Wednesday, September 8, 2010

growing pains

Every now and again, Kate will wake up from an otherwise peaceful slumber, crying from pain.

My Kate is no sissy, so I know it really hurts.  She cries out, pleading for relief and wondering why it has to hurt so bad.  I hold her close, rub her legs, sing soothing songs, and try my best to comfort her.  I'm so sorry you are hurting, I whisper, but I'm right here and before long the pain will go away.  Soon you'll be able to rest again. 

Watching her breaks my heart.  However, I've learned that the hurt will run it's course, eventually loosening it's hold.  Once it does, her little body will relax almost immediately and she'll quickly drift back to sleep.  Almost like it never even happened.

Growing pains, they tell me.

Lately I've had a few of my own.  Not the physical kind, but the emotional/spiritual growing pains.  And you know what? 

It hurt.  It hurt a lot.

Sometimes we look at each other and think everyone else has it really good.  What I am learning is that we can't always see the inside, and trials and struggles don't always have a face.  That life which seems so perfectly sculpted is not immune from the personal, and I believe sacred lessons that can only be learned in the way Heavenly Father has planned for each of us. 

This lesson of mine?  It came on like a ton of bricks, and settled there to stay for a while.  Can I tell you I tried?  I tried really hard to do everything I could, anything I thought might help.  But it didn't seem  to go away like I wished.

I have to admit that I wondered where He was.

I never doubted He was there.  Not once.  I just thought maybe I wasn't connecting. 

So I continued.  Praying.  Pleading.  Wondering why it had to hurt so bad and what I needed to learn.

You know what?  Almost as soon as my hurt had come, it went away.  In what seemed like an instant, I felt a breath of fresh air.  A reprieve.

It's funny how growth works.  It wasn't until the pain went away that I could feel Him.  There the whole time, I believe, but trusting me to feel my way around.  Knowing that the sadness would eventually loosen it's grip, I'd find my way, and that I'd be stronger because of it.

He was there the whole time.

Once I could see things a little more clearly, I had a lot to think about.  Most often, I find myself coming back to one thing.


To anyone looking in, I had nothing to complain about.  Even I know that.  But I was struggling, and knowing that I didn't really have a good reason didn't make it any easier.  In fact, it almost made it worse.  This experience made me wonder how many women around me might be feeling the same way.  Isn't it funny how we've trained ourselves to put our best face forward?  I think we are afraid to show that we are real.  As if it would mean we've failed. 

I read an essay the other day titled The Other Mothers.  I immediately related as I read this mother's explanation of how she tended to compare herself to the "other mothers".   I even chuckled out loud when she wrote of comforting herself by carefully taking inventory of the foibles of the "'other' other mothers", the ones she felt she easily out-mothered.

We all do it, don't we.  And why?

When as mothers and women, we all struggle in our striving?  All trying to do our very best but knowing we often fall painfully short.

We all have our fair share of growing pains.  Some may be visible, others quietly tucked away. 

I'd like to be done with the comparing and get a little better at the nurturing.  Spending my energy supporting and lifting.  Soothing those who need it and staying close until the pain is gone.  Whispering, reminding that He really is there, and promise that sometime soon we're going to come through this just fine, perhaps a little bit stronger. 

I love this story quoted in Margorie Hinckley's book Glimpses,
"Some years ago I had a friend who decided at the age of fifty that she was going to learn to play the piano.  She courageously started out with Thompson's Book 1.  Each morning she went to the church at seven o'clock. . .After about a year they asked her to play a special number for one of the Relief Society lessons.  She said she didn't feel ready, to give her another three months.  The three months passed, and she consented to play a special number that she had memorized.  This was her first public appearance on the piano.  She started out beautifully.  It went well for about three measures, then she lost it.  Everything went blank.  Her music teacher, who was present, said, "Don't be ruffled, Merle.  Just start over."  She started over and made it all the way through without a single mistake.
We have never loved Merle like we loved her that morning.  Perhaps it was because she faltered a little in the beginning and we were all pulling for her, saying to ourselves, "Come on Merle, you can do it." . . .As it was, she faltered a little, and we loved her all the more.  That experience has given me great comfort.  I figure if I fall a little short of what is expected of me, perhaps my sisters in the gospel will be compassionate and love me for trying.
It was Lucy Mack Smith who said, "Let us all help one another, that we may sit down together in heaven."
Isn't that wonderful?  To think that when we falter, someone will be pulling for us, loving us all the more.  Saying to themselves (and maybe more importantly between themselves), "Come on, you can do it,"  Or perhaps, "Don't be ruffled. . .just start over." 

I once heard a good friend of mine say "There are many ways to do the right thing". 

I think the best thing we can do for eachother is let ourselves grow.  Give eachother the chance to do the right thing in our very own way.  To be real.

Faltering, because we know we will.  Starting over, because He made it possible. 

And loving eachother all the more.

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