Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Thinking – Always Learning

Marcia, Lee, me

On Monday I flew down to St. George, Utah to attend the wedding of my niece Eliza.  My sister Marcia and I shared a motel room.  The first night we stayed up until 2:00 am visiting. Marcia is a learner.  She is always reading, always studying, always traveling, always attending lectures.  So when you’re with her, there is always something to visit about.  (I know “always” is an absolute and I didn’t misuse it in those sentences either – Marcia is always learning.)
One of the conversations we had was whether or not we are where we thought we’d be at this point in our lives.  Frankly put, are we as successful as we planned to be.  Marcia said that she’d gone to lunch with a group of women a year ago and confessed there that she thought she’d be more successful by this point in her life.  The women were surprised.  Marcia has her doctorate in education and has been a principal and a university professor for many years.  She has impacted a lot of students’ and teachers’ lives.  The women reminded her of her success.  Marcia deflected the praise and one woman said, “You’re a mother.  You have a wonderful daughter.  That is a very big deal.”  Marcia responded that anybody can be a good mother, but the woman countered, “Not so.  I have three children.  One committed suicide, and the other two are in prison.  Not just anybody can raise well-adjusted children.” 

I’ve obviously thought about the importance of being a mother since hearing that comment.  I remember when it really occurred to me what power I had been given.  It was about ten years into mothering.  Cali told me recently, “I just realized that I am to Levin what you are to me.  I can’t believe that I could be so important to someone.”  I am so glad that she has learned that early.     

I’ve thought about the woman’s honesty.  Perhaps the other women were aware of her children’s circumstances, but Marcia wasn’t.  The woman put herself on the line to help another gain perspective.  I’ve thought about when and where is the time and place for revealing, and whether I reveal too little or too much to others.

I’ve thought about forgiving yourself (mostly because that was our lesson in Young Women’s on Sunday).  I don’t know the woman’s circumstances.  I would imagine she has blamed herself (whether accurately or inaccurately).  I don’t know if she continues to, but I thought of myself in that situation and what it would take for me to come to peace with it.  Sterling W. Sill said:  “God’s forgiveness is often nullified because the sinner does not forgive himself.  What good does it do for God to blot our evil from his mind, if we continue to let it dominate our thinking by rerunning it in our own?”   Like I said, I don’t know the woman’s circumstances or if she struggles with forgiving herself; I was just imagining myself in that situation.

It was really good spending time with Lee and his family and Marcia and her family.  Really good.  I’ve thought a lot about that, too.  I’ve thought about what it takes to make a family work and our families.

And that’s what I’ve been thinking about . . .

Oh, and salt.  Lee’s uncle-in-law taught us all about the value of salty soil in the disposal of nuclear waste.  It was quite fascinating, and it added one more reason to the list on "why the Savior said we should be the salt of the earth" lesson – we have the capability to deflect the poisons and evils of the world.  

And hairspray.  I borrowed Marcia's and my hair didn't move or fall once during the day.   

What have you been thinking about?


Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

I may be revealing to much.....

I am exhausted. I started school with my kids this week. I have been thinking about how unqualified I am to do this. I have been wondering if my children are benefiting from this experience or if I am making things worse? Would I be a better mother if they were in school? I have so many things that I need to improve upon. It feels helpless at the moment.


Deanna/Mimi said...

Thank you...thank you....thank you. Your points certainly hit "home" with me. I will take from it the things I should have known or done a long time ago. I ask God for help and He sent me an angel named Jane. Never leave me...I need you ALWAYS!!

Clark perrins said...

is good pciuter your bigger is good

Becky said...

This post really resonated with me.

I have learned the power of following the Spirit and being willing to be revealing about my life. With Jeff in the Church positions he is in, there is a sort of stigma attached (I don't necessarily agree that there should be but I know that there is). And I have seen the positive impact I am able to make when I am willing to be open about my father being in prison, my parents being divorced, etc. It helps to carry my testimony of the Atonement into the hearts of other people. I figure that since I have no way of changing my past I can turn it to good in my life.

On a similar note, I am in awe of the power mothers have been given and like your first commenter, I have been struggling lately with wondering how I can gauge whether I am being the best mother I can be.

Those are some of the thoughts I have had recently.

Oh, and today while I was shopping I wondered why everything seems so much more alluring at Costco...I spent a bit more than planned! :)

Jill said...

I definitely don't feel like I am as successful as I thought I'd be, yet I never really plotted out a course for myself so I shouldn't be too surprised by that. I think I just had a sort of nebulous idea of what being successful would be, and though I often feel like I should be further along in a lot of areas, mostly I am happy with the direction our kids are heading and that makes me feel successful.

hennchix said...

I don't think we will ever feel that we have been successful in this life until the final judgement. I know that constant doubting of the quality of my mothering affects everything I do, and if I choose to be positive about our circumstances things go better. I do love learning, and hope to someday complete a bachelors or even a masters degree in something. But learning is an eternal principle, right? It is just a matter of taking notice and advantage of everything around us.

You inspire me every time we get to visit. Your enthusiasm is infectious, and you are so full of the Spirit that I can't help but be uplifted. Thank you so much for being my friend!!

PS: my word verification is sched- as in schedule!! Is that a hint?

Brenda Goodrich said...

I've been thinking about how we women of the church and maybe all women everywhere?) are so hard on ourselves and how we constantly feel we need to be close to perfect (or at least look that way to others) to feel worthy of love, praise, acceptance.

All of us seem to do it, some more than others, and it's bugging me. Really bugging me. How do we change this crappy thinking? It's just not right.

Jess said...

Thank you Jane for this post, It was exactly what I needed to read at this moment. I have way too much on my mind to profess, but just know your words have answered a prayer.

Leigh said...

Oh goodness, I might get a bit carried away here...

I taught the same lesson in YW last week, and in preparing for it, I thought a lot about what Brenda commented, about how as women we are often particularly hard on ourselves. I remember getting a handout in YW myself with a Harold B. Lee quote on it that read, "What a difference it would make if we really sensed our divine relationship to God, our Heavenly Father, our relationship to Jesus Christ, our Savior and our elder brother, and our relationship to each other." What a difference it would make. I feel like so many of our issues and insecurities, including our ability to be kind to and forgive ourselves, would fall away if we *really* understood and believed that we are daughters of God and that He truly has a parent's love for us. I think that's the reason it is the first part of the YW theme, too.

With regard to thinking about how families work, I watch carefully anytime I see a family that really seems to "work". But anytime I've ever asked them (the mother) to let me in on some of their secrets to a successful family, it's usually humbly brushed off as just sort of happening. I wish those women would give themselves more credit (and share!); successful families definitely do NOT just happen!

michelle said...

No, successful families do NOT just happen. I look to those families for insight and things I can model myself. (Yours included.)

I have been thinking about how important my children's friends are. How I want to continue trying to steer them towards the good ones and away from those that exert a less than positive influence.

I have also been thinking about how wonderful it is when we are willing to mourn with those that mourn, etc. I so want to be one of those people that lift the hands that hang down.