Before the week began I looked at my calendar and besides a presidency meeting Friday afternoon there wasn't much going on. A friend had mentioned that she was going to start potty training her son who is close to Jack's age and it got me thinking. Jack is a smart boy. Lately he takes his diapers off multiple times a day and pees or worse on my floor. What's the harm? I don't have anything else to do! So I made a plan, talked it up to Jack and bought supplies.
Our first try on the potty was a success!! And then came failure after failure for three days straight. I was frustrated, to say the least. Then, some personal family stuff came up during the week that added about 10 tons of stress to my already frustrated shoulders. I spent two days in tears trying to figure out a solution to this dilemma. When I finally did, the added stress was lifted, but I was left deflated.
Jason called me Thursday night from work to say he would be home Friday afternoon around one and that he would have the option to take Saturday off. However he would have to work Sunday regardless of working Saturday or not. This was good news/bad news. I needed him home with my. I didn't want to wait until Saturday night. I was thrilled that he'd be home a day early! But I needed him Sunday. Church is hard enough with the kids by myself, but with the added responsibilities in primary and other Sunday meetings it can get seriously crazy! On a normal week, I would have been disappointed, but fine. This week wasn't a normal week. The news was just one more straw on this camels already broken back.
Throughout the week I was giving Jack every second of my attention, trying to catch every accident and rush him to the potty. I couldn't get anything done. I was too anxious. If I showered, he had an accident. If I made a meal, he had an accident. If I answered my phone he had an accident. I let the house go all week. Toys were everywhere. Dishes were piled high. I hadn't straightened, let alone cleaned! And I had a meeting Friday afternoon with my primary presidency.
Now that I knew Jason would be home, I called my presidency to reschedule for the evening. This would give me time to get the house together after Jason came home. One of us could be watching Jack while the other cleaned and everything would work out. I was finally catching a break!
Friday morning came and as diminished as I felt I was hopeful. Jason always helps me to feel better. He helps me to get things done around the house, he helps with the kids, he cheers me up, and just having him at home brings a completely different spirit. Then he texted me to say that they had gotten a late start. He'd be an hour later. Then they still hadn't started and it would be an hour later. And another hour. There was no time left to get anything done.
I wondered if I should just change the location of our meeting so I didn't have to worry about my house. I wondered if I should just try anyway to hurry and clean the house. But what I really wanted was to give up.
So I did. I called my presidency members, apologized profusely for rescheduling only to bail on them. They were more understanding than they needed to be. (I really have the most incredible presidency EVER).
Jason finally got home around six thirty Friday evening. I cried, relieved, when he walked through the door. He told me to relax, picked up some dinner, bathed the kids, and put them to bed. All while I did absolutely nothing. I don't deserve him.
Saturday morning I woke up to most the house already being clean. He dealt with the kids all day so that I could take care of some primary stuff and plan my sharing time lessons (at the last minute). That night he put the kids to bed again and stayed up late with me just talking and laughing and being together. I was finally starting to feel like I'd be okay, even with him leaving at 3:30 the next morning.
I spent most of the weekend wondering why the week had been so hard on me. Yes, stressful things had happened during the week, but there was no reason that I should have shut down the way I did. I felt depressed and dark and scared and miserable all week. I recognized the source of these feelings, but still I didn't understand. I had read scriptures and said prayers each day that week. I didn't think I was committing any sins that would have allowed the spirit to be driven from me like that. But I wanted to understand it. I wanted to know so that I could avoid it ever happening again.
Earlier in the week, one of my closest friends had posted a talk on her blog. (I would link to it so you could all see how completely amazing she is, but for very good reason her blog is kept private). The talk was Unleashing the Dormant Spirit by F. Enzio Busche. It was a BYU devotional from 1996. It was LONG. I told myself I would eventually find time to read it, and I did. But I wish I had read it sooner!!
I finally made the time Saturday afternoon to sit and read this talk. I had printed off a couple of talks earlier in the week on balance (both of which were wonderful and can be found here and here), thinking maybe they would help me to understand myself a little more, and help me to bring myself out of this funk.
As I studied I realized that balance and exercise/practice are so connected. I need to continually practice, prayerfully balancing and prioritizing all the responsibilities in my life. I'm never going to wake up one morning and be a pro. And I may very well have weeks like this last week every now and then. But as I continue to improve little by little, exercising those spiritual muscles, added one pound at a time and increasing my ability, eventually balancing what seemed so overwhelming this week will feel light and simple.
One profound thought taught in the talk by Elder Busche was the concept of having the spirit to be with us always. Always. He told this story:
I remember the day I began my service as a mission president. On that morning I had the zone leaders coming to the mission home. In my enthusiasm and excitement, understanding the importance of the Spirit in our work, I asked the missionaries, "How much of a typical day in the service are you normally under the vibrating, powerful influence of the Spirit?" I remember their reaction. They obviously did not know what to say. They acted like I caught them by surprise. Having been converted as an adult and, therefore, not having served as a young, full-time missionary myself, I assumed that it was natural that a missionary would be always under the influence of the Spirit. How surprised I was when, after a time with no missionary daring to say anything, one of them finally said, "Last Thursday night, while we were teaching the Lehman family, we were feeling the Spirit."
I remember my immediate response was, "That was it? How about the rest of the day?" I immediately understood that we cannot have a successful mission experience until we learn how to behave or learn what to do so that the Spirit will endow us with power and all the other gifts. None of us can afford to be without them. None of us has enough wisdom, enough intelligence, enough knowledge, enough skills, or enough courage, by ourselves, to master our lives and even to succeed in life unless we learn what it means to surrender ourselves into the arms of the Lord and be filled with the Spirit. He wants to empower us with the gifts that he has promised to give to each of his disciples who has made sacred covenants with him.
Satan knows me. He knows he won't be able to get me to commit a moral sin. He won't get me to drink, smoke, or try drugs. He won't even likely catch me with a swear word or an R-rated movie. But he knows that. And he tries what he knows will work on me. He waits until I am overwhelmed and stressed and ready to give up. He knows that in those hard moments he can slip dark thoughts into my mind. He knows that if he can keep me miserable for long enough that maybe, just maybe, I'll put down my scriptures. That I'll climb into bed exhausted, without kneeling for prayer first. And he knows that if he can get me to that point that it is only a few more steps before I am his.
How I need to try, with every ounce of effort I can muster, to keep that Spirit with me always! I know that it doesn't take much for Satan to slip in and drag me down. I must be armed with it's power and ready to fight at any given moment.
I have no doubt that as I strive to keep the Spirit with me always, and as I prayerfully, with His guidance, manage my responsibilities as a wife, mother, member of His church, and daughter of Him, that I will succeed in finding balance and happiness in my life.
I am so grateful for these men (who wrote the above mentioned talks), for the leaders of His church, for my family, and for dear, dear friends who have sought diligently to have that Spirit with them always. They share with me their inspired thoughts and testimonies and strengthen me constantly. Weeks like last week are bearable only because the Lord has placed these and incredible relationships and resources in my path. What would I do without this gospel?