Friday, August 5, 2016

I Am

In Spanish, there's two ways to say "I am".

The first is "estar".  In general, estar is used to denote temporary conditions, like physical location, emotion, and various roles we play. 

The second is "ser". This is used to describe essential characteristics of something, like gender, personality traits, and where you are from.

When I step back and think about it, I realize that I base my worth far too much on temporary states of being, and not enough on my essential characteristics.

I don't believe our Heavenly Father is concerned with what our estar roles are as much as how well we perform them. I think what he truly cares about is our essential characteristics: our heritage, how we treat others, and how we fulfill our divine roles in the family.

In a world where our value is based on ever-changing roles and conditions, our self-worth can feel like a tumultuous roller coaster.  It turns out, our divine worth has almost nothing to do with our physical beauty, wealth, occupation, marital/family status, income potential, church calling, education, race, or sexual orientation.  Rather, our worth is based almost entirely on one sublime truth: we are children of God. 

And when we understand, truly understand, that we are literal spirit children of a Heavenly Father, everything changes. The roles we play become secondary in importance to our divine heritage.  Our focus shifts from what roles and statuses we can attain to how well we can let our divinity shine through in whatever role we are currently fulfilling.

Right now, I am a wife, daughter, sister, friend, team member, temple worker, nanny, gardener, grocery shopper, dinner-maker, dishes-doer, bill-payer, budget-keeper, primary teacher, and car-sharer. But what really matters is that I am a daughter of God, and that I fulfill all my roles and responsibilities, whatever they may be, with the honor and dignity that my divine nature requires.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Writing again

It's been over two years since I wrote anything on here. Things are a little different now. Good different, but different enough that I haven't felt like this corner of the world was really needed anymore. I got married to an awesome man, moved to Idaho, went to graduate school, and bought a house. So many things are different.

But recently I've realized that some things are also the same as before. I still love to write. It feeds my soul. I still have thoughts and feelings that I don't know for to express but I need a place to write and reflect on. I'm not sure that this will continue to be that place, but I'm going to give it a try.

Today I need to write about anxiety. I've struggled with it for a long time. Many do. I remember once the counselor I was working with at BYU heard me really about my typical day and said, "that sounds like how a high functioning person tries to cope with depression and anxiety." That hit me hard. I couldn't possibly be dealing with those type of mental struggles- I was very high functioning.

Well, it turns out that a highly structured life can help you cope with mental struggles, and it can also help you hide from them. Structure and external validation can obfuscate the true anxieties that drive behavior. For me, that anxiety centers on insecurities. Within a structured environment, my insecurities are fed by external validation. Remove that environment, and I experience an anxiety so crippling that I often struggle to connect with others and make even simple decisions.

So that's the darker side of the past 18 months of my life. In many respects, things have gone exactly as I planned. And yet in others, I feel so desperately behind.  I have a great marriage, financial stability, and a home.  But I still don't have a master's degree, a prosperous career, or any children.  And much of that is due to prayerful choices.

I think that's what I'm stuck on right now. My life is not successful in the ways I've defined success for so long- the ways that I know deep down are not important, but I can't help focusing on.   Over and over again I've asked for busyness, progression, and achievement.  And over and over again my answers have been to choose the path that is more boring, quiet, and calm. But that path never feels like enough. And now, I'm sick of asking.

I'm tired of wanting success and achievement and being told no every time. So I stopped asking. I determined that I could be just fine with a life that requires less of me.  But in my lack of asking, I now feel a hole, a nagging guilt that there is still something for me to do, I just don't understand it yet. I don't get to give up. But I am so tired of asking.

When I force myself to really think about it, I think I know why I've been diverted so many times. I know that my desires have been for the wrong reasons. I know that I need to learn to find validation vertically instead of horizontally. I know that I need to overcome jealousy and comparing my life with others. I know that I need to confront the roots of anxiety. I know that I need to learn to care for myself and to develop a true sense of self-assuredness, peace, and strength that is rooted in humility. But I know I'm not there yet. I know I'm still asking the wrong questions and banging my head against the wall of frustrating pride. But I also know that my Heavenly Father will never give up on me, and that He has an incredible plan for my life.

So I'll keep trying to figure it out, and I'll ask for the desire to keep asking.