Today I had a really awesome experience at church that I would have wanted to share from the pulpit during testimony meeting, but alas, I have near crippling performance anxiety- like seriously, I’d rather rip off both my arms than speak in front of an audience. Also, my children would have used their biggest outside voices to protest me leaving them in the pew, anyway… So, I’m writing about this experience instead.
So Thomas was throwing a tantrum from the second we walked out the door to go to church until after the sacrament was passed. I wouldn’t let him take root beer to church. I know. Worst. Mother. Ever. Luckily it was more of a low boil tantrum and not full-on steam coming out of his ears. So there I was, trying to console him and focus on the spirit, when those two objectives sort of collided in an awesome way.
I was thinking about my trials and how they have served a purpose. I have learned and grown exponentially through them and reached levels that I would have never come close to otherwise… crap, there’s like a million levels above me though, I don’t know that I want to reach those if it means going through more awful trials… Anyway, even though I have that perspective, there are still times where I have protested my trials like a toddler who just wanted root beer. I wanted root beer, I had my heart set on root beer, I asked for root beer, and I didn’t get it. The answer was no. And all the begging, and bargaining, and anger, and beating my fists on the ground, and pleading for it to not be so didn’t change anything. Except that I just became exhausted and stuck in my own bubble of self-pity, ruminating on how unfair life is. And while those tantrums are sometimes necessary, because that anger and frustration is real, staying in them isn’t helpful. They never actually bring my hopes and dreams and desires to fruition. Staying in them doesn’t make me spiritually stronger or give me perspective.
But as Thomas calmed down, which honestly felt like the longest 30 minutes of my freaking life, I reflected on how he’s getting so much better at self-regulating. The body of a small child is basically a holding tank for a trillion tiny ping pong balls trying to make it to the other side of the table- and the table is on fire, and the human-like creature serving the ping pong balls is in a constant state of emotional crisis and has terrible aim. And let’s be honest, we’re really not that much better as adults. But with each soul-crushing disappointment that Thomas endures, he makes developmental gains that I sometimes forget to acknowledge and appreciate. He learns and grows with each one.
So as much as I sometimes want to just stay on the floor, crying and rolling around and kicking out at the people who try to comfort and help me, I can’t grow that way. But I can accept the things I cannot change and allow the atonement to heal me. And when I calm down enough to see that root beer may not really be what I needed, even though I still want it, that small insight adds to the eternal perspective that I’m gaining. I can look back on the progress I’ve made and be grateful for how far I’ve come, even if I’m still a little pissed I didn’t get that root beer.