I watched this little message today and it made me think.
I've been in a rut lately. An ornery rut. Nothing seems to have worked out the way I anticipated. I vacillate between depression, optimism, and stubborn orneriness. I take out my orneriness on anyone who will listen. And if they won't listen, I make them!
I just want to get all of the coiled up useless energy out of my system so I can start feeling normal and happy again. But, like one of those devious little under-the-skin pimples that refuses to come to head and be purged once and for all, this ornery attitude I have is proving to be very difficult to ignore much less remove.
This is not a foreign feeling. When I was about 14 this is how I felt all the time. I took it out on my brothers and sisters because I didn't know any other way to blow off some steam. I felt powerful when I knew they were afraid of my temper. But power like that is hollow. There is very little actual satisfaction in watching another human being break in front of you. I grew to hate myself for my temper and how weak I felt when I let it get the best of me, so I lashed out and completed the circuit of destruction.
At 14 I participated in a Young Women's lesson at church that has forever changed my perspective on how I treat my siblings. Our leader pointed out that our family helps us prepare to begin families of our own some day and the way we treat siblings is the same way we will one day treat our own children.
This really hit me in the gut.
I never want to be the kind of mom who intimidates her children and uses that power to get her way. I want to be the kind of mom who loves her children and teaches them why they ought to do certain things. The kind of mom who helps and shows instead of orders and punishes; who loves instead of shouting.
The lesson stayed at the forefront of my mind for a long time. I plead with my Heavenly Father to help me change, to become gentle and meek as I was as a little child. I plead for the sake of my future children to help me be a good big sister on whom her siblings could rely instead of act the part of disappointment.
Not long after I made this resolution my older brother decided to pick a fight. We were always at one another's throats and it usually ended with me in tears of frustrated rage. As I chased him through the house, ready to really rip into him, I remembered the lesson.
Then I did something I had never done before.
I smoothed the snarl off of my face.
I turned around.
And walked away.
It was the most freeing moment of my entire life at that point.
Since then I have slipped up more times than I can count and let my temper get the best of me more often than I'd like to admit. But more and more often I am able to will my behavior into being as it ought, even if I'm ornery.
Tonight I was planning on going to a meeting for volunteers looking to give their time to a particular aid organization that does amazing things around the world. I want to get involved and use my extensive free time to promote good causes.
However, tonight was a night of my little sister's Young Women's in Excellence meeting at church. Each young lady gets to spot light something she has been working on for her personal progress through a church-run program to promote the eight Young Women's values found in the YW's Theme:
We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.
We will "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things,
and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live
the Young Women values, which are:
Choice and Accountability
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values,
we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants,
receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.
Since my parents couldn't make it tonight, I chose to attend the event with my sister. There will be other volunteer meetings but only one opportunity a year to support my sister in this way. And that matters most.
I could easily have been selfish and pursued my own plans for the evening, but my attendance mattered to my little sister. I really didn't want to go and once we got there it was kind of boring but being there with her was lovely. Every time I turned my head to her general direction she smiled and showed her appreciation for my attendance. Her eyes reflected adoration, not fear, and that is a powerful thing. She's the same age I was when I realized how important family relationships are to a future in a strong home and family. Simply being there, sitting beside her, mattered. Despite my orneriness, even I could see that very clearly.