Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's just 4 years

 When Tyler and I were dating, he talked a lot about school and how important it was to him. I wanted to marry a man who wanted to finish school so that he could get a degree and provide a good life for me and our children. Every time we talked about school I realized that, despite what he says, he is happiest when he is getting challenged, especially when it's something that he loves to do.

Tyler felt that he was behind others his age because he took the 2 years off for his mission. Every time this comes up I assure him it wasn't a waste of time, and that he probably learned more in those 2 years than he ever would in school. We got married and within 2 years of us being married he finished his Associates, and applied to the architecture program. The letter came in the mail, and we opened it anxiously together excited to see that one line that everyone who is awaiting to get into a program sees "You've been accepted".

That was not what the letter said. He had not been accepted into the program, and he was devastated. We worked through the summer trying to figure out what to do. Should he wait another year to apply or should he start looking into other "easier" programs. While praying and waiting on what to do, we got a surprise: I was pregnant. We were so shocked because we had not planned on this happening until at least another few years after Tyler had graduated with his bachelor's. It was clearly not our plan though, nothing ever is.

While I was pregnant Tyler took classes at the U that were associated with the Design program. The design program wasn't officially a major yet, just a minor. He applied to the program again, we had Emma, and once again he didn't get in. He was feeling no motivation at all to even continue with school. He was feeling lost and hopeless. We both talked about a lot of things, extensively. We both decided that he would quit working full time, focus on school, and I would work to support the family. It was something I knew that would have to end up happening with us having a kid and all. Plus we didn't want to live off of student loans and get massively into more debt than we already were for school.

We both knew as we were talking things over that these were going to be the hardest years of our marriage: switching roles in the house. I am now the one dealing with the stress of providing for the family, making sure that I am indispensable at my job and he is the one dealing with diapers, the latest Tinker Bell movie, trips to the park, and making the trips to Costco, all while trying to juggle school work. I was scared out of my mind, and so was he. We made sure that we would always listen to each other's frustration, no judgement, and give advice to help one another out. (What we thought at the time was included in all marriages) It was new territory for both of us. We both struggled a lot at first. It was far from perfect, and there are days when it's still far from perfect. 

For the first 3 months of this I kept thinking over and over "It's only 4 years, only 4 years." School went well for Tyler that first semester, and even better the semester after that. He applied to 2 programs, the design program (which was now an actual major) and the architecture program, for the 3rd time. The first letter we got was for the design program, he was not accepted. The only thing he could say on it was "What do you do when your plan B falls through before you plan A does?"

About 3 weeks later, the second letter came, FINALLY ACCEPTED! We had a dance party and jumped around. It looked a lot like this:

So he started on, finally, the journey that he really wanted to be on in the first place -- to be an architect. 2 years for his bachelors, 2 years for his masters. It seems like this road is never ending, but I know that it will very much be worth it. Not only will Tyler be able to provide for us, but he will be providing for us doing something that he loves.

Between the waking up at 5 to make sure we get Emma where she needs to go, the many nights I have already spent alone due to homework all nighters, and the many hours we both spend trying to "catch up" on parenting missed due to work or school, we feel overwhelmed right now. Feeling overwhelmed is apart of life, unfortunately. However, looking at it one day at a time instead of 4 years, makes it seem a lot easier.

There are some days when I wake up and I think, oh heavens help us please, this is taking forever! That attitude won't change anything, and you definitely can't keep wishing away your days to get through a certain phase in life. You will find out later in life that you will miss that phase. And you also may have spent your whole time during that phase wishing away the time you will never get that time and moments back.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The wonderful power of the Atonement

"What have I done? I can't come back from this. Why, why did I make this choice?"

These words ran through my head a million times in early 2009. I had done something that I had promised myself I never would. At the time I thought I had done something completely unforgivable. No matter how many times I prayed, read my scriptures, or went to church, nothing made me feel clean. I felt disgusting. I felt undeserving of any blessings that might be waiting for me. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I couldn't look anyone in the eye and feel good about myself.

I felt completely alone.

Then finally after a couple months of feeling this way I reached out for help. I scheduled an appointment with my bishop. I reached out and admitted I had made a mistake. Step one in recovery. Still to this day I can't tell you exactly why I made the choice I made. 

Self sabotage? The example that had been set for me by my older siblings? Wanting to make my parents really mad at me so that I could get attention again? Needing to be defined by some worldly status so that I could feel accomplished in something? Boredom? Trying to slam the door shut on a chapter in my life so that I couldn't fit into their box anymore? Rebellion? Not being the "good girl" anymore?

You could say all of these things were definitely contributors.

Sitting in the bishops office and having to tell him everything, the specifics, the details, when, where, etc. was extremely awkward, heartbreaking, and devastating. I was disfellowshipped for a time. I don't remember exactly how long, but it felt like an eternity. Going to church every Sunday, not being able to take the sacrament and take a hold of those blessings, that if I kept the covenants I made at baptism would be able to have in my life. During this time the bishop asked me to read a few different things, scriptures mostly, articles from the Ensign on repentance and forgiveness. I was also asked to do a lot of service.

Then one day a few weeks after the initial meeting I woke up feeling like I was one ounce away from my fullest potential spiritually, and I actually started to feel clean again. A few days went by after this feeling and I just kept feeling a little bit better and better. I went into the bishops office happy to report what I was feeling and expecting him to tell me that I was fully back in the church and everything was happy again.

No. That's not what happened.

I went in and told him how happy I was feeling and he felt that I still needed some more time. I cried and was upset. I expressed my frustration and he said that this decision didn't come from him, but that he had prayed about me specifically that morning and he was told that I needed some more time. I was devastated, but he said a prayer before me leaving to grant me patience during this trial. That I would realize that this would all be for my good in the long run and that the Lord has a much bigger plan for me than I can even begin to comprehend. I left that meeting feeling discouraged and spent my time studying the scriptures feeling frustrated and bitter with the Lord. Once again, it felt like an eternity had passed. After that meeting on top of the extra scripture studying I was doing, I was serving more, and I actually started to find joy in my journey to full repentance. The joy started to creep in, in the "little things".

I was sitting in the library reading a few weeks after that meeting and I realized how "whole" again I felt. I started crying like a crazy person, in the middle of the library. I sped to the chapel and ran in, still crying. The bishop was there, which wasn't normal for him on that day, and he had a moment to meet with me outside of my normal weekly meeting time. I walked into his office a sat down and cried the happiest tears I had ever known. I felt 100% whole again. I felt like the old Sharon, but in a different way. The bishop started to weep with me for the new discovery I had made.

This discovery is the overwhelming power of the Atonement.

It is hard to describe to anyone who hasn't experienced it, however it's like when your entire house has been a disaster for a few days (or weeks), and you go through and clean it floor to ceiling. That feeling after you're done and you're sitting enjoying your newly cleaned home and you realize how nice it feels to be in such a clean environment.

Satan wants you to feel 100% alone, disgusting, not worthy of blessings, devastated, unclean, like you can't come back from any mistake you make. Don't listen to him.

I am here to tell you, you can come back from any mistake.

The Lord sent his Son to die for us so that, these sins that feel so huge to us at the time, we can come back from. He wants us to return to live with Him again which is why He sent His Son. The Savior is there to help us to see our imperfections, and improve them. We have our free agency to choose and sometimes we allow Satan to impact our choices. If we do let him impact our choices, then we are able to grab onto the Atonement, hold on for dear life until we can feel whole again.

When we make mistakes again, we follow the cycle again, until we learn to not make those mistakes.

We will always fall short, and make mistakes, however, it is until we stop utilizing the Atonement in our lives, that we have truly given up.

Don't give up. Keep doing better. One day after clearing away the ashes and rubble from your mistake you will see the sun, and it will shine more bright and glorious than you ever thought it could.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Types of Happiness

Hello Friends!

Since I made a pact to be 100% honest with you from the beginning, I'm not going to sugar coat this:

I've been hating life right now.

I honestly am.

I hate the fact that we live in a small apartment, instead of a house.
I hate that I don't get to stay at home with Emma to be there for the milestones.
I hate that Tyler gets to be the one to stay at home with Emma while he's on Summer break.
I hate my body right now.
I hate our ward.
I hate my mental health issues, it makes me feel broken.
I hate that I don't have time really for a social life (or that I'm socially ridiculous about 90% of the time)
I hate that my Dad's not here.
Or that my Mom made the choices she made to not be around in my life. (and I hate that every hour at church I get asked how my Mom is doing... gotta love being in the ward you were born into.)

Now that I haven't sugar coated that and I laid it all out for all to see, I will tell you I have had the worst time keeping said "hates" under control in the last few months. I usually have a sunny disposition, and try to not be negative unless my husband has a listening ear to allow me to vent. However it has been extremely hard for me to keep it under control.

So how do I keep my attitude under control? How do I resolve these "hates" I'm having?

I realize which ones are in the circle of my control, and which ones I don't have control over.

If I slowly pick away at this list and I categorize them, I realize that I ultimately have control over the majority of these things. It's just up to me to change how I react to them.

Let me say that again in case you didn't read what I was saying:
I ultimately have control over the majority of these things, it's just up to me to change how I react to them.

Sean Covey would be so proud of me for that statement. You don't have control of what the world will do to you, or the trials that are thrown your way. The ONLY thing you have control over is your reaction and your attitude.

What are the many attitudes one could have about the things outside of your circle of control?
Sadness? Yeah, but do you really want to be one of those people who is sad ALL the time? didn't think so.
Angry? Anger is a useful emotion, but only for so long, it won't get you very far.

How about happiness?
I'm going with that one!

What are the many types of happiness, both the good and bad kind, that currently exist? There's a lot to name however I will name a few:
1. Feeding off of happiness of others/what others think of you and worrying about others happiness over yours
2. Finding happiness in the everyday life
3. Happiness for being you

I have a problem of worrying about others over me consistently. I've always been that way, and sometimes it's a good thing (like what's catapulted into a great career in customer service). Sometimes it's a bad thing, like when I focus on other's happiness as a way to mask my own sorrows. I caution everyone to take a step back and don't put your happiness second base to others. Not only will this lead down a destructive path for yourself, it will also repress emotions that do not need to be repressed. Also, don't worry about what others think about you, honestly. Don't worry about it. It takes just the same amount of energy to try and lift an elephant as it does to consistently worry about what others think about you.

**Now, I'm not saying to not serve anyone. Just make sure to take care of yourself okay?

It's okay to be happy with your life. Even if that means it isn't this amazingly extraordinary tale of how you battled a dragon to save the princess from the evil queen, and then you kissed her and lived happily ever after. Or (in my case) it's okay to not be this fun stay at home mom who has the perfect home with the husband who is the bread winner, and be able to be there for all the big milestones. You can still find happiness in things outside of these "dream lives". Besides, would you truly be happy with your life even after these things changed? Maybe? Maybe not. Just the same though...


I promise you can be. It's hard to try and find happiness in the small victories or during a really hard and long trial. Eventually you will though, and then you truly will be happy.

Life will throw lemons your way, and sometimes it feels like life is throwing nothing but lemons your way, and at you too. However, what will you choose when those times happen? Choose to be happy? I'm choosing that.

So get out of your funk, open up those blinds and the window, and let the sunlight in. While you can't control what life brings you, you can control your attitude.

My attitude today: Happiness.