Thursday, October 22, 2009

Superpowers 101: Making a Decision

Proverbs says "train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." What a wonderful truth! I grew up a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Spencer W. Kimball was the president of the the church during part of my childhood. Even as a young child I felt the great love between this prophet of God and the church members. Although he died when I was 9 years old, his counsel has always had special significance for me.

One piece of advice that has been priceless to me is this: “Develop discipline of self so that, more and more, you do not have to decide and redecide what you will do when you are confronted with the same temptation time and time again. You need only to decide some things once. How great a blessing it is to be free of agonizing over and over again regarding a temptation. To do such is time-consuming and very risky." Decide ahead of time what you will do. He seemed to give this counsel often, or at least I heard it often. As a youth, it always meant keeping the Word of Wisdom or the Law of Chastity. Over time, I realized that it had much simpler applications.

During my teenage years I often felt like an oddball. I didn't seem to really fit in anywhere. That may have been normal teenage insecurities. I had friends, many of whom are still valued friends today. I also felt unwanted by certain youth leaders at church. It seemed my birthday was forgotten every year. I was usually overlooked for "cool" assignments like youth conference planning committee or Girls Camp youth leader. Many times I was tempted to just forget about church. Who wants to be in a place where they are not wanted?

Fortunately, my stubbornness prevailed. I had gotten it into my head that one leader in particular didn't like me and was trying to get rid of me. I decided to attend every activity I possibly could to "get her back". On a deeper level, I told myself that whether or not I was delusional and paranoid about this person, Satan was the one who really didn't want me there. And I was not about to let him win.

I decided at that young age that no matter what I would go to church. That might seem silly but over the years it has become one of those foundation stones that I can cling to in rough times. In college, I had a period of time when I didn't have a calling (assignment). I felt so useless. I felt that if the Lord didn't need me, why go at all. I fought this feeling and soon I was happily serving in a church calling.

I was again tempted to avoid church when we were first married. We were in a new, large city. We attended a large ward where people came and went all the time thanks to 2 nearby military installations. We had our first child 9 months after we got married and just 5 short weeks later my husband was halfway around the world. I realized that we didn't know many people. Looking back, I did really well under the circumstances. But it still felt lonely. One Sunday I woke up with a pulled muscle in my back and didn't go to church. No one called. No one asked me why I wasn't there the next week. And I was the Relief Society Pianist!!! (Not that I was very good at it!) I felt lost in the crowd. Even so, I had a few memorable spiritual experiences there because of my willingness to keep going.

The last experience I will share with you came a few years ago when we lived in Germany. I loved our ward and the members. I enjoyed going to church there and I learned SO much during those years. But they were NOT easy! We had only been there a few months when the World Trade Center was attacked. In the following years my husband deployed a total of 3 times. We also had 3 more children there, including twins. There were plenty of times when I went to church and spent the entire time in the hallway or nursery with disruptive children. It wasn't that they were bad. They were young and there was only one of me.

Sometimes I thought "what's the point? Why am I putting myself and my children through this?" But the same stubborn tenacity of my youth took over. I was determined to be there every week no matter what. I recognized that this was the only thing I really did for myself, that I spent most of my time at home with the children like a hermit, and that I desperately needed whatever blessings the Lord was going to give me for my effort.

I adopted the motto "What else have you got to do?" and said it over and over when I was tempted to stay home. I was tremendously blessed. I was always able to find babysitters for meetings. Members seemed to just show up offering the exact thing I needed whether it was companionship or help with housework or entertaining the kids. I was always amazed at what they were willing to do, like it was nothing to them when it was everything to me. I also had callings that required me to study the scriptures, attend stake training mettings, and otherwise learn and grow spiritually. I attribute all of these blessings to my choice to go to church.

Another piece of counsel from President Kimball sums up what I am trying to say.  On his desk was a sign that said DOn't quIT. Two short phrases, so linked together, that say so much.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I think that you are right about all of us having the feeling of not fitting in, but I am very glad that you decided to go to church no matter what! It is true that when we don't want to go that we should just DO IT!!