I have been thinking a lot about my last post and the implications of being removed from my own comfort zones. Sometimes I choose to move out of them because I have consciously decided that I need to do something differently. This has happened to me over and over again through our homeschooling process. While the actual homeschooling was not uncomfortable for me, giving up the alone time, the cleaning time, the project time, the errand time, and the friend time has been difficult at times. This transition did not happen all at once. I tried to keep up all of the ‘times’ while devoting time to homeschooling. I was highly unsuccessful. I found that I couldn’t keep the house spotless, educate the children properly, cross off my to-dos, read favorite books, lunch with the gals, and avoid the lines on Saturday at Sam’s Club. Something fell through the cracks and generally it was the children’s education. I unwittingly and often unconsciously resisted being comfortable in my new role as homeschool mom and tried to find ways to be cozy in the old and the new. When I finally accepted the true and complete fact that God wanted me to homeschool and this meant that there were other things that were going to be left undone, I became a much more effective everything.
Conclusion: Leaving old comfort zones can be a process even when we know that God wants us to MOVE. This appears to be the same process that the wives of Nephi and Co. discovered: over time they BECAME strong, like unto men so that they could bear their journeyings without murmuring.
I am not a nurturer by nature. I don’t like band-aids, injuries that entail crying, or yelling, “get a body bag!” when someone I love needs a buddy in their corner. This isn’t all bad, right? Consider this- I don’t encourage non-sense and carrying on in children. I am not a helicopter mom. I keep my head in emergencies. I do encourage resilience and independence. As my brother pointed out, we (meaning me and most of my siblings) would make terrific judges as we can see both sides of almost any situation. Loyalty-not a strong suit! But, understanding why things unfolded they way they did-experts! Unfortunately for me I’ve discovered that sometimes my children need a hug and a band-aid. Sometimes by husband needs a soft place to land. And sometimes my friends and family need me hovering in the corner and telling them that they are absolutely right. I cannot impress upon your mind how hard it is for me to go into this mode. If an adult in my life needs nurturing, something in me curls up and says, “RUN!” When I can hear a child outside, sprinting for the house, screaming at the top of their lungs, my impulse is annoyance-not concern. I have friends and family who easily slip into compassion and I watch in wonder and amazement as they work their miracle with those who need a bit of love. (Although I have observed that there is a VAST difference between compassionate people and lovers of drama!) But the Lord is not going to leave this stone unturned. He is definitely inviting me to leave my comfort zone of contented ‘evenness’ and inviting me learn to ride the roller coaster of compassion. He wants to awaken my feelings and show me a better way. It just doesn’t feel better because it doesn’t feel safe…nor am I sure how to navigate under the new paradigm. Unchartered territory is ALWAYS scary-especially if it’s emotional or spiritual. But, alas, life is giving me ample opportunities to change. Last night I learned that one of my children was in tears last week because they didn’t think that I loved them. (And I thought that we were getting along so well!) Nurturing Mom Sarah to the rescue!!? My husband just had his fifth shoulder surgery-not to mention the previous three on his septum and two on his esophagus. Nurse Sarah to the rescue!!? He is also serving in a calling that demands a lot of him emotionally. He can’t share any of the details with me, just the anxiety, grief, and frustration. Soft and Compassionate Sarah to the rescue!!? I’m sure you can see this picture clearly. Through no fault of my own ;), I am being ‘invited’ to make some changes that would help me to be more compassionate, kinder, softer, more nurturing…in a word, more Christlike. Sometimes I accept the invitation and sometimes I do not. But, God keeps bumping me against circumstances that allow me to move away from the old self and accept a new way of operating. Through this whole process, my mind is full of interesting questions…like…how do I maintain my sense of self and become softer? How do strength and resilience successfully partner up with nurturing and compassion? What if I become so compassionate that I become an ineffective parent? What if people start to need me more and more? Who has time for that? If I become kind, can I still be funny? To get through this unchartered water of becoming a different and better me, I have to TRUST the Lord implicitly. I am trusting that I will actually be happier as a kind nurse or a loving, loyal mother. I am trusting that the Lord will help me to feel safe with these new emotions and that I will be ok as a vulnerable adult. I am not suggesting that this is easy. I am suggesting that I am doing it with the Lord’s guidance-slowly but surely.
Conclusion: Like Lehi guiding his family across an unfamiliar wilderness or Nephi navigating an unchartered ocean, I, too, must venture into the unknown (the emotional unknown) if I desire to achieve my promised land. There are storms along the way. There are times when I have moved backward and not forward (1 Nephi 18:13). There are times when I have not given heed and diligence to my best possible chance for change. (1 Nephi 16:28) But…”If if so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them…[and he will] provide means for us while we..sojourn in the wilderness… (1 Nephi 17:3). And that’s a promise I believe in.