This was my first lesson after my bishop's interview. It is the most embarrassing on several levels, but I feel it's an important and potentially confusing one, and it's the one that keeps surfacing whenever I try to write about something else. So I hope it's entertaining, if nothing else!
All day that Sunday, I felt off--weirdly sad, relieved, heavy, defensive, lost, etc. Just off. So it wasn't super surprising but was still annoying to wake up Monday morning with all those feelings distilled into plain old anger. I was in a bad mood all morning with Nick and the kids, and I was glad I had planned a playdate with a friend so I could have some time to chat and become normal again. As we left the house to walk the few blocks to our friends' house, I felt my anger building to rage. I rarely have rage issues, but unfortunately they pop up with more frequency when I'm pregnant, and it freaks me out. We started walking and I just focused on getting us there without yelling at my wee ones who had nothing to do with my problems.
As we walked, I began to be overcome with the most intense urge I've ever felt to start doing some major cussing. Foul language is not really the norm for me; I went through a weird swearing stage in college for humor's sake, mostly because BYU provided me with an easily shocked audience, but my swears of choice were generally confined to a couple damns and hells now and again. You know, good ole timey farm talk like my grandpa always used. I've always had a distaste for harder language and maintained a rather virgin tongue even in my petty rebellion.
Well. In my ragey state, I wanted to shout out my most particularly abhorred dirty word. It felt like holding back when you need to be sick--I needed to say it! I’m simultaneously embarrassed by how much I felt like I needed to cuss as well as by how long and hard I tried not to, but if anyone was watching out their window, I’m sure I was a comical/concerning sight. Finally I just got mad enough that I whispered my horrible little word into the chilly air. And it felt SO GOOD, so then I said it roughly a hundred more times until we got to my friend’s house (out of earshot of the kids, for cryin’ out loud). It made me so happy. It felt like reading poetry out loud, and I’m totally not joking, even though I am laughing at myself. And the whole time I was also telling God I was really sorry for my lack of control and all that, but also kind of sorrynotsorry because DANG, I felt good!
I was so out of control that the first thing I said to my friend when we arrived was that something was wrong with me and I was having a hard time using words that weren’t really obscene, so apologies in advance if I scarred her children in the next hour or so accidentally. She was obviously confused but ignored my crazy, and the kids started playing. She handed me a book I’d asked to borrow, and that’s when I noticed something funny going on with my eyes, because I couldn’t read or even really see the cover. This is a very telltale sign of an approaching migraine for me, and it’s one of the final stages of my aura--that’s what they call the precursor to a migraine, and everyone’s are slightly different, but mine are straight-up crazy.
My friend was super gracious and took my kids and let me flee back to my house to conk out for a couple hours, which is good, because it was one of the more intense migraines I’ve had in several years. I couldn’t even feel my face or limbs by the time I got home.
So when I woke up a few hours later feeling a little more functional, my first thought was, OOOOOOOKAY, now it makes sense! That ragey cussfest was my migraine aura! Phew. Not crazy. Ha.
That night, I decided to start my assignment from bishop by asking what God wants me to learn from this experience of receiving contradicting answers and being without a temple recommend. I received an immediate answer, and it went something like this:
“Remember what happened this morning?”
“Uh, yeah, trying not to…”
“That’s what I want you to learn--how not to be scandalized. This is not where your purity comes from. I will tear down all your boundaries.”
I was confused, but then it hit me, and it hit me hard. Because that was my one word I’d never uttered out of disgust for its meaning and ways it’s used, it held a weird power over me. It shocked me in books and movies and left tiny little scars in my memory, and people who used it in conversation instantly lost my respect. After I, oh, I dunno, succumbed? to joining the crude masses I’d previously considered below me or something, that power pretty much evaporated. I realized it was suddenly just a word. I still don’t like it, but I dislike lots of words (like moist, yeah?), and that doesn’t make them scary or the people who say them beneath me. I don’t need to use it, and I also don’t need to be scandalized by it.
I realized I was still categorizing and labeling people for all sorts of reasons that are simply unacceptable. God was telling me I was now going to experience what it’s like to be put in a box in some people’s minds. That’s obviously happened to me before, but it’s different when it’s your own people judging you--and that’s exactly the point. I was going to learn for myself that all people are just people, and it’s not my job to put up walls. God is tearing down all my boundaries. By taking away the repulsion I often felt at other people’s language or actions, God took away my inability to see others as they truly are. I am not pleasing to God because I have a checklist of words I refuse to use or other things I won’t do, but because I am part of God. I bring glory to God not by abstaining, but by creating, by allowing him to give me a new fleshy heart every single day, and that comes from loving deeply and fiercely every being I meet, recognizing everyone as equally a part of God as I am.
I wish I magically became perfect at loving everybody instantly, but I still have plenty of work to do. There is a marked difference, though. I find myself much more able to look at the many types of ugliness in the world head-on; I don’t feel the need to flinch or look away, and it feels like greater love. I recognize that I’m not immune to the ugliness, myself, and I feel connected to people in a way I didn’t before. I’m more accepting of US as we are, more ready to love without conditions that must be met beforehand.
It’s been an excellent lesson to work on, and I’m grateful for God’s eclectic teaching style. How does God tear down your boundaries? I realize swearing isn’t a huge deal to lots of people, but we all have our own list of appalling unacceptables. We all put ourselves above someone else for one reason or another.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Exploring the spiritual side of things. Brevity is not my forte.