March 25, 2013

The First Great Commandment



Have you ever looked at the members in your ward or the Super Awesome Homeschooling Mommy bloggers and felt as though you haven't measured up?  In the interest of keeping it real, I will admit here and now that I almost always feel like a failure.  Homeschooling-compared to blogs, I feel as though I'm never crafty enough, creative enough, or fun enough.  Housekeeping-I've had to talk w/ people on the porch because my house wasn't clean enough to let them in.  Appearance-there are women at church who actually wear their hair styled in something other than a pony tail, have on cute clothes that managed to escape spit up, and oh my heck! they are wearing stilettos! I want to wear stilettos!

More keeping it real: I have purposefully avoided talking much about the Gospel.  I feel so lost in my spiritual journey and have for several years.  I never wanted to be deceptive about it and preach things that I struggled with myself.  So I stuck to the "homeschooling" aspect of this blog and purposefully avoided the "Latter day Saint" aspect.  Our family was technically inactive most of last year and inactive is a good way to describe how I felt about it all.  Apathetic.  Knowing I ought to be doing better, but knowing that trying was hard and failing made me feel worse.

This year, I resolved to do better, at least with church attendance.  It helped that Church now started at 11:30 instead of 9.  I still had to get myself and three children ready and last all three hours without the help of my husband.  I am happy to report that every week there hasn't been a sick child, we have gone. (Except the time I had a small kitchen fire while trying to make breakfast and then couldn't find my shoes.  I'm pretty sure God will forgive me for that week)

I'm still a pretty big failure though.  Every week, I sit in the foyer and read Believing Christ, the scriptures, or the Charlotte Mason works.  Part of it is that I had one child newly in nursery and one newly in Primary.  It was easier to stay where the teachers could easily find me.  And part of it was because I'd rather be alone in the foyer than feel alone in a room full of people (yes, I know that's my fault).

Anyway, today my mom and sister came to church with me.  They are visiting from out of state.  I couldn't really hide in the foyer with them nor could I send them off to class while I hid by myself.  So off to class we went.  One of the talks in this week's lesson was the one playing above.  It's hard not to fall in love with every talk by Jeffrey R. Holland.

The quote that struck me the most is this: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”

Even with my apathy, this truly describes what I want for my children and myself.  I do want to be a great disciple, but I am just not sure how to go about getting there.  At some point, as I was mulling over the lesson from today, I thought that maybe I should just start with something basic and make it a habit.  What I chose as the first habit was family scripture study.  So everyday for the next month, we will do family scripture study and on my next blog post, I will give everyone an update and maybe even pick a new goal.


Megan is the proud mommy of three sweet children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 3), and Chuck (girl, age 2).  She would like to hear of other women who've had challenges in their life and how they have overcome them, so please, leave lots of comments below :-)

15 comments - Add a comment below -:

Tristan said...

Megan,

I think you've already started. You've been going to church! Yes, you may have spent a lot of time in the building but not in class, but you came and you brought your children. Don't miss those baby steps! You are in the right place and are being blessed for even that simple step.

I'll be praying you find a good groove for family scripture study this month. I know it's challenging with kids from experience. I love the talk from Elder David A. Bednar where he shares what some of this looked like in his home with his boys:

As our sons were growing up, our family did what you have done and what you now do. We had regular family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. Now, I am sure what I am about to describe has never occurred in your home, but it did in ours.

Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.

Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent.

Sister Bednar and I thought helping our sons understand the content of a particular lesson or a specific scripture was the ultimate outcome. But such a result does not occur each time we study or pray or learn together. The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson—a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time.


SO TRUE! There are still days when I've got little ones wrestling, older ones pouting, and middle ones standing on their head as we do some of these gospel habits. But I know that consistency will make more of a difference than I see now. So hang in there!

By the way, the talk is More Diligent and Concerned At Home and its from the Oct. 2009 General Conference, so in the Nov. 2009 Ensign. Here's the link: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/more-diligent-and-concerned-at-home?lang=eng&query=family+home+evening+(name%3a"David+A.+Bednar")

Andrea said...

Megan,

Thanks for your honesty. I think we as sisters in Zion need to be more honest with each other about our struggles so that we can help each other more, lift each other higher, and develop more compassion. If you were to do a survey in your ward (or among the women who read and write for this blog) I bet you'd be surprised at how many had gone through periods of inactivity. I sure have.

What makes the most difference for me is reading my scriptures. It is so hard to make the time. Reading the scriptures with my children was just written down on the top of my priority list . . . again. I think I'll check in with you again next month and tell you how I did.

Keep on keeping on! None of us are as perfect as we'd like to be. My motto, that I say to myself numerous times each day, is "You are a daughter of God and His grace is sufficient for you." It helps.

Kevin Gibson said...

This might sound like a broken record, but the honesty is refreshing. Yes we do need to hear/be reminded about what we are striving for (which you did) but also a realistic look at our imperfections.

Also bully on your return from inactivity. We're all in this together and all our journeys have similar threads.

Holly said...

I like your honesty and self awareness.
You know what? I'm the Primary president in my ward and most weeks all I want to do is stay home and hide under the bed. I completely understand how hard it is to go to church. But, every Sunday when I finally get home, I realize that I feel good. I feel like I accomplished some good in the world and the Lord was helping me.
You can do this! It's great to pick just one thing and really work on that. No need to try to do it all at once.

Tiffany said...

I don't think overcoming is a destination, I think it is a verb, something we do constantly. Here is a link to one of my posts that your post brought to my memory. I think you will see that so many of us struggle with the same things.
http://lovelaughinspire.blogspot.com/2012/05/warning-this-may-be-little-on-personal.html

Anonymous said...

I have to be careful how I word this because in writing I can sometimes sound pompous and self-righteous. I do not mean it in that way.
I read so many blogs where women talk about "failing". When I read that I always think that I have never heard anyone in General Conference tell anyone that they are failing. I end with the quote from President Hinckley--Try a little harder to be a little better. That's what you are doing.

Marilyn said...

I agree. Doing one thing _more_ than you FEEL like doing is great progress! And doing it, in spite of feeling like NOT doing it, shows God you are trying, and He immediately blesses you for it! I have felt this so many time. Like Holly said, it's usually AFTER I've done something hard or something I didn't want to do, that I realize, Hey, I feel better and I'm glad I did it!

Erin said...

Thank you so much for your honesty. I needed to read this today. You've inspired me to be better and be nicer to myself.

Birrd said...

Megan, ever since I've been reading this blog (a year and a half maybe) I have thought that you were clever, creative, and awesome. And I'm still sure you are. We are all eager to put our best faces forward on the internet and then we look at everyone else's best faces and feel like we don't measure up. Then when someone is bold enough, like you just were, to be refreshingly honest and open about the struggles and challenges we ALL have, we are all relieved and grateful that we are not alone in our struggles. Thank you for being you and for sharing it with us.

Heather@Women in the Scriptures said...

Way to go! I think it is important to remember that one of the biggest steps is desire. You have the desire and your children and your heavenly father will see that. Best wishes. And i would bet you 100 dollars there is another woman in your ward who is feeling all alone too, maybe you will find eachother!

Heather@Women in the Scriptures said...

Way to go! I think it is important to remember that one of the mst imprtant things to have is a desire, a desire to be closer to christ. And you have that! Your kids and your heavenly father will see that.

Best wishes! Oh, and i will bet you $100 that there is another woman feeling alone too, maybe you will find eachother!

Los Industriosos said...

I think we all have times when we feel like everyone else is perfect and we are not or when we see other mommy blogs and feel like we do not measure up. Lately I have changed my attitude and realized how wonderful it is to have so many good people in the world spreading truth and happiness. I don't feel jealous or like I don't measure up when I have a thankful heart. I am grateful that other moms are striving to raise righteous children. We all have different "bests" and different strengths, but the world is so much better because of all of those "perfect" people in it! I think that gratitude helps in so many aspects of life - from going to church to reading scriptures. Feeling grateful that I have the gospel really helps me get to church and feeling grateful for the scriptures really helps me to read them even when I don't "feel" like it. When I feel grateful for things, everything is easier for me and my insecurities diminish. Also - here is my secret for getting my kids ready for church We go at 9). I bathe them Saturday night and have them sleep in their church clothes with the shoes by the door. The girls love sleeping in their dresses!! (Dresses that don't wrinkle are best).

Poison Dart said...

Thank you for this post. You are not alone. One thing that we've started recently is what my son calls our "Good Family Jar". Every time we do one of our goals (FHE, family scripture study, family prayer), we put a bean in the jar. When it is full, we reward ourselves with something (ice cream, family outting, weekend trip)...whatever you want it to be. The bigger the jar, the bigger the reward cause it takes longer to accomplish. Hope that helps! And never stop trying. :-)

mae519 said...

The best advice I can give is that falling behind or faltering in a goal is not failure (I tell this to myself all the time), only when you have given up can it be said. So, keep picking yourself up and trying again...the beautiful thing about the gospel is that each time we make a good choice, we are led to make another and then another...it is truly line upon line. You might not see those results right away (I never do), but you will one day look back and be amazed at how much you (and your family) have grown!!

Anonymous said...

Recently I read somewhere ( wish I could tell you exactly either the Ensign or another lds site) about a woman who watched another lady all the time and thought that lady had everything going for her. She had a clean house, and was always dressed nicely. It wasn't until at her funeral did she find out that this lady struggled with depression and now she left little kids and a husband behind.
This hit me personally like a rock. Because I wonder how many times I see the outward appearance but I am not listening to the hidden things they are not saying. I know that there are times that I will meet people that seem to have their lives 100% in order and so I feel inadequate to be their close friend, but realality is that they just might need my friendship as much as I need theirs. I have gone through trials that not all others have but I have meet others that have needed help going through those same type of trials and I have been able to help them. Although they are not the exact same they are so similar that my knowledge is helpful. But helping them helps me as much. We are hear to help each othe enjoy life to the end.
The other thing that I recently realize like a brick thrown to my head is that my kids have no idea that our art project or craft or whatever else we are working on, wasn't as great as someone else's idea. All they know is the joy they felt doing it. They don't know that the neighbor kid had a better volcano blowing up experience, but that our volcano blew up all over the table and everyone giggled. It is the small things that bring great joy.
We do not fail unless we give up trying. But instead we readjust our thinking and our daily activities to better fit our families needs. I am thankful when people are so honest that they we can take a look at our lives and say yep I need to do better at that too!
Thanks for your post and for another insight into another moms mind. I only wish you and your family the best.
-Jenny