Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Does Anyone Want To Defend The Cockroach?

Working for The Department of Child and Family Services when I was in my twenties gave me an unique opportunity to see some of the sadness, despair, and difficulties people who live in poverty  endure. I worked with a seventeen year old girl who lived in an apartment where she cleaned cockroaches out of her cupboards everyday before she could feed her 1 year old. No matter how hard she tried the poor conditions of the building and the prevalence of squalor existing all around her made the roaches her constant companions. I was unnerved, not too mention disgusted at the prospect of sharing space with these insidious little creatures. Too strong, too numerous, and too  devoted to their survival to be wiped out.
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine made plans to move out of state, commenting when he told me about it, that he had to get away from all the religious freaks in the state of Utah.
"You people are like cockroaches."
The image his statement conjured in my mind made me shudder. Until I thought about it.
Did you know:
There are more than 5000 different species of cockroaches. Only 10 of these are listed on The World Health Organizations list of human pests?
In The state of Texas cockroaches are the natural enemy to the BulWeavil, the largest destructive force to the agriculture in that area . They do not harm the cotton, corn, or plants, they simply work as  natural pest control.?
Cockroaches are the most prominent omnivore in the world. Without their efforts to take waste and garbage and process it into food. The earth would have been overrun with rotten, fetid, stinking piles of garbage and waste thousands of years ago?
In some cultures cockroaches are used as a tea to treat: stroke, high blood pressure, skin problems, and impotence?
Are there cockroaches that carry disease? Yes, it is picked up from the pesticides, garbage, and waste other inhabitants of society throw around the planet.
They are not evil, dirty, horrible, or destructive. They are working to clean away the darkness in this world and bring about growth, renewal, and progress toward a better way. They do not all accomplish their task perfectly. They are all doing their best to fulfill the role their creator has given them.
Religious freaks, Dietary guru's, Self-help specialists, and passionate people who work for what they believe do not judge the individuals around them for not believing in the same things. They seek only to lift and enlighten the ones they think can use the help.
You don't have to be perfect to have information that may help me. You don't have to belong to, or bad mouth any one religion in order for me to see your wisdom, beauty, strength, and goodness.
We lie to ourselves when we pretend that to disagree is to despise. To love a person is to accept whatever they think, do and/or say without condition. To want peace, joy and happiness for someone is to force our own path to it,  on the one we love.
I don't want anyone to throw their hands in the air and exclaim in defeat, "Fine. You want me to do it your way. I give up, I will."
Seek your purpose in God's Kingdom. Spend lots of time, energy and thought finding the truth, the way, and the light.
I'm sorry we haven't done a perfect job of loving and wanting what works for you. I'm sorry in our zest for a cleaner, better world a few of our people have gotten on the human pest list. It is not the fault of "The Cockroach" as an organization. It is the fault of the imperfect humans who make up the kingdom. I hope you aren't judging all mother's on the kind of mother I am. I pray you're not judging all women on the kind of woman I am. And I hope you're not judging all the cockroaches based on the one I am.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Get Naked

I grew up in what is by modern standards, a big family. I had three brothers and two sisters whom all shared one bathroom for much of our growing up.
"The girls" shared a bedroom on one side of the bathroom, and "The boys", shared the room on the opposite side. Showers before school every morning were a mad dash of naked bodies and wet hair between our bedrooms and the bathroom, much to my mother's dismay.
There are only 8 years between my older brother and my youngest brother, with four kids three of us girls, between. As we all were approaching adolescence and pre -adolescence together, my parents made a rule that we could no longer go between our bedrooms and the bathroom naked, dressed in a towel, or in our underwear to shower. We went to the bathroom, fully dressed, showered, and then dressed again before leaving the bathroom. With six of us this took a lot of time and therefor showers were very short.
I would strip down, scrub everything as fast as I could, dry off and get dressed. As a teenager I was hoping for a few minutes to do my hair and make-up before I had to relinquish the bathroom to the next guy.
This quick-wash-n-go method became habit and as I got older, moved out, and eventually didn't have those rules any more, I didn't break it.
Even after I was married, I could be in and out of the shower in 7 minutes flat. My husband actually taught me the bounties of being in a long, hot shower. He can stay in the shower for hours if the hot water doesn't run out. He relaxes, prays, contemplates the eternities, and has profound breakthroughs, all while being alone with himself and completely naked.
I don't know if it came as a result of my mother teaching me to cover my nakedness as quickly as possible, or if it came from my own body issues but I was never comfortable naked. Even alone, even behind closed doors,even metaphorically.
One of the great benefits of being in love with my best friend is the privilege of being safe, loved, and my true self with him...naked.
While being his wife provides the benefits of physical nudity, even more than that, it provides the safety of being emotionally naked. He loves me when I'm sick, ugly, broken, defeated, and desolate. I am raw, and he is the balm for my sadness.

Our society tells us to be free. Free to wear what we want, act how we want, use our bodies however we want, nakedness is to be celebrated. Is it possible, we long to be loved and accepted in a way that makes emotional nakedness a beautiful expression of our inner selves, but we choose to be physically naked to gain appreciation, approval, and acceptance because our spirits are too fragile to be emotionally naked.
I had a friend tell me how disconcerting it was for him to be around me, because I don't worry about what other people think. He said it frightens and unnerves him to see me so vulnerable and oblivious at the same time.
I take it as a compliment. All of those years ago, I hated myself, my body, my rebellious heart, and my emotional perception of my self. I was never comfortable naked. I went through periods of time in my life when physical nakedness changed my perception of my soul, but my emotional nakedness is what changed my perception of my body.
Now, if you were to be a fly on the wall of my house, you'd find me taking long showers, hot baths, walking around after my kids have gone to school, and lying in bed...naked.
You would also find me on my knees, reading my scriptures, writing what's in my heart, and loving my family...emotionally naked.
The love of my Savior, the acceptance of my imperfections by My Father In Heaven and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, humbles and awe's me when I feel his arms around me. It is the most naked I am. It is the most beloved I'll ever be.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It Isn't All Relative

Forty two years ago a group of Uruguayan rugby players spent 10 harrowing weeks of desperate survival in The Andes Mountains when their plane crashed.
One of the survivors, a man named Fernando Parrado, lost his mother in the crash, his sister due to the cold and her injuries, and ended up having to eat his friends to live. This was all before he, and the team doctor walked seventy one miles to the nearest residence to finally get help. Senor Parrado became quite famous as the public face of the Andes Plane Crash survivors and has spent the last four decades telling his story and doing motivational speeches all over the world.
During one such appearance, Parrado tells of an experience. While telling a packed auditorium of his ordeal his gaze found the face of a broken woman in the audience. Her features were pale and drawn. Her hair was stringy and matted while her frame was thin and gaunt.
"She looked to me, like she was dying," Parrado said.
When his presentation was finished, members of the audience came to the stage to shake his hand, hug him, and tell how his experience changed their perception of their own problems.
When the thin, desperate woman from the audience reached him, tears rolled down her ashen cheeks as she hugged him.
"Six months ago," she told him. "I was backing out of my driveway and backed over the head of my four year old daughter. Thanks to your story, I think I can start to live again.
Parrado, unable to hold back his own tears, embraced the woman and cried. "This is your Andes," he told her.
I read this story from a book called The Survivors Club. It is a collection of stories about ordinary people who don't give up when things are really difficult. Survival is about making the most of right now. Some people survive after great tragedy for years, some for only a few months, some survive the crash only to succumb to injury. Some beat cancer only to lose their lives to pneumonia, or childbirth. Surviving isn't about the length of time you do it. It's about doing it RIGHT NOW!
It's not all relative. You don't need to be stronger because so-and-so survived such-and-such event. Whatever is going on in your life right now, may be your Andes Mountains.
Maybe its not. Maybe its just a hill, or a canyon, or Mt. Everest, but its not all relative. Surviving is about doing your best right now.
I have a friend who suffers quite a bit of pain, daily. Some days survival for her is getting up, taking care of her family, hiking, cooking, and loving everyone she can.
Some days surviving means she lays in her bed, facebooks, and focuses her mind away from the pain the best she can. Every day for her is a mountain range of some kind. I have a lot of respect for her courage.
I realized after telling my story about the birth of my son last week, that if I compare that situation to some of the others I've gone through, it was not my "Andes". At the time though, it was.
This week I've struggled to function with a head cold. Yes...
A head cold. I know. Roll your eyes and tell me to buck up. Its not even close to how bad things have been before. Or, how bad you've probably got it, right now.
Does it matter?
I can make myself do more it I can focus on the fact that its not as bad as I know it can get. It's part of what keeps me happy even when things are tough. The fact is though, its not all relative. Today I do what I can, even though I feel like my head would work better if someone just cut it off.Today its what I must survive. I feel better knowing I can, and I will. I also need to hurt, rest, and take care of my little mole hill, today.
I give you permission to survive whatever is your "Andes Mountains" today. No matter what it was yesterday, or what it will be tomorrow. Its not all relative.