Sunday, April 10, 2011

Progress

"The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I have worked very hard in the last few weeks to move beyond the frustration and bitterness I have felt towards some of the women in my ward. I have worked to just be happy with myself. To just be me. It has been working, too. I have not felt anger towards these women. I have been extremely happy in my own progress towards forgiveness and repentance. I still do not have a calling, and I am still grateful for that fact. I have been working on improving myself. I have been reading a lot. I have put a renewed effort into our Family Home Evenings. I watched Conference with great interest. I have been studying and praying, and, in the last few weeks, I have felt more peace than I have in a long time.

I knew it was a matter of time before that progress was going to be tested. And then it happened: I was asked to substitute teach in an adult class. Thankfully, I was given three weeks to prepare.


Today that progress was going to be tested.
 
Today was going to be a day of reckoning for me.

And today is the first Sunday in a long time that I had a good day at church.

I was a bit nervous to teach...I never feel nervous when I teach, but today two of the women who have made my church life challenging (to say the least) were sitting in the front row. I was not intimidated by them (I am not a person who has ever been easily intimidated). I was, however, nervous for their reaction to me teaching. I saw their faces when I walked up to teach. They were not happy; they looked annoyed, but I cannot recall the last time I saw either of them smile when I was in the room. I ignored their faces and focused on the friendlier faces of the people around me.

As I stood up to teach, I felt the nerves wash away. I felt the Spirit uplift me and guide me. And then I felt a change. Maybe it was a change in them, as I swear that I saw their faces soften as I taught, interacted, and listened.  They even participated when I asked questions. Their participation was reluctant at first, but  as I worked to make eye contact with each of them, I thought I saw the reluctance waver. I felt the Spirit truly guiding my lesson. I felt inspired to share a personal story that I had not even thought of during my preparation. Other women began sharing, and the Spirit was so strong in the room. Regardless of anyone else, I know there was a change in me.

Truthfully, I have no idea what the effect was for them; maybe it was my imagination that saw their faces soften. Maybe their reluctance was my imagination. But it was not my imagination that felt my own heart softening. Maybe it was my heart that was finally forgiving. Not a maybe. My heart was finally softening.



I actually felt good while teaching. I taught adults for the first time in years, and I relished in the Spirit that I felt in the room. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I truly belonged. I felt that I actually made a difference in someone's life. And a difference in mine.

Progress made. And more to come...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Can someone PLEASE explain...

Why does Disney insist on portraying boys in their TV shows as idiots? This has been bothering me for a while, but as I was talking to my own children about why Disney TV shows are no longer allowed, I came unglued in my own mind. (I was calm and rational to my sons, but in my head, I was going a little nuts.)

Indulge me a moment while I go through some of the boy characters:

First you have Zach: He is the "cool" one, but he cannot be bothered to learn anything. He is constantly getting in trouble and too concerned about being "cool" to care about school. He is girl crazy and has no regard for the people around him.

Then you have Cody: He is the "smart" one and as such he can in no way be "cool". He has no common sense; he is portrayed as being weak because he is smart. He is made fun of and is always the butt of someone else's jokes.

Next: The twins on the new show "Pair of Kings" (I don't know their names). They are just plain idiots. They do not think before they act, they are selfish, and they have to be constantly rescued because the decisions they make cause constant calamity.

Then there is Jackson on Hannah Montana. I don't even want to get into this one. Lazy, girl crazy, inferior to everyone, and stupid. But his sister is the exact opposite.

I could go on, but you get the point. There are worse boy characters than these, but I just can't bring myself to write about them. The thing is, I know that Disney is taking specific characteristics and exaggerating them, but really? For crying out loud, why can't a boy be both smart and cool? Why can't they for once portray a boy character who is just a typical boy? A boys who is a little bit goofy, a tad geeky, cool sometimes, and with a good head on his shoulders (with a good role model to look up to)?

I know the reason, and it makes me mad.

My sons think the boy on these shows are funny.


To me, they are obnoxious. Seriously, they are not funny. They make the boys out to be shallow and not intelligent. At least iCarly has Freddy who is a computer whiz. But Disney? No, the boys on those shows are either girl crazy, idiots, disgusting, or too smart to have any common sense.

I have banned my sons from watching these shows. I just cannot stomach them thinking that the behavior on these shows is okay. It is not.  I know that so many people worry about the effect of media on girls (but that is another post for another person), but I am just as worried about the effect on boys. It seems as a boy, you are either an idiot and cool, or smart and weak.

So can someone please explain why other people are not worried about how boys are portrayed on TV?

Friday, April 1, 2011

It took 22 years.

I took my boys to see my parents this week. It was not a huge deal, but it was something that I needed to do. You see, I do not visit my parents as often as I should. I love them, but it is sometimes difficult to be with them for any extended amount of time. (That is another blog.)

Back to my point: visiting my parents. We were driving around town with my mom. My children were peppering me with questions about how their dad and I met. (We met in high school, but for more info, click here. My children know the stories, but whenever we go to my hometown, more questions pop into their curious, wonderful minds.) As I was being questioned by my children, we drove by an LDS church. Then this conversation occurred:

Son #2: "Hey, that's a Mormon church! Mom, did you go there when you were a kid?"

My mother:"No, she didn't start going there until high school."

Son #1: "Is that when you met dad?"

Me: "No, sweetie. I told you that daddy and I met in high school."

Son #2: "Did you and dad go to that church together, then?"

Me: "Yes, mommy and daddy went to church, mutual, and even church dances there."

My mother (very quietly, so my children couldn't hear): "She went to a bigger church when she was little."

We chatted along this line for a little bit longer. All the while, my mother sat uncomfortably in front passenger seat. The fact that I am Mormon never really sits well with her. But, she is polite (if not annoyed by the questions that relate to my faith.)

This conversation would be insignificant except for what happened twenty minutes later. We were leaving my old high school, and son #2 asked if I would take him to and from school when he was in high school. (Remember, I teach where I live, and my sons will go to the school where I work.) This led to a discussion of what classes he would take, and eventually the topic of early morning Seminary came up. I explained to my children that they would have a church class every morning before school. They did not seem to think too much of this until my  mother (uncharacteristically) asked, "Why do they have to take a church class?"

Shock crossed my face. My mother never asks anything about my church, let alone a "Why?" question. We do not avoid Gospel centered conversation around my parents/siblings, but whenever the Gospel comes up, my parents/siblings tune out and rejoin the conversation when the topic changes back to something more pleasing to them. She also dutifully attended baptisms, only because she was happy that at least two of her grandchildren would have "some sort of baptism." (The other 10 grandchildren are not baptized under any religion.)  So the fact that my mother did not disengage from this conversation and actually asked a question, truly shocked me.

So, I jumped in, albeit hesitantly. I explained that my husband and I expect our sons to go on missions and that Seminary would help prepare them for a mission. She continued by asking how an early morning class would help them more than "regular" high school. (Did I mention that I am still in shock?) I explained that they will still attend "regular" high school classes, but that this class is specifically designed to reinforce the things that my boys learn on Sunday. It is designed to help them become familiar enough with the scriptures in order to be able to teach other people. I also explained that in some countries, missionaries are not allowed to enter unless they have some sort of certificate of religious training, and Seminary meets that qualification.

She seems appeased by my answer; although, it did not take a genius to guess that she is not thrilled about her grandsons leaving for two years to teach other people about our church. She is a funny lady, but at least she finally asked a question. It only took 22 years.