Saturday, February 26, 2011

Learning in Fog


Do you ever know there is a lesson you’re supposed to be learning, but you can’t quite get it right? That is how I feel now. I have two things I should be learning. One is deeper, more correct faith. The other I can’t quite put my finger on. It seems just out of my reach. That probably sounds weird, but I am weird. Hopefully, in a cute, quirky sort of way.

I’ve been working so hard regarding faith. I’ve meditated on Alma 32 hundreds of times. I’ve made conscious decisions just to insist on having faith and push any doubts out the door. Yet, I still feel I’m missing the main idea of the lesson. It reminds me of elementary school.  This is going to sound like a really weird analogy at first, but it will make sense in the end. My parents are people with good hearts, but like the rest of us, they have a natural man they have to battle with.

Throughout my childhood and teen years, my parents were heavy marijuana users. In the 70’s and 80’s that was quite common. (Yes, I’ve given away my age. I’m 41. Now you can stop doing math and finish reading). I know it sounds ridiculous, but some of the memories that make me laugh the most are my parents and their friends sitting around smoking dope. They had this ridiculously long pipe that would fill up with marijuana smoke. Someone else had to be at the other end to put their finger over the pipe hole. Than when it was completely filled they would let go and the smoker would suck everything in really quickly.

To my brothers and I, the amusing part was watching them try to hold in the smoke they’d just sucked in for as long as possible. There is nothing more fun to a child than seeing adults do ridiculous things. That’s probably why my kids get such a kick when I do silly dances with them. So, here was this adult trying desperately to keep in something their body obviously didn’t want. They would snort and try not to cough. My dad was my favorite because he was completely bald and his entire head would turn purple. Oh the memories….

My point is I was surrounded by marijuana for the majority of my years at home. Even though I wasn’t smoking it personally, I was affected by it. The result was I was often in a fog. It most affected me at school. I am someone who LOVES learning. Ask anyone who knows me and my greatest joy is found in books, even “boring” text books. In childhood, I was the weird kid who was disappointed if we didn’t have homework the first day of school. I was so excited about learning.  Yet, school was hard for me. I couldn’t quite seem to grasp some things, no matter how much time I spent trying. I always felt disconnected.

It wasn’t until I moved out of my parents house that my head seemed to clear up. Boy did I make up for lost time then. I haven’t been able to get a college degree, but I have taught myself many, many subjects. I’m fantastic at advanced mathematics. I love history, literature, and science (especially chemistry), and have even been teaching myself HTML and Javascript. I love them all.I continue to try to carve out some time for learning even now, with my schedule so ridiculous as a single mom. Homeschooling helps. I get to share my passion for learning with my precious children.

About this time, you might be thinking, what is the point of this trip down memory lane? The fog. The fog I experienced at school was a result of the steady diet of second hand drug use. It affected my ability to learn. I have a fog now too. Though definitely not drug use, it is just as damaging to my learning. Sometimes we are so surrounded by our circumstances, fears, doubts, and for me disillusionments, that it is hard to see past them to learn what Heavenly Father is trying to teach us.

I begin a typical day in exhaustion, fear, and worry. My kids mean the world to me. Being a mom is a calling I take very seriously and find it such a huge privilege. I want to do it right. Yet my new life makes that challenging. Gone are the days I can just spend time reading to them and playing games. I have to get moving and I have to get moving fast. We’ve got to get school done, and then I’ve got to work several jobs. I also have to keep up with meals, music practice, housework, laundry, errands……….the list is never ending. I am not a ton of fun right now. Of course, there is the never ending pressure of making enough money for the bills. That stress and worry never stop.

There are other fog creators too. Fear and disillusionment. I have so many fears that have nothing to do with bills. Fear of being alone for a long time. Fear for a friend that I care deeply about who is destroying his eternity. Fear for my children that is personal to them and I cannot share. It has nothing to do with their character. They are wonderful children. Then there is disillusionment. That one is more like a constant weight that presses on me and doesn’t allow me to stand erect and get a good breath. I need to be careful because I’ve been asked not to blog about it by my dear sweet bishop, so I’ll just say it is there and ever present.

When surrounded by all those worldly (though necessary) cares, it creates a difficult environment for me to grasp all the new important spiritual lessons I am learning. There are some things I can do. It is important I take in more “fresh air” than most. That is done in my Scripture study. Wow, that is one of my favorite times.  I love keeping a Scripture journal and jotting down all the thoughts, questions, and lessons, I’m learning. I can almost reach out and touch the Spirit. I learn. I grow. I have clarity. Then, once I close the book, the fog rolls in.  What is the solution? I’m not positive yet.

There are some things that help. Constant communication with Heavenly Father and the Savior makes some difference. It at least helps with the burdens. I get to share it with Them. It gives me someone to talk to. Someone that can actually help and I don’t have to fear has immoral motives. I can trust Them. Another is continually trying to commend myself into Their hands. Yet even with both those things, I still feel like I am not quite getting it. Being everything Heavenly Father wants is more important to me than anything else, so I really want to “get it”.

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows I am not perfect. I make mistakes. Sometimes I make some doozies. Yet, even then, there is such a strong underlying desire to make my Father proud, and to show my Brother how much I love him and am grateful for the atonement. I want to evaporate the fog and grasp every lesson They have for me. I’d love to hear how you go about growing.


Michelle said...

Wow. You are facing some very difficult things. I love what you share about faith, and the light that you feel when you are studying the scriptures. It makes me think of the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light". To me faith is continuing in what you believe is right even when you don't understand. It can be so, so hard. I think I know what you mean by the fog--the sense that there is something you need to learn and are about to learn but can't quite get to it yet. I'm actually feeling that, too, with a challenge in my life.
As always, I love your thoughtful, honest post. I wish I could ease your burdens somehow. . . .

Kimberly said...

I think those worldly cares you fret are keeping you from growing spiritually are exactly what help you grow. Our testimony permeates everything we do and are, so even mundane tasks like laundry, or worries about bills can become spiritual lessons for us.

I always loved the women in the NT for precisely this reason. They went about doing woman's work and were blessed for it. They gained their testimonies through work. For example the Samaritan woman at the well-she was doing chores-and Jesus told her He was the promised Messiah. Mary went to the tomb to care for Jesus' body because that was what women did at that time and she was blessed to see the resurrected Lord before anyone else.

I don't know-just maybe your worldly cares aren't less than your spiritual ones-maybe they are one and the same if you just switch your perspective up a little bit. Just a thought.

Annmarie Worthington said...

Kimberly, I see where you are going with the thought and I agree completely. I think we are more likely to get revelation and growth when we are fulfilling our daily temporal responsibilities. I was afraid the fear and other negative emotions I feel are what are keeping me from growth more than the responsibilities. I know faith and fear cannot co-exist. I hope I'm making sense. I always love your comments.

Thank you for your kindness. We're going to sing Lead Kindly Light in FHE tonight.