Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

That Time I was Mad at God

This post is for my friend. It’s taken some time to write because I needed time to think about it and then forgot to come back and write it. I never forgot about her question, just never at a place to sit down and share my thoughts.

There once was a time that I was so mad at God at how my life was turning out. I felt so guilty for being mad at Him, so I’d berate myself constantly. God doesn’t do anything wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done everything I needed to with the resources he gave me. I’d attended all my meetings, I’d fulfilled my callings, I’d kept his commandments. And still things weren’t going my way; instead they were getting much much worse. Almost daily. Family relations were tight. Finances were tight. I kept getting sick.  Nothing seemed to be going right. And I was exhausted.Finally, one day I just gave up. I went for a run to clear my head and the whole time I mentally screamed at God. Full on chewed him out. Told him repeatedly it wasn’t fair and how dare He and that he must not love me at all. Seriously. Stuff we’d be furious our kids said to us. But that’s how I felt. I then sobbingly told him everything I felt was unfair (the perks to running in a small  town: no one sees you bawling in the middle of your run). Just let it all out. And let the shame of my anger go with it. It seemed so shameful to chew out Deity. I wasn’t allowed to chew out my parents, and this was GOD! Totally inappropriate, right?

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Actually, I don’t think it was. Here’s why.

When I had finally calmed down and just bawled while I ran and got it all out, I had a perfect thought pop into my head.

“I am so glad you finally got that all out. Now we can talk.”

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God doesn’t need shame. Me chewing him out doesn’t make Him less of a deity. In fact, I felt such peace and serenity after getting it all out, like I could finally accept Him as deity. It felt like God was saying “I’m so  glad you finally decided to come to me so we can talk about this! I’ve been waiting. I know you’ve been feeling like life isn’t fair. I’m so sorry you’re hurting so badly. But I can’t help you until you’re ready. I’m so glad you’re finally ready to be with me again. I miss you when you distance yourself.” God loves me so much, he just needed me to come to him with how I really felt. But I was so embarrassed that I was mad at God that I distanced myself from Him. Not openly, but emotionally. Shame kept me from coming to God with my frustrations.

What an amazing parent! To rejoice in my anger because it could bring me back to Him. I learned a lot about shame that day. And parenting. And love. And God. He and I still have some trust issues to work out, I’m not denying that. But He’s waiting for me. When I’m ready, we’ll be there together.

So to discuss gratitude: Sometimes we’re not grateful for things. And that’s totally okay. I don’t think we should fake gratitude. It’s like hiding in shame. Instead, find that one good silver thread. Be grateful for that. That’s all you have to be grateful for. Otherwise, let yourself be angry! You don’t have to be grateful for anything you’re not feeling. As long as you do feel it. And if you can’t find a silver thread, that’s okay, too. Just be honest with yourself and with God. Some day, that gratitude will come. It doesn’t have to be today. Just let it teach you.

 

A Day in the Life

Winter Wonderland

One of the things Pretty much the ONLY thing I love about winter is when it’s foggy-frosty and the trees get all covered in white. We’ve had a perfect pick-me-up of frosty trees lately to make me feel better about all of the sickies going around in our house (It’s been a long week. Ranger’s putting up a good fight, but we’ll see how much longer he stays in the “okay health” range). I wish photos could capture it. Or at least I wish MY photos could capture it.

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There has been gorgeous fog, too. It makes the mountains seem like they’re separated from the earth (once again, sorry the pic’s not any good. I was being incredibly naughty and snapped this while I was driving and in a hurry. To protect privacy, I had to mutilate the photo. And I wasn’t about to risk it more than once…).
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A Day in the Life

Tannenbaum Take Deux

How’s that for a mixed language title.

So I broke down and put up the other tree. And I’m happy I did. I stole some ornaments from the front tree and moved them to the back and both look much better. I also managed to use up every ornament and I’m happy about that, too! Why do I have so many ornaments!? Oh yeah, it’s because I hate decorating the tree the exact same way twice.

Here’s our old tree, now in the kitchen. It makes the house super festive even without too much decor.

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Who knew red and purple made such a cute Christmas tree? I strung colored lights to help with the dead spot. You can still see the dead, but at least there’s a twinkle there now. And I’ve never had a tree with colored lights since I’ve had my own tree. It is whimsical. I think it only works because the ornaments are red and gold and purple.

I stole all the red ornaments off the front tree and loaded it with more blue instead, and I’m much happier with it now. The red was just too much. But with only one tree, the red had memories I didn’t want to leave off. With 2 trees I could just divide the memories. Problem solved.

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(okay, there is still one red on the front tree, but I decided it needed to be there. Too special of memories).

Gratitude Dare

Day 30: Thank YOU

Well, we’ve made it. You’re at day 30. Aren’t you impressed with yourself? As you’ve guessed, yesterday was a doosey for me; but honestly, after so long, I’m still chugging. This challenge has been such a blessing to me.

dareToday, our challenge is to thank ourselves. How often do we do that? I think most people see all their flaws and have such a generally negative attitude about themselves. The world is starting to address that issue, but is only scratching the surface.

In writing out all of my feelings yesterday, I find it funny how much I’ve learned about today’s challenge. In the extreme thick of things, I was so upset about not getting pregnant that I was actually subconsciously rejecting my womanhood and femininity, which was a huge disservice to myself! It was really throwing things out of whack, right down to my hormones. I’m serious, I consciously wasn’t doing it (because logically that would be ridiculous, and I was quite happy with the divinity of womanhood), but subconsciously, I was basically telling myself that if I couldn’t have babies, I didn’t deserve to be female. Big stuff. When I finally put that piece into place and realized what lies I was telling myself, I spent time falling in love with being a woman again, and it has taught me so much. Women are amazing, and I am proud to be one. But that isn’t enough!

I am amazing not just because I am a woman! Not just because I am a daughter of God. I am amazing because of all the things I do that I never expect credit for. I am amazing because no one else is like me. Do you know how much one-of-a-kind items are worth? And I’m worth more than even they. And so is every other person in this world.

There have been studies showing that people are much more likely to keep a good habit if they are recognized for them. They will be much more generous if they have received gratitude some time in the past. Do you realize the potential, therefore, in thanking yourself? Think of all the skills and habits you could master! I think we beat ourselves up for negative habits and never thank ourselves, ever. What a backwards concept, if you really think about it. How do you feel when someone else is always nagging? Then why are you doing it to yourself!?! It’s such a detrimental, yet overlooked thing. I know I’m guilty of it.

In truth, we should thank ourselves for everything we do for ourselves.

Thank you for showering today.

Thank you for getting dressed.

Thank you for looking at the mirror and finding beauty.

Thank you for doing your hair/makeup; You’re beautiful without it, but putting effort in yourself is valuable.

Thank you for eating breakfast/ lunch/ dinner; Giving yourself nutrients is very important.

Thank you for using the stairs instead of the elevator.

Thank you for cleaning the house, I like living in a clean environment.

Thank you for doing the basic things that keep us and our lives running smoothly.

There are really a million things we’d be grateful if someone else did for us (even showering. If you doubt me ask my 85-year-old grandmother). Yet we’re not thankful to ourselves for the same simple acts of kindness.

Let’s put it to the test. See how much happier you are at the end of the day after you’ve listened to mental thank you’s all day!

Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

Day 29: Waiting.

[warning]Warning: This post is two days after it should have been written and it’s still emotionally triggering.[/warning]

Major confession: This is the challenge that is the toughest for me. If something is good, why do I have to wait for it? The only answer I have is Garth Brooks’ Unanswered Prayers.

(sorry for the TV show playing with it. It’s the best vid I could find on Youtube) My dad was a thorough Garth Brooks fan; had all the CD’s (or tapes; some of them were tapes). I heard this song throughout my entire childhood. Still doesn’t mean it’s easy though.

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And I know people always say you’ll value it more because you have to wait for it. I am willing to say that that might be true. But it’s still not a comfort when you have to wait.

I was hoping from the get-go that by building up to this for a month, I’d have some answers, but I don’t. I researched it to find answers, but the truth is, I really don’t know. I’m sure it’s pride getting in the way of not knowing and not wanting to accept, and I’ll work on that; But I still just don’t know.

Ready for a secret? We’ve been trying to have a baby for two and a half years. At first it was just the “whatever happens, happens.” But with an already-mature 7 (now eight, and eventually 9-year-old), we didn’t want to stay in that phase too long. The gap is forever growing; and it’s growing rapidly.

And I don’t talk about it because it’s too raw. So very raw. There have been miscarriages, there have been months I was convinced it’d finally happen. And here I am, Nursery leader and baby-less. Sometimes I think I’m finally over it and moved on and then something will happen and I’m thrown right back into it, and it’ll prove how so un-over it I really am. And then I’ll spend countless days trying to figure out why I am still so stuck in the same place. I’m not the type to want pity, though; that doesn’t work for me. That’s yet another reason I don’t talk about it.

Pity is so inadequate when your sister calls you Christmas morning and tells you that your Christmas present is that she gets to hold a new baby soon. And that it’s due on your birthday.  Or all of the times your sister calls to brag about her expanding abdomen. Or the incredible loss and shame when that same sister calls and tells you that the baby you’ve been dreading isn’t going to live in this world and knowing that even though you struggled with your feelings, you never wanted that. Or holding your sister’s hand while she buries the baby she rubbed in your face. And then there’s all of the times she needs your shoulder to cry on because she doesn’t have a baby to hold and you just wish you had the guts to lose it and scream at her that at least it was only one! At least she was barely trying. At least she got to see and hold and caress a body! At least, at least, at least. But you know that wont help. And that even though she is naive, she doesn’t deserve that. No one deserves that. But no one deserves the hurt I’ve had to face, either. And she needs you, and you’re the protector. So you just take it.

Pity doesn’t cover the fact that your ex has had two babies all in the time you’ve been trying.  And that both he and your ex-best-friend he’s currently married to have complained about having so many kids… Before these two were even conceived. It doesn’t help the agony of knowing that they get pregnant with oops babies they don’t even want and you’re begging for a family that isn’t coming. The first one really got to me. I at least had my head on a little better by the time they announced the second one. Wherein they told my daughter (remember, she’s 8), they didn’t even want it, and that it was a surprise.

Or all of the people advising you on how awesome babies are, in case you were needing encouragement.

Or realizing that some of the sunbeams you are watching were born during the countless months you were trying, and miscarrying, and still trying. Or the hours bawling that they’d even call you to nursery! And as the baby-quilt maker for the ward. At the same time.

People mourned with my sister. And I’m glad they did. But no one mourns with me. No one sees my grief. My best friends both know how much I want it, but both admit they can’t really understand. At least they listen. At least they are there for me, but no one else even knows. Because the pain is too real to tell anyone. Not even my mother knows. Well, she knows enough that we never talk about it and pretend the elephant in the room doesn’t exist, but otherwise, she doesn’t know.

I’ve had blessing after blessing where the Lord says he’s so grateful for my desire to be a mother. One time, the person blessing me didn’t even know my heart, started bawling through the blessing and told me that my body would heal itself and I’d be able to bear children. That was a year and a half ago.

And there’s countless conference talks about waiting patiently. President Eyering even gave one recently on having to wait for a baby. I’ve read the talk countless times, begged for everything I could think of, and I’m still here, wondering what my mission in life really is.

And then there’s my husband. At first I think he just wanted a baby because I wanted one. But now… His level of sorrow is just as intense as mine. Mostly more than mine, as now I’m mostly numb.

And I’ve got all of this added burden because sometimes, after years of heartbreak every month, I wonder if it’s all worth it. 9 years is a big gap. And I’m not used to babies any more. And I enjoy my free time. And even though women my age have babies all the time, I feel so OLD. But I feel so guilty for those thoughts creeping in; something I’ve wanted for so long and now I don’t? It’s such a complicated place to be. I don’t even really know if I don’t, but the tears currently streaming down my face could testify to the fact that most of this paragraph is a lie I’ve been telling myself to make it okay. To make two years worth of hidden battles I’ve faced somehow be okay. Even wanted.

That’s why I have no advice on being grateful for the chance to wait. Some day, I’ll change this day’s answer in the Gratitude Dare. But for now… for now this is what I’ve got.

Gratitude Dare

Day 28: Imperfections

I touched on this earlier. Our strengths are our greatest weaknesses and our weaknesses can be our greatest strengths. Do you believe that?

dareI love how Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 12. Over and over he states that God gives us weaknesses in order for us to triumph over them. He allows us to feel the joy and exhilaration of accomplishing something, perfecting ourselves and coming to him. He allows us to create ourselves. If we were already perfected, we would have no need to grow and we would not feel the immense triumph from overcoming an obstacle.

And what if everyone were perfect? Well, certainly we would not need one another. We would all stick to ourselves and never communicate. That defeats a main purpose of mortality: Family. Also, I love that part of economics class when they talk about trade and specialization.  It fascinates me that by working together with someone, everyone can have a higher and more rewarding production possibility. And that’s not to mention the benefits of social interaction and human touch.

But that’s not all. Weaknesses remind us of our Savior and all he does for us. Weaknesses help us look to the Creator of our souls. Weaknesses create a father-child bond that could otherwise be unattainable. What would happen if babies came with all the skills they ever needed? What if from the day they were born, they could move out and go to college? Think of that roughly 18-year gap you’d lose out on! Sometimes that sounds just fine to me, but mostly, I’d miss that happy smile. I’d miss the love and bonds we share over an intense game of Sorry!.  I’d miss  the opportunity to learn and grow from being a parent. And my daughter would miss that and more. She’d miss the feeling of someone watching out for her, and the feeling of safety. Learning would be much harder. She’d never have a connection with me. The same is true of us and our Heavenly Father. Our weaknesses give us a chance to come to him.

And that’s all speaking in a general term. Our specific weaknesses have the potential to become our greatest strengths. Because we see that they need work, and we focus on them. I think of Heber J. Grant and his determination to overcome his weaknesses. He was often ridiculed for having chicken scratch for handwriting; so he worked and worked at it. Eventually, people hired him for his beautiful calligraphy. But he didn’t stop there. He applied the same determination to singing and sports. His weaknesses provided all kinds of blessings in his life. I can only imagine the tests he passed that no one saw.

A Day in the Life, Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

Day 27: Negatives

Let me tell you about my night. My husband hit a deer. At midnight. I think my challenge is teaching me hard-core today. The interesting thing is, instead of getting frustrated, my thoughts sound like this:

Thank heavens that the “commuter” car needed repaired, or he would have taken it and this would have been much worse.

We just checked on our insurance. That’s interesting.

Ranger wanted new lights anyway.

I’m so glad he was in enough control to not swerve to avoid the deer. Swerving creates so many more problems. I’m grateful he had his wits about him.

We’re so lucky the airbags didn’t go off.

At least I didn’t buy the new headlights for Christmas, yet.

Any more to the front and it would have been serious damage. Any more to the side and it would have caused way more problems.

It’s nice to have good insurance.

Thank heavens deer collisions count as incidents and not accidents, so our rates wont increase.

Naturally, I’m grateful he’s up and walking around. Probably a little stiff today, and his nerves are probably on edge, and I understand that. But I’m so glad he’s not unconscious on a road somewhere.  And let’s not even get into anything worse.

OuchAt first, Ranger was pretty frustrated and “why did this have to happen,” and I can see his point of view extremely well. I’m selfishly glad it was him and not me. It’s his “baby” as far as cars go. But so much has come up the past 48 hrs that could have come up any other time, so if he was really supposed to avoid the deer, he would have.  Maybe it was to teach me about being grateful for the negatives. Who really knows. But I can say that if we were supposed to hit a deer, this was probably the best possible way to do it.

That is all finding the silver lining. That was a previous challenge. But being downright grateful for the negatives like today’s challenge is ironically in place for (Yes, I mean situationally ironic; or cosmically ironic, you choose…  Grammar Nazi still resides in my head)? It is a bit tougher but still quite doable.

dareInterestingly enough, after working on gratitude and charity all month, it’s pretty easy to be grateful for the negatives. Here’s why: When you’re more focused on gratitude, you’re willing to look past yourself. You’re willing to trust that the higher power knows what he’s doing, that there is a force stronger than yourself that has watched over every step you’ve taken and won’t set you up for a fall that you can’t rise higher from. When you’ve spent all month working on gratitude, it’s even possible to see potential outcomes. This may take care of some problem in the vehicle that we were currently unaware of, or might have saved us from some bigger woe. Who knows. I’m not far enough away from the life event to see anything in focus, but I can see that this was not just some fluke in life. There are blessings I can’t see yet.

And then there’s the other vehicle. Finding out that it needed to stay home for repairs was a pretty big bummer. But look what a blessing it is now with a little more perspective. It had a lower profile and a curvier front end. It wasn’t as highly insured. It has less-responsive breaks. The list is pretty intense.

Needless to say, instead of teaching gratitude, today, life taught me.

Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

Day 26: Problem Solving

**Sorry this took so long. I got distracted with my map…**

dareIn my family of origin, I was the problem solver. When philosophers discuss how our strengths are also our biggest weaknesses, their discussion holds true in this personal strength. I was so good at problem solving I solved problems that weren’t mine. In recent  years, within my search for “seven,” I’ve learned to let that go; but  I still have to walk a fine line in problem solving. Sometimes I forget that I’ve still got to solve my problems myself instead of expecting them to be solved for me. I also forget that some problems aren’t mine. Interestingly enough, we just had this discussion with our daughter yesterday. We talked about how sometimes God has an answer that he wants you to find and that we need to come to him for help and guidance, because he can see more than we can. Sometimes, however, like with Mohonri Moriancumer (The Brother of Jared), Heavenly Father wants us to come to him with a solution. Today is devoted to recognizing the difference between our problems and someone else’s. It is also devoted to coming up with our own solutions.

First of all, we must weed out the problems that aren’t ours. While I was processing this concept, it got so complicated in my head, I drew a “map.” Then I showed it to my friend and she was so distracted by the boxes and the arrows, that for her I made it more complicated. Sorry if you fall into the latter category. If you do, create a nice  boring outline and work with that. ;c)

How you solve the problem depends on what the problem was. If there was one cut and dry solution to every problem, it’d sure make life easier, but since we’re here to gain experience, I can be grateful that there isn’t. Let me know how it goes. 🙂