04 January 2016

Surviving is Not Thriving

So I gotta be honest about a couple things. The last 4 months of my life have been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. Do you ever just.... go through something? I mean like, really go through it? My father-in-law once said that when life is good, you ride that wave for as long as you can because the trials always come. For me, my trial is an emotional one. A very personal and lonely one... and it feels lonely because I'm the only one who can fix it.

There are things that I've greatly improved on as an adult and even more so as a mother. I grew up with very little patience, and I think (if I remember right) that I kind of expected things to go my way and when they didn't, I don't think I truly understood why and didn't feel great about it. That's a pretty normal feeling. So, patience is something that I've worked on almost my entire life to develop and I will proudly state that I am more patient now than I ever have been. 

I'm also a really good mother. I'm going to go ahead and say that with confidence and pat myself on the back while doing so. I love my children, and they know it. I want to give them the world, but I don't. Sometimes I give little things here and there, but my kids are slowly learning how to work for privileges, goodies, and adventures. They know how to love and take care of each other. They have tender hearts for others, and especially for members of our family and close friends. Jake and I take pride in the fact that we show lots and lots of affection in our home. We are touchy-feely people; we're big huggers and kissers and wrestlers. We hug and kiss our kids all of the time and they know they are loved by their parents. I make my family healthy meals every morning, noon, and night. We have treats a couple times a week, and pizza once a week. Our kids know the importance of physical health. They know why we love to workout and they get it. They like to exercise too... and I think that's freaking legit. We love hard, eat a lot, and sleep well for the most part. I've taught my children manners, how to be respectful, and what's acceptable and what's not. We have a good discipline system set up and they know that when I have to ask a third time for them to do something, they're in some sort of trouble. I could go on, but I'm sure you're waiting to hear the stuff that I'm not so awesome at. But I needed to start with something positive because there are a lot of things I do right, and only a couple that I struggle with. I feel like that's the case for most of us.

It's important to always remember what you are good at. It's important to remember that you're probably doing much better than you think you are. It's important to know that you are a good person, and that trying your best is more than enough. These are things to remember. 

Something that I struggle with, and always have struggled with, is bridling my emotions. I'm a passionate person and when I go for something, I go all the way. I also get tense really easily... like I get easily bothered by little stupid minute things that seriously don't matter. But for some reason, I am easily irritated. I've been to a couple different kinds of therapy throughout my adult life, and this issue of irritation coupled with anger and losing my cool has always been connected with something. One therapist said that I was still feeling lots of grief and anger from my miscarriages 9 years ago. I mean that could've been a possibility, so I went with it and tried to work on it from there. But what I've learned is that I actually just. am. this. way. It's how God made me and I've been hard-wired to be this type of person since the day I was born. It is a major part of who I am... but it doesn't have to be. And I don't want it to be. And it is super hard to overcome when it's been who you are for so, so long. 

Without going into detail, the past 4 months have given me an opportunity to really harness this issue that I struggle with and use it for good. You know, like turn a weakness into a strength kind of thing. Well, that blew up in my face real quick. It was a lot of ups and downs, and I would be good for a couple days and then something would set me off. Then last week I stopped sleeping and everything was taken to a whole new level. Break down happened, and I'm feeling better a couple days later. So here I am telling you about my struggle because I just hope and pray it helps someone. I feel like when I share things, it helps people. At least that's what I've been told in the past. We'll see.

Night's Impossible Burden, by Brian Kershisnik

So I'm kind of in the thick of it all. Sunday was a major day of reflection for me, and there was a lesson given at church that hit me so hard that I cried like a little baby through the whole thing. My friend was giving the lesson and she is such a good teacher. I mean, eye contact, pausing to reflect, personal experiences, true emotion... she is everything I love and hope for in a teacher. Her lesson was how we can focus on the simplicity that is in Christ, and how we can allow His grace to lift and carry us. She asked us to ponder the following questions:

1. Does my life have meaning?

2. Do I believe in God?

3. Do I believe that God knows and loves me?

4. Do I believe that God hears and answers my prayers?

5. Am I truly happy?

6. Are my efforts leading me to the highest spiritual goals and values in my life?

They seem like such Sunday school questions, like ones that we've heard a million times. But I read them yesterday and I really thought about each and every one. I have immediate and confident answers for almost all of those questions... except the last one. Humility washed over me and I wept when I read it. You see, the last little while I've pretty much just been "surviving." I feel like that's a term that us moms use pretty freely, and that's okay and good because seriously, sometimes that's all we can do. We make it through the rough days... throw "perfection" out the window and put our heads down until bed time. And then if you're like me, you want to just disappear into your closet and hide away from all of the mistakes you made as a mother and a wife that day. Or maybe that's just me. But I'm hard on myself and I've learned to do less of that. Surviving though... that's all I was doing. I didn't feel like I had the strength to do much more than that. But during this lesson I thought, "Is it truly a lack of strength, Jenna?" At times, yes, yes it is. When I am in the thick of it, sometimes I really don't have it in me to do much more than the minimum. And then I kept thinking... and pondering, and my thoughts were every where and all of a sudden everything in my mind...


The noises in the room were blocked and I was alone in the vacuum of my mind. And I stood there, sad and lonely with my anger and my irritability and my ability to yell so loudly sitting heavy on my shoulders. My lack of emotional control hung around my neck, and I felt alone. I realized in that moment that my actions, my "just surviving" weren't getting me anywhere. My "surviving" was giving me the same unwanted results... a cycle that I can't seem to break. It was a huge moment for me, and with a flash I was back in the room sitting next to my friends with tears streaming down my face. If I want to be different, I need to do things differently. Period.

My friend then moved on to a very poignant point, one that would normally bring feelings of positivity and hope for me but in this case, my true feelings hit me so deeply that I literally felt a pain in my chest. She said something to the effect that Heavenly Father loves us just as we are, right in this moment, right now no matter what we have done right or wrong... He loves us NOW. Not Jenna from 5 years ago, or Jenna 10 years from now. He loves me as I am now. And I thought to myself, "How could anyone love me as I am now? Even my Father in Heaven?"

Then someone made a comment and said that as humans, we are obsessed with Time. I mean, we can't escape it. In our mortal life here on Earth, Time rules. It sets us in motion... Time tells us when to wake up, when to go to sleep, when to be at gymnastics or school or work or church or whatever our extra activities are. Sometimes we get caught up in the past, thinking of a certain way we used to be and wishing we could go back to that. Or if you're like me, you think constantly about the future and hope so badly that you will be different, even just a little, than you are now. Heavenly Father doesn't deal with time though... He is eternal, and time is nothing to Him.  

He sees us as who we are in our entirety. 

Think about that. He doesn't see me in my weaknesses today, but He sees me as I once was, am now, and most importantly, He sees me in my full potential. He sees us in our eternal purity, and THAT person is who He knows and loves unconditionally, even though we can't see it. And that's why He can love us as we are, this very minute, in all of our weaknesses and in all of our shortcomings. 
His love is awesome like that.

I'm going to do things a little differently that I have in the past months. I'm going to make bigger efforts to be more Christlike. I'm going to pray more sincerely. I'm going to read my scriptures. I'm going to serve others *happily.* I'm going to do everything I can to figure out how to change what's inherently inside of me... not make it disappear, but to simply shape and mold it for the better. Because I know I can be better. And I really, really, want to be better.

This is a heavy and personal post. I apologize (insert nervous emoji with the wide eyes and gritted teeth here). But I'm good. I struggle with this a lot, and it's something that has taken over my life a little bit. But today, for the first time in awhile, I felt hopeful.

I have a vision, and every time I think about it and see it in my mind, I tear up. I envision myself dressed in a long, white frothy dress. I am standing tall, and my head is held high in quiet confidence. I'm holding some sort of large book against my chest with one arm, and the other is holding my children's hands. They are behind me, happy and seemingly proud. My husband is next to me, equally confident and quietly proud of his family. But me... this Jenna... she's a sight to see. She knows who she is, and she as overcome much in her life. She is young, and seasoned, and she knows what's what. But you know what gets me every time in this vision? ....She loves herself.

She loves herself.

And that is power above anything else.

Climbing Mother Large, by Brian Kershisnik

I need this painting in my life so, so badly.


Sara Stubbs said...

I love your writing. I love your straight honesty and your humor. You are inspiring. Well done Vela.

Sara Stubbs said...

I love your writing. I love your straight honesty and your humor. You are inspiring. Well done Vela.

Where are my Mary Jane's? said...

Beautiful Jenna. You are a beautiful wonderful person. Thanks for sharing these personal thoughts. I could relate oh so well.

allison said...

I have followed your blog for a long time. So glad to see a new post. I love your writing and honesty. I have been going through the same thing and been so frustrated with myself at my inability to keep my anger and emotions in check. I AM happy--I have a great life--so why do I always blow up at the ones I love most? It has been a true struggle for me but I feel like I'm finding the light in all of it. And this post was encouraging as well. Even though we don't know each other, it's nice not to feel alone. Thank you for sharing!

Andrea Knapton said...

"Surviving not thriving!" Love this. I feel like that should've been the title to 2015 for me. No more though :)

K.Parker said...

I don't have to say much. I just love ya and you know it!!!

Amanda said...

Jenna, I don't know you personally but I stumbled across your Instagram a year ago and I love it. I also love this post. It was exactly what I needed to hear. So thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and know that it has touched me and helped me see things a little better!