Because it's my blog, I reserve the right to just ramble as I process some things.
Today, I will exercise that right.
I speak for nobody but myself and where I am at this exact moment.
If I have learned on thing in life (I hope I have learned a few more) it is that nothing is as constant as change. In order to be progressing in the Earthly experience, we must always be willing to learn things, to change things and to be in the moments and places our Father in Heaven wants us to be.
He will show us the things we need to see as individuals if we will do so, and we will grow. We are all here on this Earth and every single person is going to learn some things. A lot of the time, we choose how we will learn- either in love or in pain, but we will learn the things we need to learn in order to be whole and feel joy.
As I get older, it's interesting to look over beliefs I had that I thought were LAW when I was 20, or when I was 30 or at other times in my life. I look at how very black and white my thinking was. A lot of that was taught to me. You are either good or bad, serving or sinning, on some one's side or against them kind of stuff. Life threw random stuff at you and your job was to always always make sure you saw those things and understood them in these absolutes. God was random, but his children needed to follow a very strict and simple order. When I had temptations and when I sinned- well then-- I was choosing Satan- always. When I did right- eh, my home was kind of messed up so if you did right and realized it, then you were being prideful and something bad would happen...
Examples from my childhood are never much help in understanding a freaking thing, lol.
In my 20's I made a lot of bad choices. I knew right from wrong and so every choice I made that wasn't right made me a bad person. I believed this. Seeing nothing but my flaws and stains, I focused on pushing back against anyone who I felt judged me. Since I assumed everyone else did everything right 100% of the time, that included everyone. I started to really isolate myself then. The only people who were really in my life were those who I could see were clearly just as flawed as I was and together, we would bond in our living in these extremes of seeing the world as holy or corrupt, in seeing others as such, in seeing ourselves as such. I was never holy in my eyes, I was always bad because I sinned.
And that belief led me to some sorry places.
I dealt with it by making worse choices- if I made a bad choice then I felt bad because of what I did, not what was going wrong in my soul. I could continue to see things as black and white, even if it meant I needed to constantly do things to prove I was bad. I dealt with it by eating myself into oblivion and shutting myself off from everyone who ever saw an ounce of good in me. I lashed out at people who were kind to me. I was hideous to my first husband. (That's not to say he was a saint and take all of the responsibility for it all, it was a pretty even 50/50 split of two people being total buttheads to one another all of the time.)
It was a sorry, pathetic place to be in life. One heck of a way to treat a daughter of God (me.) It didn't work, it wasn't sustainable. Life in the extreme is never sustainable.
And that life changed.
One day I was 30.
I had a different husband, and two more children and a perfect house in the right neighborhood in a ward that was strong and friendly and I hated everyone in it. I would only let the Relief Society President in my house every couple of months because she had been divorced before and I could tell myself that she was also a bad person for it, she was just better at fooling others. I hated myself with such contempt and every time I looked in the mirror, I actually said hateful words to myself. I made bad choices, I was bad. Anyone who knew what the right choices were and still made wrong ones was wicked, not human. They certainly weren't a Child of God. God's children always did exactly everything they knew was right.
I dealt with it by again turning to food, either by extreme diets for a season or binge eating for another. I made bad choices, I refused to have anything to do with the church. I fought with a husband who had a life view that was very different from mine. Nothing was good or bad to him, everything was in that grey area. Whatever way the wind blew, that was the way to go. Whatever man told him to do- that's what he did.
In very different ways, we both treated our agency as if it were a burden and refused to own it. I did it in rigid, angry ways, he causally floated in and out so many horrible and evil situations that it ate his soul up. No right or wrong, only what was next.
He remembers more fighting that I do. I remember more time feeling as though I were at the very bottom of a black pit and wishing I could cease to exist. The only reason I continued was because I had children and I believed I was protecting them, giving them a good life and that they had no idea what was really going on. I believed that if I let go- they would be swept away to a place like I chose to exist in.
And all of that extreme living was also--- not sustainable.
One day the bottom fell out and I shattered into a million pieces, while my then- husband floated on to the place the tide took him next. Maybe he didn't hit ground because I was splattered all over all of it, all of the time. I know I chose that.
Life continued to be black and white.
All good or all bad.
Agency meant that you choose righteousness or evil, every second of every day and if you think there are any grey areas, then you are lying to yourself and you are bad.
Exampled in the scriptures didn't change that thinking, words of the prophets didn't change it, certainly the people in my support system didn't help change that, they believed it, too.
Bad trees, bad fruit. THAT was the scripture story that resonated most with me. Not the whole story, the parts that have peace and answers- just the part that was extreme- the part that hurt the most and made me feel the worst.
And now I'm 40.
Remember when everyone who was 30 was old?
I don't feel old now. I still feel as wide eyed as I did when I was a child.
I'm still kind of in awe of this world and everything we see and hear and do.
Holy Cow, what a place to live- Earth.
And at 40, I can say that I have changed.
My life is changed, I have the right husband, a rock start husband- that sure makes a huge difference. I don't have the soundtrack of Dora the Explorer running through my house 24/7 and crayon all over every wall and baby barf for perfume. I walk by the mirror and hate that I have an old lady MOLE on my face now, but I don't curse at the woman staring back at me at all. My doors are open and my relationships are so much better.
I have so much to learn, so many crossed wires in my head and crazy dumb things I don't quite get and I make SO MANY bad choices- but it's all okay.
Life is not black and white.
Right is right and wrong is wrong, there are good things and bad things, but there are no bad people. There are people I don't like, people who harm others, people who are nuts and people who I cannot have any sort of relationship with- but they aren't bad. Even those who do really bad things. They make bad choices- different bad choices than I am making right now. And God loves them as much as he loves the perfect people (who aren't at all perfect.)
Sometimes, the way to go is obvious, and sometimes, what seems obvious to us is not actually the right way to go. You have to chose and learn from the good and the bad. God, fate or karma do not steer your ship- you do- you always do. When you steer it into unsafe places that make you scared and feel terrible, he will rescue you. He will either flash a light in the distance for you to steer towards, he will calm the waters or he will send someone in to help you get control of the ship again. He will send rescue when you have sunk that ship and send you the things you need to get to safer waters, so you can continue.
I've had my ship totally sink a few times. I do not steer the same ship I was in at 20, at 30. It was more work, I have some massive soul bruises and injuries, but I did not become lost at sea. I always get to choose and even when I choose to sin- I can learn and grow from those choices. I'm not bad, it's not all over for me, I am not lost.
Neither are the people who do bad things to me. I may not be able to have them in my life, but I am thankful that Heavenly Father loves all of his children and he looks at all of us and calls us 'good.'
A bad choice does not make you a bad person and it does not mean you have a bad life and more than a good choice makes you perfect and superior. Some choices are made so that a learning experience can take place, and it is not always clear if it is a bad choice or a good choice right away. Sometimes, the Lord asks us to not do things that, on the surface seem to be a right things to do. Sometimes he asks us to do things that would seem to be dumb. We have to trust that He gives each one of his children the specific answers and help that they need in order to grow and to be happy.
Life is not so black and white, things are not always as they seem and I think that's a harder thing to really understand than we realize. Checking off the boxes and being perfect aren't real things. It's about changing, about growing and about being teachable. It really and truly is about the journey and taking the steps today that lead you to safety and to joy. It's about good works, not "good accomplishments." ( I mean, those are great, too, but you know what I mean.)
So take a look at yourself, at your life. Is it crummy and you tell yourself every day that it is crummy because YOU are crummy?
And as I always say, isn't it great to realize that you're wrong because then you get to learn what is right and make different choices!
Look at you- you're awake, breathing, you're reading my blabbering blog and probably other blogs with messages of hope and fun, cute stuff that crafty ladies make. You're already turning your face towards the sunshine, you're already seeking out something better than whatever it is that you look at that says to you every day "you are the worst." Oh my heck, you're already seeing that we are not made up of extremes, our souls are not a study in light and darkness, they are changing, evolving and absorbing what we pour into them. Already you are pouring in something better!
You're getting it, you're doing the exact thing you are supposed to be doing in the season of your life, we're all figuring it out together and it's amazing.
YOU are amazing.
Heck, I am amazing.
Even that snotty lady in the ward and that family member who only speaks to you when she wants something are...amazing.
(And they can keep being amazing waaaaay over there, far away from me.)
(And they can keep being amazing waaaaay over there, far away from me.)
Maybe tomorrow the storm clouds will come in and all of my happy will feel swallowed up, but today, I am remembering that when God created all things, light/dark, day/night- he also created in his plan dawn and evening- proof that he doesn't see everything in extreme contrasts, he doesn't expect us to see ourselves that way either.