Sunday, February 7, 2010

Letting go

Over the past month, I have been trying to notice if I could feel my baby moving. I knew from experience it was time, and I have felt it a few times, but not very much.

Tuesday I felt it kicking me off and on all day. I wonder if it could have anything to do with letting go of my temple recommend and church for a while. I know the stress has not been good for me, so obviously it would not be good for my child.

It has been a typical week...morning sickness, headache off and on, needing to eat but nothing sounds good, and the normal running around at work, running kids around after school, etc. All of the same stuff to make me grumpy. But I haven't been (at least not as much, I think). My load feels lighter, my emotions less volatile (other when I was specifically relating my 30 seconds in the S.P. office Sunday to a friend at work), my attitude better overall. A week of church hasn't even passed yet, but just making the decision not to care any more has made a huge difference.

At lunch at work one day, my friends were sharing interesting experiences they and other family members have had in the temple. In the past a discussion like that has made me upset, reminding me of my lost recommend and leaving me in tears. This time I felt the spirit and shared one story of my own. Wow! I hadn't realized how much the stress over my recommend was affecting my ability to feel the spirit. It occurs to me that it has been a while since I have blogged about spiritual experiences, hasn't it? That's because there haven't really been any.

I think I have been working so hard at figuring out how to be worthy of my recommend, that my attitude has been heading the wrong way. I started believing comments of others, losing trust in my husband and in our future. I even suggested one night that maybe he was possessed by evil spirits that were trying to lead him and me carefully to Hell. But now that I've let go, I understand what Scott has been trying to tell me about his not being able to go to church any more, his inner conflict between hurting me by not going compared to his need to just let go!

Meanwhile, the rocky month of January is behind us, and Scott and I have been able to more easily talk again.  We went to a therapist on Friday, but I wasn't sure we needed it any more.  Scott thought it was good, and although I wanted him to say more, it opened the door for him to talk to me more later.  We still have things we need to discuss, and he is still afraid of hurting me or having me get defensive and turn into a pile of emotional mush, but maybe that will get easier.  I think I was good at listening Friday night, wasn't I? :)

My visit with the bishop last week was wonderful.  I wanted to him to know exactly what had transpired over the last 18 months to lead us to where we are now. I was in tears the whole time, which I expected to be.  He did not judge, he did not offer advice, he just listened like I needed him to. He was sad to hear of my panic attacks at church and my decision to take a break. He asked if there was anything he could do that would help Scott come back, or would keep me there. I told him that right now the pain and bitterness were too great. He asked if I could at least meet with him once a month, so he could keep up with how our family is doing. He gave me a blessing at my request. It was long, and I don't remember much of it. I remember him saying something about being able to forgive my leaders, but it was not said in a judgmental way, but as a request for help from our Heavenly Father. He spoke of the many people on both sides of the veil that love me and are supportive of me. I thought of all of our friends. I thought of Scott's mother and my grandmother that were undoubtedly watching over us. By the end of the blessing, the bishop was crying too, but I had already used all of his tissues!

When I got home, I was calm, and I knew that I had made the right decision. I knew the Bishop was hurting because of it, but that he understood. I noticed that one of my friends on Facebook had an amazing quote in her status.  I went to her profile page, and several of her recent status updates were awesome quotes:

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us". -- Joseph Campbell

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." --Lao Tzu

"Some think it's holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it's letting go." -Sylvia Robinson

"All healing is first a healing of the heart." -- Carl Townsend

"Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product." --Eleanor Roosevelt

“No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.” --Barbara De Angelis

We had Chinese takeout for dinner one night this week, and my fortune was strangely appropriate: "The best investment you can make is in yourself."

I've been thinking about why letting go has been so hard for me, why I have been so determined to get my recommend that I have disregarded the horrible things it was doing to me.  I think it has to do with LDS culture, with the same things that made it take Scott so long to come to terms with the fact that he is actually gay. A young Mormon grows up in the church knowing that they should keep a specific goal in mind that will help them to live their life the right way and make good decision. That goal is to be temple-worthy, so that they can receive required ordinances, specifically the sealing ordinance, being sealed forever with a spouse and raising a family that will then be together forever if they keep themselves worthy of that recommend throughout their lives.

I have always done just that.  I have always had a recommend, since I was 12, and it is symbol of my worthiness, having my feet on the right path to get back to God and be a Goddess myself someday. It represents my worth.  I have always had a hard time not meeting up to my own expectations. In school, I insisted on getting "A"s in all of my classes, and if I didn't, I had failed. It was not my parents doing at all; my mom even tried to bribe me with money for B's and C's in an attempt to make me relax a bit, but it did not work. It was not until I got to college and received my first "B" in a class that I realized how crazy it had been to kill myself for "A"s.  As a teacher and mother, I try to help other students understand that it is just not as important as other things, like mental health.

But when it came to my recommend, I could not follow my own advice.

But now I feel peace.  I'm not changing the way I'm living or what I believe. I am not of any less worth in the eyes of my Heavenly Father.  I am just letting go of a tremendous amount of stress, and taking care of myself.



Sarah as I read this I am in tears. They are not tears from me feeling sad that you are taking a break. They are tears of jealousy that you are able to do this. I have tried so hard to let go and I can't. It would make my life so much easier if I could. I love you and I hope this helps with your stress and hope to see you soon.

Love Michael

Alan said...

I can't tell you how glad I am to read this Sarah. Those quotes are perfect and are perfectly true. Joseph Campbell and Lao Tze were so right. Growing up in the Church seems to put us all on one officially approved railroad track and we freeze in fear when we think about anything different, even if we can't deny our hearts saying something different. But I'm persuaded that the railroad track is the institutional church's creation, not an inevitable result of living the gospel. When I was finally able to separate the church and its culture from the gospel (something my former bishop said was a crucial realization) I became a lot happier. SO glad you are feeling better.

Mister Curie said...

I am also glad that you are able to find a place of peace by letting go.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

I'm just so glad that you are finding some peace. And thanks for posting the Joseph Campbell quote -- I really needed to hear that! Alan is quite right speaking of the Mormon 'track'. Mission, BYU, marriage, etc. -- I'm always afraid that if I get off, I won't make it to the advertised destination.

Scott said...

I have always had a recommend, since I was 12, and it is symbol of my worthiness, ... It represents my worth.

This is something that has bothered me a bit for a long time, and that has really bothered me as I've gotten a closer glimpse of it over the last several months:

It's very difficult to separate "worthiness" from "worth", and being told that you aren't worthy of something (a temple recommend, etc.) can easily be seen as a reflection on your worth as a person.

In truth, according to our doctrine, none of us is "worthy" to enter the temple on our own (we have all sinned, an no unclean thing can enter His presence), and all of us are "worthy" as we apply the Atonement in our lives.

But because there have been (fairly arbitrary) guidelines set out to determine who can and cannot enter, there is a clear demarcation between the "worthy" and the "unworthy"--and it becomes easy for the person who enjoys their coffee or cannot muster the faith to pay a full tithe to feel "less than" because they have been declared "less worthy" than their neighbor, who may have their own list of sins that simply aren't on the list of recommend questions.

(It gets even worse when each local leader has his own interpretation of what the questions mean, so members who behave in identical fashion may have their worthiness determined strictly by their geographical location--but perhaps I oughtn't go there).

I hope that Sarah (and everyone else) realizes that a priesthood leader has no say in how much you are worth to God--and that you are of inestimable worth, regardless of whether or not you hold the little piece of paper that says you're "worthy".

Beck said...

Amen to what Scott said. You are of tremendous worth! Don't let anyone, especially priesthood leaders (well intentioned or not)tell you otherwise.

Anonymous said...


I am so glad that you loved the quotes. I've gone hunting for them to buoy myself up, and remind me of what I want/need in life. I'm glad they were also able to help you. Letting go seems to be the hardest thing to do, but I am finding it is bringing me the greatest joy. Love you doll! Hope you have many more months and years of inner peace and joy!! <3