There is something I often say to my children:

“Mommies do things you can’t do for yourself.  You do everything else.”

I Love My Kids

What I mean when I say that to my kids is that because I love my children, I want them to learn to be self-reliant.  I want them to learn skills and gain confidence that they can succeed.  So, I don’t do everything for them.  Sometimes, I allow them to struggle as they learn something new.  But at the same time, I also realize that there are simply some things they cannot do for themselves.  They cannot do the grocery shopping.  They cannot drive the car etc.  So, I do those those things for them…also because I love them.

I am no where near actually living this principle as well as I’d like to.  Sometimes, I do something for them that they could do simply b/c it is easier for me.  In addition, sometimes I forget that they are just children and I demand too much of them….things they haven’t learned yet, things that I haven’t taught them yet.

God Love Us

But I believe there is someone who understands and lives this principle perfectly.  God does.  I believe He is my Father and that he expects me to do all the things I can do while relying on Him to take care of the things I can’t do.  And He knows better than I do just what I can and cannot do.

Spiritual Self-Reliance

I was recently asked to give a lesson about self-reliance to a group of young girls (ages 16-18) at church.  We talked about temporal self-reliance for a bit, but the focused the majority of our lesson on spiritual self-reliance.

We talked about what I mentioned above. There are many things (both temporally and spiritually) that I simply cannot do for myself.  I need the help of a Higher Power.  But that “Higher Power” is my Father and because He loves me, He expects me to do everything that I can do.  He wants me to learn skills and gain confidence that I can succeed.  So, He doesn’t do everything for me.  Sometimes, He allows me to struggle as I learn something new.   But He also realizes that there are some things I cannot do for myself.  So, He does those things for me, because He loves me.  Only, unlike with me and my children, His capabilities, both temporally and spiritually are infinite.  He can make up for everything that I lack.

Now, I’m actually really nervous (scared is actually a better word!) to post about this topic here.  Religion can be an extremely controversial subject.  I may offend some of you.  I may frustrate some of you.  But I’m also hoping that I may help many of you.  I am not trying to “preach” or “teach” my specific religion to anyone.  I actually have an enormous amount of respect for friends I have from many different religions.   So, that will not be the focus of these new posts.  However, if you ever have questions about what Mormons believe (aka member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), feel free to ask me!

Instead, I simply want to start a discussion about spiritual self-reliance.  I believe that in all religions, there are common threads of goodness, or certain principles that are taught, principles such as civility, love, generosity, kindness, patience, and most importantly a belief in a Higher Power.  Those principles and beliefs, when lived by, benefit our society.  When we, as many individuals are willing to be spiritually self-reliant, or in other words, willing to do what we can to live the principles we espouse, then society as a whole benefits.  And I believe that as we do that, God will step in and take care of the things, in our society, that we simply can’t take care of with our limited abilities.

There are many things in the “world” today that scare me.  Sometime, the fear I feel for my children’s future is so strong it is paralyzing.  I’m afraid of the advances in technology and the lack of real relationships formed as they are replaced my “technological ones.”  I’m afraid of pornography & drugs and how much easier they are to access now.  I scared by the trivializing of the family as the central unit of society.  I’m sickened as I see a trend of selfishness and lack of respect for other people.  It seems that in the “world” today, the focus is much more on ones own needs and it is taught that others needs aren’t as real or as important as our own. I’m angry at the trivializing of the role of women, marriage, loving relationships and selflessness as “old school.”  I’m scared of the significant increase in natural disasters in the world.  I’m afraid of job loss or worse, economic collapse.  These things scare me.

I cannot fight all of those things that scare me on my own.  Yet, there are things I can do.  I can live the principles taught by my, and many other religions.  Then, I can have faith and turn what I cannot do over to God.  In other words, I can do my best to be spiritually self-reliant.

Everyone is Different

If we do all we can to be both temporally and spiritually self-reliant, I believe God will care for us and our families come what may: both spiritually and temporally.

But guess what?  What I am able to do is so, so different from what you may be able to do.   Just like my 4 year old can do more for herself than my 2 year old, you may be able to do more (or less) for yourself than I am able to do.   Or, just like my two 6 year olds have different talents and strengths and need me in different ways, we all have different talents and abilities and need God’s help in different ways.

The “difference” that God makes up is not the same for each of us, but what he asks of us is.  He simply asks we do everything we can for ourselves.  I love that idea.  I don’t have to have as much food storage or water or even faith or charity as my neighbor.  I simply have to do all I can with what I have.  We all lack something.  None of us is perfect.  We all need God to make up the difference: temporally and spiritually.

Focusing on Principles

What I would like to do every other week (or so) is to start a discussion and focus on some of the principles I mentioned above:  things like charity, kindness, patience, civility, generosity and a belief in a Higher Power.  Every other week (or so), I’d like to share a video that talks about a different principle and discuss how striving to live it benefits society and helps us become more spiritually self-reliant.

I will share personal stories of my own struggles and successes with living each principle. I’m hoping this will help me to be more reliant on God and grateful for His help in my life.  I often have a tendency to become too self-reliant and think that I can do it all.  I’m currently working toward becoming more trusting of God and His will for me.  I’m hoping that this exercise will help me in that goal.

I invite you to join me and to invite anyone else you feel may benefit.

What Matters Most

After that really long introduction, today I’d like to share a video with you and talk about “What Matters Most” in our lives and how focusing on what is really important can change our lives and the lives of those we love.

Honestly, this is something I struggle with each and every day.  It is the “mantra” I repeat when trying to calm myself for any reason.  The phrase “Choose What Matters Most” has been my overall goal each year for the past 3 years.  I keep choosing it as my goal again because I struggle with it so much.

I like people to think that I can do everything and be everything to everyone.  I don’t’ like being seen as weak.  So, oftentimes, I put more effort into my public appearance than my private relationships.  Yet, it is those relationships that truly matter most.

I also hate being interrupted when I’m working on something (a blog post, cleaning the kitchen, an email campaign, reading my scriptures etc.)  My kids and husband too often suffer when I choose my current “project” over them, either by not dedicating enough time to them or by getting angry at them when they interrupt me.

But one of my very favorite quotes talks about these interruptions in a way that was eye opening to me:

“When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very frequency may indicate the value of your life. Only people who are full of help and strength are burdened by other persons’ needs. The interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur – and it is a danger to guard against – is to be so independent, so unhelpful, that nobody ever interrupts us, and we are left comfortably alone.”

-Anonymous
from The Anglican Digest

I don’t EVER want to be “left comfortably alone!”  EVER!  I don’t ever want to give up trying to focus more on what matters most in my life.  So, I will continue to fight the urge to post something amazing every day on the blog or clean my house from top to bottom every time a guest comes over.  Instead, I will spend time visiting with and caring about my guests.  I will spend time with my kids on my lap, laughing, giggling, looking into their eyes, gaining their trust and earning their love.

As I improve in this area, my children will better understand who they are and that they are important to me and to God.  They will better be able to “fight” the spiritually destructive forces in the world.  In addition, my marriage will be improved creating a strong family unit that will benefit society as my children grow up knowing they are cherished and have something to offer the world.

What will you do to focus on what matters most?  How have you seen a focus on those things that matter most benefit society?  How have you seen a lack of such focus hurt society?