I was recently driving to run some errands with my sweet little Kate when I felt the squeezing start. I thought about all of the kids' activities, the responsibilities, the day-to-day chores I was neglecting, not to mention things like getting enough exercise, sleep, taking time for my personal scripture study, etc. I was feeling a little strangled by the realization that there was NO WAY I could do everything I needed to do. We had already had sandwiches for dinner two nights in a row, and I didn't have the time or the energy to get the grocery shopping done.
Then I thought about why I was in this situation - again. I have a huge weakness: I am what I call "organizationally challenged." Whether it is organizing a closet, or my time, or the family menu, I struggle with following my own plans to completion. Most of my frustrations in life - whether it be not getting enough done, or the fact that I am still carrying baby weight from my 3rd pregnancy (13 years ago), or that my house is never quite as clean as I would like - stem from this same weakness. I try to keep it in perspective, being mindful of the important things I DO get done (like snuggling and singing to my baby girl, and chatting into the night with my teenagers), but this one huge fault creeps up and bites me constantly.
My thoughts drifted to one of my boys, who since he was little, has faced some significant challenges. These challenges make it hard for him to find happiness far too often, and he struggles with feeling worthless. He has a great need for structure and order. I thought about how often he had to suffer for my shortcomings. I agonized that, despite my best intentions, I so often failed to give him what he needs - this precious little boy of mine that I love so desperately. And that's when I asked myself the critical question: "Why did the Lord send this child to me?" Surely there was someone out there that would have been a more suitable mother for him.
In reply, these words by Jeffrey R. Holland came to mind immediately. In a discussion on faith, he said, "Let me be clear on this point: I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do
have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher
manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith.
It is not!" He goes on to ask us to lead with our faith, not our doubts. (For complete text, click here.)
An extension of this principle became immediately clear to me. I was agonizing over helping my son, but all I was doing was concentrating on the things I did poorly - leading with my weaknesses, so to speak. Maybe my role as his mother wasn't a huge mistake. Maybe I have something important to offer him because of the strengths and gifts I have been given.
So - what are the things I do well? I love others easily, and I can communicate that love well. I can see the good in other people and the talents they possess. I am happy, and enjoy making others happy. I'm good at spontaneous fun. I am patient. I don't give up easily - I may fail a million times, but I keep trying. I began to see how these very gifts were, in fact, EXACTLY what my boy needed. And moreover, I saw how his needs were helping me strengthen my weaknesses by giving me a deep motivation to keep improving.
I felt a great peace as my burden lifted, and I realized that I don't have to conquer my faults tomorrow. I can keep moving forward, improving a little bit each day. And that's enough.