It’s been two years of a highly stressful calling. Many times I have explored the fact that maybe I am the one making this calling as stressful as it is. I’ve tried to alleviate the pressure - - more delegation, more communication, less expectations. But none of it seems to work. My heart is too full of the sadness, the pain, the frustrations, the struggles to fully relax and put my mind at ease.
I had a couple of epiphanies today, though. The first thought came while listening to a podcast episode by Jody Moore. She was talking about the relationship we have with our life. She explained we can make up the story we tell and the story we believe. For instance, instead of grumbling about how stressful my calling is (and therefore my life!), I can focus on the immense growth I am receiving by serving in this capacity. I have moments when I realize that I will be sad when his part of my life is over. I’ve always said, “I don’t want to get to heaven and wish I’d enjoyed my time on earth more.” We have one opportunity! I want it to be great. And that’s how I want to feel about this calling. Yes, there are moments of exhaustion; moments where I wish I had time for other things, but there are also experiences I wouldn’t trade as I practice serving as the Savior would. I can focus on that!
Another thought I had that I have been so worried about “doing” this calling “right” so much that I have forgotten to just be ME! I’ve been so focused on the stress, trying to balance home life and calling, and struggling to please everyone that I have forgotten how wonderful I am at certain things. For instance, I love having people over! I love gathering together and talking and laughing. I’m a FUN person. But, sadly, I think that fun part of me is less utilized than it can be. So, I want that back! I want more ward parties. I want to have fun. I want to become close-knit and feel that our ward is more than a bunch of people going to church together, but that we truly area family.
And so the title of my post. I care too much. I care too much about making everyone happy that I have forgotten to do so myself. I care too much to make the problems in our ward go away, to fix all the kinks, that I have forgotten to just enjoy where I am. Right. Now. I also care about building relationships and helping others feel great about who they are. I can only really do that, though, if I live and love myself.
They say that strengths and weaknesses are often two sides of the same coin. Because I care too much, I am able to love, empathize, reach out and uplift. If I focus on the weak side of the coin - - the part that says I have to fix all the hurt in the world (or the ward) - - I will feel exhausted and it will kill me.
Erich Fromm has described Care as one of the elements of the “active character of love.” He says, “Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love....One loves that for which one labors, and one labors for that which he loves (Art of Loving, pp. 25-26).” I can choose to love and to labor for that which I love.
So today I commit to CARE. To care ENOUGH, not too much.
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“Our Lord and Savior ministered personally to the people, lifting the downtrodden, giving hope to the discouraged, and seeking out the lost. By His words and actions, He showed the people that He loved and understood and appreciated them. He recognized the divine nature and eternal worth of each individual....Like our Savior, as Church leaders we should love the people we serve, showing care and concern for each one individually. May the Lord bless us in the sacred responsibility He has given us is my prayer...”
- Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, June 2006 -