Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Yes, I'd like help down from this tree"

I'm posting today to just share an intriguing thought.

How we respond to the trials in our lives says a lot about us. I think that's a true statement. We have all met someone who could tell you all the hard times they've had, and are still having, and how awful and stupid their life is, and how they wish they had all your luck... It's almost comical (if it weren't so irking) to see how they twist the events to show how they're the victim. I have tried hard to avoid being that person in conversations. Maybe that's why I've come to think (consciously or not) that recognizing that I'm having a hard time or talking about how hard things have been constituted as wallowing and complaining.

This mentality manifests itself in my life in many ways, but I want to talk about one of them today. One particularly damaging part of this mentality (of avoiding talking about the negative) is that it distances you from people who could help you. It's hard to ask for help if you won't even acknowledge that you need it.

I was talking with a family member after having my baby about how things had been going that first week home when it occured to me that I was tottering between two states while I talked with her—wanting to show that I was grateful for all the things that were going well and not being "complainy," and wanting to share how truly worn out I was and how I was struggling emotionally. I was trying to do both at once, and that was making it hard to share my whole experience with her.

Then it struck me that if I would acknowledge the more "dark" side of how I felt, she might be able to help me feel better. And I wanted to feel better.

If I freely shared with her the true depth of sadness and pain I was experiencing, then I could allow her to help me in a very real way, either by listening and validating what I was saying or continuing to give support as I eased into my new role. And later on we could both say that she had served me. If I didn't recognize and share how bad I really was feeling, I would be refusing to let her help me to the extent that I really needed. If she did help and later on I refused to see how low I had gone, I would also be blind to how much she had lifted me. I wouldn't be able to obscure the darker elements of how I felt without diminishing the great service she rendered me.

I think this especially applies in our relationship with the Savior. It can be tempting to ignore the harshness and dire consequences for those who sin after the Fall (i.e., all of us), because eternal damnation doesn't sit well with most people. But if we ignore how lost and fallen we are, we are refusing to allow Him to help us because we are refusing to acknowledge that that help is needed, let alone to ask Him for it.

Credit: ballswinger on Pixabay
Also, if I refuse to accept that I'm struggling, or that my struggle is, yes, really hard for me, then I'm robbing the Savior of the glory I could give Him for saving me. It's like the difference between the acclaim deserved by someone who single-handedly rescued a room full of children from the murderous intentions of rouge militants and the light kudos deserved by someone who saved the house cat from the tree it climbed and was too scared to alight from. Maybe by refusing to say I'm having a really, REALLY hard time, I'm refusing to say that the Savior can help and heal us through really, REALLY hard things—because He is THAT powerful.

And I don't want to deny the power of Christ, or to withhold the praise He deserves. So I am trying to be more honest about how I'm actually doing when those close to me ask—in the positive aspects of my life as well as the negative ones.

(I should add that I'm doing fine—my experience having a baby was wonderful and hard at the same time. Those closest to me have and are helping me with the adjustments, including the emotional rollercoaster that hormones facilitate.)

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