I like mundane. I like it a lot but I'm never quite certain when I've reached mundane until some event pushes me off kilter and I long for mundane. I wonder how I had reached mundane when I was just in a difficult situation. You know, I'm busy. I'm really still struggling to understand my place at my work even though I can now answer people when they ask, "I'm settling in." I'm struggling with the role of motherhood as one daughter is struggling between spreading her wings and flying off to college and clinging to childhood. Another child is preparing for high school and is uncertain which one to go to and I worry about her a lot. One child is a completely different beast being an adolescent boy who won't talk to us about anything of import but will, at the most random moments, comment that he thinks he may have lost his other nipple. No, wait. There it is. Then my last child just turned 8 and we're preparing for his baptism.
Is my life not full? Let's also remember that my husband had brain surgery barely six months ago. I'm busy with carpools, orthodontist appointments, surgery for one child, surgery for another, working and I'm busy. Did I mention I'm busy? To be honest, I wave my banner of daily struggles high above my head in an effort to catch God's attention. THAT'S OKAY, GOD! THANKS FOR THINKING OF ME BUT I DON'T NEED ANY MORE GROWING EXPERIENCES! I'M GOOD! SEE ME RUNNING AROUND? SEE HOW MUCH I ALREADY STRUGGLE WITH WHAT'S ON MY PLATE? I'M GROWING! SEE? THANKS, ANYWAY!
But, see, that's not really how it works. I don't really know how it works so don't be looking at me for answers. What I do know is that we are busily trying to cocoon ourselves into a false sense of safety while we are running around, keeping up with life and the people that keep us going in life. But then something punches a huge hole in that illusion and what is really important becomes much more clear. I don't mind carpool. I have a job and I'm starting to like it. I enjoy digging up worms with my chickens. My dog still might kill them but it's not a tragedy.
Speaking of tragedies, I try to keep them at a comfortable arm's length. Through my work I hear about the tragedies happening around the district. The most recent was a suicide a little over a week ago. The cocooning begins. We try to find the culprit, blame it, and avoid whatever the cause was. We try to differentiate that family from our own in order to build the false belief that we're safe. It's a nice little reality if not skewed.
So Saturday night I got onto Facebook, which I do regularly once or twice a month. I don't even remember my purpose because I usually have one. There was an invitation to join a memorial page for the son of a very good friend of 25 years. He was the suicide last week. The pictures of him were haunting. Beautiful boy, happy, well liked, religious, spiritual, popular, the image in everybody's family picture. I know his parents. I knew them years ago and I know them now. There is nothing to differentiate them from me. There is nothing about this boy that differentiates him from any other, including my own. Drugs? Alcohol? Broken home? Nada. He gave no indications of the torment he held inside.
There are no answers and that bothers me immensely.
Now I feel vulnerable and frightened. I rushed to send a message to Mike, offering condolences and another message to a friend from high school who lives in the neighborhood. She said, "Feels like a big, ragged hole has been punched in our neighborhood." Apparently, the big, ragged hole extends further than their neighborhood.
This post is not about suicide. I'm not going to rant about society or culture, or anything else. I have nowhere to place blame. I am so, so sad. I cry a lot. I cried all day Sunday at church but I didn't want to tell anybody what was plaguing me. It isn't about me and I didn't want their sympathy to be wasted on me. I want answers so I can cocoon my family once again into safety. I feel exposed and uncertain. I'm afraid for my children. It's not just suicide but tragedy. I'm terrified of it randomly catching us.
That is the reason I wave my banner so furiously at God. I remind Him what I've been through. I remind Him that I'm still bitter about it SO DON'T BE GETTING ANY IDEAS THAT I CAN HANDLE MORE! Because I've heard that trite saying that God doesn't give you more than you can stand. I'm living proof that He does. I couldn't stand so I knelt. I lived but I don't want another growing experience. It was too hard.
I stand by that last paragraph but I also made a decision early Sunday morning as all the distractions in my life fell away and I was left staring at the Really Important Parts of My Life. That's the title of my new epiphany, hence, I capitalized it. It's time for me to let go. It's time for me to put down my banner and recommit myself to the Really Important Parts of My Life. It's time to stop finding excuses to not stay for all three hours of church (even though 3 hours is A REALLY, REALLY LONG TIME! Oops. I picked up my banner, again), praying earnestly, studying my scriptures, and listening for the Spirit to teach me. It's time for me to let my own past stop dictating what I know to be a better path. I even had a fleeting thought that I'd probably accept a job at church in order to serve Him better and learn more. It's time to focus my time and energy on serving my family, my Heavenly Father, and my church.
It was a fleeting thought and I didn't say it out loud, although it is consistent with the epiphany that I want to be stronger spiritually so I can be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. Because I have discovered that I CAN do hard things even though I don't want to. But I really struggle with the easy things like daily scripture study, personal and focused prayer, flossing my teeth or picking up my dirty socks.
So Sunday, after Scott sent me home from church, validating my grief yet gently reminding me that I also had a touch of PMS which makes tragedies ten times worse (and how does that man have a better internal clock than I do? By the way, he was right.), sleeping for two and half hours then fighting to open my puffy eyes and having every member of my family make some comment about the state of the skin surrounding my eyes, I got a call from the executive secretary. The bishop wants my husband and I to meet him next week. I went ahead and asked the question, "Why?" Jeremiah, at the other end of the telephone mentioned an "opportunity" for one us. "Which one?" I'm pretty ornery right after a heavy nap following a huge cry. Jeremiah chuckled. Seriously. Who does that? The opportunity is for me. I told him no. Whatever it is, the answer is no. He didn't say anything and the experience I'd had the previous night came back to me. Who am I going to be? How committed am I to becoming the person I might become? "Okay. I'll see you on Sunday." I hung up.
I didn't tell Scott about it for two days. How dedicated was I? How dedicated am I? I'm scared. When someone from the church calls about a church calling, the spouse is asked to come when they are either included or that calling is so time intensive that the spouse needs to be included in the decision to accept. Of course, there is the third option. The bishop knows how I am and he knows how Scott is and he believes that he will get a better response with Scott at my side.
I told Scott then explained to him all of the reasons that ANY kind of calling of responsibility would be a REALLY, REALLY BAD IDEA! I'M NOT A GOOD ROLE MODEL! I SWEAR! I SNEAK OUT OF CHURCH SO I CAN START DINNER AND EAT ICE CREAM. ALONE. Somewhere in the middle of my own arguments I lost my train of thought and trailed off, finally ending angrily with AND I DON'T HAVE TO EXPLAIN ANYTHING TO YOU SO. . . STOP LOOKING AT ME!" As if he'd asked.
But I am looking for answers and found myself reading the Sermon on the Mount. Of course, I am trying to understand the tragedy of my friends. I read in John:5 -
3. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
15.Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Why is verse 15 in there? I like my candle right where it is. I stand on that bushel while I wave my banner. Yet for reasons I don't know, I need to know more. It's time to stop living in fear and start living on faith. I don't want to be a pillar of a righteous role model. I just want to be me. But a big part of me has been hiding under that bushel, darn it all. Yet the events of this week have proved I'm not safe there. Nobody is. I'm scared to death of what might happen. Yet my mind wanders back to the following scripture:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
I could use some power, some love, and I could definitely use a sound mind. It would take a miracle, but I could definitely use a sound mind. And maybe this could be my new mundane.