Work Will Work When Wishy-washy Wishing Won’t

How did my predictive texting know to put in wishy-washy there? This is not a phrase I have ever used, to my knowledge. They’re watching me! πŸ˜‚

I grew up in a home where hard work was valued, almost to an extreme. My self-employed dad commonly worked 14 hour days, and often more than that to keep the wolf from the door. My mother also worked very hard trying to keep up with all of us kids and keep the house in order, and work as an administrative assistant.

I don’t remember sleeping in much over school breaks, because my parents would wake us up to take care of household projects – mowing lawns – either ours or Grandma’s (she had a HUGE lawn), painting the house, weeding the garden, etc. I think Dad’s philosophy was if he was working, we should be doing something productive, too.

Fortunately for me, school work was considered productive, and apparently also a lot of reading, although sometimes I wonder if that was more a case of “out of sight, out of mind,” because I hid in my room and read a lot.

The newspaper route I shared with my brother for a lot of years, initiated me to the realization that working gave me $$$ money I could use to buy stuff I wanted. I’m grateful for the work ethic my parents taught me, it has enabled me to learn and do and overcome a lot of challenges in life.

Somewhere along the way, I twisted things in my head to think that my value was connected to my productivity. That if I wasn’t working to learn, or do, or fix, or make something, then I wasn’t justifying the space I took up in the world. I worked hard every day, getting up early, and going to bed late, while raising my kids, trying to help them grow and become responsible adults (which they have done).

At one point, while my kids were teens, I must have pushed myself to whatever the limit was and my body started to rebel, not allowing me to continue putting all the pressure on that I had been. I tried to adjust, but it seemed that the storm had arrived and over time, my body was allowing me to do less and less, both mentally and physically.

Fast forward to two years ago, after having a successful surgery that addressed the hidden cause of many of the problems I’d been having. I found myself still unable to get out of the chair and do anything. I realized this was a problem I needed help with, so I made an appointment with a counselor who also advertised that he did personal coaching.

I thought I just needed a mental and emotional kick in the butt. It turned out there were some underlying things from my past that I needed to address in order to clear up some stinking thinking.

As mortal, flawed humans, we as parents do our best to teach our kids to work hard, be strong, and be kind to others, but we don’t always know how to do those things in a way our kids will understand, and sometimes they receive a message we weren’t wanting to send. I fully admit to doing this myself and I’m not pointing any finger of blame at my parents when I say that I received lessons and messages they never intended to send.

The biggest flawed message for me was this idea that my worth as a person was tied intrinsically to how productive I was. I knew this was flawed thinking when I first identified it. I don’t see or label other people’s value this way. I value people for who they are themselves, not for what they produce. But I could not find a way to change this standard that I held for myself. I needed to replace that false principle in my head with something healthier, but I just couldn’t figure out what the true principle was.

I absolutely believe that the ability to work hard is important, but I struggled to understand how to reconcile this belief when I was physically and mentally unable to work in the ways I had in the past. This inability to reconcile my belief with my reality froze me.

It’s only recently as I have been diving deep into my scripture study that I heard someone say something about God caring most about what we are becoming, that something in my head finally clicked. It’s this:

God cares less about what we do, and more about what we are becoming.

If I believe this is true, and I do, then this glorious truth is also true:

Hard work is important, not because of what we do, but because of what it helps us become.

In my mind, this opens up a whole new meaning to me of what kind of things are work, and what work is important, and what it might look like, depending on our circumstances.

Our purpose, our work, in this life is to become like Jesus and Heavenly Father, so we can live with them again someday. There is a whole world full of ways that can be done, and a lot of those things are not measurable. Some of those ways don’t seem productive at all. Some might look like a waste of time.

At the end of my last appointment, my counselor said in essence, “Awesome, congratulations. It sounds like you are doing great. No need to schedule another appointment right now. Just do it if you need one.”

I don’t live under a rock. I know life throws curve balls and I expect at some point I will probably need a sounding board moment with my counselor for another life reality check. I’m glad to know where to go when that happens. God has given us people with skills to help, and I’m so grateful for that.

I also realize that the greatest part of my new understanding and the healing in my mind and heart is because over these past weeks of journaling the Book of Mormon, I have developed a much closer, more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Studying his words as they relate to me, and coming to better know him have brought healing and a change in my heart and mind. He helps me see more clearly what is true and what is right. Because of who he is, and how he loves me, I am changed and will continue to change. I know Jesus Christ will be my ultimate source of healing for life’s inevitable wounds. There’s a reason one of his names is Counselor.

Thanks for letting me share that. 😊

I’m still in-process with the journaling this week so you only get a glimpse of it for today.

P.S. I LOVE Isaiah! But sometimes reading his stuff frustrates me. I’m really excited for these next two weeks to read some of his words as part of the Come Follow Me study.

2 comments

  1. I use to feel that way too and it is a daily struggle not falling back into that thinking. I realized we are loved regardless of what we do or don’t do and have value as a child of God, period. That period sometimes is hard to fathom, I always seem to want to follow it with “yeah but”. The real truth is you are loved for just being YOU that’s it. Everything else is learning whether good or bad, and the Savior is our counselor however long our journey takes. Thank heavens we have ions of time to develop and grow in grace. The Spiritual, Mental and Physical blocks are part of the journey, not fun but important. Love your blog thanks so much for sharing!

    Like

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