Here’s Chapter 5, Part 3: Lauren’s Letter #5, from my new novel Dates With God: How Four Mormon Women Beat Satan With the Book of Mormon. In this part,we see polished, perfectly professional Lauren humbled by a freak, embarrassing accident which gives her a chance to see her husband as her knight in shining armor. We also see her feeling hopeless about her son, which gives her impetus to think about her other children and what she is doing to nourish them spiritually. She makes a major change in her family’s routine. If you want more background information read, the 5 star book Like Dragons Did They Fight by Maurice Harker and Lucas Reynolds, and come take the Mothers Who Know class.
Lauren’s Week #5
I know, I know being on the computer has been my life outside of midwifery. It actually was a huge part of me growing my doula and then my midwifery practice. People in my local area would read my blog and were immediately attracted to me so I got a ton of business that way. I could not have grown my midwifery practice, childbirth support group, and my breastfeeding aids business without it. But in a way, I hate feeling so sucked in and disconnected from my family. But I love the feeling I get from sharing insights, helping people, and fighting for what is healthy and empowering for women online. I love educating about the importance of natural birth, particularly home birth, and breastfeeding. But…I hate this! I hate having to acknowledge that I have a choice before me, a choice I can’t run away from.
I actually read a scripture that resonates with this idea. It’s in Alma 41 verse 7. It is talking about how as children of God we get to be redeemed of the Lord, redeemed from the darkness of death and that we will be judged. The phrase in that verse “they are their own judges” caught my eye. I realized that God expects us to judge ourselves. We hear all the time about how God wants us to be self-governing and self-reliant. But we don’t hear much about God wanting us to be self-judging. But that is just as important. Not only does he want us to be our own rulers, but he expects us to be our own judges. Sometimes I feel this voice that says, don’t worry about it, don’t choose a side. Just wait, sit back, and relax. Now I realize, “Hey, that’s satan talking! He’s saying, don’t judge and then you don’t have to make a choice.” But if I am really going to be honest, I have to judge myself and decide whether or not I met my goals for the day. Judging is not a bad thing if done righteously.
I did a scripture study about judging. I have found I pay attention a lot more in my scripture study when I study the scriptures by topic and not just chapter after chapter. I used to hear my whole life. “Don’t judge. Don’t judge.” But…I actually found that Joseph Smith translated the scripture of Matthew 7:1 this way: “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment.” So we are to judge, as long as we do it righteously. The place my judgment starts is with me and my goals. I have to be honest in my judging as to whether or not I met my goal. And be OK with not meeting it and forgive myself and realize that as long as I am learning, it’s OK to fail and not get a “perfect day.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Stony Pool Story that was told in class. It’s about a guy who goes to the beach. He sees the sign to avoid the tidepool because of the danger of the waves pushing people against the rocks if they are swimming in the tidepool. So he stays away and then he lies down on the beach and falls asleep. While he’s asleep he unknowingly gets drugged by an enemy who quietly sneaks up on him. Then when he wakes up he walks over to the tide pool and walks in because he can’t think straight because he is drugged. The enemy is obviously satan, and we are like the guy who falls asleep and gets drugged. The tidepool symbolizes the whirlpool of addiction.
So according to the philosophy of this class, mortal life is akin to being put on a battlefield blindfolded so that we can’t see the attack, but when we get attacked by the enemy he is so subtle that we think the attack came from ourselves. I hate that! It is sooo out of our control! But suppose I just decided to believe that this actually happens. Suppose I suspend my inability to figure this out at the moment. Could I have activities in my life that allow me to “fall asleep on the beach”? I think so.
So what activities can I eliminate so that I don’t fall asleep and make it super easy for the enemy to sneak up on me and drug me?
I hate to say it but maybe for me I need to severely limit my Internet time. Like only do it for 1 hour a day. Also I am thinking I need to have a checklist of to-do’s, a plan for what I am going to do on the Internet, and then keep it right by me and check things off. Emma was sharing this idea in class and I really like it.
I know, I know, being on the computer has been such a huge part of my life, as I wrote earlier, for all of my organizations. But I see how as I have turned to the computer first thing in the morning, it has not been the best priority for me. In a way I hate feeling so sucked in and disconnected from my family, especially my son. My mommy guilt has kicked in and I think, maybe this is why Logan got his porn addiction. He saw me on the computer first thing in the morning, when he left for school, and then when he got home from school. I’ve also had the guilt, If only I had homeschooled him, this wouldn’t have happened. Thank goodness though, I’ve talked to plenty of my homeschooling friends and they all say they know plenty of homeschoolers with porn addictions as well. It’s rampant everywhere! No group or family is immune. I really don’t want to give up my Internet use! I love the feeling I get from sharing insights and facts online to help people. I love fighting to empower women with natural birth. I love educating women about the importance of natural birth, home birth, and breastfeeding. But…I hate this! I hate feeling forced to make a choice. Can’t I just pretend like everything in my life is great and keep using the Internet as much as I want?
Lately for my scripture reading I have been praying right before I read, asking Thee to lead me to a scripture that will best help me for the day. Then I just open up to a random page and start reading. Yesterday I read 3 Nephi 7:18. That verse hit me with great force. It says, “And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.”
During this time the Nephite people were so warring that they destroyed the government and replaced it with tribes. I wonder if that could happen or will happen in these last days. I admire Nephi for being so bold as to step forth during this time with no government or laws to protect him. He was grieved because of the people’s hardness of heart and blindness of mind so he stepped forward to testify of Christ. He had such tremendous persuasive power and was so righteous that he brought in the power of the Spirit as he spoke so that “they could not disbelieve,” yet they were angry with him. Probably because they knew the truth of his words yet they did not want to choose to act in accordance with the truth. That’s how I feel right now!
I am praying for the softness of heart so that I want to actually believe and don’t feel the uncomfortable pressure of being in the spot of not being able to disbelieve, but wanting to disbelieve. Nephi is one of my heroes. He cast out devils and unclean spirits and raised his brother from the dead. I was reading from the autobiography of my fourth great grandfather last Sunday and I found out he brought someone back from the dead using the priesthood power. He crossed the plains in a company shortly after Brigham Young. A young girl died and he and his friend administered to her. Nothing happened. Then he decided to go into a hidden spot in the trees and change his clothes into some sacred holy clothes he had. He then said a prayer asking God to please bring her back to life. Then he and his friend administered to her again. Forty-five minutes later, she came back to life. I love this story because it shows the power of not giving up.
I am definitely not giving up! I’ve been losing so many battles with my goals, but I am a fighter! There is no way that I am going to let satan win. As I have thought about the situation I think it’s time to pick different goals that are more doable, and relevant with what’s going on with my life. So here goes:
1. Have only 60 minutes of Internet time a day, only while the kids are gone at school, and none on Sunday.
2. Read aloud to my kids bedtime stories for at least 30 minutes a night, on nights that I am home.
3. Write a letter or give someone a call of gratitude or compliment every day.
We had a lesson on shame vs. guilt a while back. I couldn’t really relate to it. I honestly couldn’t remember a time that I have felt shame. Then something happened this past week to remind me what shame feels like. One of the childbirth education organizations I belong to held a barbecue and swim party last Tuesday. I was so excited to go so I could see so many of my friends. I get a lot more attention from these old friends than I do from my husband and kids. I felt like I was going to a place like they sing in that song from Cheers where “everybody knows your name.” So I was totally amped up to go. Well earlier in the day I started feeling very queasy. I didn’t think much of it even though I still felt that way when it was time to go to the party.
Well, so I was sitting there with my hamburger and chips on the grass talking with a big group of people, laughing and enjoying being the center of attention. Then, suddenly I HAD to go to the bathroom! I got up up to make a beeline to the building, knowing that the restroom was about 200 feet, up the hill, across the parking lot, into the building, and around a few corners. But before I could stop it, walking up the grass, I started having diarrhea, right there, in my pants! I felt like a two-year-old! I was mortified, hoping that no one was watching me from behind, especially since I was wearing white pants. (Yeah, I didn’t think ahead of time about possibility of white pant not mixing in with sitting on the grass.) I got to the restroom as soon as I could. As I was there in the restroom stall, cleaning up as best as I could, people started coming in to use the other stalls. I felt so embarrassed that the whole room was stinky, because of me. My mind was racing. How was I going to get out to the car without anyone seeing me and asking to stop and talk with me? As I was standing there in the stall, after the other people left, I heard a timid male voice come from the front door. “Lauren..?” It was James. He asked what he could do to help. What a guy!
I asked him to get more paper towels to clean off my clothes as best as could be done without a washing machine as I had run out of towels in the restroom. He went and got a big roll and brought it back, handing it through the doorway. I was just hoping to high heaven that nobody else would come in. I told James we needed to go home and asked him to round up all of the kids and meet me in the car. As I left, keeping my head down, praying that nobody would see me, I remembered the time in 9th grade with my best friend Stacey Michaelsen. We were coming home from a basketball game with our cheerleading squad. We stopped for a treat at Dairy Queen, and she threw up in the restroom there. I mean, she really missed the toilet and sprayed it everywhere. Now I had done a similar thing by leaving that restroom with such a rotten, sickly smell. At least it was just a smell, that was the only consolation I had. I had eventually made it to the toilet.
Fortunately with the paper towels I could sit down without getting the car upholstery dirty. Never before have I wanted so much just to be home. I couldn’t wait to get into a shower and then climb into a hole. My bed would be second best. As I was sitting there in the front passenger seat waiting for the rest of the family, I saw a friend get out of her car, right in front of me. I quickly ducked my head into a book so she wouldn’t see me, and waited about 5 minutes before I looked up to see if she was gone. Whew!
So first and foremost, I learned from this that when I feel queasy, stay home! No matter what social event I have been planning on and looking forward to! No matter what raving fans I think I might see. I have got to be close to a toilet when I feel that way. Second, I learned that I am not immune from having events that satan can use to get me to feel shame! I felt total shame over this while it was happening. I have to keep telling myself that I may have made a literal mess, quite by accident, but I am not a mess. Third I learned that James has a heart of gold. Even after me being rude to him all these months (OK, years) he was willing to help me in my most dire moment of need, vulnerability, and helplessness. He could have let me languish in that restroom for hours and laughed about it while I wondered what to do. He could have told people about it or spread it on Facebook. Many husbands would not be so selflessly noble. They would use this as a time for revenge. I feel so blessed to have such a kind, gallant husband.
God, please help me to change my heart so I am worthy enough to have him as a husband. I am starting to see how wrong and prideful I have been.
I learned this past week something that I want to start in my family. I’ve been so consumed by fear for Logan. Is he going to stay addicted to porn? Is a mission out of the question? I just don’t know. So then I worry about my other kids. What can I do to prevent them from becoming addicted? How can I help them have stronger testimonies? I was pondering all of this when I discovered an article about kids staying active in the Church. The researchers who wrote it said that they discovered the #1 factor for kids staying active. It wasn’t having parents who weren’t divorced, or geographical factors, like living in Utah, or family income level.
The #1 thing that matters for kids remaining strong in their Church activity and testimony was having personal worship habits. As I read that I realized that “personal worship habits” is the same thing as “Power Actions.” All of the sudden I realized that I needed to lead out with my children and give them time and a place to do their Power Actions every morning by doing it as a family. So now, every morning at 6 AM, I wake the whole family up with some super upbeat music. Then they come downstairs, and I set the timer for 5 minutes, during which they each read their scriptures. Then I set the timer again, and they write for 5 minutes. Then we each share what we learned. Then we read the Bible for 5 minutes and then the Book of Mormon. After they show me what they read I serve them some food that’s more exciting than just toast or cold cereal, like bagels and cream cheese, or waffles that I pop into the oven to get warm while we are doing their Power Actions. So far Logan has not joined us. I am not forcing him, and I hope and pray that one morning he will join us. I love how the Spirit fills our home when we do our Power Actions so early in the morning. It sets such a beautiful tone in our home for the whole day.
copyright 2015 Celestia Shumway
Be sure to check out Maurice’s blog here!