Monday, October 08, 2007
Being the BEST
About 15 years ago I got married at the ripe old age of 18. Having been raised in a family of 11, I thought I knew how to cook and clean and take care of a home and a husband. My husband was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs and kept a good supply of frozen burritos, hence he thought Hamburger Helper was the bomb. I couldn't make much else. I also didn't know how to match my clothes or mop a floor. Cleaning my house was a weekly thing I should probably do if I didn't have anything better going on. I'd been taught how do do all these things that went into a home, but they got lost somewhere between learning to drive a car and trying to figure out what CD's were and if I really should give up on cassettes all togther. I was raising my nine year old niece within a few months. When school started she got herself up, ready, fed and to school cause there was no way I was getting out of bed before 9:00. None of this seemed like a problem to me. When confronted with moments of knowing I needed to do better, I took offense at the implication that I wasn't good enough and justified that I was being the BEST I could be. However, I continued to make small improvements that at the time didn't seem to make much of a difference.
About 10 years ago I was a mother of two. The niece was no longer with us, and we were buying our first home. I had learned how to cook--especially desserts--and I actually washed dishes every day. I woke up at 8:00 and did laundry once a week, content with dirty clothes if we ran out come Saturday. I didn't always open all my mail, putting it in piles for a few weeks and then throwing it all away when it got overwhelming. I frequently bounced checks and bought milk too close to the expiration date. When I spilled on the carpet, I chose the path of least effort and just left it there. My kids ate hot dogs at least once a day and I didn't know what a baseboard was let alone how to clean one. I'd grown a lot in those five years, but I was still overwhelmed. Now and then I'd come up against something that would challenge me to do better, and I'd justify that I was being the BEST I could be. But I continued to make small changes, small goals meant to do just a little bit better.
Five years ago I had just had my fourth child and our niece was living with us again. I cleaned baseboards once a year whether I needed to or not. I'd finally accepted that one day for laundry was not enough in a household of seven. I had learned to cook even more foods and no longer served hot dogs on a daily basis (I now traded off with mac and cheese) I sometimes cleaned up spills immediately and I had learned how to match not only my own clothes but those of my children. I had learned to do a French braid that would make it through church. I read my scriptures now and then, and opened all my mail even when I knew it was a stupid ad just in case it was important. I washed windows and moped floors on a semi-regular basis. I wore shoes when I went outside and read to my kids now and then. I was on the PTA and running a girl scout troop. I was writing on a regular basis, which meant my kids watched ten hours of TV a day, and I was finally beginning to feel as if I were really coming to know myself. I left yard tools in the yard for months on end and overcharged my credit cards because "I deserved it". I frequently forgot to brush my children's teeth and my flower beds were overrun with weeds. I'd improved, but now and then would come upon yet more moments than ever that would question if I was good enough. I would look at myself, see how far I had come and take pride in that, but wish I were doing a little bit better.
Two weeks ago I was challenged directly--to be the best mother, the best wife, and the best homemaker I could be. I came home and vented at my husband. He wisely said nothing and told me I'm doing a great job.
And you know what? He's absolutely right. I am doing a great job and my family and myself are very blessed by that. I had a week to ponder this, and then the challenge was reissued when I was in a better place to accept it.
What if I'd accepted that my BEST was the Josi of fifteen years ago, or even ten? What if I'd never accepted the challenges that came my way? Would I feel the satisfaction I feel now? And if I ignore a challenge I'm given now, am I missing out on even more satisfaction later on?
I'm not going to be a better cook than my sister-in-law, and I'm not going to be a better scrapbooker than my friend Marci. I'm not going to be a better gardener than Roxie, or a better home canner than Joan. But can I find MORE joy in being the best Josi I can be? Can I find greater satisfaction in rising to a challenge given? All in the name of blessing my family?
It is said in the scriptures that the Lord chastens those whom he loves. I have been chastened. It also says in the scriptures not to run faster than you have strength, but it does tell us to run. And, in the scriptures we are told that nothing is impossible in the Lord. Do I want to question that? Admitting we can do better doesn't negate what we have done, it simply reminds us that this life is given to us as a time to grow and improve and bless the lives of those entrusted to us. Sometimes we get mixed up and think "Do Better" really means "Not Good Enough" but I think that's the other guys way of trying to make it harder for us.
I won't be at my best tomorrow, it will be a very slow process as all other processes in my life have been, but if we have faith in ourselves the size of a mustard seed, we can become a tree in which our families will find refuge from a heavy world. And wouldn't it feel good? To be a force such as that in not only our own life, but those of our husband and children?
What say ye, shall we rise?