Sunday, December 4, 2016

Perfection update - Not perfect yet

I haven't posted an update on getting rid of Fred Jr. for some time and I wanted to make sure I finished my little 3 part series on being perfect. One huge thing has gotten in the way- my brain is trying to kill me. I don't know what information it's trying to get out of me, but it's recent sharp increase in the use of migraine torture has me pretty willing to cop to about anything. My migraines completely impair my vision so I have enjoyed being stuck at work very late (since I couldn't drive home) and in the Target parking lot, where I'm pretty sure people thought I was living in my car. At this point I'm up for whatever voodoo magic anyone has to offer. This is my level of desperation. Don't worry, the medical world is involved and I promise that if Fred Jr. is in on this I will ask for some kind of "mid-life crisis-ectomy." If that's not a thing it should be. I'll see if I can get some of the doctors at work to figure it out. But now, on to the task at hand.

At work one of my responsibilities is editing the academic journal submissions the faculty and residents are planning to submit for publication. The first time I edit a paper for someone you can see them cringe at all of the red marks. As I go through the paper with them, however, they realize they are still brilliant and they have simply repeated the same type of error throughout the text. Which is the perfect allegory for tying to changes one's life. 

I have discovered that all of my less than desirable qualities can be summed up in one word: FEAR. I'm not talking about the fear you feel if you think someone is breaking in or if you attempt to go to Costco the day before a holiday. I'm talking about a subtle fear that enables you to come up with all kinds of excuses and unhealthy coping mechanisms rather than be at peace with who you are and have the courage to let other people see that person. Fear has enabled me to be really friendly while only allowing a tiny few past arms length, it has helped me to try and bury unpleasant feelings, and has fooled me into thinking that listening to it was keeping me safe. Fear creates so many distractions that at times I have forgotten about how many ways I could be serving those around me. And so I have worked very hard to change my internal dialogue. When old destructive thoughts come in to my head I tell myself that I don't think that way anymore and FEAR cowers away. I'm not perfect at it yet, but I can't fully explain how liberating it is to have moments of being at complete peace with myself. (Oddly, I have never been afraid to speak in public, which is a fear most people have. So take that fear!)

Perhaps you are a very brave person that can't relate to my battles with fear. But maybe for you it is struggling with forgiveness, or selfishness, or laziness, or some other area that my beleaguered brain has lost the ability to come up with. What I believe is this: we are all so incredibly clever that we keep coming up with creative new ways to manifest the same problem over and over again. We just dress it up in new clothes and then wonder how we keep having to learn the same lessons. 

Being perfect for me is not about wearing a smaller size, making more money, or knowing if there is "one thing" that I was meant to do in my life. (Although all of that would be lovely.) Instead it is setting aside fear, embracing faith, and loving those I come in contact with...which includes me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Being perfect: Update 1 - Perspiration and Inspiration

I just finished my second day of Hot Yoga with today being my first day of official Bikram Yoga. Here's the thing about hot yoga. It's hot. When they say hot, they mean hot. And if you think, "When I lie down it will be a little cooler" you would be wrong. Whoever came up with the scientific theory that heat rises clearly has never done Bikram yoga.

My first day was like baby Bikram. It was only an hour and was only in a 90-degree room. When I first walked into the studio I looked around and thought, "Yep, pudgiest person here." Then I stopped, looked in the mirror and thought, "I don't think that way anymore. That's Fred Jr. talking. My new perfect outlook doesn't care what anyone looks like in comparison to me, so knock it off!" And I did. The class was great. I felt good and was happy I had left Fred Jr. out in the lobby.

I walked into tonight's class a few minutes before it started and could tell there was an enormous difference between 90 and 105. That's right friends. If you are unfamiliar, Bikram yoga is done in a 105-degree room. I laid down on my mat to meditate before class started and was shocked at how very warm the floor felt against my arms. But - no problem! I've got this. My old mindset is gone, and quite frankly my main goal was to not die, so the bar was set pretty low. And then we began.

The teacher talks, but does not do the majority of the poses with you and so I became incredibly grateful and impressed by the people in front of me. They were sweaty little rock stars. And while it is perfectly fine to get an idea of the poses by watching others, the teacher really encourages you to look at yourself in the mirror. This was hard for me. I didn't want to stare at myself in the mirror for a whole class! Kristen has pointed out that I maybe have one full-length picture of me on Facebook and haven't owned a full-length mirror in 15 years. As if all of my friends don't see what I look like on a regular basis. Somehow, if I don't put it on Facebook, it isn't real. (Let's not discuss the psychological issues of me equating Facebook with reality - that will be for another day.) However, I don't think that way anymore and so I breathed in and out and sweated my way to appreciating how hard I was working. I love my new mindset. I think I even heard Fred Jr. leave the building.

The last 30 minutes were really hard. I was basically the human equivalent of an irrigation system - sending forth enough water that I worried the wood floor would sprout leaves. But, and here is the important part, I did it. I made it through all 90 minutes AND I did some version of all 26 poses. They may not have been pretty - but I was trying. At the end of class, the instructor, and several students came up and complimented me on how I did and encouraged me to come back. This is a big deal because, in order for them to share their kind words, I had to still be in the room. The 105-degree room. My former self would have quickly left at the end of class not just because of the heat, but because all of my insecurities would be at high-alert after bending and twisting and posing in a way that made it impossible to hide my physical flaws. And guess what? They couldn't care less what I looked like.

Self-pity is simply a tool that gets us focusing on ourselves and not looking out to see where we can help those around us. It stops us from sending forth love to everyone we come across. Self-pity is a dangerous mindset that blindfolds us from God's generous blessings, from our talents, and from opportunities to be more. I am disappointed at the amount of time I have invested in self-pity and am happy to know that I have left it behind. It is packed tightly in Fred Jr's suitcase and I will do everything I can to make sure it stays there. Like going to Bikram yoga again.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

I've decided to be perfect

I'm not going to lie. The past couple of months have been rough. Now that I'm not mothering on a regular basis I have realized that I may have loved being a mom to an unhealthy level. Not stalking-my-children-and-their-friends unhealthy, but I mommed enough that I was occasionally able to set aside the fact that I wasn't all that crazy about me as a person, forgot to have hobbies, and accidentally lived a little vicariously through my kids. And so as a way to not cope when I became an empty-nester, I almost stopped going to church, got a crush on someone way too young and way too wrong for me and have binge watched all streaming services to the point that I need to start a 12-step program for my entertainment addiction. Then one evening as I was driving to my brother's house it hit me - I am having a mid-life crisis! This was a huge relief because I was starting to feel like I had completely lost my mind. If something has a name and you're familiar with it, it becomes far less frightening.

Realizing you are having a mid-life crisis and doing something about, however, are completely different things. So it's taken me some time to figure out what I'm going to do with this new phase of life. No one ever talks about women having mid-life crises. What are women supposed to do? From what I understand men get convertibles, or motorcycles, or both. Start dressing in ridiculous trends, flirt (or more) with women half their age, and attempt to convince themselves that they totally make the dad-bod look good. Having no idea what to do in this "crisis" and not being willing to even look on google for ideas - because it would require me to pause my third hour of television - I decided I shouldn't refer to it as a crisis. I considered naming it a mid-life awareness, but thought better of it and decided to name it Fred Jr. Fred Sr. happens to be the name of the 1974 pinto station wagon we had growing up. It was a lovely shade of rust with wood paneling on the side and doors that each weighed approximately 900 pounds. While I appreciated the cool reputation that Fred gave me in high school - particularly when people realized the passenger door was literally tied closed with rope - I was happier once Fred and I were able to bid farewell.

Fred Sr. and I parted ways when the kind owner of a wreckage yard gave me $100 - but I don't know of a repository for unstable emotions and so I have had to come up with a plan. Here is my plan: I have decided to be perfect. This is a really good plan. If I were perfect I feel like I would not feel directionless, would have more energy and would be excited about where my life is heading. I would finish everything I started, besides television, and would generally be a more delightful person to be around - because part of my perfection would, of course, involve a lot of humility and a witty sense of humor.

I know what you're thinking. You think I'm kidding. Well, Fred Jr. has me just off-kilter enough to not be kidding. I still have a tiny bit of logic left and so there are a few caveats to my perfection plan. Everyone is always talking about the mind-body-spirit connection and so "my perfect" will involve a few things in each category that I've always wanted to change. I like the idea of waking up tomorrow and leaving behind all of the worrying and obsessing I do that does nothing but energize Fred Jr. It sounds so fantastic that I don't want to try one thing at a time. I'm doing it all at once. Obviously, in so doing I will discover a whole new layer of imperfections, but something new to obsess about sounds great. I also know it will be hard, but I have had a headache for 9 days and figure the pain will just blend in. Luckily you will get updates every couple of days to help hold me accountable to ridding myself of Fred Jr. and think of the fun you'll have reading about each soul-sucking way of life I'm leaving behind. My television watching has taught me that pretty much all of life's problems can be solved in under an hour...and I'm going to take an entire month. So what could go wrong? Fred Jr. start packing your bags!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I'm only sad on Sunday

I'm now a couple of weeks into this "empty-nesting" thing, so I'm pretty much an expert. It's really not so bad. Some things I did in attempts to be a good mom I no longer have to do. For instance, I've almost sworn off food in my seemingly eternal quest for weight-loss, so I rarely have to grocery shop, which I have never liked but felt was necessary because the children expected to be fed. Laundry is also minimal. I haven't started that clothing line for cats yet, so it's only my stuff. Many things I enjoy doing I'm happy to do alone - hiking, movies, reading. But, when I'm feeling like I'd like some company, it's just a phone call away. (Awesome brother/sister movie night on Friday! Thanks, Marc!)

The only day that I become keenly aware of my "aloneness" is on Sunday. Church, by yourself, is hard - especially when you don't know a single person there. I still remember my first Sunday at my old ward - so many people came up and introduced themselves! Of course, I did have a very cute baby and a smiley toddler who were a huge draw, but I felt welcomed and happy to be a part of a big friendly group. That has not been the case in my new ward. The only time someone has come up has been when Nicole came to church with me and they were thinking she was 14 and so excited to have a new young woman in the ward. The woman was crestfallen as she discovered Nicole was a senior in college. But that's it. I have thought of borrowing other people's small children to use as a people magnet and an excuse to quietly play during church, but I haven't followed through on that yet.

Now, I know you're thinking, "Michelle, put on your big girl pants and go introduce yourself." And I completely agree. So last week, I took a big drink of courage (also known as Coke Zero) and made sure that at the end of sacrament meeting I went and introduced myself to the Bishop. "Hello, I'm Michelle Denney, I'm new in the ward and wanted to introduce myself." He smiled, shook my hand and said that he had received my membership records and that it was nice to meet me...and that was pretty much it. What more could the man do? I don't know, I don't think anything. Truth be told I didn't end up staying for all of the other meetings, because apparently, 12 ounces of courage (coke zero) was not enough to keep my big girl pants on for 2 more hours. (That may be the strangest sentence I have ever written.) But this whole situation has got me thinking a couple of things - first, it would be really easy to not go because no one would notice I was missing and second, how many times have I missed opportunities to reach out to someone who is feeling alone, isolated or not a part of the group?

When I started my current job I was told that there were two groups within the department, the school of medicine employees (my group) and the clinic and that I didn't need to worry about getting to know anyone in the clinic. I thought, "That is horrible advice. I'm supposed to work alongside people every day and not build a relationship with them?" It seemed completely crazy to me, so I decided to get to know everyone because I'm mildly rebellious, it makes work more fun, it's easier to help my residents who work in both parts of the department, and because all the people in the department are wonderful. So why haven't I been able to do this at my new ward? Maybe if being friendly was forbidden I would give that rule a dirty look and do it anyway. Maybe if I were setting the example for my kids, who always make me more courageous than I often feel. Maybe if it's what Christ would expect of me. Oh...wait...*sigh.*

While I don't always agree with the Mormon Utah culture, I do happen to believe strongly in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't think he waited for anyone to approach Him before he decided to love them. Attending church and being open to spiritual lessons requires you to be vulnerable (something I struggle with) and teachable. I felt strongly that I was meant to live here, in this place, at this moment. Since I believe that I need to find out why. I can't passively sit by and watch myself drift into spiritual complacency because I'm afraid. As backward as it may seem, it appears I will have to be the one to reach out to my ward members and my neighbors - even the ones that were appalled to have a divorced woman living next to them (that's a story for another time). I have some very persuasive baking skills and plan to put them to use with a smile and a brief message of "Like me, dammit!" It will be hard and will require a great deal of Coke Zero and take me WAY out of my comfort zone. I share this with you mainly to make you notice those people who always sit in the corner or the back of the room, who don't fit the family mold of Utah churchdom and encourage you to say hello. After all, not everyone is willing to show up on your porch, uninvited and with a plate of cookies like I am.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Empty Nest Syndrome - A beginner's guide

Let's review my to-do list for the past 5 months:

  • Oldest child gets engaged
  • Put favorite house up for sale
  • Find somewhere other than car to live
  • Youngest child graduates
  • Move
  • Plan wedding
  • Help youngest get ready for college
  • Have wedding
  • Send youngest to school
  • Be really tired
Now that I have checked off everything on my list I am faced with the fact that my little nest is empty. Well, not completely empty. It turns out that if your children's angelic faces plead to adopt new little kittens when they are 5 and 7 (or was it 6 and 8?) you will still have said kittens 13 years later when the children leave. So my nest is empty-ish. And, while I have worked full-time since my girls were small I have ALWAYS thought of myself, first and foremost, as mom. So losing the full-time parenting gig, while anticipated, is a bit shocking.

My first thought, as I'm sure would be yours, was now I can finally star in my own reality TV series, "The Crazy Cat-Lady Chronicles." I have asked an underutilized local band, "Iron Donut" to come up with my theme song. I'm hoping for something that's a mix of The White Stripes, Foo Fighters, and Tom Jones. I really feel like Tom deserves some kind of comeback. It will be amazing. (No pressure Iron Donut.) I'm currently lacking a few of the essentials for a reality TV show, such as scandalous friends and ridiculous amounts of time devoted to whining and inventing drama. I have asked a few friends to spice things up a bit, but so far they've let me down. (Cathy? Lisa? Come on ladies!) Also, it seems like some kind of vacation episode is popular, but can't imagine that a trip to Utah county would feel exotic on the screen.

So, while that's getting underway I decided to do a little research into coping with this whole empty-nest thing. (And let's all agree to not talk about dating.) Here are the recommendations:

1. Spend more time on your hobbies. This one has potential except I seem to be missing mine. Several months ago I asked Lisa, part of my single mom power duo, what her hobbies were with the hope that I could copy them. She just sat there staring at me, speechless. Three days later she came up with one. Three days. While it took her three days I'm still at a loss and it's been months. Zilch. Granted, I was taking care of that pesky list above, but you would think I would have had something come to mind. I have contemplated designing a line of leisure wear for cats, but find that in my heart of hearts I am a dog person and find no inspiration in the feline lifestyle. Don't worry, this won't impact my reality will merely add to the drama. "Crazy cat lady is actually a dog person!" 

2. Reignite the flame with your partner. While the thought of a romantic dinner over tuna tartar with the cats is intriguing, I know it will inevitably end with one of them distracting me by shredding the furniture while the other pukes in my shoe. After all, this isn't my first night alone with the cats. Now I know someone is wanting to bring up dating, but if you remember I mentioned we weren't going to talk about that. (see above) If you think dating is a possibility for me you need to refresh your please read this Michelle dating= painful awkwardness

3. Volunteer. This one I have thought quite a lot about and plan to pursue because I am actually pretty good at caring for others, but apparently most places looking for volunteers need ones that don't work 50 hours a week. I would like to be needed from 6 - 9 pm, but not every night because I have my reality show to consider and also Netflix needs me to check in. Oh and nature. I like to be in it and at some point I should try and enjoy house cleaning. (The downside to children being gone is I have to admit I'm the one messing up the house.) Other than these issues volunteering has real promise.

4. Go back to school. I have also thought about this one. The only problem seems to be when I think about it my gut response is "No! I don't wanna!" While my two pointless bachelor's degrees are lovely, I find no excitement at the idea of getting a master's degree. I still think degrees should function like the game Monopoly. You can turn in two bachelor's and a hundred dollars and get a master's degree without having to actually do any more studying. (PARENTING MOMENT: Girls - school is great! You should keep going! You will get better jobs! Studying is fun! This is the best decision you've ever made!)

5. Seek therapy. I realize it's clear that I probably should be evaluated on a regular basis by the mental health profession I find that I'm not in a very "therapy" kind of mood. Maybe after a few tapings of "The Crazy Cat Lady Chronicles" I'll change my mind. It would make for a fabulous episode. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Yes, Miss K, You Can Adult

It's the day after Nicole's wedding. I finally put on pants - at 4:00 pm, which is a good indicator of my productivity level today. Something in my head is clearly trying to claw its way out, in spite of the vast quantities of ibuprofen I've given the creature as a peace offering. The only thing I seem capable of is sitting and not thinking about planning a wedding reception. I do, however, keep thinking about Miss K. In less than a week she heads off to college and her first "grown-up" apartment. She is not excited, but IS slightly overwhelmed and worried about how she'll do academically, emotionally, and financially. A guide to adulting seemed to be in order and since no one else is here I'll have to be the one to attempt it. It will be similar to the Berenstein's Bears approach at life. You know how the Dad always did things the least effective way and in so doing ended up with very smart bear cubs? - But without all the rhyming...because, hello, I didn't even get my pants on until 4:00 pm...I have no energy for rhyming.

Kristen's Guide to Adulting 

1. Put on your pants before 4 pm. (Just kidding...well, not kidding because you really should get dressed before 4:00pm)


1. Get to know the thermostat. When you are cold or hot you really only need to adjust it one to two degrees. That's it. I promise. Turning it to 80 when you are cold does not make the furnace work faster. It doesn't make the furnace think, "I've really got to be quick warming up the house...she's turned it to 80, people!" It will just put you in a sleepy zoned-out, completely useless state, when really you just wanted just wanted to feel comfortable, plus having a talking furnace would be a little creepy. The same goes for when you're hot. Turning it down to 60 will only give you a really expensive bill and an angry landlord because you will break the air conditioner. This is also true with how you're feeling. When you get overwhelmed, anxious, depressed - stop. Breathe in. Breathe out. Pause. Say a prayer and reach out to someone who loves you (pick me! pick me!) to vent to AND listen to so you can get re-centered and move forward. Going to extremes while experiencing intense emotions will only lead to different and more complicated problems. Most often just a minor adjustment in action or thought is needed to feel at peace.

2. Don't mistake salt for sugar. He may look like something sweet and be anything but. Spend time with people based on how you feel when you're with them. Do they bring out the absolute wonderful that you are, or do they make you doubt yourself and your instincts? Learn whether those are butterflies you're feeling or if it's bad sushi. The best guys will be the ones that you feel comfortable with from the start. This applies to girls, as well. 

3. Clean up the kitchen after you've used it. There's no great allegory here, it's just courteous and a really nice thing for you and all of your roommates. Plus cleaning out that tupperware you left sitting in a bag in the kitchen for several days was really nasty and should not be repeated. The cats even left the room and they clean themselves with their tongues...that should tell you something. When things are clean it's just easier to think and feel at peace. This applies to bedrooms and bathrooms, as well.

4. Hug the cashier at 7-11. Let me explain...It wasn't just because she had the Coke Zero, although that is a very endearing quality. Wednesday, when I went to re-caffeinate at 7-11 and was paying for my drink, I asked the cashier how her day was going and she started to tear up. I had this strong urge to give her a hug, but leaping over the counter would probably have frightened her, plus I was wearing a dress. No one needs to see that. So I tried to say a few comforting words, but it felt inadequate. Some of my biggest regrets have come from not following through on a kind thought. I have tried, especially over the past 5 - 10 years, to never suppress a kind word when I have one. Expensive gifts are not often an option but kindness always is. I promise this is the absolute best tip for being an adult I can give you. It will change those around you for the better and it will keep your heart open to other people. It is the instant cure for self-pity and despair. Being able to share love and kindness is something you are already skilled at - don't ever stop practicing that talent. 

5. Eat your veggies first. When you were little and I served you some less than favorable vegetable  you would look at me like I had just placed a serving of cockroaches on your plate. Instead of attempting to smash them with your shoe, however, you would polish them off first and eat the "good stuff" after. This thinly veiled allegory is just what you think it is. Study first, then play. It will be hard to stick to this, but it will give you the academic confidence you want. You may even find that some classes are fun to study for. Talk to your professors. Get to know them so they can get to know you. As you make that personal connection it will help you feel more committed to the workload in the class. At times you'll be tempted to feel frustrated at having to go to class, study AND work - but just remember that you will end college with a degree AND work experience that will make you more attractive to future employers.

6. Feel the fear. Now pack it up in a little box and repeatedly run over the box with your car. Repeat if there are multiple boxes. Too often I make decisions in my life based on insecurity and fear. I cloud my thinking with what-ifs and lose sight of my passions to the point of not knowing if I even have any passions at all. You have gifts and talents in a combination that no one else has. Pursue your interests and trust that Heavenly Father is guiding you in the process. You have never been one that is drawn to the typical or expected - don't change that now. I trust you completely in choosing the path right for you. Don't feel pressure from that trust - instead use the strength that it comes with. And if you have to try out a few paths - DO IT! It will only enhance your journey when you settle on "the one."

Adulting has it's bad days and good days - but, believe it or not there are more good than bad. After all today my only goal was putting on pants. Check! Good day! I love you 70 x 7 and more!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Final talk in the EMC 4th Ward

I may have been a little over-ambitious about speaking on the same weekend as moving, so I hope the spirit will fill in where I haven’t had the time to prepare as much as I would like to. My goal today is to keep it together. So fingers crossed.

I have lived in this neighborhood for 17 years, 8 months and 5 days. All of us together we have raised two amazing girls whose talents, intelligence and compassion surpass my hopes and dreams for them. How deeply grateful I am for how you have all influenced them. I am a big believer in the concept of it taking a village to raise a child and know that the Lord has prompted many of you over the years to teach, inspire and comfort them. You have done the same for me – and I was definitely the more challenging child to raise.

Having the opportunity to look back on this chapter of my life I realize that what I will miss the most is not my house, but the comfort of being nestled into this ward. Knowing that I had a friend on every street, knowing I’m not alone.

When Bishop Sean asked me to speak on “small things proceedeth that which is great” it seemed like the perfect theme to pay homage to all of you. Your small acts of service through my 17 years, 8 months and 5 days have strengthened my testimony and have been a perfect example of the gospel at work.

When I think about small things proceeding that which is great what I really think of is the process of change and learning to trust in the Lord’s plan.

Change for many of us can have negative connotations. Change, even when positive, can still be stressful and hard to maintain. Several months ago I shared one of my favorite sections of the book of Mormon with the sisters in relief society. About a year ago I was preparing for a young women’s lesson and studying Ether chapters 1 and 2. Heavenly Father had told the brother of Jared that he had a great land prepared for him. To gather his flocks, family, friends and the Lord would lead him to a land “which is choice above all the lands of the earth.” The brother of Jared followed the Lord’s command and gathered all that was asked of him and he and his people traveled for some time until they came to the sea. And there they stopped to rest….for four years. Until one day the Lord came to the brother of Jared and chastened him for three hours because he had stopped calling on the Lord. He was comfortable there on the beach. The Lord reminded him that he had greater things in store for him. Journeying had its challenges and I’m sure the brother of Jared must have felt, at times, weary. Staying put certainly must have seemed easier. But he repented and continued his journey staying focused on the Lord’s plan for him.

The Lord has great things in store for each of us as well, but change can feel daunting and frightening. Or perhaps you feel alone in the process, or turning your heart fully to the Lord seems too difficult. Maybe you have strayed from His plan for you and the journey back simply doesn’t seem like something you’re capable of. I promise you there is always a way and the best way to make permanent change has to do with having the courage to let all of the people in this chapel into your life.

I work at the University of Utah editing medical manuscripts and managing resident physicians in Radiation Oncology. Almost every month I have the opportunity to teach all of the other managers of resident physicians across the campus. Recently, I gave a lecture on making positive changes in your department. In preparing for this lecture I read a book by Alan Deutschman called “Change or Die.” In the book he studies groups of people and corporations that have made dramatic, seemingly impossible changes and studied how it was possible for them to make permanent changes. Of the three keys to successful change, the first is the most important. “Relate”

“If you face a situation that a reasonable person would consider hopeless, you need the influence of seemingly unreasonable people to restore your hope.” I absolutely love this quote. What he’s talking about is the idea of surrounding yourself with people who not only believe that you are capable of difficult changes, but that can even sell you on the idea when you are discouraged. In each step of the process those “unreasonable people” are there to cheer you on, share ideas, work alongside you, or just listen to the frustrations of the journey. Through their support you will find yourself in a place that you previously didn’t believe was possible.

As I read this I couldn’t help but think of the way the Lord has designed the church to create this same kind of system. Through visiting teachers, home teachers, and callings we are given a built in support system that can help us stay on or return to the plan that the Lord has for each of us.  In a time when more and more of our struggles are internal battles of the mind. When the pressure for worldly perfection smothers the deep need for being loved for our true selves we must trust and rely on the Lord’s gospel and the brothers and sisters we are surrounded by within the church.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 we are taught “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…There should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.” This is the expectation the Lord has of us. To become one with each other.

Staying in this mindset of being one takes great humility and courage. We must be willing to both offer love and support and to receive it. Needing the help of our brothers and sisters within our ward family is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of trust that the Lord has put us in this ward at this time for a reason. It is often much easier to be the one supporting people than being willing to accept the support of others. Set aside your insecurities and allow yourself to be fully immersed in the body of this ward and church. When I have allowed others to bless me with their service my love for them and for the Lord has deepened.

Perhaps you aren’t comfortable with letting people see your struggles, or perhaps it’s difficult to let people into your heart. The Lord constantly gives us small opportunities to increase our courage to let others in. Work alongside the ward members. Sign up for service projects or accept a ward calling. In so doing you will find that you will not only increase in the number of friends within the ward but you will have an increase in the confidence that those within these walls will love you for your true self.

I have been able to make great changes in my life based on small teachings I have learned from this ward family. When I had first moved in to the ward Renee Craigo made the comment that “we are raising adults not children.” This one small comment helped shape my parenting in to one that focused on teaching independence and maturity. Linda Thompson made a comment one time while we were visiting teaching that “the one that needs a hug the most is the one that seems to least deserve it.” Which helped me to set aside frustrations and always have a hug for everyone. Jerie and David Holley taught me that I can be accepted and cared for with all of my odd little quirks and my all too frequent personal disasters. Diana and Sean Esplin showed me that everything should be done in love.

There simply isn’t the time to talk about all that I have learned from each of you. The point is, all of you unreasonable people, through small acts of love and service have helped me stay focused on the Lord’s great plan. When I have felt angry or bitter, discouraged or weary, you have helped me turn back to Him. I know the Lord loves me by letting me be a part of this ward family. I will hold that love with me forever.