Sunday, February 14, 2016

Loving A Difficult Person

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” ~ Jean Paul Sartre
For many months I have had a bully; a woman that I stood up to when I defended another friend that she was verbally attacking.  I have had so many emotions while dealing with this situation and after she made a call to my employment in attempt to slander, I was livid.  I wanted to take revenge; make her feel the hurt and resentment that I was feeling and in doing so, I have learned the following to be true when dealing with my emotions:

  •        Resentment is the poison you feel yourself in hoping that another person will die (yes, there were times I wished she was dead; being honest).
  •              Forgiveness is a choice.
  •        Refusing to forgive is living in the past.
I thought I wanted to forgive her. I knew what it was costing me to carry around the resentment. The replaying of old arguments and the anticipation of future conflict. Yet something in me didn’t want to forgive and this was the truth that I had resisted owning for so very long.
We don’t like admitting to the fact that some petty part of ourselves doesn’t want to forgive people. We say we “don’t know how,” and that might be true, but the other truth is that some part of us often doesn’t want to forgive. We don’t want to admit that this part exists, because of all the stories it piles on top of us; stories that we’re mean, petty, judgmental people. Of course, we are expressing mean, petty, judgmental behaviors when we refuse to forgive.  It is not intentional. It is that we have been hurt and forgiveness feels like letting someone off the hook or pretending that it was okay that they did what they did.  The irrational fear is that if we forgive, someone else will do “it” again. But the truth is, whether or not we forgive has nothing to do with controlling another person’s behavior.  People do what they do. The only person to let off the hook is ourselves, by not concerning ourselves with monitoring someone else’s behavior, or replaying the past.
So, how can I move through the process of forgiving others?  These are not “easy steps” by any means, especially because many of them are worked in tandem, but nonetheless they are pieces that make up the whole. 
I had this conversation again this week when the woman bully resurfaced yet again.  It seems that she rears her ugly head when I am at my emotional low point of the week.  This is when my husband and I spoke in length and how to forgive what she is doing.  I am more than upset that she has chosen a week when we receive yet more bad news about his health.  There is a quote by President Hinckley that says, “"I think [forgiveness] may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed. There is so much of meanness and abuse, of intolerance and hatred. There is so great a need for repentance and forgiveness. It is the great principle emphasized in all of scripture, both ancient and modern. Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way." --Gordon B. Hinckley, "Forgiveness," Ensign, Nov. 2005, 81.
First of all , I have to acknowledge the parts of the situation that I that don’t want to forgive; the parts that want to punish by not forgiving and derive some artificial source of power from withholding forgiveness. It is a sign of health that we become aware of those places rather than pushing them away, pretending that they don’t exist.

Secondly, if I am aware already of the fact that I don’t want to forgive, consider the stories that go along with that.  I have already mentioned a few. Perhaps the most common is that forgiveness will mean that someone is absolved from responsibility for their behavior.  Here is what I know: When someone wrongs another, they always suffer. They might not tell you about it or they might put on an air. They might not even be aware that their behavior is at the root of their suffering. Trust me, they suffer. If someone is unkind, they suffer from either the conscious belief that they were unkind, or they suffer from the unconscious fallout of their behavior.

Third, find the common ground.  Where are you just like this person that you don’t want to forgive? This is the part that people resist most.  Am I honest in all of my dealings with others?  What I’m suggesting is that the two are borne of the same place. Deceit has its roots in fear; fear of being honest, fear of not getting something needed.  When we see that we are equally as capable of acting out as the next person, and especially when we compassionately see the fear that drove them to behave the way they did, there’s the potential for release.  That is a lot to take in!
Finally, realize that lack of forgiveness is rooted in a lack of boundaries.  This goes back to the fear that if forgiveness were granted, “it” might happen again because the person thought that they could “get away with” it.  The moment that you decide that you won’t tolerate the behaviors that lead you not to forgive is the moment that things shift.  Rather, I decide that I won’t tolerate the put downs, I come up with a plan for how I am going to handle it when they arise, and then you actually assert that boundary while looking at her with pure love because you know that her put downs are causing her immense suffering (even if you can’t see the suffering).  But it really is true: “Freedom is what we do with what’s been done to us.”  It is not the circumstances of our lives that matter. It is what we choose to do with them.  
One commitment that I have made is to design a prayer notebook.  My prayer notebook has been a helpful tool for me; it helps me pray with purpose and track God’s faithful answers to my prayers including protection from those who wish me discomfort or harm.  There’s nothing magic about having a prayer notebook. It doesn’t pray for me. I still need to spend time every day reading saying my prayers and reading my scriptures.  I write down the prayer of protection and the prayer of righteous anger towards this person and the request to help me in the road of forgiveness.  I also write down the answers that seem to come from making sure that my prayers are heard.  Here it is, the simple .. the faith that all will be right and good with my world ..

Because I ride the Dark Horse .. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016



A strange word.  A hated word.  And now more than ever do I feel the wrath of this word.  Perfectionism can drive people to great achievements.  It can provide the energy and motivation to keep going until a goal is reached.  Unfortunately, perfectionism has been one of the big contributors to my anxiety. 

The dictionary defines perfectionism as a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything else.  This can mean that if I do not live up to my own expectations of being perfect, I feel unworthy or low on self-esteem.

As a LDS woman, I feel that being perfect as a human being is impossible.  I can always do better.  When I read the Ensign or read social media about what other LDS women are doing, I feel that I do not measure up.  Even taking this class, I fall short.  I am in the Autumn of my life and yet I feel that I haven’t done close to what my Heavenly Father has expected of me.  Temple work, indexing, family history, my callings, my scripture reading, my prayer journey, let alone housekeeping, bookkeeping, husband keeping and children keeping.  How in the world can I be perfect in all of these things and righteous in all of my daily goings-on?!

I broke down in emotion to a girl friend of my mine because even this assignment had put me over the edge.  The first thing that she told me was ‘courage”.  She said, “You need to pat yourself on the back for forging ahead, in spite of how hard it is”.  Whether I know it or not, my strength making it through each day makes me a very courageous person.  Facing something really hard and getting through it every day, even when it feels as though I am dragging myself through is a huge accomplishment and “perfection”.

I was reading an article in Deseret News that spoke of how LDS women are at risk for depression due to “toxic perfectionism” and a host of other cultural factors.  This study was conducted by the University of Utah.  UVU Professor Kris Doty found five major factors that she said led to depression and anxiety among her test subjects; genetics, history of abuse, family relationships, feeling judged by others and toxic perfectionism.  How interesting that we are subjected to the perfect storm of unrealistic expectations, personal guilt and suppressed feelings.  We think that we can’t make a mistake so we become hyper-competitive and anxious.  If I think that I cannot make a mistake, I set myself up for failure.  

If you are like me, I often wonder where my Savior is in a horrid situation and I pray that He get me out of it.  In these times, I get angry with God and then turn it on myself stating that because I was not “perfect” I wouldn’t be experiencing this situation.  I need to understand that in my faith, He will get me through it and take my broken mess to help others heal like I have because I put my trust in the Lord.   This is “perfection”.   He is there in our imperfect state and if we were prefect, I guess we wouldn’t be here.  Do you experience anxiety in our classes with having to give a lesson or respond to a question?  We feel that we have to be perfect in our answers and presentations.  I need to understand that it is mortals that put me under this pressure and not my God.  Much easier said than done! AND, I completed this assignment! Perfection!

I Ride The Dark Horse ..