Thursday, March 27, 2014

Leading With Light

I failed my children. I've hurt them. Probably ruined them.

My friends are all too busy for me.

I'm tired. And I'm lonely. Depleted.

None of my biggest dreams came true.

Life is so hard and sometimes I just get sick of life.

No one really understands me, gets me at my core.  I just don't fit in in this world.

These are the thoughts that assaulted me in the middle of the night last night when I couldn't sleep. I knew who the author of these thoughts was, but still I recognized shades of truth in them. I tossed and turned, and I wept. I wept out loud the way I never can during the day when a child might hear me.

I had such an uplifting and inspirational weekend at Time Out for Women just days before, and it always seems that being filled in that way makes me more of a target for the Adversary. I should have seen it coming. This has been a constant battle for me, these attacks on my self-worth. Sometimes life feels so hopeless that I wonder what the point is, what there is to look forward to. There's just been so much pain and disappointment, and I wish I could have been better in so many ways. I let everyone down. Fundamentally, I'm not sure that I'm a good person.

I couldn't stand it any longer. I got up and turned the light on at 1:35am and started cleaning out my closet. And begging for heavenly intervention. Crying as I took pants down from the shelf that I might as well admit I'm never going to fit into again. Tucking away Dylan's Cub Scout belt and Boy Scout sash, and wishing for so many do-overs with my sweet boy. My wedding dress. From my first marriage. My temple marriage. The dress that my mother sacrificed to painstakingly make for me. The accordion file of ten years of court battles with that first husband who always wanted to pay less money and have more time, who could not just stop fighting. (He's still doing it.) Boxes of projects that never got finished. Pictures of happier, or at least more hopeful days. Tears and more tears.

You should offer more service.

That's the voice I hear, not the answer I want. And I know it's true, but it's also so condemning. I am so wrapped up in my own disappointments and failures and struggles and loneliness. I keep waiting for a happier day so that I can reach out to others. It does occur to me, "What if the happier day comes because I'm reaching out to others?"

I reach a stopping point with the closet, and get back into bed. I reach for a book I keep on my nightstand, a sort of life raft I keep there for middle-of-the-night emergencies such as this, called Spiritual Lightening, by M. Catherine Thomas. My friend Luisa sent it to me several years ago when I'd expressed my struggles to her over the phone.

And what do I read right away?

"We can see how it is a powerful act of faith to give when we feel empty. . ."

"The Lord has so designed it that we find the answers and the fulness we need while we are putting grace into someone else's cup. . ."

Yes, I need to offer more service. I hear you, Lord.

I'm not sure what I have to give yet, but I'm thinking on it and praying on it. There are so many things I cannot control about my life. So many things have not gone the way I would have liked, or even the way I felt I deserved. I've done so many wrong things. But there must still be hope for me, some purpose in me. There must be something that I have to share, to give, some way to lift and lighten.

I would like to be that woman: the woman who leads with her light.

And the light should shine outward.


B said...

Thanks for your blog. Through the back door of life your blog can be a point of service for those that read the words that you craft and share. Your willingness to share your heart is where the service come in. You serve everyday in your job. The extra mile that you don't see yourself doing in your mirror of live. Your piano students the willingness to keep teaching now that you have a full time job. Your testimony your are willing to share openly. Jeanna --you are a woman of light to strangers and friends. Thanks for that.

Jennifer said...

Oh, Jenna! I have the same feeling sometimes. But these feelings are not the truth. They are lies...we have worth, we are good mothers.

Your temple marriage was done with your best intentions, you gave it your all. I gave my marriage my all, too. He also won't stop fighting. I have had to detach from this situation as best I has been hard.

But I know that I am gaining in spiritual strength through all my trials. I know that my children will always know that I have lived my life with them first in my mind and heart.

Please don't be too hard on yourself. You inspire me in so many ways! You are a good mother and a good person. A daughter of God.
Jen :)

Kortni said...

I love when you post on your blog. I know how busy you are, so I know that it is a sacrafice. In light of this post I want to say that I feel like your blog is a form of service. I can't explain it, but for some reason I really benefit from your writing. I love feeling connected to you and other women. When you write I feel that connection. Maybe you feel like your writing is just for you (I know I write for me) but I want you to know that it is for me too - and probably a lot of women. You are of value to so many people. We all are making mistakes and failing - that is life and part of progression. I LOVE YOU! I love you the way you are now and I'm pretty certain I am going to love you 20 years from now!!! Somehow when I read about your struggles and successes, it makes me want to do more and better. I feel like, "If Jenna can do it, so can I!" So, please keep writing - you are serving already.

Andrea said...

I can't even explain how much you and your blog have been of service to me. You have helped me through so many hard times and given me courage and strength.
Years ago I felt like I needed to go back to school, and reading about you doing it really helped me when the time came.
I agree that service helps everyone, but we often think it has to be bigger and better than what it really does. Being a mom is a service, smiling is a service. Writing your blog is a huge service to so many.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Unknown said...

I really thought you were quoting me with your initial six sentences. My only hope is our Redeemer. He has been kind and encouraging to me, when there has been no one else. Without Him, I would have died of loneliness a long time ago. I love you. You are an amazing angel to me, and I wish there was never a dark thought in that pretty head of yours. God bless you and lift you up.