Truly Learning to “Stop It”

Stop It copyI’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into overcoming some self-defeating emotional habits and thought patterns that began sometime in my childhood. Being a drama queen has had its benefits for me as a musician, and there are (a few) parts of it that have helped me through my divorce and in my career. In my private and social life, it has killed me repeatedly.

Anyway, the results of the effort have been amazing, and I am totally sold on the church’s addiction recovery program, which works for some emotional issues – especially the ones that I’ve been suffering.

I’m nearing the end of the program, and I’ve been enjoying a new outlook on life, a new sense of peace, and a confidence that, because God is truly in control, everything will be well – whether now or in the eternities.

Sadly, I think that enjoying those feelings has led to a certain sense of overconfidence, especially as it relates to one wonderful woman I know.

The History

Trying to deal with someone who is working through emotional issues can be pretty creepy and draining. Let’s call it what it is.

I’m one of the lucky ones – I never dissolved badly enough to totally crash my professional life or completely embarrass myself at church. In most of my duties, I function normally. However, there were a favored few who got to feel the full effects.

The Now

Most days are wonderful. Through many small miracles, I have come to  a place where I can clearly see all the amazing blessings I enjoy. I’m learning to love each day and not worry about things beyond my control. It’s an incredible place to be. Yes, I still stretch myself a bit too far and tend to take on too many tasks, but I enjoy the blessings of knowing that I live each day with a purpose.

Unfortunately, there is that one friend. I’ve gone back and done my best to make amends for some of the things I said and did in the heat of the moment, and I’ve assured her that I’m grateful that she stood her ground and held to her boundaries. I truly meant it then, and I truly mean it now. As painful as it was to take a hard look at who I have been and where I was potentially headed in my private life, it spurred many wonderful, positive changes! How could I feel anything but gratitude?

The Church Lesson

I truly believed those words, and honestly thought I was living by them — until I went to a recent woman’s study class at my church. (We call them Relief Society meetings and have them every Sunday. I attend weekly, but some lessons hit me harder than others.)

The teacher for this lesson handed me a strip of paper with a quote to read during the lesson. I looked down and saw the words:

This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

(Dieter f. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy”)

Since this church sister knows me well, I was only half joking when I asked if she had hand-picked this quote for me. While she assured me that she was aware some would think she was pointing fingers and that nothing was picked with anyone in mind, the more closely I looked at the paper, the more I knew that God had a message for me.

I kept focusing in on the word “ignoring,” and my sense of guilt grew.

 When it comes to … ignoring, …please apply the following:

Stop it!

I went home and looked up the talk. I also found this quote:

Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?

While I had been telling myself that I was keeping my distance because she asked me to give her space, I knew that wasn’t totally true. The truth is that I’ve been ignoring other things that she has said and done and have been shutting her out because I haven’t forgiven myself — it’s much easier to believe that she doesn’t like me at all and wishes that I would somehow disappear from her world.

Sadly, that means that I am thinking less of her than I should, and giving her motives she doesn’t deserve. I am telling myself that she is thinking and feeling things that I have no evidence to back up, because it fits what I want to believe about myself. In the process, my brand of “giving space” is probably sending signals that I wasn’t telling the truth about being grateful, and it doesn’t leave me approachable for any kind of contact.

The Takeaway

I’m not sure how to move forward — I’m in totally uncharted territory now. This is completely outside of my comfort zone and the way I’m used to handling life.

On the other hand, I have learned in a very real way that prayer is powerful. When it is coupled with the real intent to do exactly as the Holy Spirit leads me to do, I have been able to do things that I could have never dreamed of accomplishing on my own.

The trick now is to seek guidance and look for answers in the moments that I am struggling, so that I can learn new habits and behaviors that are positive and in keeping with the things I feel and believe.