Whenever I find myself in a whirlwind of emotional, mental, or physical turmoil, I sit myself down and ask myself: Am I doing the basics? Are my basics in place?
Well, here goes:
2. scripture study
5. present planning
These basics represent how I go about loving myself.
“Loving yourself is an important part of enjoying and getting the most out of your life. It’s also crucial for getting and maintaining satisfying relationships with others. Loving yourself is mainly having self-respect, which is the only dependable way to create love in your own life. To be able to be loved, you must love and respect yourself as much as you do others.” (How to Love Yourself, Wikihow)
When I was newly married and had all the time in the world, I had lots of time to love myself. And to love my husband. It didn’t really take much thought or effort to check the basics off my list. And sometimes, my husband and I would check the basics off together.
Throw kids into the mix, and well, something has got to give. And usually, anything that doesn’t involve keeping another miniature being alive and happy gets thrown out. There were many times I found myself waking up to the screams of an infant only to find my face glued to my scriptures and my legs asleep from kneeling for an unknown amount of time. And service, well, let’s just say I was the one receiving it. We won’t even talk about planning. It just didn’t happen. Kids don’t understand sitting down. They think it means you are open for acrobatic maneuvers. Needless to say, my life was a whirl and a blur. For me, early childhood was the ultimate act of loving others, with not much time for self-love.
Today, my kids are older. I drop two of them off at the bus stop before 8 am, and wrangling one child is a lot less intense when he is old enough to pretty much do whatever he wants. So that leaves me with some time to reflect. Alone. Without any helpers.
So, back to the basics.
Somewhere I heard the quote: “What if everything you didn’t thank God for the last night was gone when you woke up in the morning?” It stuck with me, and I just don’t want to be that person.
As I do so, I begin to feel how much God loves me. I begin to realize how much is going right in my life. I understand that I am doing good things, and that I do deserve blessings. I had a friend once tell me that she never asked for anything from God because she felt it was selfish. I will tell you what I told her: God wants us to rely on Him for everything.
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma gives us permission to do just that:
“But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.” (Alma 34: 26-27)
I raise my voice with that of Elder Bednar, an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
“I testify that prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all of our doings, as we express heartfelt gratitude, and as we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.” (October 2008 General Conference).
“…Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also
shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing—
…Now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing…they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins; yea, all were naked…” (Alma 43: 19-20, The Book of Mormon).
The first army was protected and prepared, and the second army was naked, not at all ready for the battle that was about to take place.
Reading the scriptures, for me, is a latter-day preparation and protection from the world. The scriptures provide spiritual direction, and a reminder of whose side I am on–Christ’s. When I remember this, it informs my daily interactions with others and the decisions that I make.
“Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate…healing.” (Richard G. Scott, The Power of Scripture, October 2011 General Conference).
These first two basics always remain at the top of my list. They always bring me back to my Heavenly Father. When I am wrapped in his love and influence, I see myself through his eyes, and I want to share those feelings with others—especially the ones who are most important to me.
Next week I’ll expand the list of basics. How can daily prayer and scripture study combine with exercise, service, and present planning to strengthen self-love? And how does that ultimately strengthen a marriage?
I hope you’ll stick around to find out.
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.