Monday, May 20, 2013

Daughter of Eve

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I sat at the temple this morning mulling over my personal inventory.

How am I doing?

I have been feeling sadness and (of course) anger a lot this past week. It seemed almost anything could set me whirling into shame and disconnect. As I work through the 12 Step program I am learning my disconnect comes from not wanting to feel feelings. Even happy feelings I've tried to escape. Feeling anything at all can be difficult sometimes.

Those things I used to lather myself in for the thrill of happiness just don't do it for me anymore. Certainly, there are little drops of joy in what I used to relish in--the colors in my house, new clothes, parties--but it's so far diminished from what it used to be. Happiness for me now begs for more than what is pretty or perfect.

It's imperfection that is beautiful to me now. I find myself buying into it more and more. Imperfection is the story of Christianity. It's the taking up of the cross. For centuries Christians have told stories of weakness and work, of overcoming great personal obstacles and broken relationships. Their imperfections told their stories. Why would my story be different?

The more I try to develop a relationship with God, the more I am aware of my pride and lust, my worshiping of idols and denial of truth. I know of my desire to be desirable, to have everything I want to have, to be just a little bit better than someone else.

But then, while gathering in my confessions and awareness, I have a moment where God transforms the worst of my vices into strengths. When my vanity turns from despair into a sweeping love for myself, I know I am seeing myself as God sees me. And in that moment I derive power from the idea of helping someone else swim in that sentiment too. Oh. Oh. Oh happiness.

Happiness beyond purchase and beyond colors and born from grief.


37 comments:

lauren said...

Thank you for this. It's just what I needed to hear today.

Christy Church said...

THIS is good.

Alicen said...

Your words sometimes bring me so much joy, because with them there is a sisterhood created. I needed this post today. Thank you, sister!

Abby said...

I can relate to this. I call it loving myself and others in our "Ugliness."
I posted about it here:
http://amabhatch.blogspot.com/2013_04_01_archive.html

AND if you want to talk homeschool...keep your option open...just let me know!

Annie Iden said...

I really needed this today. thanks.

Jacqi said...

Imperfection in regards to religions and deities is not just a "Christian" idea. Greek and Roman mythology is also known for having heroes/heroines and gods/goddesses with a fatal flaw (Achilles, for instance). These type of myths will continue throughout history - and one day, Christianity will go by the wayside and another (newer) religion will eclipse and rise. It is simply history.

I admire you, C. Jane, for wanting to identify (and admit) your weaknesses. However, I wonder if you would feel differently if you removed the religious aspect and simply looked at the HUMAN aspect. Religion and dogma can, at times, act as a filter and somewhat skew perception.

What you are experiencing doesn't have a whole lot to do with religion - it has to do with your humanity. It seems to me that you struggle somewhat when you attempt to reconcile your primal nature with the *perfection* of a god and the writings of man. No one is perfect.

This is an excellent post. Quite frankly, though, I wonder why you always feel like you are lacking in some sort of way. Hopefully, you can find a path that works for you.

Patience said...

If I lived in Provo I think I'd make you be my friend. I do that to people sometimes. Love how your writing makes me feel. xoxo

Beth Allen said...

I vote for the 12 step manual to be taught once a month in Sunday school/ auxiliaries. It teaches sooooo much about myself, not to mention the atonement.

Beth Allen said...

P. S. Bravo on the personal inventory. That's intense. xo

Brooke said...

Thank you. Simply thank you.

emilia. said...

I've been thinking about the connection between grief and happiness for a while now. I think it's more important than we realize. And eternal.

Thank you for articulating it so well.

minta said...

Fighting depression for years now I have come to find a lot of joy in admitting my sometimes hilarious imperfections and embracing those in others. It feels SO good to be honest about them and laugh out loud about them! Thank you for the writing.

marie said...

I've considered going through the 12 Step Program now and again for many years, and I think you've convinced me to really follow through with it. I don't have any material vices, so to speak, but I'm constantly sabotaging myself by being dysfunctional in other ways. Thank you for starting such great conversations. It's what so many people are craving.

Emily said...

I REALLY loved this post. You are so beautifully introspective and in tune with yourself and the divine...so thankful to realize that the HUMAN experience as noted above is an part of an eternal existence. Our relationship with deity, religions aside, is powerful, real, and course correcting. It where we derive true happiness from. And you know and recognize it so well sister! Mmhmm! Thank you!

Jacqi said...

I do not believe that there is any correlation between our humanity and worshipping a deity of any kind.

Human experiences tend to bind us to each other, while religion ends up separating us. For example, Christians and Muslims... both distrust the other, but for reasons that have nothing to do with one or the other personally... hairs are split and people are angry over different beliefs in a god that (in all probability) doesn't even exist.

When I was younger, I believed in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Believing in something doesn't necessarily make it true (regardless as to how much one wants it to be).

Stephanie Banner said...

LOVE. It's the only thing that matters, the only thing that brings the real emotion. Many times the only way to love someone is to walk in their pain, reliving your own as you cry with them. Loving ourselves puts us in touch with emotions more freely. Now instead of praying for others first, I pray for myself. I can't love them until I love me, my flaws, my deepest mistakes. I know that this is the first love God would have us possess. I also love this word and wish we had one in our language to describe such sentiment:
Namaste - the divine light in me sees, honors, and respects the divine light in you.
Namaste C Jane- great post.

Paul and Cathy said...

Dear CJane, from the bottom of my heart I will share with you four words that have helped me beyond measure. I am in my 60s and have been married 43 years raised 3 children and have many ups and downs (as do we all) so here's what I say to myself when I begin to be sad..." ITS NOT ABOUT YOU"... always works for me.

Leah said...

Liiiiiiiiike.

Becky said...

Thank you for this beautiful post! You put into words feelings that I was unable to describe.

Tasha said...

Love this. As I grow older, I find that I appreciate people who are openly imperfect than the "ideal Mormon Mom" who exists only in my head. Stories of perfect people who never raised their voices bring guilt, but the stories of those who overcame their weaknesses to win the battle of the soul give me hope. Hope that I still have a chance.

Thanks for sharing your inner struggles.

Katherine Of It All said...

Love, love, love. Thanks for this today.

Sarah said...

This was beautiful Courtney. Thank you for your raw honesty. You help us all realize we're not so different.

Vesuvius At Home said...

Then sings my soul.

Sharon Steele said...

And THIS is the redemption of suffering.
My favorite CJane post ever.

Awee said...

How are you so different from your sister Stephanie? Your posts are deep and thoughtful and liberating and I feel like hers are naive and that she lives in the 1950's.

Jenny said...

@ Awee: Why do you even have to compare the sisters and their blogs? Of course they are 2 very different people with extremely different experiences and circumstances. Comparison never achieves kindness. Have you walked in Stephanie's shoes? Then, look into your own soul for opportunities to critique.

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary & Marc said...

Wabi-Sabi: It's Japanese--the perfect beauty in imperfection...something the Japanese culture has been pondering and philosophizing over for tens of thousands of years. I see the perfect...imperfect humanity in your metamorphosis, and I wish you joy and exhilaration, and I even wish you intense sadness...but more, the ability to feel all of it on this journey.

Mayday said...

Oh Courtney I've been struggling with this terribly lately! Doing better these past couple of days. I've realized that everything is a season and a cycle and we must go through the sadness to feel the happiness. I tend to beat myself up for feeling imperfect but then I remember that I am perfect because God made me the way I am! I've also been reminding myself that it is OK to struggle! The struggle is what makes us grow and helps us to be open to learning... Anyway, love ya. :)

Nicole Hernandez said...

We are using the LDS Addiction Recovery Program for the 1st Sunday Relief Society lesson each month. Our RS Pres. has dubbed it the Atonement Redemption Plan. It's interesting how the older we get, the more we realize how imperfect we are and how much growing we need to do. It's hard, it's so much easier to be our imperfect selves. But, knowing that it's part of God's plan for us to become how He sees us can give us strength to do better. Through the atonement of Christ, anything is possible!

Kathryn R said...

How come you are working through the twelve step program? What are you trying to give up?

Alicen said...

@Kathryn R: A while back CJane wrote about her desiring to give up anger.

youarenicelady said...

Ditto. Word. MmmmHmmm. To what many of the others have commented :) :)

Jennifer said...

This is beautiful. You said it perfectly, as usual. Thank you for taking the time to write.

Jane said...

My experience with the Step 4 inventory can best be described with the words to a Florence + The Machine song. "Looking for heaven found a devil in me." It was excruciating at times but it really was the catalyst to a new better me. Like Florence says "I am done with my graceless heart." (Cue Steps 6 & 7.)

I was just writing about this last night. Anyway, I have a feeling many great insights await you and anyone willing to tackle the inventory beast.

Good Time Charlie said...

So beautiful. I forgot all about your blog until I was preparing my Sunday School lesson. Quentin Cook references an old Salon.com article of a female atheist who loves Mormon blogs. Long story short, I came over to see what's new. I love the way the Lord directs us in what we need. I so needed this today and at this stage of my life. Thanks for sharing.

B said...

Awesome.