Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Lighten Up

I was asked to speak at a women's meeting last night about the subject of getting rid of the baggage in our lives. It wasn't my own Ward that asked me to speak, (congregation) so I have to admit that I wondered why they asked me. It's not like I'm an authority on the subject. I decided they asked me because I don't have a fear of public speaking, so am willing.

I focused on three aspects of this topic: the physical baggage we carry, the emotional/spiritual, and the time demands that weigh us down in our lives. It is kind of a simple topic, but I do think it is meaningful. I thought I would share with you some thoughts I had about each of these.

Time: One of the things I asked the women to do was to think about why they do the activities they do in their lives. So many times we do things because of social pressure, or because it is tradition, or because we have high expectations for ourselves. I used an object lesson of filling up a cup of water. Most of us, when filling the cup, would stop when the water got to a level that we felt wouldn't overflow the glass. But in our lives, we often think we can add just a little more, even when there isn't room. Sometimes we need to stop and ask ourselves what kind of impact our busy schedule has on our life, and the life of our family members.

We talked a bit about how sometimes we do things because others make us feel we should. I told them about how when I first moved to this town 12 years ago, a neighbor who was a member of our church came and said to me, "Don't do anything to your house until you see what everyone else has done.". She then took me on a tour of her house and showed me the extensive stencilling she had done on the walls. I have to admit that it looked nice, and because it was sort of a new art medium for me, I tried some in my house. But think about the pressure that she exerted on me to "fit in". Today I prefer a different style, and am glad I didn't waste more effort on something that now looks a little dated. But the lesson is to not let others' influence push you to do things unless it is something that you feel is important for your life. There are some who feel that being a stay at home Mom is only for the lazy, or unintellectual. They would try to encourage me to work outside the home. But I feel that the worth of a parent's presence in the home is incalculable. I'm glad that I listened to my instincts when others have tried to influence me to do otherwise.

Physical: I think the physical baggage is the thing I struggle with the most. I have extra weight on me, and extra stuff in my house. I have been, at times in my life, something of a pack rat. I think I have emerged from that prison in recent years, but I'm still going through the process of getting rid of things that I accumulated while I was a pack rat. The extra weight on my body is a little harder for me to get rid of, but I do feel motivated.

Spiritual/ Emotional: The spiritual baggage is perhaps the most interesting subject for me. Not only do many of us struggle with behaviors that we know aren't right, but we also struggle with emotional pains. I think this baggage is the most difficult to get rid of. We can still function if we have extra physical baggage in our life, but I think we can't realize our full potential as human beings until we rid ourselves of the spiritual and emotional baggage that we carry.

One thing I like about teaching is that I often learn the most. It's spring here in California now, a good time for spring cleaning, and a good time for cleaning out the extra stuff. I've got my work cut out for me.

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