A week ago I was going to blog a 'whine'. I kept putting it off hoping I could resolve the issue on my own and wondering why the situation was so bothersome to me. I'm glad I waited to do my venting. It got resolved during General Conference.
Here's how it started. I went to the Relief Society Broadcast. It was great. I enjoyed it. Except for one tiny little thing that got bigger the more I thought about it. The RS leaders travel the world and meet all kinds of wonderful and courageous women. I can't think of a broadcast where we aren't told about the good works being done or the sacrifices being made by women every where. This time there were stories of women in Africa and South America. Their circumstances are much different than mine. Their lives are inspiring. BUT - I thought as I listened to what they go through - what about me? I live in Utah and have since I was seven. I don't walk hours to do visiting teaching or take days to go to the temple. I have decent health, my children are immunized, well fed, attend safe schools, sleep in beds in their own rooms. I have electricity, a washer, dryer, dishwasher, indoor plumbing, a car, TV, iPod, books, etc. We have a garden but my life doesn't depend on it. I'm an average, middle-aged, overweight mother with challenges completely different than the women I heard about at the conference. The messages of the speakers were applicable in all walks of life but I got so stuck on that one thing - those women were different than me. I will most likely never have to make the kind of sacrifices they do. Therefore, no one will ever talk about me as an example of inspiration at an RS broadcast or any kind of church talk.
The more I thought about it the more I felt sorry for myself. Should I move so I can stand out more? What could I do for some noble sacrifice? Most of my life, since I live in Utah, I've heard this same message. Everyone outside of Utah is a better church member because they face greater difficulties. I bought into that. Then I went to Ricks College. I was the only Utah Mormon in my apartment and the only one who regularly attended all three Sunday meetings and optional Firesides. That surprised me. I thought my roomies would be stronger than me. Then I served a stateside mission with great expectation of seeing how the 'other half' lived. I won't go into details but it was disappointing. I was just as good, if not better, than the 'outside of Utah Mormons' - not that I was in competition or that my experience represented everyone. However, I had lived feeling 'less than' because I believed I wasn't as good as those who had to work harder at being a Latter-day Saint.
Because of that, I never planned on living in Utah as an adult. But I do. And I love it. I love where I live, I love the members and I have many opportunities to associate with people of other faiths. I thought I was over my Utah issues until last Saturday when they hit me again. I have no idea why my emotions were so vulnerable. I was not premenstrual and had had plenty of chocolate. But, like I said, I spent several days feeling sorry for myself, like I would never matter because I was so ordinary and a nobody who lived in a somewhat small town, in a small state on a big continent on planet earth.
So I wanted to whine. I wanted to vent. I wanted to feel like I did matter, even if my life is simple and my circle of influence is small. I've tried to do the best I can with what I have.
About midweek I got a simple answer to my prayers. "Count your blessings, not your talents". [When I prayed, 'talents' was my way of summing up what I thought I lacked by way of offerings]
Wow! When I did that my whole perspective changed. I realized Heavenly Father knew where I was and what I was doing and He placed me here. My cup runneth over with blessings. My pitcher runneth over. Heck, my swimming pool couldn't hold my blessings. Actually, I don't have a poo,l but if I did it would run over. I have been blessed with more than I can even say. I might not ever live in Africa but what I am doing is known of the Lord and this is my life.
I also felt like before I went off on an emotional outburst on a blog, I should wait for General Conference. So I did. Did you get to listen? Did you hear the first talk after Pres. Monson's opening remarks? It was Elder Holland and his entire talk was about the value of individuals in the church. Almost word for word he said some of the things I'd shared with Heavenly Father about the service I'd tried to give in my ward and town and wondering if that was as important to Him as the women who walked in dust for hours to do visiting teaching.
It is. An Apostle of the Lord said so.
Another leader also said sometimes we focus on what we lack instead of what we have. Guilty! It's not that I need more things. I just need more validation. I'm that insecure. But don't we all wonder how the Lord feels about our lives? As an adult I've noticed accolades are quite infrequent and in the church, if you do a good job, it most often is because the Spirit did most of the work. Its hard to need praise but know it isn't really me that should be praised. I'm just the instrument. Does that make sense?
I now realize what really bothered me, hurt me, when I heard those RS talks, was wondering if I matter. It was a needy moment. I know the RS leaders meant no harm in their messages and in truth it didn't harm me but helped me be ready to receive the message at General Conference that I do matter and all the little things I do may never make the news or stand out in anyway, but they are what I should be doing in my realm of stewardship.
I write this now in hopes that someone else out there in cyberworld may need the same reassurance I did and will know where to get it. I'm a bit ashamed that I'm so needy and spent several days feeling sorry for myself. But I'm not sorry for where the search led me or the answers I received. It isn't the first time I've gotten answers at General Conference, I hope it won't be the last. But I do know, in between times, that answers are always available from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They have always been there for me, even though my feet aren't dusty and my church is only two miles away. I wish I had musical or poetic talent to thank them appropriately, but words are all I have. So, as they say in the Book of Mormon, 'blessed be the name of our God.'