Tonight at the end of a long day, Aaron and I made a menu for the week. (My most detested domestic duty). It was 9:30pm when we were done. The kitchen was cold and messy, the laundry was piled in the corner, the kids were not in bed. Including the baby. And I was feeling sick. I have been feeling everything from on death’s door (and thinking it would be a nice option), to just barely fragile physically for a few days now, and then we know where I’m coming from earlier this week mentally.
So tonight, as I pulled on my coat yet again, to go out into the freezing night to face the dismal prospect grocery shopping for 7 people for a week on a really tight budget, something just snapped. I couldn’t do it. I guess I could. If my life depended on it. But I just wouldn’t. My skin felt sore and raw, my head pounded, I felt vaguely nauseated and thoroughly irritable. I was exhausted in every way. I was just done. I was so tired that I got mad.
Yes tomorrow is the Sabbath. I believe in keeping the Sabbath holy. I believe we are blessed for it and I want and need those blessings. Yes we don’t have some of our staples. But tonight I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I don’t know what that means for tomorrow. I don’t know if it means that we will discover that Ella does not have enough milk and we will have to borrow from someone (typically our long suffering and better prepared neighbour-hey Tiff!) or maybe it will mean that we will break the Sabbath. I don’t know. I just knew that if I went out into the cold night one more time tonight, there was a good chance that I was going to unravel one way or another entirely. And the thought of that made me angry. Because that would be unnecessary and unwise. Or maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t know.
Perhaps I’m pathetic. I have a hunch I’m pathetic. Certainly compared to many, many people I’m pathetic. There is no question of this. There are those of you who are reading and thinking, “good GRIEF, this bloody woman is ridiculous! Enough with the whining! ALREADY! She should get a real problem! Go shopping you silly twit who has no real problems! Show some faith! Take care of your family and keep the Sabbath holy and SUCK IT UP, count your blessings and reap more of them”. MY WORD!
And to you I say, “Eh”. No really, to you I say, “that’s nice. I guess you don’t feel the way I do tonight and good for you.” or Maybe I say, “that’s awesome, I wish I had your faith…I wish I had your fortitude. I wish I had your diligence. Sadly I don’t. Nope. Not today.” Or maybe I say, “Oh shut up and mind your own business you judgmental idiot .” I don’t know. I suppose it would depend on who you are and how you said it. Whatevs.
To be sure, there have been other days when I would laugh in the face of such puny challenges. I would (and have) pushed through grocery shopping at 10pm after much longer days, only to get home at 11pm to clean my house to gleaming perfection, and bake 2 dozen cupcakes to boot before I went to bed. But today is not that day. And then there would be yet other days when I would have stayed in bed today and not achieved any of the many things I have achieved today. But those days don’t matter. Those days aren’t today.
A scripture oft-quoted by us Mormons is this:
Mosiah 4: 7- 27 “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a (wo)man should run faster than (s)he has strength. And again, it is expedient that (s)he should be diligent, that thereby s(he) might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”
I think one of the biggest challenges I face is finding the balance. How fast is fast enough? I’m not good with that. I’m all in or all out. And I tend to compare today’s “all in” to my all time best “all-in” and if it doesn’t compare favourably, then naturally, I’m a failure.
As a personal trainer, I don’t let clients compare their fitness assessments to the “national averages”. Because really, those averages are totally irrelevant to their individual progress. I tell them that all I care about is their progress against themselves. And I think that’s a pretty a solid philosophy when it comes to fitness in general.
But maybe that philosophy does not always work for life because life is not as neat and quantifiable as fitness. Life is so fluid. There are infinite variables in life. I was trying to explain my interpretation of this scripture to some friends today, and as I floundered around to articulate it I finally came to this…and I’m still not sure I’m satisfied but it’s the closest I am going to get tonight,
“It’s not necessarily slow and steady. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow...go to full capacity. Whatever that means for you at that particular season in your life. Not what it means to someone else or compared to what your capacity was at a different time. Be present and do your best.
Basically it is saying, God does not expect you to give more than you can give...to run so hard that you are collapsing or dead from exhaustion. But He does expect you to give your best,to maybe exert more than is comfortable, to be diligent, to work hard and extend yourself enough to grow. And to prioritize..(wisdom and order) which means sometimes you will excel in some areas and let others slide. But you can't compare your best today to someone else's best.Ever. And you can't compare your best today to your best tomorrow or last year. Those things are irrelevant. You do your best today with the strength you have today.”
I don’t know if refusing to go out into the cold tonight was wise, or lazy. If I was being diligent or if I was being rebellious. I’m still trying to figure out lots of things about myself. I’m trying to rely more on the Spirit to tell me where thoughts and instincts are coming from, and maybe I need to consult more diligently and pray for more strength. Maybe tomorrow I will realize that I did the right thing. Maybe I won’t. I don’t know. But I do know that when I figure it out, I will tuck the experience away and learn from it one way or another even if it is just to do my grocery shopping on a Friday night. And because of that, I won’t be a failure.