Wednesday, June 15, 2011
A few weeks ago, I was complaining to my husband that I didn't feel that the culture I lived in allowed for much honesty when it came to being a mother and raising children. In fact, I think I said something about wishing we could just be more honest about what goes on behind closed doors, or even what happens in public for that matter.
I think it is common in an LDS culture to believe that if things are difficult, or if you aren't happy all of the time, you must be doing something wrong. And I know that there are moms who are "having the most fun they have ever had" and I know that there are seasons, but I also know that there are women who suffer behind those doors because they feel a tremendous burden raising their children. I happen to be one, but I don't know that it is behind any door.
I am grateful, in fact I feel very lucky in life, but happiness? It is very fleeting, my days are extremely stressful, and it's no exaggeration to say I often feel as if I've made the wrong career choice. So when I read this article, and then read many blog responses to it, including that Satan must be behind the article, it causes me to wonder about "happiness" and what it really means.
Back to my culture or perhaps better described as my community: not long after my complaining, we had a tragedy in my neighborhood, in fact the last year has been a tough one for the women of my ward. In response to this tragedy, we had a special Relief Society meeting about trials and hardships and I felt an outpouring of the Lord's love.
The Lord has never promised that the things he asks us to do will bring us immediate happiness. And happiness isn't the same thing as joy. I believe in joy, I believe that if I do the best I can and keep picking myself up, I will have joy in the work I do. Maybe not right now. It is a mountain, there is joy in the journey but there is also sadness, and exasperation, and exhaustion. And that is OK. It is all a part of the plan. I am grateful that the Lord has given me a woman to visit teach who struggles with a difficult child. She struggles daily, but she is faithful. She teaches me to have more faith in the Lord's plan.
I often think of the mission I served as a microcosm of life, really all that was left after those 18 months are the relationships. And they bring me joy. I feel so much overwhelming joy when I think of the beautiful experience that was my mission. I learned so much and evolved into a mature woman, I learned to love and trust Jesus Christ. I laughed and did have fun. But when I look at journals and am reminded by fleeting memories, I remember it was hard, so hard, painfully hard. I don't know that I would go back to those same situations. That difficulty and those hardships and pain is a great part of the joy.
So if you ever feel forlorn, think of me, sitting on my front porch at 7 pm with my head in my hands. And know that I pick pieces of happiness where I can find them.
They usually aren't found in the car. Too many tantrums.
But something simple like Rosemary's treasure lunch box that she carries everywhere will make me smile.
Or the fact that sometimes, they are actually friends.
More than happiness, I think I need to have faith. And I do know that faith brings joy. And joy isn't fleeting, it lasts forever.