Friday, December 19, 2008

Exorcism

I got a great tag from my awesome little sister. She's working on exorcising a few demons and I happily come to her aid here in this blog. Here's the link to her post where she tagged me and others. http://plainbellied.blogspot.com/search/label/Exorcising

For starters, a relevant story:
My oldest sister recently told me a story about a friend of hers who was acting a bit too much like her mother. This friend's husband went up to her, put his palm against her forehead and said, "Karen Sue Williams (I'm making that up--He said whatever her mom's name was), I exorcise you!!" His wife realized she was channeling her mom and got back to normal. I think we could all use that sometimes.

My younger sister tagged me to write about ways I overcome feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing and then write some things I like about myself. A lot of my answers will probably start with a story to give it context. Anyway, here we go:

1. I've gone to big schools, but the high school I graduated from was tiny. There were about 42 people in my graduating class. Then I went to BYU...um...30,000 people or so bigger. I felt distinctly unimportant, untalented, and unattractive. I've always compared myself too much to others and this sent that bad habit into overdrive. For a short while, I seemed doomed to perpetual self-loathing. Then one day, I realized that if I could be as grateful for other people's blessings as I am for my own, I wouldn't be jealous. So I gave it a try. I would be walking around campus and see something I thought was great for another person and silently pray in thanks to God that he gave them that thing...like cool socks, or great clothes, or beautiful skin, or wonderful musical abilities, etc. (Obviously they were usually external things--I couldn't see their intelligence or compassion.)
I found as I prayed in gratitude for them, I would think of how those blessings could also be challenges. I would pray for the exceptionally pretty girl to be able to know when a guy liked her for who she was and that girls would be nice to her. (Let's face it, girls are notoriously hard on women prettier than they are and it's tough for the gorgeous ones to make friends. I've since been grateful to be of very average beauty because I have lots of great girlfriends!) I would pray that the person who was so tremendously musically gifted would be able to have the humility to recognize that God gave them that gift and not struggle with pride their whole life.
I learned as I prayed in gratitude for others' blessings and for their perceived trials, that I felt real love for these total strangers and didn't feel jealous of their gifts. I didn't feel diminished by their excellence anymore because I realized it didn't change my own abilities or appearance in reality. That's a really long answer, but it was really the most profoundly helpful step in accepting myself.

2. When my HubbaHubba left for his mission, I was a first class piner. I pined away for him in my heart in a way that to this day, he still doesn't really believe. I thought about him constantly, missed him always, took Spanish in the hopes he'd like me more when he got home, kept a special place for new letters in my bedroom... One day, on my long walk home, I realized that as great as he was, I'd better think about more than just him if I wanted to be an improved human being the next time I saw him. For my own growth, I figured the best thing to focus my thoughts on would be God. That was intimidating. I was walking a couple miles and couldn't just pull out my scriptures and read about him, so I decided to figure out things we had in common as a starting point...just like you do when you're making a new friend. You may be a little stumped. I was. What could I possibly have in common with God or Jesus Christ?
It was a beautiful fall day. There were gorgeous almost neon yellow leaves on the trees by the art museum. "Jesus made those," I thought. "He must love yellow leaves. I love yellow leaves." It was a start. I began to think of all the things that make me truly happy...like dancing, writing, music, art, nature... Jesus made all those things available to me. Why would he create something that he didn't love? Could he create something and not love it? I don't think so. Though the gap is infinitely wide between my Maker and myself, thinking of him as a friend and knowing I had some of the same joys he must have made me feel better--bigger inside myself.

3. I need exercise. It makes me feel like I have a chance of mastering myself. Being out alone (or with a good friend) running or walking makes me feel a little more eternal. That sounds weird. But what I mean is that we know we always existed--as matter before we were formed into spirit bodies and then into mortal ones. And we know we'll keep on existing forever. But sometimes when I'm home alone with the children for days on end, I get feeling like this life is all I've ever had or will have. I don't mean that to be ungrateful. If there were only one phase of life available to me, I think I'd pick this one, but it is so comforting to me to have times when I feel like just me--not anybody else's anything, except God's child. Within the protective knowledge that God is my father and he loves me, it's hard to get unduly worked up about unkind things other people may say or do.
Plus, when my body is stronger, in my whole soul I feel more powerful and brave and capable.

Now for the tricky part...what I love about me:
(Honestly, you have to imagine a very long pause here and a little discomfort in the chest region. This is harder for me than I'd like it to be and I don't want to sound braggy.)

1. I like my bright red hair. It took many years and lots of viewings of Anne of Green Gables, plus some famously pretty redheads to come to that, but I do. For fun, here's a list of lovely redheads: Anne, (obviously), Mary Jane (of Spiderman fame), Jean Grey (X-Men, of course), Jessica Rabbit (this one's ridiculous, I know, but before that stupid Roger Rabbit movie came out, I didn't know people could see redhead's as anything but freckley messes), the Little Mermaid (I had a whole collection of dolls), that one girl in JEM's band, Julianne Moore, and now Amy Adams.
Here is a short list of culturally known redheads who did not make my life easier as a child: Pippi Longstocking, Harriet from the tv show "Small Wonder", and little orphan Annie.

2. I really mean to do the right thing all the time and be as kind as I know how. I fail a lot, but I am always trying--especially in how I treat my husband and friends.

3. I like that my arms are pretty small like my mom's. Lucky genetics in that case, I think.

4. I always apologize and admit it when I realize I've been wrong or done something wrong. I think that's a good quality.
I usually think I'm right and that's okay with me, but I don't NEED to be right. I hate being wrong, but it's not because I look bad, but because I feel so terrible when I've made a mistake.

5. I like my writing style. I'm no genius, but I'm always conversational and I sound like myself.

So there you have it. PlainBellied might be the only one to finish this monster long post because she asked for it. I love her and that's okay with me. =) Thanks, Plainbellied. This was good for me.

6 comments:

Melissa said...

We finished it :) And just for the record, I think you are pretty darn awesome! Love ya!!

kendralu said...

I finished it too! And i would just like to say, for the record, that you don't have lots of friends because you're plain, ::rolls eyes at you:: you have lots of friends because you're charming and smart and funny and generally wonderful. (You're also gorgeous. I realize that you're not aware, but it's true.)

SumGreater said...

You guys are making me blush.

slambert said...

I finished it! I think you are a great friend and you DON'T fail in anything in my opinion. I'm jealous of your yummy rolls, you need to teach me how to make them.

Plainbellied said...

Thanks, Sum Greater. You are a terrific example to me. I'm blessed to be your younger sister. Now I see so many new ways in which I can keep my baptisimal/sacrament convenants to remember the Lord. You remember the Lord when you see your friends, when you consider yourself, when you see nature, and truly keep a prayer for others always in your heart. Thank you.

dubby said...

I particularly liked the story about working on yourself while Hubba was on the mission. A lesson I will share with my children.