My brother was recently visiting my house, and, as is his habit, he opened the door to my pantry to “graze.” He started laughing as he pulled out an Ensign magazine I had filed away between two cereal boxes and gave me a questioning look.
Well, it may seem odd, but I like to read the Ensign while I eat my breakfast- it gets my day off to a good start- so I keep it with my breakfast. It’s perfectly logical, if you ask me.
Anyway, last month I came across a great article in the Ensign that reminded me of myself, and by extension, all of you, dear Mormon Mommy Writers. The article was entitled, “Look Up” by Elder Carl B. Cook of the Seventy (not to be confused with a similar talk given in October’s General Conference).
In this article Elder Cook tells the story of the difficulty he faced on his mission. He struggled to learn the German language while those around him seemed to find fluency with ease. He prayed, and the Lord answered him by saying, “I never called you to master the German language. I just called you to serve with all of your heart, mind, and strength.” Elder Cook went on to talk about how he realized that rather than looking at those around him and comparing his successes with theirs, he needed to “look up, so to speak, to know what He thought of my efforts.”
When I read this, I thought of how, as writers and mothers, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. I could easily change the Lord’s answer to Elder Cook to fit each of us.
“I never called you to be Mother of the Year. I just called you to serve with all of your heart, mind, and strength.”
“I never called you to write the next national award-winning bestseller. I just called you to serve with all of your heart, mind, and strength.”
Elder Cook said, “Whenever I have been asked to do something where the expectations seem greater than what I have the capacity to do, I remember that experience and say to myself, ‘Wait. Who called you? Who are you serving? Who are you trying to please?’”
OH what a great question! When I read that I found myself thinking of my Institute class. We are currently studying the Old Testament, and there seems to be this running theme of the Lord needing to demonstrate his power. Time after time, an individual or group of people are commanded to do something impossible. They whine, say they can’t do it, and God basically says, “Uh, yeah, I know you can’t. That’s the point. You need ME dumbo!” (Well, I’m sure God doesn’t call anyone a dumbo, but you know what I mean)
We are mothers and we are writers. Both, in and of themselves, huge responsibilities. Unto whom much is given, much is required, right? If it were up to me, I’d tell God, “Yeah, thanks for this great writing talent and all that, but can we just wait till the kids are grown? Yeah, that’d be good. Thanks.”
God knows we can’t mother and write books. That’s just crazy. Who does that?
Answer: The people God asks to.
Answer: You and me.
Answer: We need HIM, dumbos!
Because the point is not to be Mother of the Year or to write the next bestseller. That’s how certain other “influences” distract us (influences like the one that starts with an “S” ends with an “atan”)- by showing us the top of the mountain and telling us we suck ‘cause we can’t reach it. But sometimes God doesn’t need us at the top. He needs us to set up a base camp. There are other people to reach the top- that’s not our job. Our job is to look to God and ask what He needs from us. Our job is to give up trying to do all the climbing on our own and admit that He’s the one with the equipment we need to get us where He needs us to be.
God gives us challenges not to defeat us, but to show us that we need Him.
So when we’re constantly comparing ourselves with others, we’re holding ourselves back from what we could accomplish if we just turned to Him. His accomplishments may not include a bestseller, but they will make us far better people than we ever imagined we could be on our own. They will be a part of His plan for us, and if we’re smart, we’ll trust that His plan for us is probably better than whatever we’ve got planned for ourselves.
Elder Cook finished up with a few reminders:
- Tap into Spiritual Power- read your scriptures, say your prayers. You don’t know what His plan for you is unless you’re communicating with Him.
- Stay True to the Direction You Receive- ignore the naysayers. This is between you and God.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Act- You might make mistakes, but that’s okay. Find joy in the journey. Keep moving forward.
- Stand by Your Post- Be patient and wait on the Lord. Keep true to what you know, and don’t abandon your post. Stand steadfast and the Lord will make all things work out for your good. (Translation for writers: Keep writing, and the world of publishing takes FOREVER. Don't give up.)
Writing Challenge: Sit down with your writing goals (if you haven’t written them down, now would be a good time). Pray. Ask Heavenly Father if your game plan is the same as His, and if not, how can you change it?
Time to look up.
For similar posts by me, stop by the Spiritual Sundays section of my blog, The Beautiful Thrifty Life. :-)
I would love to hear your thoughts on this- please leave a comment and share!