A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about trying to be a woman who makes her home a temple. In that post, I defined what a home/temple is (to me) – how it is different than the temple where we worship.
This post is about how I’m trying to do it and some of the things that usually end up getting in the way.
I don’t know why, but I’m easily influenced by my temptation to feel down and out. There are times when I feel bored with what I’m doing with my life. I have chosen to be a stay-at-home-mom to my four children. I recognize the blessing in this. I don’t take it for granted. Yet I find myself feeling tempted to be jealous of women who are doing something with their lives. I am tempted to think that my life should be more glamorous. I get frustrated with myself because I’m overweight. When I start to think these things, what usually follows is the horribly mistaken idea that what I’m doing doesn’t matter.
Yet, I know that what I do – providing an environment that nurtures all who enter into my house – does matter. It matters more than anything else I can think of. I realize that the only reason why providership matters is so that physical needs can be met in order for spiritual needs to be attended to. I know that my husband and I work in tandem, not in competition. Because he provides, I’m able to nurture. I know that this is why I’m here. I understand that if I don’t turn my hearts to my children, then the earth will be utterly wasted at Christ’s coming. I understand that family is central to God’s plan.
I understand that Satan knows this, and that He is attacking the family. A big part of his battle against the family is a battle against mothers and fathers – nurturers and providers. If he can destroy us, the family doesn’t have a chance.
Redoubling My Efforts
As I contemplate the temptations I face, I recognize that I must redouble my efforts in remaining confident and happy about my role in the home, in brushing off the temptations I face, and, above all, in the actual work of creating a nurturing environment. Here are some of the things that I’m doing to redouble my efforts.
Remaining Confident an happy about my role in the Home
So much of my confidence and happiness with anything in life is seeing the results of hard work. For example, when doing a fitness program, confidence grows when you see that you’re getting stronger. This is true for me as a mother. I feel more confident and happy with my role as a mom when I see results of the work I do. The thing is, those “results” are hard to come by. Some of them may never really pan out.
So…to help me see the importance of what I’m doing, and to help me feel confident, I write in my journal. I take time to notice something that went right during the day. I ask myself, Have I done any good in the world today? I try to answer that honestly, and reflect in the happiness that comes with service.
Specifically, Instagram helps me. (Strange, I know). A few weeks ago, I was cleaning my kitchen. My house had been just horrible because I had recently had a hysterectomy. I was beginning to feel a little better, though, and had to face the chore of cleaning the kitchen. I decided, for fun, to take a “before” and “after” picture.
The cool thing about this simple exercise of the before and after pics (which took all of twenty seconds), is that it caused me to pause and reflect – recognizing the joy that comes with finished work. Dishes, Laundry, and other chores often don’t seem joyful because they never seem finished. It was nice to take this time to see that the work I had put into cleaning the kitchen was good – even if I was the only one who would ever notice it before another stack of dishes appeared. Often, I don’t take time to rejoice in the good work I do. This robs me of the chance to let my confidence grow.
Whether through Instagram, journaling, or whatever, I’m recognizing that journaling is a good way to reflect on the day – and that it is important to make notice of what went right
Brushing off Temptations
I face tons of temptations, but at this time the one that gets most in the way of me being a productive, happy, and helpful nurturer in our home is the temptation to compare myself to others and feel discouraged with my effort. In my estimation (when I’m at my worst) I’m not pretty enough, thin enough, spiritual enough, happy enough, organized enough, or even funny enough. That can then snowball into a feeling that no one cares about me or what I do. Which then, if I don’t catch it, will turn into a feeling that I am worthless.
At this point, I recognize that I’ve given into temptation, and have let my thoughts run riot. I have to stop, pray, and repent. I have to remember that thinking I’m worthless isn’t humility or modesty, but it’s blasphemy against the God that created me.
So, prayer is what I do when things have gotten bad, but I’ve been trying to practice “preventative” measures. For me, I’ve noticed that limiting Facebook, pinterest, and reading other’s blogs is a helpful way to stay above that feeling of doubt and discouragement.
Admittedly, I love all things tech. I don’t think that Facebook or the Internet or even Pinterest is evil. But, when I spend too much time on any one of them, I begin to see all the fun I think my friends are having on Facebook – and I feel sorry for myself. Or I read a blog about people who are doing so much and even more than I can imagine doing, then begin to feel like a lazy sack of poo. Or I go on Pinterest, and am overwhelmed by the food I’m not cooking, the crafts I’m not making, and the Body I don’t have.
You can see how these things influence my thoughts – and how it is so difficult to reign them in.
So, rather than practice self control prior to the deluge, I limit my time. After the first twinge of jealousy, resentfulness, or being overwhelmed, I say (aloud), I’m getting off of here.
Then, I turn on some music that will make me dance. Play with the kids, and the mood changes.
Creating a nurturing Environment
There are so many ways that this can be done, and I’m still in the throes of life as a mother. My oldest is only 11, so I can hardly say that I know what I’m doing. But I can say that, for the most part, I’m trying my best to create a nurturing environment.
In order to create a nurturing environment in my home, I first nurture my own spirit – by doing the basics: praying, studying the scriptures, eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Any time any of these things is out of whack, I’m out of whack.
Additionally, I’m proactively trying to create a good environment in my home. I believe in traditions. Both gospel traditions (like FHE, Family Prayer, Family Scripture Study, Temple Attendance, Church Attendance) and Family traditions (like making Christmas Ornaments, kissing my kids toes, having an annual candy carry, hiking with the girls on Saturday Mornings, getting donuts for Sasquatch and T-Rex at the end of a long supermarket trip). Traditions promote unity and help create positive memories.
I try to learn from other people, too. I’m a big proponent of stealing (when it comes to good ideas and implementing them into your life! 🙂 For example, I’m pretty much obsessed with this blog Scenes From the Wild. Michelle’s blog isn’t like mine. She doesn’t really preach on her blog. She takes beautiful pictures, and records beautiful memories. But love is infused in that blog, and, though I don’t know her in “real life” I trust that love is infused in her home, as well.
Above all, I try to take it a day at a time. Well, actually, an hour at a time (there are a lot of highs and lows in our house!). I try not to get hung up on when I fail, and instead just keep trying hard. Several times a day, I find myself repeating, “Do your best and forget the rest!”
What do you do to create a loving and nurturing environment in your home? What are some of the pitfalls you face? How do you overcome them? How do you find joy in your duty?