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Before a Fall

Proverbs 16:18

“It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.” I remember reading that quote over and over again growing up. My dad had a pencil holder with that quote etched along the side of it. It’s facetious, of course, and I always knew that, but it’s applicable to so many. Applicable to me.

Pride sucks. It sucks me dry. It sucks my joy. Humility is powerful and liberating. Pride is destructive.

I shift in extremes. For so many years, I was everything everyone else needed me to be. I remember very deliberately being chameleon-like in high school. I took on “projects,” you see. I scanned the crowds, focused in on the broken ones, and “fixed” them. I sent four young men off on missions this way. It fulfilled me. I became what they needed. For some, it was a listening ear, for others it was a “safe” girl to spend time with as they prepared to serve the Lord. Mostly, it was a combination. But I remember very consciously analyzing the situation and shifting my role into what and who they needed most. I didn’t even consider being my authentic self, for what if they did not like that or it was not what they needed? What would be my purpose then?

I needed them to need me.

So, of course, I fell into the arms of the neediest guy I encountered. He loved me. It felt good that he loved me and needed me and I decided to love him, too. I spent 13 years being for him.

The mistakes I have recently made make sense. I’m not glad I made the mistakes, but I understand better now why I did. I had to shift to the opposite extreme for a bit. I needed to not be what anyone else expected of me. I needed to make selfish mistakes to know what it felt like to do so–to be truly selfish. I wish I didn’t. I wish that was something I could learn from observing the mistakes of someone else. But that’s not how it worked for me this time.

I traumatized my children in doing so. They no longer hold the same amount of trust for me that they did before. They no longer see me as a solid foundation for them to cling to. They feel I could abandon them. That hurts so, so deeply. That is not worth it. But it has happened, and I shall work to repair the damage I have done. It will take time and I will make more mistakes, but, as always, I will not give up.

I had to go through this “rebellious” phase to understand how much I don’t want it. I felt frustrated for a time that so much was always expected of me and I resented the parts I felt forced to play in this life. This is fairly natural and I had to work through it, like all the other emotions I have felt and experienced. I have so many amazing friends and loved ones to talk with who support me in such loving and patient ways. I can’t imagine going through this without listening ears and shoulders to cry on. One of my new friends helped me out with a powerful perspective shift that played in integral part in my adjustment from “I don’t wanna!” to “I will do this.”

We were having a doctrinal discussion and sharing some insights on the plan of salvation and its purpose and what God is and what we have the potential to become. He said something that made me realize an important principle. I can’t fully explain or remember what he said, but it brought to mind the image of Heavenly Father presenting us with a gift, rather than a list of demands.

Agency is such an important element of this life. I’m realizing this more and more throughout my experiences. Heavenly Father wants so badly for us to choose Him, choose His way, but He will not force us. He is not making us do anything. He tells us we can have all He has, be all He is, and that He wants that for us and He’s saying, “Here is how you get it. You can decide to do it or not, but this is the way to have these things if you want them.” I like this perspective so much better than feeling obligated or expected to be or do certain things. I want exaltation. I want celestial glory. I get to decide to do the things I need to do to get there because I want them, not because anyone else is expecting or demanding that I do so.

This is a principle I know and have known before, but I am human, and, as I’ve stated before, I forget. I’m grateful for reminders in the form of hard lessons and people who help me see things more clearly or from a new perspective. Tender mercies. Small miracles. Abundant blessings. That is my life.

A life full of mistakes, of failing, of falling, of getting back up and learning and growing.

All of this is okay, is good, is necessary, as long as I keep moving forward and never give up. As long as I keep my focus on the most important things first. As long as I keep my focus on Him and all He wants me to be and have, for that is what I really want.

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