Monday, January 16, 2012

Sabbath humblings

Book of Mormon readers will be familiar with the concept of the pride cycle.

People get prideful, forget God, get wicked, destruction/chastisement/famine (take you pick) ensues which then humbles the people and they remember God again, repent, get righteous, until they are so blessed they get prideful, forget God...yada yada back around, hence the description of a cycle.

It's easy reading centuries of history condensed in a few hundred pages to think, "Come on guys! Smarten up already!"

And then I went to church today. 

Got up early (good for me, so on the Sabbath ball...*cough* PRIDE!)
Got distracted on FB, half hour vanished, 
instant panic to get everyone ready in time ( HUMBLED)

Made it to 9 o'clock church on time (mostly relief, but still a bit of PRIDE)
Sat on the the "Wrong" side of the chapel and had to chase Aaron down as he sauntered to what I guess he's decided is our regular pew. (HUMBLED)

Aaron was actually folding his arms for the prayer 
(for longer than the usual 2 second hug himself) (YOU BETCHA PROUD!)
The prayer went a little long and all three kids were loudly whining by the end. (HUMBLED)

At one point I looked over and all three of my sons were sitting!!!!! (this is extremely rare, if not an absolute first! PROUD)
It lasted about two second, and there were more than a few times where all three of them were on the floor...including McKye in the middle of the aisle.  (HUMBLED)

All three boys took the Sacrament (without touching ten pieces of bread or grabbing and/or spilling extra cups) (PROUD)
The reverence expires the moment that water is gulped and McKye started saying all too loudly, "All done, wanna pay kitchens now!" (HUMBLED)

McKye sharing pretzels"Here you go Levi!" (PROUD)
Same pretzels become fullon tug-a-war resulting in a ripped bag and huge mess. (HUMBLED)

And so for on and so forth.

I came home from church, exhausted from the emotional roller-coaster of it all. 
Moments where I felt like, "Yup, my kids are getting it, they are learning and growing and their little testimonies are taking root." Contrasted with moments of "I have to be doing something very wrong, because the other seven new Sunbeams can smile, say "bye mommy" and sit on their chair, no prob." 
Poor McKye.  Sometimes I'm just so desperate for it to be easier. Aaron takes so much support, and effort and planning, and I get so excited of the prospect of a kid just doing what kids are suppose to do. Then when McKye doesn't I think I feel a little cheated, and a lot disappointed (darn expectations!) So as I sat there with McKye, Aaron two rows back (both of them on the floor at one point) realizing that 80% of the noise coming from the entire Jr. Primary was being produced by Bretzkes, I was tempted to think: "It's gotta be me!" That's the obvious correlation. 

But as I returned home (after soaking in the calming affect of the Comforter in Relief Society, once I had handed crying McKye off to one of the counselors in Primary) I asked Heavenly Father, "What am I suppose to be learning from this?" 
To paraphrase Tevye, from Fiddler on the roof, "Would it spoil some vast eternal plan?" If I had an easier kid???

I opened the Book of Mormon , 1 Nephi chapter 16 were Nephi breaks his bow. When even hungry Lehi gives into complaining, because surely the whole company thought, Hey now Lord, we're doing what we're suppose to and this bow breaking thing seems a little much.

But what was the result? they were humbled. Humbled enough to calm down, stop trusting in their own capabilities, wisdom (and bows) and look to the Lord. Humble enough to receive instruction from the Liahona, small and simple as that process was.

When I start thinking I can, through my own genius, skill and hard work, succeed at this parenting business, that I and my kids are gonna far according to my own"management of the creature" I am setting myself up to fall. And pride cometh before that fall...come on now, I had an ed degree, I've worked (rather successfully) with kids professionally, in the community and at church...surely I should be able to handle these three little munchkins I birthed!

And when I can't. The Lord reminds me I'm not suppose to. 

And I am humbled by His help. 

Humbled. Yup "humbled" is the correct answer. The Lord needs me to be humble. Or I'm not going to look to Him, and if I don't involve Him (no matter how brilliantly I might feel I can do this on my own) it's not gonna work.

Now that I've identified this great lesson, I just need to actually be humble instead of letting my pride make me feel humiliated instead. That's all this is, if I'm being honest(which I'm trying very hard to be as expose all my deep down ookie dark parts), I bad ol' case of pride. Cuz it doesn't bother me as much at home. I think the world of my boys: they're unique and funny and energetic and loving (in their own hands on, wrestly way). They're smart and determined and I love being around them. 

But put me "on display",  get me in a situation where I (mistakingly) feel like their behaviour reflects upon me, I start feeling stressed. Because if my kid doesn't sit as nicely as so and so's kid well then what does that say about me?

Comparison. Enmity. Control. Envy.

This is not what I go to church for, I go to love and serve and worship but the publicness of it, I realized today, exposes this problem I have. Same thing at library time, or sometimes the park (anywhere but our safe little home)...I'm so worried others will judge me based on my children's behaviour. 
I pushed this deep down with Aaron (who rarely behaves in expected or socailly accepted ways), but with McKye I think I was ready for people to see my efforts: Good mother produces good, well-behaved child.

And that's were I went a a little ascue.
I need to be proud of my children (not secretly proud of myself).

A kid potty trains in a day, we're quick to take credit and hand out our advice and methods to other would-be succeses. 
But when things don't work (and we feel like we've tried everything, which is more my experience) then all the sudden maybe we're not so sure we have as much control as we thought.

Being proud of my kids would have been fine. 
But no that wasn't enough. Each time they "perform" I'm tempted to let my own pride pat me on the back, wanting to take credit. After all I work hard don't I?

I should have been happy with McKye's progress from last week: there were less tears and more attention, less time on the floor and my lap and more in his seat, but I was so fixated on him compared to all the other kids. How come they could just sit (must have better moms preparing better Family Home Evenings that prepared them more!)
I know this sounds horrible and ridiculous and I'm just hoping a few of you out there have a crazy a head as me. 

A wise friend of mine just this weekend told me she heard a stake president say that as serious a problem as pornography is for men, comparing ourselves to each other is a comparably serious problem for women. 

That floored me. I questions how could that be true? and then I realized both are addictions, from which the addicted derived some twisted kind of pleasure, and each stop us from doing and being what we need to be!

Comparison (of ourselves and by extension our children, our marriages etc etc) prevents us from seeking the individual guidance the Lord has for us. 

This time I'll paraphrase CS Lewis: "[A Proud Mom] gets no pleasure out of having [great kids], only out of having [better kids than other moms]... It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone."

This is probably making me sound horrible. I'm just trying to honestly identify the source of some of my less edifying thoughts and feelings, so I can recognize their falsity, and hopefully stop thinking and feeling them.

So I can choose to be humble instead.

Ezra Taft Benson
“The antidote for pride is humility; meekness; submissiveness...
Let us choose to be humble.
We can choose to humble ourselves by
conquering enmity toward our brothers and sisters,
esteeming them as ourselves,
and lifting them as high or higher than we are...
We can choose to humble ourselves
by receiving counsel and chastisement...
We can choose to humble ourselves by
forgiving those who have offended us...
We can choose to humble ourselves by
rendering selfless service...
We can chose to humble ourselves by
going on missions and preaching the word that can humble others...
We can choose to humble ourselves by
getting to the temple more frequently...
We can choose to humble ourselves by
confessing and forsaking our sins and being born of God...
We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God,
submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives”
― Ezra Taft Benson

And I guess, I can choose to be humble by taking my three little boys to church each week. 


Karlene said...Best Blogger Tips

You are my hero and an amazing mom!!

Liesel said...Best Blogger Tips

I'm amazed that seven sunbeams are content. 3/4 have cried and one refuses to go.
Good parents = good children? Often but not always. Look at Adam and eve and Cain and Abel. Did they mess up or did the children (although as adults) use their agency despite appropriate parenting?
I think you've correctly identified in a previous post that you are the product of your parenting. Not so much how your children turn out in the long run.
I agree with the part on comparing and competition. I hold myself in comparison to others but can realize on a logical but not emotional level that they have vastly different resources and circumstances.

Liesel said...Best Blogger Tips

Jusr my two cents.

Just Rhonda said...Best Blogger Tips

ah you are so good. Loved all of this. I need to get back to writing more! A mom i know always used to say never give me my kids praise or punishment!