If there’s one single thing I’ve learned through 16 years of parenting (houseworking and adulting) it’s that 98% of parenting articles and household tips, tricks and (gag) hacks are utterly worthless.
I’m not exaggerating with that 98% number. Out of every 100 tips I see, only about 2 of them even have the potential to be semi-useful. The rest are either common sense you already know (every parenting article ever); oversimplified, unrealistic or unnecessarily complicated (Pinterest in general), or promise solutions to your toughest parenting conundrums but really just babble endlessly, brainstorming all the possible underlying causes of said problem and never actually give any helpful (or even non-helpful) advice at all (the New York Times: who knew?).
Here are just a few of my faves:
The “This is Not Going to End Well”
OK, but how did you get the mix into the bottle? A funnel, I guess, but my pancake batter is too thick and lumpy and would just end up spilling all over the place. A ladle works great, thankyouverymuch.
The “Yes, You ARE Missing Something Here”
But seriously, am I missing something here? How did they even get it on there???
The “Why Waste Your Time?”
Just fold it. Done. Plus, who can find a paperclip when they need one anyway?
The “Wait, What?”
Aside from the fact that this is not likely to be effective, who wants walnuts all over the house? And if you don’t have the walnuts covering every square inch of your house, won’t the spiders just find some nice, walnut-free zone to take up permanent residence? Really though, if this worked, couldn’t they just bottle the “toxic chemical” and we could spray it everywhere?
The “It Looks Nice BUT…”
Yes, it looks very very nice, but my way is much easier: just toss them in the closet and grab them when you need them.
The “If you’re Naive Enough it Won’t Happen to You”
“Put your money in a sanitary napkin package before putting it in your purse-no one will steal it!”
Because thieves never just grab the whole purse and run.
But perhaps the most disappointing are the ones that seem pseudo-scientific:
This tip for getting rid of an ant infestation: “Line suspected entryways with deterrent substances. Salt, chalk, baby powder and talc can be spread under doors, near windows and walls.”
Even worse than walnuts rolling all over the house is baby powder sprinkled on every windowsill and worse, on the floor of every doorway. And no one website can agree on why this is supposedly helpful. I’ve seen “They don’t like the taste,” “It kills them,” “They lose their scent and get lost,” and my personal favorite, “it’s too slippery and they’ll trip and not be able to walk past the powder.”
“Drink tons of apple juice before you go to bed. A chemical compound in the juice will help you to have vivid awesome dreams.”
Wow, “tons”? that’s a lot. A ton is like, what, 2,000 pounds? And what chemical compound is it exactly? Eh, who cares, because: science! Wait, but vivid awesome dreams? Like an acid trip? Do I want that?
Having said all that, I have found a couple of tips that were truly genius. And I often get good advice from friends and reputable books, etc. But most of life is hard work that a Facebook meme isn’t going to be able to eliminate for you. And legitimate advice (at least on the big stuff) can’t be condensed into a one-page article. Except maybe this:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I love looking back on what I’ve written before in old journals, blog posts, and Facebook statuses. I usually find them hilarious but some of them are quite depressing. My heart aches seeing myself so very depressed, so incredibly tired, and so hopelessly despairing. I go on and on berating myself for being so lazy which only made me feel guilty and thus even more depressed and tired. This vicious cycle sprilaed for several years. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression pretty much my whole life, but this was different. I was so exhausted I would fall asleep in church every single week without fail. I would struggle to keep my eyes open while driving, even during the day. I wrote blog posts like, Lazy Bum, Lazy Elsie Marley, and I’m a Better Mother! Or not. about how horrible I felt (if I ever wrote at all) and I pretty much just totally, utterly hated myself.
It’s really horrible to feel hopeless for no apparent reason. When I could somehow manage to look objectively at my life I’d know in my brain that it was a great life full of blessings that I should’ve be feeling grateful for, but I just couldn’t seem to break out of the gloom that old me that my life was absolutely horrible and would always be horrible and there was never any hope for my future at all whatsoever. It’s demoralizing. It’s debilitating. It’s paralyzing. Why even try when no matter what you do your life will always be terrible? No matter what. Forever. And ever. That’s the feeling of hopelessness I was mired in for years.
I talked to my Dr. and had all kinds of blood tests and medication switches and they could NOT explain why I was so tired. It wasn’t my thyroid, I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t hypoglycemic, and it probably wasn’t the medicine. I thought, great, so the only thing wrong with me is that I’m basically just a total failure.
One day I was annoyed with my regular doctor because when I went in to talk with her about a couple of issues (including my weight and my fatigue) she dismissed me, looking at me pityingly and saying, “Sorry, I just really don’t think there’s anything I can help you with.” I was so frustrated with her unwillingness to even attempt to help me that I changed doctors that day. The first thing the new Dr. said was, “Well, you’re definitely anemic. Also, have you ever been tested for sleep apnea?” Um…..no! No one’s ever even brought it up as an possibility! After a really easy test that I was able to do at home (not in some horrible sleep clinic), I was told that I had “mild” sleep apnea which caused me to “only” stop breathing (and thus wake up briefly) 20-30 times AN HOUR!!! No wonder I was so tired! They gave me a CPAP machine and 2 years later I’m pleasantly surprised with how much better I feel. I’m less tired now, with a 7-month-old baby who still wakes up some nights than when I was “sleeping” 13+ hours a day. Plus, I hate myself a lot less, and now I actually feel this little glimmer of…(can it be?)…HOPE!
This is huge. Life hasn’t been easy. In fact it’s been busier and harder than ever. A lot has happened in the past 8 months.
-Hubby got a new (busier) job.
-We moved to a new house while I was 7 months pregnant.
-The baby was born a month early via emergency C-section due to a placental abruption. This involved general anesthesia and two blood transfusions for me, and sedating and inducing a 72 hour hypothermia to prevent brain damage for the baby (sounds pretty sci-fi, I know).
-The renters moved out of our house that we still owned in the mountains causing us to panic about the possibility of yet another foreclosure on our credit.
-Boy #2 broke a toe playing rugby (The next day I went into labor) and 6 months later he broke a pinky (the day of Girl #1’s birthday party).
Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about all that! And this in addition to all the other stress, trauma, worry and chaos that come along with having 4 kids at different schools and in various activities and carpools, and with homework and projects, and all the lack of sleep and constant feeding (and CRYING!!!) that comes with having a new baby, and all the misunderstandings and frustrations and money problems that come with being married.
So don’t think for a second that my problems have disappeared and and things have gotten less busy or stressful. My depression isn’t gone and I’m definitely an exhausted, forgetful mess. But even though my weight problem has gotten worse, I’m still struggling with the physical effects of an emergency C-section, I’m still severely anemic, the baby has a terrible chest cold, and now I also have a terrible chest cold, I feel a strange little ray of sunshine poking through the clouds giving me hope. And it’s glorious. I’m not peppy and energetic by any stretch of the imagination, and I had to increase my anti-depressant medication after having the baby because I felt myself slipping into depression. But I caught it early, am only on 2 medications instead of 5, and feel a little bit motivated and surprisingly, blessedly hopeful! Some days are better than others but that sliver of hope is usually there encouraging me to do better the next day, try to be more patient with myself, envision the successes I’ll have in the future, and keep plugging along. I started blogging again and I’m staying up too late doing things I like to do. These are amazing developments! There is joy in life! There is hope! And as Scarlett O’Hara said:
Let me clear something up for you, Gents. If you have (and intend to keep) a significant other, you WILL celebrate Valentine’s Day. Every. Year. No matter what. Absolutely no exceptions. There are no valid excuses. Not even:
A) She says it’s no big deal and not to get her anything.
LIES! Do it anyway. If by some strange chance she was being honest then you’ve gone above and beyond and pleasantly surprised your woman and now you have extra points. Good on you! Buuuuuut…If you call her bluff and don’t do anything at all? Busted. An argument will ensue. Trust me, you don’t need that drama. I’m just looking out for you, Bruh.
B) This is a holiday made up by greeting card companies to scam you out of your hard-earned money.
Objection your honor: irrelevant! I don’t care if it’s true or not; it simply doesn’t matter. What does matter is that when all of her insta-friends are getting flowers and giant teddy bears and chocolates and fancy dinners and opera tickets and trips to Hawaii and hot air balloon rides and engagement rings (!!!) and she gets nothing (???) she will start to wonder if you ever even loved her at all.
C) You show her you love her every day of the year and you don’t need a holiday to do that.
Good! You’re a keeper; if you two are the least bit compatible at all she won’t break up with you anytime soon. But that doesn’t get you out of Valentine’s Day. If you love her then you want her to be happy. Right? Right. My husband shows me he loves me every single day of my life. He works hard 60+ hours a week for our family, washes dishes, changes diapers, schedules family time, takes me on a date almost every week and gives me hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s,” but when life gets busy (let’s face it, life is never NOT busy) there is no time for flowers and cards and chocolates. That’s what Valentine’s Day is for. Just be grateful you didn’t have to come up with some special holiday for that all on your own. See? This is really to your benefit.
D) Your girlfriend/fiance/wife isn’t into flowers and chocolates and would much rather get a ratchet set.
Then for goodness sake, get her a ratchet set. You know your woman. You know what she likes (and if you don’t, then by all means, ask her) and if she’s not a traditional “girly girl” or has unusual tastes or hobbies, all the better. A thoughtful gesture can come from literally anywhere.
E) This year the holiday falls on an inconvenient day.
When Hubby and I were engaged Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday. I spent all week writing him a poem and Sunday morning while he was at church I taped construction paper hearts all over his car and stuck the poem on his windshield. I was so excited to see what he’d done for me. Which was nothing. At all. This was simply unacceptable to me and I told him so. “But…it’s Sunday…” Dude, two words: plan ahead. The stores were open yesterday and there are plenty of last-minute things you can do and still keep the Sabbath Day holy. Make a homemade card. Sing a song. Pick a flower. Jot down a love note. Anything, really. You can even make plans for another day or week. For one of our anniversaries (this golden advice works for all kinds of special occasions. You’re welcome.) Hubby and I went to dinner at our favorite low-budget take-out place. He gave me a card that had a printout for a reservation he made online for us to go away for another weekend down the road. It was perfect.
F) You have no money. Like, seriously none at all.
This is honestly not even a problem. Chances are, she already knows this. My husband and I spent many frugal (read: dirt poor) years together. I was 18 and he was 22 when we got married. He worked part time, we both went to school, and we had two babies before we graduated. But after our first couple V-Days together wherein I did something for him (involving paper and markers) and he did absolutely nothing (involving an argument), we started getting the hang of things and had many low cost or no cost celebrations of love. I won’t spell out the most obvious way to do this (this is a family-friendly blog after all). I will however tell you that we did lots of things like:
- Blow up balloons filled with hundreds of tiny strips of paper saying “I love you!”
- Make a homemade dinner by candlelight.
- Drive your blindfolded wife around town to a secret location (back at the house) for a big date (lovely romantic dinner at home that she didn’t have to cook).
- Trade babysitting with other couples or hit up the grandparents to babysit and bid on cheap hotels online for short weekend getaways.
- Drive to the beach and sit there watching the waves and drinking non-alcoholic cider in plastic “champagne glasses.”
- Attend free activities like church “sweetheart” dances or a friend’s Murder Mystery party.
- Use a mix-tape with song clues leading to a location where you “Accidentally” meet up with another couple for a surprise outdoor dinner of fast food.
- A photo scavenger hunt in an outdoor mall with other couples.
Let me level with you guys. The vast majority of women want nothing more than to know you were thinking about them and that you love them. That’s the whole point of all this. Jewelry that symbolizes your love is wonderful. But without the symbolism it’s just a chunk of metal. Flowers and teddy bears are useless, really, but when it’s a reminder of your love it’s glorious! In these cases it really is the thought that counts. Not in a I-thought-I’d-buy-you-a-car-but-hey-it’s-the-thought-that-counts-right? kind of way. More like a I-don’t-have-a-lot-of-time-and-money-but-I-did-take-time-to-think-about-you-because-I-love-you-that-much kind of way. Therefore, If you are lacking in time or money or resources or creativity or willpower or anything else, I kid you not, a simple note on a piece of paper that tells her how much she means to you will be cherished FOREVER.
It’s fun to occasionally go big for V-day too. If you need help managing your money so you can make sure you enjoy celebrations like Valentine’s Day without going over-budget, you might want to check out Personal Capital’s financial tools as a possible resource. They’re running a project right now on how to enjoy Valentine’s day without breaking the bank, so I thought I’d share my tips with you. Nothing kills the bliss of a good Valentine’s Day like worrying about money!
There are some things you should probably know about me.
1) I have a slightly dark sense of humor. OK, a REALLY dark sense of humor. But not all the time. Just like, 15-20% of the time. Maybe 25. But definitely no more than 30% tops.
2) I find myself hilarious. I spent a couple of hours yesterday rereading my own blog and cracking up over and over again. And cringing. A lot of oversharing goes on in my blog. and it’s allllll in print. But this one post, “Put the FUN Back in FUNeral!” actually gave me the chill to read over again. It’s slightly irreverent, but touching and it reminded me that I really miss my dad. Even more than missing him, I feel guilty for not missing him more than I do. I’m so caught up with daily life that I honestly can’t say, “there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him.” Not even close. In fact, I don’t think about him nearly every day. At least not consciously, or in some wistful, reminiscent way. Usually I’m just too preoccupied with life. But sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks and I feel incredibly sad.
When that happens, I ALSO feel guilty for how much I DO miss him. I feel like I have to minimize my pain because I know my mom and sisters had it way worse. He was my mom’s husband for goodness sake and my sisters were still living at home, a junior in high school and an 8th grader at the time. At least I was an adult, already out of the house with a family of my own. But I was floored by how it threw me for a loop. I absolutely did not expect the death of a parent to hurt THAT MUCH. When he died I felt a literal and unbearable physical pain. And the fact that life wasn’t always perfect and that I had regrets made it so much worse. I remember wishing I was in a coma so I wouldn’t have to feel anymore.
3) I may not ever NOT be bitter about him being gone. Even though it’s been 11 years and I go days or weeks without even a thought of it, sometimes I’m blindsided by the anger and bitterness upon hearing people talk about their dads. Oh THEY have a dad. Why do they deserve a dad and I don’t? They’re like 60 years old and they still have a dad? Not fair!
My sister used to send me a sardonic “happy dad’s dead day!” greeting every January 18th. He was only 47 and died suddenly. Like, instantaneously. So it was pretty traumatic and I think all of us are still processing it. No premonitions, no time to say goodbye, no last words, no mental preparation, no explanation or even comprehension. We had people over when my mom called to tell me. I kept repeating over and over, “Wait, dad’s dead. He’s dead. Dad. He’s dead. Dead. Dad. MY dad.” No matter how many times my mouth said it, my brain didn’t get it. She only found out a few hours after the fact because my grandpa called her saying my dad was at the hospital. He wasn’t “at the hospital.” He had collapsed on the treadmill at the gym where he went every single day. It’s actually kind of hilarious (there’s my dark sense of humor). The last call on his cell phone was to a radio talk show like 5 minutes before he was pronounced dead. I guess it’s not like in the movies where you faint gracefully and breathe out one last gentle, “tell my family I love them…” I imagine this was more like, “Of COURSE we need the government to spend less, are you guys insane?! Plop.” Or maybe it was awesome and looked something like this:
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was it.
4) Ultimately though, I have hope in the future. I believe firmly in an afterlife. I wish my kids had gotten to know my dad, but I know he knows them. I’m pretty sure he’s watching them from heaven and whenever they make some offensive, ridiculous joke he says, “yup, that’s definitely my progeny!” And as my 2-year-old boy said at the time, “well then, why are you crying? You’ll see him again in heaven!”
I was terrified to raise teenagers. The knowledge that my kids would grow up to be teens someday scared the crap out of me and it’s a thought I stressed about. A lot. What I remember from being a teenager was that it was So incredibly frustrating. All. Of. The. Time. I did not make it easy on my parents. I was surly. I was sneaky. I was angry. I was aloof. I listened to inappropriate music and used foul language and kicked holes in motel room doors when I didn’t get my way.
As a teenager you are just a few short years from being a “responsible” adult, out on your own, making life decisions, paying for things, having to feed and clothe and house your own self. And yet, as you come into your own and are finding yourself, a minor in your parents house with an immature mind and a fully mature body, you feel like everything in life; school, parents, rules, curfews, and laws even; is unendingly stacked against you. And it is. In May you can’t be trusted to be out at night or decide when and how to wash a dish, and by July you are living on your own, doing everything when and if and how you want and it’s up to you to be responsible for having insurance and hitching a ride with a stranger to the doctor when you’ve had a possible allergic reaction (true story). It’s a tough lot and with all of their immaturity and short-sightedness (sorry guys, but you know it’s true), teenagers still have their own set of experiences and come up with their own wise and insightful theories on life.
Tonight I was “researching” for a blog post I’m working on. I couldn’t remember a few details about what had happened so I thought I’d check in my old journal to see what I’d written about it. I am so grateful that I kept a journal throughout those formative years. I was never consistent at it (and now I never really write in it at all) but tonight I spent a couple of hours poring over the words I wrote a full TWO DECADES ago! It’s a fascinating and embarrassing concoction of ignorance, wisdom, frivolity, giddiness, depression, anger, worry, meanness, kindness, spirituality, vulgarity, planning, depth, and thoughtlessness. And lists of the names of bands I liked. So many lists. Updated every few months. Why? Seriously. Why? But I was struck by how profound one entry was.
I relayed the details of how a few of us, instigated by me, were being ridiculously silly (and actually pretty rude now that I think about it) sitting in a big circle in the middle of the school hallway right when kids were getting to school and trying to get to class. I found it hilarious, and I prided myself in “making people think I was stupid” because, again, hilarious! But apparently this ill-advised venture brought me to some serious reflection on life (though not, unfortunately, to conclude that it was a terrible idea). Here’s what I wrote, typed out exactly as it’s written, spelling and punctuation included. I’m actually impressed by my correct spelling of “acquaintance” (which I am somehow no longer able to accomplish without spell-check):
“10-3-96 page 91
You know what I’ve learned these past 2 yrs. in high school. To be cool, and have people like you, you have to not care about what ANYONE thinks. And that’s impossible if you’re trying to get in with a certain select group of cool or well dressed people. Because if you can’t be you just regular, stupid, weird, airhead you, you can’t be cool anyway ’cause it just doesn’t happen. I’m serious! have you noticed that cool people have personalities all their own? but their cool within “their” group. Take the most popular person you know & some people do not like them. It’s true. Be cool in your own group that you develope. That’s the
key (my paper is getting hard to write on) ———–>
O.K. That’s the key to “popularity” & happiness (Social happiness) Because if you do impress the “cool people” that’s awesome. But if it’s because you’re fake, you’ll eventually find that they suck anyways! It’s true. No matter what you think now, you’ll someday find that “Be yourself means more than you think.
This is how I made friends when I was new here. I just was friendly to everyone & eventually I saw who accepted me as a friend, acquaintance, or not at all. And then just be yourself & everything will work out. I promise.
The reason I don’t care what anyone thinks of me is that I hate some people & I know some people hate me. O-L. Life’s like that. So if they think I’m stupid does it matter to me? Hell no! Know why? ‘Cause my friends think I’m cool.
I DON’T LIKE SPAM!!!
on the bus does get you friends.”
That last part is also a true story. What incredible (if not incredibly eloquent) advice! What unique perspective! I wish I had remembered it, but thank goodness I wrote it down.
I now have two teenagers, a just-turned-14-year-old and an almost-16-year-old, and they are amazing. Funny, enjoyable, kind, obedient, responsible, witty, and yes, even wise on occasion. They are also kind of clueless and annoying and obstinate and whiny and rude. I’m still the mom and I teach them and have rules for them. But I try to be more patient with them and remember that they are unique almost-adults who have wisdom to impart, even if it results from an exercise in annoying other people in the hallway.
Today I went for a walk with some adorable ladies form my church. It was foggy and chilly at first but then the sun broke through and it warmed up. We walked pushing strollers while kids ran around and chased bunnies into the rocks. It was relaxing and invigorating and bonding and freeing all at once. As we walked we chatted. About traumatic births. About chasing birds. About ourselves. And we talked about self-worth and not comparing ourselves to others. That’s something I think a lot about and have struggled with since elementary school. For as long as I can remember I’ve been depressed, anxious, worried, stressed, and full of self-loathing. Oh the self-loathing! One of many factors contributing to that has been a hereditary chemical imbalance. But one of the things that helps me when I’m in a funk is to think about our infinite worth as human beings. One of the oft-quoted scriptures in our religion is found in Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 and it says:
That alone is a magnificent truth. But that little semicolon was taunting me to read on. Verse 11 says:
Whoa! God not only loves us, but He loves us enough to suffer so we don’t have to! I can’t even comprehend that. I just. Can’t. Even. But what I can glean from that is that He redeemed ME. Not a perfect version of me. Not a did-her-best-and-made-it-pretty-darn-close-to perfection-all-by-herself version either. He paid the price for my redemption long before I was born. It was a built-in part of the plan that I wouldn’t be able to make it alone. But there was also a built-in way for me to make it. With Him. I love this little comic I saw on Facebook once:
Truer words, people. He drags me on the regular. Fo sho. And that’s OK, because I’m worth it! I have infinite potential! And if I waste time comparing myself to others, and especially comparing their best with my worst, I’ll never get anywhere.
The sweet ladies I walked with gave me a journal with this on it:
Awesome, huh? and inside it was an article about not comparing ourselves to others. One interesting part was about not letting social media get us down. We constantly (like, 24-7 constantly) see the beautiful and exciting photos and status’ that other people post online and it can make us feel like our lives are not as cool as theirs as we sit on our phones scrolling through pix from exotic destinations we aren’t visiting. I love this quote (that i also saw on Facebook:
This particular quote came to mind when I was on Facebook posting photos of a recent 3 day trip to Disneyland with my family. We stayed in a nice hotel on the property and Hubby took off work for the much-needed fun family getaway. Here are some highlights that I posted on social media:
Aw! So fun, right? As I posted these pictures I realized that it looked like we had a non-stop weekend of nothing but FUN FUN FUN! On steroids! I mean we were at “the happiest place on earth”!! We were smiling real big!!!! We were riding rides!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were licking whipped cream off stacks of pancakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But the truth is, like all things in life, it was a mixed bag. The baby was unusually fussy and as a result, none of us got any sleep. Hubby took the big kids on ride after ride after ride, but I only went on four. Four rides total in three days. I was simply too tired and preoccupied with the baby to ride the rides. Even when Hubby had the baby, I was Just. So. Tired. The kids whined, argued and fought. Hubby and I worried, stressed, and yes, even bickered a little. I had a breakdown over laundry detergent, and all in all, we went home completely exhausted.
These photos are by no means fake. They are genuine happy moments that we had together. And they made the trip worth it for sure. But if this is all you were seeing on social media you would think my life was blissful and I was never a tired, sobbing mess. I didn’t take selfies of me going insane waiting for an hour in the
dungeon hotel laundry room while I infuriatingly tired to get the detergent dispenser to accept my credit card. You wouldn’t see me helplessly calling housekeeping three different times, constantly being told “We’re so sorry, we’ll bring some up right away.” And I didn’t tweet about accosting housekeepers in the hallway, demanding laundry detergent (that they obviously don’t carry around with them) or sobbing in the bathroom and being offended that my husband dare suggest that I might need a nap (which I desperately did). Again, the trip wasn’t all bad. But I realized that life really is a mixed bag. There’s good and bad and boring and exciting and disappointing and pleasant surprises and smiling family photos in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and sobbing over laundry detergent. The reason it’s so dangerous to compare ourselves to our perception of other people is that our lives are neither as glamorous and exciting as they seem on the outside, nor are they as bleak and sad as they sometimes seem on the inside. And thanks to a loving Savior we are never in it alone. And today in particular I’m immensely grateful for two lovely ladies who reminded me of that.
Today I was feeding my 3 month old baby a bottle. He was hungry, and he was downing it. But I stopped him halfway through to burp him because he has a tendency to get gassy, Like, screaming in pain, gassy. And he spits up so much we’re worried that he doesn’t get any nutrition. At all. But don’t worry, he’s still miraculously gaining weight. Anyway, when I started burping him he immediately started screaming bloody murder. So, being the weirdo that I am, I started narrating his thoughts in the singsong baby voice I’m sure accurately represents what is going on in his head, “Mother, how could you starve me this way??? Why do you hate me so??? You’re never going to feed me again!” “How could you just leave me here to starve to death?!” Trust me, it was hilarious. No really, it was. But I suddenly had a profound thought. That is pretty much how we feel in relationship to God when we don’t get exactly what we want, exactly when we want it. “Why me?” “How could God let this happen?” “Is this some cruel joke?” “God must hate me!” I’ve had all of those thoughts and then some. But I really know God loves me. And I know that He helps me. So why doesn’t He always give me what I want?
Our relationship with God has many facets, and there are many scriptures that are seemingly contradictory. Like “God is love” and “Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people” but I really think they are much easier to understand if we think of Him as our literal Father in Heaven and compare that relationship to our relationship with our own children. The scriptures tell us that God is our Father; that we are His children; and there are multiple examples in the scriptures describing this relationship in detail. One of my favorites is found three separate places in the LDS scriptures. It’s in the Bible in Luke 11:11 and Matthew 7:9 and in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 14:9. In Luke 11:9-13 (because I like this whole section so much) it says,
Oh my gosh! This scripture gives me chills! The relatable comparison to the actual parent-child relationship helps me understand this concept so much more than if God had just said, “if you want something: ask.” and left it at that. I would have thought (and sometimes still do), “Yeah, well I can ask, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get what I want so what’s the point of even asking?” And while this is kind of true, it’s more intricate than that. Think of your own children (real or imagined). Don’t you just have the most burning desire to give them the world? How often do you sacrifice your own comfort/happiness/sleep/money so they can be happy? How often do you eat the crust of their sandwiches, change their diapers and clean their vomit in the middle of the night? The sacrifices we make, I believe, are surpassed only by the Savior Himself and the sacrifice He made for us. Don’t get me wrong, His sacrifice INFINITELY surpasses our own. But ours is pretty dang big in our own individual sphere of influence. I know I have sacrificed, just about to my breaking point, many times for my kids and I bet you have (or would) as well. Again, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves or that we should spoil our kids rotten. I mean, I’m writing this sitting alone in a Starbucks having a much-needed break from those adorable little cherubs that I adore so much. I even had to side-step the subject of where I was going tonight to sugar-coat the fact that I needed to get the heck away from the incessant whining, crying, yelling and general neediness. I may be a mother, but I’m still human. And I sure do want them to have a pain-free life, but I also know that’s completely impossible. Which brings me back to Luke 11. Despite being “evil” (read: mortal/flawed/sinful/sick/tired/sickandtired/bored/stressed/anxious/depressed/lazy/blahblahblah) we try our darndest to give our kids “good gifts.” Not lame gifts. Not crap. Not a stone instead of bread (I mean, who mocks their child’s hunger like that?!) So since God is perfect, wouldn’t His gifts to us, His children, be that much more amazing? Of course! Now, like with our children, everything we ask for is not necessarily in our best interest. “No you cannot have JUST cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” But we still strive to make them happy by giving them things they like. “Eat your carrots and THEN you can have a cookie.” We even try to ease the burden of the trials as much as we can. “Here’s some ranch for your carrots.” But we still require things of them. “No, licking the ranch off the carrot doesn’t count. You must chew AND swallow THREE WHOLE (baby) carrots to get a cookie.”
And this one scripture just scratches the surface of God’s relationship with us. There are myriad scriptures about this relationship, 3 Nephi 10:4-6, Isaiah 49:14-16 (another absolute favorite. Dude, I could NEVER forget my child. But some women do! But God NEVER will. He can’t. Wow, more chills), and Matthew 6:24-33 just to name a few. That last one I actually wrote a blog post about once. You can find it HERE. Interestingly, that post also mentions the scripture I found in Luke. I guess I’ve thought before about how much they relate to each other. Both extremely comforting. I’m so grateful to know that God is legitly our Father. And I think it’s no mistake that He gives us the opportunity to be parents ourselves in this life because it helps us understand Him better. And makes me feel so much better about life in general.