Posts tagged faith
SURVIVAL

He approached me abruptly, purposefully, and unapologetic. He wanted to know what my talent was. I scoffed in his face, too shocked to hide my disgust.

When had I been reduced to just a performance ability? Did he see me as the main character struggling through my scenes or was I the understudy, desperately waiting backstage for her moment to shine? I took a deep breath, preparing myself to answer the nameless man and found my mind unlocking moments I had worked so hard to bury.

It's funny how a stranger can intrude on your life and send you spiraling down the rabbit hole. My memory vomited up the most painful night I had experienced...one I preferred to think of as an observer, rather than as a participant.

She sat there curled up, panting like a crazed dog trying to recover from the strain placed upon her body. Her eyes met her own in the mirror and she dropped her head in shame. How did she let this happen? Why couldn’t she stop it? How long, God? How much longer?

The questions were pointless. No matter how hard she racked her brain for answers, her life had spiraled out of control. Where she had once had stability her days were now filled with uncertainty, panic and fear. She had become a stranger to herself. The stranger was so far from the proud woman she knew before. She could no longer hold a conversation without waves of anxiety flooding over her. Clothes were used as a shield and her deep laughter came few and far between.

The thudding of the beast’s footsteps grew louder as she heard it draw closer. Her heart pounded against her chest and beads of sweat formed across her temple in anticipation of round two. She forced herself to stand up, nauseated by the pain searing through her broken shell. She had neither voice nor physical power but she did have an inner strength, immeasurable. Weak and exhausted, she knew she would crumble under his power instantly, but she could not give up on herself.

The foul odor of the beast entered the room before he did, making her gag from its intoxication. The beast was sick. She had tried to nurse him to health but her love for him had only made her his primary target.

The beast would not meet her eyes as he entered the room - perhaps a sign of the last trace of humanity he may have had left.

With the first blow she closed her eyes and transported her mind to a time of freedom when her life was full of richness. There were days when she could feel the rays of the sun penetrating her body and wrapping her in a blanket of warmth. The sweetness of her smile and the sparkle in her eyes were infectious to those around her, but her hopes of love and joy were laid to rest as her body exhaled its last breath.

I snapped back to the present as he asked me again what my talent was. Survival. My talent is survival. It's not pretty, it doesn't sound melodious to the ear or dazzle the eye, but it is ferocious and ravenous for life.

You see, I remember things by feeling: intense, awkward, painful, embarrassing, joyful, content, and neatly filed in my mind, holding me captive to moments in time. For better or for worse, and stuck there like a splinter pushed too far down beneath the skin.

I reminded myself why I was even in that hotel lobby. It was the annual Grand Canyon Bahai Conference. Instantly I beamed. Being around other Bahá'í's allows me to breathe easy as a woman. We are taught our worth from a young age, our importance to the development of mankind and our equal station to all men.

...Education begins with the milk. A child at the breast is like a tender branch that the gardener can train as he wills.
— 'Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy

As a woman, I'm the primary educator of my children. How incredible it is to know the method in which you raise your children will be a reflection on mankind!

I left that conference knowing I had to live the rest of my life making sure I raise my children to know that there is no person on earth who should be allowed the power to rob them of their happiness. Ever.

My children are young but I promise humanity I will raise them to be citizens of the world. We are all worthy of a good life.

JOURNALIST: Natasha Badkoubei (@itstashabadkoubei)

TALENTS & BELIEFS

Last month I experienced one of those weeks where mama-hood was a lot more exhausting than it was inspiring. My 16-month-old got Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (a mild case), which transferred more harshly to my body and manifested in painful physical sores. It was the first week of fall, and our calendar was running out of space with new toddler classes, play dates, workout sessions and a much anticipated moms night…all scratched out and replaced with lying nauseous on the floor while my son jumped on me and shoved books into my lap for hours. 

While housebound and feverish, I threw an epic pity party, hosted by the fact that moms don’t get sick days off like my 'lucky' working husband does. The discontent spread like a virus. My husband’s career accomplishments continue to be praised daily and compensated bi-monthly; my labor is unseen and unpaid. I am one of many, many 'good moms' out there, and there is nothing that makes my mothering special. Parenting is a selfish endeavor anyways; after all, no one forced me to further populate the earth with my offspring. Lies are easy to believe in loneliness. 

I turned to 1 Corinthians and was struck by Paul’s words, “What do you have that you did not receive?”

Is there nothing more humbling and true? With one sentence my vision was corrected, my heart examined. My mindset pivoted from an ill-perceived injustice to a reflection on what I really have: a husband who sacrifices his personal, social and family time to provide enough so that I can be our son's constant teacher. A little boy whose bright eyes and unbridled smile make the blood dance through my veins. A beautiful home in a coveted city filled with people with whom to share this life. Creative outlets that bring my soul joy. And I am not only filled with abounding gratefulness for every undeserved blessing, but through faith I acknowledge that each one was given...and thank the giver. For there is no earthly possession, no cherished friendship, no personal talent nor skill, no sacred family moment, no speck of goodness in my life that was not carefully placed there from heaven. Not even one sip of air I've drunk that was not poured into the sky just for me by the maker and sustain-er of all things. A truth for the masses and no less a truth for me. When I am approaching the second hour of folding laundry…Jesus sees. When I am reading ‘Goodnight Moon’ for the tenth time in a single day…He listens. When I lose patience and indulge in the luxury of self-pity…he forgives. The fragrance of the knowledge of Christ has filled our home with an aroma of peace, even when the work is banal and the days are unending. 

My family’s beliefs, rooted in evidence and watered by faith, have given us the authority to parent our children with a love beyond affectionate feeling. To raise up our babies to accept their divine value even when the world tells them that worth must be earned and peer-reviewed. To gift the generation to come with the heritage of a faithful marriage. To discipline and guide these delicate hearts and minds out of love, knowing even our precious children are bent to break just like us. 

The Lord says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Today I will choose to live set apart from the woman the world wants me to be or says I have the right to be and instead pray for my happiness to be defined by a joyful obedience. I will not look for attention elsewhere, but I will be loyal to the one that God was faithful to give me. I will not ‘wing it’ and hope for the best, but I will search for wisdom. I will not settle for survival, but I will nourish my own desires and needs. I will not be blown away with the sands of lies but planted in good soil where truth and kindness grow. And when the pressure for perfect fruit mounts high upon my branches, I will remain grounded in His steadfast grace instead.

I am mother and with this title I am both connected under a vast sisterhood and made perfectly unique. And this is the great honor God has for us mothers - that we are daughter too. An identity that gives us all affirmation of individual worth and our eternal belonging as adopted children. A blessed assurance enough for me.

JOURNALIST: Lisa Leyda Petersen

Your Path Matters

Tick Tock Tick Tock. 

When the house stills and it's just me and the wall clock my mind stirs. 

"Why in the world did I decide to do this?!" 

"How is it that my sole job is to manage the home but the house looks like a bomb exploded!?" 

"What's the point of all this anyways?!” 

"How is it possible that I feel like I've already worked an entire day by 9am!?" 

I'm a stay at home mom.  My business casual attire is pretty much all boxed up.  Baseball caps are my best friends.  I wear tennis shoes almost 24/7 because I rarely find myself sitting down.  I prepare my coffee the night before so as to ready me for the day like a trusty sidekick.   On a daily basis I babble, peek-a-boo and scream weird noises more than regular conversing.  Laundry is hiding in piles in my basement from the twice daily outfit changes due to  unplanned food smears and spills.  Social media shows me the outside world just so I make sure to remember to keep up to date on who our President is.  I do what most consider luxury.  While it is a blessing I hope to never take for granted, it is no cakewalk. 

In my daily blur I sometimes feel like I am losing my way.  The battle with isolation and mental boredom finds me throwing grand pity parties for myself.  I'm pretty darn good at throwing them too.  I long for kudos and the ability to see immediate results from my work creeps in.  I can get lost in a sea of whys.  Why I'm not getting more "me time."  Why the housework seems to pile up faster than I could ever manage.  Honestly, I do have my bouts of doubts on this path of mine.  

"Is this the right way?"

"Am I doing enough?"

"Am I missing out?"

Because the truth is I don't like this job everyday.  I don't always like being my child's caretaker ALL day and night long.  I don't always like being needed all the time.  I really don't like being Mrs. Responsible.  I want to live an adventure everyday and wish away the mundane. 

As a stay at home mom, I wrestle with assumed and expected opinions of others and society.  This leaves me feeling like I'm not being enough, doing enough, earning enough...  I'm an overall failure for that whole super mom campaign.  I am not working full time and juggling home life, I'm not running organizations or starting my own business.  I am not working at wee hours in the morning in order to follow big dreams.  The only party happening at this place at the wee hours is me, Betsy the cow, nursing away. 

The craziest part of all this is, no one forced me to be a stay at home mom.  I chose it.  I wanted it.  But holy moly is it hard!  Yet, despite the difficulties I don't want to just arrive at my destination dragging my family behind me in exhaustion.  I want to walk this path God has laid before me and get to the end... whenever and wherever that is, hooping and hollering with bliss.  I don't want to just look up one day and see that I've gone nowhere important, but just wandered around aimlessly.  

Paths matter.  The mundane matters.  They take us somewhere if we are conscious to the fact that we are heading somewhere.  I don't want to be so consumed with just surviving the day that I forget to live it!  Even on my lowliest of days I am important and what I do as a mom is very important.  I want to write that in bold letters all over my house.  I can breathe, deal, and live with a bigger perspective than just the temporary moment of a day. 

Tick Tock Tick Tock.  The babe sleeps.  Here in the silence, I choose truth. 

...enough said.

Despite the struggle with isolation and seeking the approval of others, being with my daughter is hands down one of my favorite experiences, even when it's simply a lazy, unproductive, survival kind of a day.  The yogurt all over the floor is the result of her first successful utensil usage.  I'm the one to journey with her as she discovers her likes and dislikes.  I love learning about the unique person that she is.  I am her caretaker.  Yes, diaper changes get annoying and really stinky and it's very hard some days to know when to shut off being responsible.  But home is where my heart is.  I love when she gets as excited as I do to open the doors and welcome in a beautiful, sunny day.  I love exploring with her and watching her gain understanding of this world.  Her joy is contagious.  I love that my measuring cups get used more for holding random toys than cooking ingredients.  My pots and pans are holders for her treasures and my fridge is decorated in tacky but useful multicolored alphabet magnets. 

On this road I'm on, I may not receive outside kudos anymore or hear thank you's often but these memories are thanking me just fine.  I'm tempted to view this place as holding me back from all I'm missing out on, but in reality it's these simple things I would miss.  Here in this season I am free to pursue my passions of crafting and embracing the joy and comfort of home.  I have grown stronger as I have matured and faced the mundane instead of escaping.

I am a part of society; I'm raising the future every day.  I am reassured that where I'm headed, this path, matters greatly, as does yours!  It reaps a slower reward.  The mundane of my daily life; the chores, poopy diapers, and tantrums and to do lists are valuable in the ultimate service to my family.  The insignificant becomes the significant.  It's small drops into a large bucket that eventually will fill up and overflow with blessing.  It is a job that demands God-given patience.  My ultimate destination is not to gain the "whole world and lose my soul" but to enjoy this family experience to its fullest potential, investing the best I know how into my children for the greater good of my family and ultimately for society as well. 

So, when that clock tick tocks again tonight, I'll welcome the silence in knowledge that today I had victories to celebrate, pains to work through and made it one step closer to my goal of living an abundant life.  I will make it to my destination hooping and hollering.

"Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left;" (Proverbs 4:26-27)

Journalist:  Megan Guttierez