Saturday, January 1, 2011
As I reflect on this past year I am grateful for the experiences that I have had. This year was intense for me in the way of life lesson's that were learned and which were piled one on top of another. Our family came through it better and stronger though. Whew!
I thought I would dedicate this blog post to reviewing the great lessons I did learn. Most are not new to anyone, but it's always helpful to look back and see just how far you have come or to realize just how strong your back has become through it all. I am so blessed to have continuous opportunities for growth and progression. Mortal life truly is an amazing experience!
Lesson one: Don't be so stuffy! I learned that I had too much stuff! I repented of that and gave 2/3 of our things away. After I did I felt a great relief. I felt has if I had lost a hundred pounds. You don't realize how weighed down you are until it is gone. I learned that I don't need seven spatulas in my kitchen drawer, that I only need three or four board games (because that's how many we play with anyway), I only need three or four pairs of pants, I only need one pair of sheets per bed, I only need one book case of books instead of five (I can get almost anything from the library) and I don't need any plastic plants. I've always been good about organizing my things so they were always neat and tidy, but it wasn't until it was gone that I felt the joy of simplicity.
There was a greater increase of the Spirit in our home because I was not holding onto more than what my needs and wants really were. I also gained more time. I spent less time dusting, less time organizing and less time feeling weighed down by stuff. I feel terrible that I spent so much money on stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff. I learned that Satan wants us to have our lives filled with stuff because they distract us from doing the really important things. When you have stuff you want to use it so now you are spending more time with stuff and your time becomes stuffy and your life becomes stuffy and you miss out on the eternal.
I am so blessed to have learned this lesson. There were a couple of times that I was a little sad getting rid of things, but there is not anything I got rid of that I now regret. This lesson takes a brave heart, but it was so worth it.
Lesson two: They shall nash their teeth, but it will not hurt. Spending nine months on the campaign trail as it ups and downs. The downs are the slander, the false accusations, the emotional attacks and the smears. One morning we woke up to the knowledge that our entire district was robo called (computer generated phone calls) and my husband was called a liar and a corrupt politician by one of the head legislators in the Democratic Party for the state. Yes, that was a rough morning. We applied what we have always done when the going gets tough, we fell to our knees and asked the Lord to grant us with peace, love and with the strength to forgive our enemies. It was still hard on days like that, but I knew that God would take care of us. Brigham Young says, "Pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on you." So after we prayed we went to work. My husband did his campaign business and I did my business-being a wife and mother, and it all was okay. For in those times the Lord grants you eternal perspective and clarity of thought that enables you trust His plan for you. All will be okay-and it was.
Lesson three: You can move into a very tiny house and find great joy. The Lord prepared me for our move into a tiny house by letting me learn lesson one in the spring. I don't think I could have handled lesson three in the fall had I not passed lesson one. I really like living in a small house. I can't say that I love it every minute, but most of the time I just really enjoy it and I am grateful. The reasons for the joy are the blessings that have come. We have more time because cleaning up is a snap. Our life is simple which allows for us to recognize and do the things that are the most important-serving, visiting others, and being together. During the evening when we have free time we are all in the living room and we are forced to talk, play games and read. There's not a lot to do so we must all interact with each other.
There are times when a couple of the cramped spots cause me to take a deep breath and choose patience. The dining area is very small and we feel pinned to the table. Also my kitchen work area is very small. These moments allow me the opportunity to choose to be happy regardless of the lack of perceived comforts. I very much appreciate the opportunity to refine my character and choose to be better.
Lesson four: We can remove media from our home and we can still be okay! We've been on just movies in our house for twelve or so years. This fall however we removed the TV from the house. We still have access a TV/DVD but it's inconvenient to get to it. In the past we would occasionally turn on a movie (once a week) when we were tired and felt "entitled" to mind numbing entertainment. Now it's just hard enough to get to that we usually just go to bed early, play a family game or we read instead.
When we moved we also turned off the internet. I think this was harder than anything. This has allowed me to see how much time I wasted on the internet everyday-I only was on goodreads and blogger too! Again more time on our hands. (I'm telling you when you remove media, things to dust, things to clean, things to organize, and you say you won't go to Walmart and buy things you've just added HOURS to your day!)
I've prayed about adding the internet and the answer has been swift and forceful-NO! I'm not sure why our family is not to have internet right now. I think this answer may be unique to our family though. I have three boys at impressionable ages and so this could be one reason.
Another reason besides the time wasting is that I've realized how lazy "insta-knowledge" has made our family. It's so much easier to look up the quick answer to something than actually having to use a dictionary, read a book and discover the answer, or ask someone. The internet made me lazy. I realized that I was obtaining too much of my knowledge the "fast food" way. Drive up to the window and go. I have discovered more personal growth from having to discover the answers through real work and study. The Founding Fathers didn't have this insta-knowledge and yet they were leagues ahead of me in personal knowledge.
I don't know what we will do when our children our older and they need more scholar type classes. There are a lot of wonderful classes on line. Perhaps they just won't be for our family?
(How am I on blogger if I don't have the internet? My husband has internet access through his phone that is available on our laptops. So I write a blog post on Microsoft sometime during the week and publish it to my blog when I have access to his phone. It takes mere minutes. When my husband is home I don't use his phone but once or twice a week very quickly to upload a post and add my books quickly to goodreads. I don't like to be on the computer when he is home! So I really only use the internet to upload quickly. I can also open up a couple of blogs and then later when he is gone and the kids are playing I can read some blogs off line. I can't comment this way though. I hope that makes sense).
Lesson five: Free time equals service time. So with all this freed up time we have added service to our lives. Of course I served before, but this is different now. We don't have pressing things anymore so we can make things for the needy, we can visit the lonely and the discouraged, and we can be "seen" in our community more that we may be a light unto the world and an example of the believers.
As we began to see the time we had freed up it was shocking to see how Satan had lulled us into such carnal security by having us be happily distracted and entertained by our stuff. No we didn't watch bad things, yes my house was always clean, …. But I was missing the point. I was not sent here to be entertained. I was sent here to raise children and help usher in the Second Coming. I couldn't do that if I was spending hours of my life in distraction. Now we can more readily stand for truth and righteousness and strive to be Savior's on Mount Zion.
I feel so blessed with the experiences that I had that opened my eyes to what I have been missing in my life. I gained a deeper level of eternal perspective this year. I learned that letting go of things allowed me to step into the darkness through faith that eventually led to a whole new way to live our lives.
I look forward to lessons of 2011. I think they will continue to be challenging but I have faith that as I submit and do the hard things that the rich blessings will come and we will be prepared as a family to offer up unto the Lord an "offering in righteousness that will be worthy of all acceptation"-a life devoted to the Savior.