Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"I am that I AM." -- "It is what it is."

I know quite a few people who have struggled at some point in their lives with feelings of pressure and guilt from situations that were not within their control.  This pressure and guilt were the result of unrealistic expectations about how their lives "should be" - feeling like they should be able to handle things differently and have lives that were closer to "ideal" in some way.  

I understand such feelings, but, in cases where the cause of the struggle is not chosen or intentional, those feelings must be addressed and understood positively and proactively in order for those people to be healed in a meaningful way. 

If that description fits you to any degree, I hope the following helps somehow:

The first thing I would emphasize is that our 2nd Article of Faith says, in my own translation, that we will not be punished for struggling with things we do not choose - that come to us simply as a result of the Fall of Adam, so to speak.  This means that there is no "guilt" attached by God to the existence of those things in our lives - that they are covered automatically and freely by his grace and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  That recognition alone can be powerful and emotionally healing.  

I would reframe that concept as a clear recognition that there is absolutely nothing "wrong" with struggling with lots of things - simply because you can't avoid them. Just as the best name for God is "I AM", often the best answer to something is simply, "It is". That recognition won't eliminate anything automatically, even the guilt felt right away, but it is important to recognize unrealistic expectations and learn to know when they are hitting "in the moment".

On a very practical note, my wife started writing a weekly blessing list on her personal blog a few years ago. Despite the struggles in her life, which aren't few for her, that has forced her to look back and "count her blessings" regularly. What she has discovered over the past few years is that knowing she would be writing such a post has made her more aware of the blessings as they happen - which has given her the ability to recall them in the moments of hardest struggle - which has given a degree of perspective she didn't have before she started compiling her blessing lists. She still struggles with some things that are her own "thorns of the flesh", but she is able to break out of those struggles more quickly and even avoid them at times.

However you can do it, counting your many blessings and naming them one-by-one is a good idea.

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