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  • Writer's pictureNaomi

In my efforts towards living with more intention and purpose, I've spent a lot of time evaluating what my values and long-term goals are. In my motherhood, this has been especially true.

One thing I've definitely noticed is that when I'm only going through the motions--trying to simply get through the day or get to the next item on our agenda--then my main focus tends to be on my children's obedience. Stress levels are high, patience levels are low, and tension is often building. This is when I tend to be short, demanding, and easily frustrated with my kids. In these situations, my brain translates my children's slowness to obey into a reflection of their character. (i.e. "I told you to put your shoes on and get in the car! Why can't you listen? Now we're going to be late.") My focus here is situational and my feelings towards my child are dictated by one single thing he/she did or didn't do. This is not intentional parenting. It is also not a true reflection of what deeply matters to me or how I truly feel about my child.

Blind, swift obedience is not actually a character trait that I am trying to instill into my children. When I list the things that I most hope to cultivate in my future world shapers, obedience does not even make the list. So why then does obedience so often feel like the goal? For me, the answer is selfishness. My life is simply easier when they obey my commands immediately and exactly. But I don't want to be their drill sergeant. I want to be their biggest supporter, their confidant, their place of safety, and their teacher. But I teach nothing through demanding blind obedience and our relationship is not cultivated.

Do some things require strict obedience? Of course. Things like holding hands in a parking lot or crowded place; things pertaining to their physical safety. But even then, their obedience is garnered more effectively through a calm explanation of the reasoning than by forceful, demanding reminders of the rule. And most especially, their obedience is most quickly achieved when they understand that my requests are motivated by love.

As I was pondering this tendency of mine towards demanding obedience, I was reminded of my greatest example of an ideal parent-child relationship--the relationship I have with a Heavenly Father. Of all the parental examples I wish to emulate, this one reigns supreme. Does God demand my blind obedience or use threats and fear-mongering to motivate me to do exactly as he says? Absolutely not. He provides me with direction and explanation for his requests; all of which are motivated by His love for me. Even more importantly, He does not berate me or write me off as a failure when I fail to obey His loving direction. Rather, He allows me to learn from the experience and lovingly invites me to try again. He expects me to fail because He knows I am learning and He stands at the ready to forgive, forget, and continue to guide me in love.

These precious little souls that I am blessed to call my own are too often worthy of so much more than I have offered them. Obedience or not, I am striving daily to respond more to my children in the ways that my loving Father in Heaven is continually responding to me. Which is with grace, love, and confidence in who He knows I am capable of becoming.

  • Writer's pictureNaomi

Updated: Jan 16, 2022

It came as a real shock to me when, after 30 revolutions around the sun, I finally realized that maybe happiness actually was NOT the point of my existence.

That might seem obvious to you, but for me it was pretty revelatory. After spending decades climbing my way out of depression on repeat only to find myself inevitably back in the same pit again, the concept that my depression did not mean that I was broken and entirely failing at life was an indescribable relief.

Somewhere along the path of human evolution, we were socialized to believe that emotions are either positive or negative, good or bad. We began to reduce our tolerance for the discomfort of “negative emotions” and began seeking “positive emotion” through almost any means necessary.

But what if ALL emotions are equally worth experiencing? What if life was meant to be 50/50 by design?

Experiencing what is hard, dark and uncomfortable in this life allows us to appreciate the good things so much more when they inevitably come along. It is impossible to selectively numb emotion, so when we block out what’s “negative,” we end up closing ourselves off to the “positive” as well. Having known utter numbness at times, I can tell you that I would much rather feel all of it than none of it!

I don’t want to waste any more of my short existence chasing after an unachievable goal of perfect, lasting happiness. I WANT THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE. I’ve known extreme happiness at times, but I have also known the depths of genuine despair. I can see immense value in what I learned from both experiences and I honestly wouldn’t trade either one. I want to experience the whole spectrum of emotion. I think that's what it takes to fully be alive.

Updated: Jan 16, 2022

I've spent most of my life chasing after happy. Thinking that happiness was the ever elusive cure for all of my other uncomfortable emotions. Assuming that finding my own version of happy would be the end to my ongoing depression and anxiety. As if happiness was nothing more than just the eternal absence of depression and anxiety.

Spoiler alert! Happiness is an emotion, which means it comes and goes just like every other emotion. So the problem in solely pursuing happiness was that I tried to block out all of the less desirable emotions along the way. The thing is, you can't selectively block emotions. To block out emotion is to become numb and you can't numb sadness without numbing joy. It's a slippery slope.

I'm finding that the key to embracing happiness is to actually make space for all of my other emotions in the process. I can bask in the happiness when it's present, but when it inevitably passes I must also give room to the less comfortable emotions that move in to fill that space. In time, I know that they will pass as well and leave more room to let some happiness back in.

Every emotion has value in my life and provides me with necessary information. I don't want to miss out on life by only chasing "happy."

... "Being fully human is not about feeling happy, it's about feeling everything.” - Glennon Doyle

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