(Written June 16, 2014)
Monday night we had a family home evening lesson...on patience.
Taylor, who is now home from his mission to Guatemala, shared some thoughts he had, and distributed gifts & souvenirs that he brought back for us.
It has been such a sweet blessing to have all of the siblings together. Especially as we will only get to be together like this for a short while. And Taylor, especially, has brought a light with him back home. He is always happy. He is always smiling. He is always determined. He's always thoughtful of others & pays serious attention to the kids - as if they're the most important people around. It's the same Taylor we sent away on his mission, but now he's grown, and he still inspires all of us to grow.
As Taylor was sharing his message, he mentioned that each week he focuses on a different topic to improve on. Basically if you focus on everything you ever need to work on at once, you're going to fail, but if you focus on one at a time, you can make improvements that last. That week he had been working on Faith. This week he was going to focus on Hope. All too often I pat myself on the back just for simply reading scriptures at all - it's quite an ordeal to round up squirmy kids and get a prayer in in the morning, and before bed, and teach a spiritual thought each day. It takes so much energy just to keep going thru the motions that in my mommy phase, I had never considered rotating gospel principles each week as a main focus ON TOP OF our usual spiritual goals of JUST DOING IT. However, at the same time that he shared this, I felt inside that he was sharing his SECRET - the reason he is so happy. His heart is in the right place. He is always striving to draw himself nearer to God, and he is using effective methods.
We all decided to try to be more like Taylor, and as a family we decided to study the same topic together this week: PATIENCE. It felt like the right thing. It felt like a good thing. It felt like we were going to instantly feel more spiritual and have a wonderful experience. Now that we were all going to have a laser focus on practicing patience, then we'd all live in peace and harmony, right? It was going to be like Heaven.
Well, God had another plan for me.
This week was not easy. Don't worry - I was actually pretty patient. A few times I consciously reminded myself to be more patient, but I didn't have to deal with any major temper tantrums from the kids like I imagined. But what I did end up having to experience was being the one who desperately needed others to demonstrate patience on MY behalf!
So Monday night, we had the lesson on patience. THEN.....
1) Tuesday, I woke up to an early morning phone call. The previous day when I left work, I left one task undone. That usually wouldn't have been a problem. However, there were about 3 other pieces to the puzzle and mistakes of omission that caused a potentially major company issue. Had I worked anywhere else besides a family business, this particular mistake would have cost me my job.... Fortunately by the end of the day it was corrected, but I still felt terrible for inadvertently causing my mom major stress and for giving her the need to be patient with me.
2) After work one day this week, I was supposed to follow Mitch home. I decided to make a quick detour and visit a friend in the hospital. When I called Mitch to tell him, he didn't answer the phone. So I called the home phone. Nothing. I called the cell phone. Nothing. I called the home phone again. *UGH!* In my head I thought, "Well, if he wants to know where I am, he's just going to have to or call me back." So I went to the hospital, but while I was there, my phone was on silent and I didn't realize he was trying to call me back. He was genuinely worried about me by the time I got home. Once again, I caused someone else the need to have patience with me. Then I realized WHY he hadn't answered when I called, and I felt EVEN WORSE. He and the boys had been outside washing my car to SURPRISE ME, and they couldn't hear the phones ringing inside. I realized that if I had had more patience with them not answering the phone - had I even left a message or a text to tell him where I was, they wouldn't have had the need to practice having patience because of me.
With TWO major whammies in a row, I was ready to quit studying patience.
But it got worse.
3) I am trying to help throw a party for a friend. SHE is VERY nice. However, when we coordinated this week, even though she didn't say anything negative whatsoever, and even though the point of trying to help her with this party is so that she can sit back and relax, I'm still pretty sure that with all my good intentions, I am still causing her the need to have patience with me, because we work differently. Luckily for me she's kind & she's still my friend, and I know that she knows that if I am stressing her out I am not doing it intentionally. But I still feel badly!
4) I had a hair-brained idea to re-do the music video we made for our wedding as a fun & sentimental way to celebrate our 10th anniversary this year. Of course that meant there were 10 adults involved & despite everything else going on...I had to coordinate ALL of their schedules in order to make it happen. Have you ever tried to coordinate 3 or 4 schedules for visiting teaching or for lunch? Sometimes it's a nightmare, right? That's nothing in comparison to this. Getting 10 schedules to align was NOT easy. In the mix of it all, one person was in charge of putting up flags for Flag Day with the Boy Scouts immediately before we met up, another only gets so many Saturdays off & had to take it off of work, another cancelled & rescheduled reservations & vacation plans to make it work, another is leaving for 2 years so it was now or never for them, another had a commitment to do service for a friend that morning, and the videographer could only do it in the morning, but nothing was able to be finalized until a couple days before. So of course it went awry, and of course there were conflicts with the only time we were able to film the music video! Fortunately for me they all ended up being supportive & flexible to help make something that was important to me and Mitch happen, but none of that happened without a lesson in patience first - once again WITHOUT EVEN TRYING to be difficult, I was the cause for someone else to have to have patience.
I wanted to say, "Stick a fork in me, I'm done!"
No more "patience" lessons, because I'm sick of feeling like a living hurricane, thoughtlessly destroying everything in my path!
5) I had one day off, and then I had yet another awkward moment where a previous fault or weakness of mine was pointed out by another. Sometimes when this particular subject comes up, I just wish that people would try to look at what's good in me instead of what's not perfect, yet. I happen to be a perfectionist, which means that day after day I stare at what's wrong with myself, and just like everyone else, I have to fight discouragement all the time. I'm not perfect and I know it. I'm more acutely aware of my own imperfections than anyone else is. That's how it is for all of us, right? So thru this experience, I once again realized how important it is to cut each other some slack & try to focus on everything else BESIDES the one thing you can't stand about each other.
Another lesson in patience the painful way.
I know this isn't true, but in some ways I think it might would feel better to purposely cause other people grief, because then I would have a REASON to feel down in the dumps. Especially when you are TRYING to keep people happy, and are innately a person who worries about how others feel (I'm a BLUE - I'm an "empath" - it's my trait), then you purposely try to look at the world through other people's shoes and not step on their toes. So THEN when you step on another's toes anyway, even though you didn't even try for that to happen, then you feel like even more of a failure because you do care about the people around you but you let them down anyway. That's when you're tempted to think, "I don't even have to TRY to be a loser - I just am." But those kinds of thoughts and feelings really are lies & you can't focus on them.
The whole week felt PAINFUL as my eyes were opened to the REASONS we need to have patience with others. I learned how to have PATIENCE IN REVERSE. Time and time again I felt the cringes of my unintentional mistakes causing others grief, and each time in my heart all I wanted was for them to understand where I was coming from, to give me the benefit of the doubt, and for them to forgive me. Because I felt that way every single day this week, I felt like God was opening my eyes to how others might feel when they do similar things to me - just because someone inconvenienced me doesn't mean that they did it intentionally. I want to be the first to give them the benefit of the doubt - to believe that any grief they caused me was not intended - I need to be the first to be kind and flexible and do whatever I can to help them not feel like a loser. That's my goal. It's so crazy, because I generally have viewed myself as a patient person, but until this week, I have never truly considered how often I may cause others to have patience.
Now the greatest lesson of all came from my Dad.
Apparently we must be alike, because his experience this week was almost exactly like mine. He reminded me that we need to be patient with ourselves.
That's what the Lord would have us do. Be patient with others, and be patient with yourself. Look for the good in others, and look for the good in yourself. Jesus Christ himself saw enough good in all of us - in mankind as a whole, and in every single one of us as individuals, that He sacrificed Himself so that we could be with HIM - and He's perfect. We must have hope. We must have patience. We must have long-suffering, and brotherly kindness. We must be patient as we improve ourselves & wait for the "perfect" day....