I've spent a lot of time this past week reading. I received some books as gifts, and being as sick as I was, reading was about all I could do. I think I can count it as a blessing in disguise that I wasn't able to do anything else as I realize I have nearly finished every written thing I was given (representing hundreds, if not thousands of pages), because there were some really valuable things presented to me in those pages.
One of those has addressed the discontent I've been feeling as a mother and wife. Now don't get me wrong, I know I am just about the most blessed woman on the earth to have Adam and our beautiful children, and the most important job in the world caring for them. But our generation of girls was done a disservice when we were hammered with the idea that we could become anything we wanted when we grew up: we all got the idea that the age-old infinitely important and essential job of "Mother" was something to avoid. That it wasn't important or valued at all. How on earth am I supposed to feel fulfillment when there are no promotions, bonuses, awards, or even a salary involved?
Of course, the answer is God. Now if you have a pretty good relationship with God, it doesn't matter what anyone says, you know who you are and what your role is. You will feel fulfilled digging ditches or cleaning toilets, or even changing diapers and wiping noses.
That is the essential puzzle piece I've been missing for so long. Of course, God is in my life, but I haven't had a close, meaningful relationship with Him in years. I've been so frustrated myself and my own failings that I gave up trying to do the things that brought me close to Him. But how could I feel His approval with the choices I've made in my life, the things I am doing, if I don't invite Him to comment?
Just now, I was reading from a book Shelli gave me, Contentment: Inspiring Insights for LDS Mothers by Maria Covey Cole, and I came across a familiar quote by Richard G. Scott that has actually struck me with meaning before: "It is easy to forget the fundamental purpose of life. Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people. It is distraction. He would have good people fill life with 'good things' so there is no room for the essential ones."
This is where I remembered an object lesson I gave, I think in Relief Society when I was in the college married ward or maybe it was in Young Women, where I filled a jar with different things: sugar, beans, pasta. When you fill the jar with the sugar first, nothing else fits in the jar. But when you fill it with the pasta first, the beans and the sugar, trickle down in between, finding their proper place.
And I knew what my New Year's Resolutions needed to be.
Focus on the essential things:
1. Return to regular personal prayer and scripture study.
2. Peacefully care for my family.
3. Seek ways to give service to others through Church callings and personal friendships.
I feel like I need to clarify my #2 because written down it seems really general, but I have a specific idea in my head for what that will look like. I'm thinking of the mundane, necessary things like feeding, clothing, teaching, and cleaning up after my family. But finding a peace in doing it, instead of beating myself over the head about trying to do it perfectly. Someone wise recently told me that in all these things is some of our most important spiritual work. Because, "all things unto me are spiritual" (D&C 29:34).
So, here's to a peaceful 2010 focused on what's most important.