Not so long ago I was wrangled into attending the General Relief Society Meeting portion of General Conference, an event sponspored by our church and aimed at men. Just kidding, this meeting was aimed at women. They do this every six months. And I usually don't go. What can I say, I'm a rebel. Nevertheless, I set aside the rebellion and went to this meeting. The first two speakers were ok. One of them looked like she probably would be the type to carry chocolate chip cookies in her purse for emergencies. I liked her. But I digress.
The concluding speaker for the evening was Dieter F. Uchtdorf. And first, it helps that he is nice to look at. He's kind of what I picture Prince Charming looking like later in life. Second, he's got a great accent. What is it about accents that make people more interesting? I wish I had one. I mean other than the midwest-meets-New-Mexico thing. Third, he's great at being relate-able. He doesn't talk down or over or under or around you. He talks to you. He gave a wonderful talk called "Forget Me Not" that every woman should read (just click and follow the link. I promise missionaries won't pop up and try to baptize you or anything), even if you aren't LDS. Although if you are an atheist it won't be very interesting.
At any rate, I thought it might be stimulating for me to look at the five forget-me-nots he discusses and share my thoughts. It gives me something to read about and something to think about as I try not to let my head spin off during the course of the day. So, here's my first Thursday Forget Me Not Thought.
From Dieter (we're on a first name basis. Mainly because I've never met him.):
"First, forget not to be patient with yourself. I want to tell you something that I hope you will take in the right way: God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect.
Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not. And yet we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s wonderful that you have strengths. And it is part of your mortal experience that you do have weaknesses."
It was around this point that my friend, Misty, leaned over and said "I think he's talking to you."
If you've read even 1/4 of my blog posts, and I'm guessing that if you are reading right now you have, you will know that I constantly struggle with low self image. There I've said it. I have low self esteem. If it's not obvious in my blog words, it's certainly manifest in my weight, in my body language, in the way I talk about myself (or don't), and in the way I avoid any type of spotlight. I struggle daily with my multitude of imperfections and I just know that everyone around me sees them, laughs at them, or thinks I'm disgusting. I've noticed, to my intense displeasure, that my children copy some of these behaviors. There is nothing worse than seeing your own faults mirrored in the faces of the children you love.
And then Dieter spoke words to my heart:
"Many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.
In the meantime, be thankful for all the small successes in your home, your family relationships, your education and livelihood, your Church participation and personal improvement. Like the forget-me-nots, these successes may seem tiny to you and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they are not small to Him. If you consider success to be only the most perfect rose or dazzling orchid, you may miss some of life’s sweetest experiences."
I can give everyone else a break, but not myself. Why is that? And how many small successes am I missing while I look for the perfect rose? And how often do I value myself based on what others notice, instead of what I've accomplished that is internally important?
Let's just say it happens a lot. I am often completely dependent on the people around me for validation. This is a major stumbling stone for my writing, school, my children's activities, weight loss, church activity, and generally every other facet of my life.
So, first step, appreciate the small things. I'm not ready yet to look at myself and say nice things. It's not something that changes overnight or even over years. But I can look at my life and pick out some of the small successes. I can focus on those positives, and hopefully other positive feelings will follow.
Forget not to be patient with yourself. After all, "Our journey toward perfection is long, but we can find wonder and delight in even the tiniest steps in that journey."
You're a very wise man, Dieter.