him to (even if I really, really wanted him to) and I had to recognize that he might not accept any responsibility...ever. But I appologized profusely over and over for my part and I went about trying to make it right.
Part of controlling what I could was to look at what I needed to change about myself. So I asked God. I asked what my problems were and what I needed to change. I wondered why nothing ever felt like it was easy and why nothing felt like it fell into place but instead just the opposite occurred. It happened so often we blamed "The Mess Up Gene." My sister, mother and I joked all the time that we must be genetically designed for failure. So I prayed to know whatever it was that I needed to know. It came to me that I should pray for humility and understanding. I begged God for humility and understanding. And the change in my life that took place because of this single prayer is the most miraculous thing I have ever experienced and I have given birth. Twice.
I began to see that I was ungracious, ungrateful, unhappy and bitter. I was critical and intolerant. I was focusing on the negative all the time and I was not cheerful and fun to be around. I cared about things that didn't matter and I was spending money I didn't have on things I didn't need. I was making permanent decisions based on temporary feelings. The list went on and on. I wanted to stop drinking and smoking, they never did anything for me and plenty against me. I wanted to stop hanging out with people that wanted different things than I did. I started praying more and I had renewed faith that God was hearing and answering me. I began to go to church. I started reading the Book of Mormon and talking to my Bishop. I made a commitment to God that I would live the rest of my life inside the church. I had botched my life in a really incredible way when I tried to live it on my terms and I was willing to try living the Gospel. I realized why I felt like I was always swimming upstream. My way didn't work. I wanted my way to be right, but it wasn't. I wanted to be able to do what ever I wanted and have the consequences that I wanted and I couldn't understand why this wasn't the way it went. I finally admitted I could not run my own life. And that was OK. It didn't mean I was a loser. I had to be humble.
I was focused and determined to be worthy to attend the Temple. I knew that there was a God and I knew he heard me when I promised I would take this all the way and I had to live my word. The day finally arrived for me to go to the Temple, it was great. I wasn't freaked out, I wasn't uncomfortable, I was happy to be someplace that challenged me to be more humble and teachable. I loved seeing how perfectly everything there was designed for us to learn and grow and designed to repel those that are just not ready to receive it. And that is also a kindness. I could see that God loves His children. I could also see that if we do things to help others, especially those who can not 'do' for themselves, we receive help from the other side.
My life now feels a thousand times better than it was before. It works. And it's because of God, not me. I botch things. God makes them work. I control what I can by doing my best to follow His commandments. I apologize and repent when I do stupid things, and I do do stupid things. I try and be humble and accept when I'm immature and need to get over myself. Because the point isn't about making people think I'm awesome. The point is about how awesome other people are. The point is to put other people first. I'm happy when I try and make God and others happy. It's the only way.
"The greatest among you will be your servant." Matthew 23:11.