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I Am... Mama and Writer

First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Comparing

The following is one of my more recentl Lessons of Life.  I hope you enjoy it!

I know we’re told in diverse places and innumerable ways, including over the pulpit, that we should not compare ourselves to others. Elder Holland does not use the word ‘compare,’ or any of its forms, in the following quote, which I LOVE, but the message to avoid comparing seems implied me, “Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies.. I am convinced the commandment not to covet is meant to keep us from hurting ourselves… Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, ‘robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.’ May we encourage each other in our effort to win that prize is my earnest prayer..”

Even though I know the words in this quote are truth, yet I believe that the Spirit has taught me how we can use comparison as a tool to our benefit both today temporally and for our everlasting eternal salvation. Nephi tells us, “and liken them [the scriptures] unto yourselves, that ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom ye have been broken off; (1Nephi 19: 24).” To ‘liken’ is a way of making comparison, so I like to consider that as a sort of scriptural confirmation of the lesson I’ve received via the Spirit about comparing, even though I acknowledge that Nephi was referring to the scriptures and not necessarily others’ lives.

To illustrate:

My Mom helped Jessie and me we moved to Florida. She wanted to visit the Orlando temple since we were so close and she’d never been. So we made the trip, four hours back and forth. My youngest (second daughter) at the time was just barely more than 3 weeks old. So I couldn’t be away from her for very long at all, much less two hours. Instead my Mom and I simply went into the temple and sat in the waiting area beyond the entrance desk. I was IN the temple within a week of moving to Florida.
By the end of our first month in Florida, a beautiful young woman, Sister Sokoloff, was called to be a Relief Society teacher. She was NEWLY married, hubby was a member, had no children, had a job, and her life looked gloriously unencumbered to me. Her life was unencumbered as I compared my life with hers. My life consisted of: non-member hubby, 2 children (one a very new newborn), boxes to unpack, a new home to figure out, etc. The first time Lynn taught, she made mention of the fact that she made a point of getting to the temple once a month because we were so very close at only two hours one-way.

My heart felt to expand within me as I groped inwardly toward a hope that maybe I could make a monthly temple trip work, too. Almost immediately the deceiver’s team was at work in me and I was convinced of the complexity of my life and the fact that it would be impossible to make monthly temple trips work with my family. I felt let down and sad, but reasoned that I needed to accept the difficulties of my life and move on from there.

It was probably exactly a month from that first lesson that Sister Sokoloff taught again. Once more she mentioned her monthly temple trips. Once more I felt the expansion within and following quickly upon it the “argument” that I couldn’t possibly make it work. But this time the something that had expanded within me was stronger, I think, and suggested – totally non-argumentatively – that I could try to get to the temple THAT month, in which case I would have been two months in a row… and then I could just try to do it month by month and try for a year.
That was more than 4 years ago. It hasn’t been easy to get to the temple every month. That first May I didn’t get to the temple until the 31st. And when we did go, Jess was at work and I was with the girls. We took a picnic, at it on the grounds, used the bathrooms and left. We WENT to the temple, though, and since my goal has always been to impress upon my girls the reality and importance of the temple, above all, just GETTING there was an accomplishment that month because the deceiver was working on us overtime. I’m sure the reason is that May would have been 6 months of Florida temple trips… a rather big accomplishment for me and if he could’ve tripped me up then, I may have given up entirely!

I have attended the temple faithfully, and monthly, since. What’s more, my non-member hubby has accompanied me once a month to make it possible for our children to attend the temple once each month, too. Since we moved a little closer to the temple in May 2010, I felt prompted that we should increase our attendance.

If you have no experience of being the member in a part-member family, I cannot describe to you how difficult it is sometimes for me to suggest greater effort for MY faith on my husband’s part. I finally did. I asked Jessie if we could change the temple goal to going two times a month, once a quarter, and continue once monthly the rest of the year. He said “sure,” but in a way that didn’t sound pleased to me. Since my husband doesn’t say much, I’m left to figure him out on my own. I didn’t feel courageous enough to pursue the request beyond that. So, we simply continued our monthly trips in May, June, July, August, and September.

October rolled around and my Mom came to visit. Jess, the girls, and I had already been to the temple for our monthly trip. My Mom expressed a desire to do an endowment session with me and I asked Jess if we could. He was cool with it and really excited to show what adventures he and the girls romp on while I’m in the temple. So, we went to the temple twice in October. It was wonderful! November came and we went to the temple in the first week, after which I felt pressure within to ask my hubby if we could go again for November and try to go twice in December, too, to sort of “pay back” my/our goal for the year… or, in other words, catch up on the trips we’d missed. He said sure. But this time it felt like he was really okay with it… OR, maybe I just wanted it more so I made sure to follow up on the agreed upon request. I don’t know which, really. But we did it. So, since we moved in to our new home during the second quarter of the year, we met the goal I’d asked him if we could set for 2010!!!

Because we’ll have a new baby in March 2011, I asked Jess if we could make two family temple trips in January and then not worry about another ‘double month’ until the end of the second quarter (June). So, we went the first week of this month, January 2011. I went alone the next week (last week). And we went as a family again yesterday. Next week I’m going to go alone again… for a good reason. I asked him to allow me a personal goal of weekly temple trips until the baby is born. In combination with some nutrition changes from previous pregnancies, I’m hoping and expecting that the added store of spiritual strength, acquired through my more than normal temple attendance, will enable me to enjoy my postpartum period with NO postpartum depression. This is a pretty extreme expectation on my part because it would be a first given that I experience severe PPD for at least 7 months after #1, 5 months after baby #2, and 3 months after baby #3. Since the severity of my experiences have decreased by two months each time, down to 3 months of PPD after my last baby’s birth, I feel confident that Father God is working out a miracle in my body. And if you know anything about the science surrounding postpartum depression, you know what a God-thing the decreasing experience of PPD for me is!
 
The point of all this is NOT bragging rights. That’s what so many people misunderstand about me. My point to all of this is #1 the only reason I attempted to make these sorts of goals in the first place is because I compared myself to someone else and upon the second comparison chose INSPIRATION over desperation! That’s the lesson of the Spirit on Comparing, in my understanding. We are meant to use comparison as a tool of INSPIRATION rather than DESPERATION. And that when we do so, led by the Spirit, we will increase in knowledge, wisdom, understanding, spirituality, and all the other Good Gifts administered by same. There are any number of other experiences that have been inspired by comparing, too! It’s a valuable tool in the Spirit’s tool box of improving us, I believe. My #2 point is: If I can do it… ANYone can do it! I mean, look at me, look at my life, if I, TORI, can make this kind of thing work (any of the good things in my life!), anyone else can, too!!! Unfortunately too many people have refused to understand my meaning. I pray you will, though, and see the things in my life that could provide inspiration for you in your journey to Eternal Salvation. This is my prayer.

2 comments:

Christensen Family said...

Tori, you are very inspired indeed. What a great example you are to you children as well as your family.
I grew up in a part member family and KNOW of the stress and struggles that are involved in trying to pursue religious endeavors. You are a very strong woman. Keep up the good work.
And your inspiration about comparison is right on. This will be very helpful to me in the future. Use it as inspiration not desperation!
May God bless you!
Tracy

Tori said...

Thank you, Tracy! Your kind words mean a great deal... especially since you know from experience some of the struggles I deal with! :)

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