Making Meaning

Every once in a while, I feel like I’m getting stuck. A few weeks ago, I felt pretty down and out – like I was failing in nearly every single thing I was trying to do. I felt like I was failing myself – as I’m still very overweight from the baby. I felt like I was failing my family – my house is a mess. I felt like I was failing my calling, the women I visit teach, my husband, my friends, and basically everyone I knew.

The funny thing about discouragement is it begets laziness and despondency. Instead of noticing what I was lacking, I just kept feeling worse and worse. I was almost to an “I want to give up” point – but not quite there…You know. I feel like these feelings ebb and flow.

So, I asked homey for a blessing, and he happily obliged. It helped a lot, but it wasn’t like a silver bullet. I’ve still been feeling the struggle to balance everything and feel happy with my life.

Sometimes, we will think that these feelings are just temptations – you know – we hear it all the time – Satan wants to discourage us to keep us from doing good.

I’m beginning to think that it is more than just Satan, though. Perhaps it is also my spirit – begging for a change – begging for me to live a more meaningful life – rather than just be caught up with the “busy-ness” of motherhood, marriage, and middle life.

As you may know, recently my little brother passed on. I’ve been thinking a lot about this scenario. The entire trip to Boston, the funeral, and seeing my family has been a wake up call in so many ways. When I was in Boston, my siblings and I had to prepare a speech for the funeral. We sat in my brother’s room because it was the only quiet place in the house.

It was strange – sitting in his room…It was a mess! As we discussed the situation of our family (my parents are also going through a divorce right now), the death of my brother, and everything else that’s happening, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of my brother’s sandals. They were just some Nike (Adidas? Fila?) slip-on sandals, and they were strewn on the floor. I noticed that his room was a mess! There were DVDs out, his x-box controllers were on the floor. He had a paper on his desk that listed people who had purchased some tee-shirts from him. His bed was unmade, and covered with his Dr. Dre headphones, a bowling ball, and his laptop. I looked around the room, and realized none of it mattered. I mean – it didn’t matter at all.

What’s funny is, I’m sure that when he was alive, that was the stuff that did – in some way – matter. He probably spent most of his time with these items. Yet, they sat there, unused, in his room, on his floor – waiting for the next person. They are lifeless, careless, things.

This situation resonated with me because I’ve realized that meaning – in life – doesn’t come from stuff. It doesn’t come from chores or errands. In fact, all of that was causing my blues. Instead, I began to realize that meaning comes from experiences, relationships, and knowledge. I mean, is there anything else we can take with us? No. Even though I couldn’t put any of this into words at the time, the ideas were sinking into my mind – I realized that all of the petty things that worried me all of the time back home were pretty much meaningless. Who cares about decorations in the house? Who cares about meaningless (not meaningful) get-togethers? Who cares about young women’s hand-outs, kids’ outfits, and well – whatever gets in my way each day. Most of what I was doing was meaningless.

And now, I feel like I’m at this crossroads – I feel like I’m picking a path. I feel like I need to go around, clean (read: purge) my house and my life of the crap that’s getting in the way. I need to be a more loving wife, mother, sister, and daughter. I need to cultivate these relationships – that have the potential for being eternal. I need to spend less time driving around, and more time learning. I need to get off the phone, stop gossiping, and experiencing more – being anxiously engaged in a good cause.

I need to make meaning in my life. What do you do to create more meaning in your life? How do you keep life in perspective?

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5 Comments

  1. annegb

     /  July 10, 2011

    I’m very sorry about your brother. I read a book called “Reaching for the Invisible God” by Philip Yancey that talks a lot about stalwart Christians becoming discouraged, but staying the course. Sometimes for years!! I think we all go through those ups and downs and sustaining a constant state of faith and sense of meaning just isn’t possible. We can, though, remain faithful during those down times. I could be totally off-base. What I do is continue to pray and read the scriptures and attempt obedience at those times when I’m pretty discouraged. I also liked your point about discouragement leading to laziness! How eye-opening and profound.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment. I know that my feelings of encouragement/discouragement ebb and flow. Then, eye-opening things happen that help us to remain thoughtful, faithful, and strong.

      I guess I feel like I should strive to be on my “A-game”…That isn’t the right way to say it, but I’ll think of it. I guess what I’m saying is, I want to live an “abundant life”. I know that such a blessing has to do with faith, strength, and gratitude. It was good to have these reminders. I’d hate to see life pass me by.

      Or…as I write, I don’t want to procrastinate anything. The thing is: I really like life. I get mad at myself when I realize it has been days since I’ve been outside and breathed fresh air. I get frustrated with myself when I get to busy to actually live (and appreciate it). Even when things aren’t going well, it is better than the alternative (which isn’t things going great, but things not going at all).

      I love the example of Nephi, who serves God, “with unwearyingness” (Helaman 10:4-5). I am wondering how to overcome this feeling of weariness, and I guess I’m realizing that sometimes I even make myself weary with distractions – meaningless things…

      Thanks for your comment. And great advice. It is important to remain obedient, prayerful, and close to the Spirit. When we do, the Spirit never fails to lift us up. Pretty cool, really.

      Reply
  2. its a real wake up call when someone passes away and you realise all that they take with them is them and their memories and moments. Sorry to hear about your brother. and htanks fo rhtis post – I get pretty down about the mundane things of life and constantly compare myself to others who are doing better being better handling life better – silly to do that as that jsut gets me down then I jsut wanna eat chocolate! Happiness is an internal personal thing – thats hard to accept sometimes though – good luck purging your life!!! I would say start with all the excess clothes your kids have as man I have soooooooo much unnecessary laundry!!

    Reply
    • yes! I have waaay too much laundry, too. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment. I always end up doing similar things – getting down about mundane things and comparing myself to others (usually in an unfair way, too). Anyways…it is good to have wake up calls, even when they are hard. I just wish I was better at heeding them!

      Reply
  1. Making Meaning (Part Two) and Doing God’s Will (for me) – (D&C 76:10 and 124:5) « That Good Part

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