Growing up I received many “happiest awards.” Honestly, the first four years of girls camp I came away with the “Happiest Camper Award.” My fifth year at camp, as a youth leader, I was with the leaders and they were discussing awards. Not really thinking about who I was speaking to I said, “Funny thing- I always get the happiest camper award. Weird.” The leaders said some sarcastic things like, “Well, well. Look’s who isn’t grateful for her awards!” To which I replied, “What? Who said that? No, I just think it’s weird. I mean, FOUR years in a row.” That year, I did not get the happiest camper award and felt bad that they thought I didn’t like being the happiest camper.
Aaaanyway, for much of my life I’ve found it quite easy to take pleasure in life. Since this last pregnancy, though, I’ve been struggling with getting easily discouraged. And I mean EASILY. Perhaps it’s imbalanced hormones…I don’t know, but it stinks. I see other moms doing things with their kids that I’m not doing and have to fight I’m-a-horrible-mom thoughts. I see the bathroom that I promised myself a most faithful promise that I would clean during the day that is still needing to be cleaned when I’m off to bed and I get all sorts of discouraged. The economy is headed to the toilet and I get all sorts of discouraged. I think you get the picture.
At the beginning of summer, I decided I needed some help in the attitude department. I wanted to be Happy Lindsey again. The Lindsey who lets bad stuff just roll off her back. The Lindsey that doesn’t focus on negative things. The Lindsey who her boys remember as a fun, smiley mom instead of the mom with the contorted face of stress and worry. I decided that the answer to my problems was to increase the levels of my spiritual reservoirs, if you will. In essence, I wasn’t having any luck on my own and needed some divine assistance. My husband and I have been consistent in our family prayer, couple prayers morning and night and then personal prayers at night (that’s my horn: toot toot), but I’ve been horrible at starting the day with a personal prayer. “That’s the ticket!” I said and went to work. At first it was rough to remember to pray before things got crazy with kids, but once I started praying first thing after getting up it became a habit. And it worked!...sort of. It’s great to be getting on with, but it isn’t enough for me. Now instead of getting discouraged VERY easily, I was getting discouraged fairly easily.
So I went back to the drawing board. What to do, what to do? And then the spirit hit me over the head, “You need to study your scriptures every day.”
“Ohhhhhhh! Can’t it be something else?!”
You may balk at my hesitation to do what God was telling me to do, especially since I asked Him for the help. But here’s the thing: I’ve tried to establish a habit of daily scripture study MANY times. I’ve never been able to stick with it. Now, any time I think of trying to figure out how to best go about such daily study the spirit always needles me with, “If you just get up before the boys do and study then…”
Nooooooooo!!!!! I. Love. My. Sleep. Love it. Crave it. Neeeeeed it. I am of the opinion that people should not have to get out of bed before 8 am. A and W are finally complying with that opinion. I don’t want to give up that precious morning sleep! But when did anything worthwhile ever come easily and without some sacrifice?
And so I took the matter back to God and said, "Okay. You’ve told me this is what I need to do. You’ve had leaders tell me this is what I need to do. And now I’ve got even more motivation to do it. If this is really truly what you want me to do, then I’m gonna need to see the improvements VERY clearly. I know that I’ll flake on this unless I really see how it improves me. Soooo, I’m going to give it two weeks and then reevaluate after that. Deal? Deal."
My husband says, “So, you gave God an ultimatum?” Well….yeah, yeah I did. BUT, I figure (since I did it because He and I both know how flaky I can be when it comes to scripture study and I just want to be clear on attributing blessings in my life to scripture study so as to keep up the motivation and testimony building) that we’re square. Had I said, “Bless me…or else!” I think things would be going differently.
And where are we today? Why we are two weeks and a day into daily scripture study and here’s what I’ve got to say: “Scriptures! Where have you been all my life?!...oh. Yeah.”
Confession: At the start of the two weeks I planned to rise an hour before the boys, study, and get ready for the day. Most days I’m actually only getting up 15 minutes before the boys and studying. I’m still having a rough time getting out of bed in a timely fashion. One of these days I will have established the habit of getting up with enough time to study AND shower and get dressed before the boys start calling. But for now, baby steps, baby steps:)
Here’s what daily scripture study has added to my life: For 15 days I have been almost constantly reminded of the sweet little things in life that give me so much joy (namely, how amazing my sons and my husband are). I notice all sorts of little things that make me SO happy! In 15 days I have not compared myself to another mother. In 15 days I have only lost my patience twice. Ah, you thought I was going to say that patience oozes out my ears since I started daily scripture study, didn’t you?! Well, life can’t be perfect; but I have noticed an increase of patience:)
I think I’m getting a happy attitude back. I still have a long way to go and the “habit” is not really habit yet though it seems more likely to stay this time. But I’m extremely pleased with the changes of the past couple weeks. I wonder if I’ll ever really learn this lesson: God knows what He’s talkin’ about. If He says we’ll be blessed for doing something, even though it sounds and is hard, we will be.
So study those scriptures; it's amazing:)
Originally written: October 15, 2008