Tuesday, February 28, 2017

On Selfishness

It's amazing how drastically your life can change over time --  it could be a few years, a couple of months, or even a split second.  You're just plugging along, sometimes just trying to survive the day to day grind, then suddenly you stop and look back at a specified amount of time and you go, "Holy crap! A lot has changed!" It could be within yourself or just events in your life. Here are some examples of moments like that from my life:

-The year I graduated high school (2008), I had suffered heartbreak twice before meeting Josh and building my relationship with him. So basically, I had 3 boyfriends in one year ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ฒ. That's a little embarrassing to admit...as it shows my immaturity..

-I wrote Josh letters for 2 years while he served his mission in Tampa, Florida, feeling like I had an imaginary boyfriend with him being gone for so long, and then suddenly we were married for eternity 7 months after he returned home. ๐Ÿ˜

-I had a really painful falling out with close friends in Utah while trying to endure the cold winters alone at BYU-Provo and then 2 years later I was a newlywed attending BYU-Hawaii surfing all the time and making new friends.

-Josh and I struggled with the pain of infertility for 4 years, and then in a matter of 3 months since starting acupuncture and chinese herb treatments, we were pregnant. ๐Ÿ˜‡

-I was pregnant for 41 weeks then in a split second, the moment Mikala was born, I became a mother. <3

-I worked as an elementary school teacher for 3 years, then at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, I was a stay at home wife/mommy with no lesson plans, data analysis, or grading to do.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Life is always, always changing. It was part of Heavenly Father's plan for us to help us grow and progress! One of those changes listed above that I had been struggling with was becoming a mother. Yes, I know, I KNOW. I wanted this!!! For soooo long I dreamed of just quitting my job and enjoying life loving on my precious baby, becoming a beautiful family! Don't get me wrong, I am eternally grateful for my son for making me a mother and completing our family.  However, I did not expect some challenges to come up as a result of getting what I wanted so desperately. The biggest challenge for me after becoming a mom, was my marriage. I guess I should add one more life change to that list:

-For 5 years Josh and I built and enjoyed a beautiful marriage and family, which was inclusive of just the 2 of us.  On 9/14/16, we became a family of 3.

I thought the equation for our relationships would be as simple as 2 + 1 = 3. But now I am realizing that relationships are NEVER simple, hahaha.  Because relationships consist of humans, imperfect humans, with their own preferences, skills, talents, passions, mistakes, etc. So really the equation looked maybe more like this: 1 (Josh, husband, father, Elders Quorum president, intern, full-time graduate student, newly hired full-time state worker, hard-worker) + 1 (Ari, wife, stay-at-home mother, HORMONAL, round the clock milk bag for baby, did I mention hormonal???) + 1 (Mikala, innocent baby who was a bit colicky when first born, but healthy and happy) = my family. That probably didn't make sense to anyone else but me...anyways...

Simply put. I. became. selfish. Who am I kidding, I was probably already selfish in our marriage before Mikala was born. I can't blame everything on the little guy! But my attitude became worse after he was born. "I've done this all day, I don't get any breaks, I don't get to surf, I am so tired, I, I, I, I,...." What about Josh? Well, he just took on all of his new responsibilities like a CHAMP. And you know what, he was always constantly trying to find ways to serve me and to make me happy, despite my crappy attitude.

This weekend we kind of hit rock bottom. I was sick so I had stayed home all weekend with baby. I didn't even go to church because I felt so sick. Josh selflessly took the baby with him to church so I could sleep, uninterrupted (and it was GLORIOUS). You would think I would be a cheerful, grateful person after that, right? Well, I'm sad to say I wasn't...in fact I spent the day angry about certain things that were out of my control. I was totally unpleasant to be around, so Josh took the baby to my family's house for dinner without me (because I was having a pity party with myself). While he was gone my head started to clear and I started to see how awful I had been all day. Once I realized that, the first thought I had was: How can I serve Josh and make him happy? So I decided to tackle the huge mountain of laundry that had 2 loads worth of washed but unfolded clothes.  When he came home, I said, "This is my way of saying sorry," and he said, "I know."

Last night we had the talk that kind of turned my attitude around and gave me a big fat slice of humble pie.  I HAVE BEEN IN THE WRONG. So I asked if we could talk, and Josh asked, about what? And I said, don't you feel like we're kind of in a slump right now?? And he said...we've been in it for A WHILE NOW. I cried as Josh finally felt comfortable opening up to me about he has been feeling this way, basically how our marriage felt kind of dead as we just "did our thing" everyday. I took care of baby. He worked. He's been trying to serve me to make me happy, but I still acted selfish and ungrateful and unhappy... I have been letting my stress about Mikala affect the way I treat him. The biggest factor was that I completely stopped saying personal prayers. I didn't care about feeding my spirit anymore. I felt like, just because I wasn't doing anything BAD, that I was doing okay. I read something the other day that put things into the perspective I needed:

"Language matters. Instead of saying, 'I don't have time for that,' try saying, 'That's not a priority right now.' Watch how it changes your motivation to do certain things."

So I kept saying, I don't have time to go to the temple...I don't have time to read my scriptures...I don't have time to say my prayers... EXCUSES! Really, I was telling myself that temple is not a priority for me, scripture reading is not a priority, and praying isn't important to me right now. How horrible does that sound when you put it that way? And yet, that's exactly the situation. So what was taking up all my time, what WAS my priority? Ummm social media. Texting friends complaining about stuff. Watching Netflix... ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

I always felt like the only way my marriage could ever fail is if one of us were ever unfaithful. Yep, that's how naive I have been. But after the talk Josh and I had last night, after making promises to him to be better and to treat him better, to MAKE HIM A PRIORITY, I had the impression from the Holy Ghost: Selfishness can destroy a marriage. This might seem really obvious to you, but it hit me so hard. I have been so selfish! For years! And yet my wonderful husband has chosen to stay with me, to love me through my selfishness.

This morning I read Mosiah 19 about a man named Gideon.  He sought to slay King Noah for all the evil things he had done, then King Noah asked Gideon to spare him, because he said he was worried about his people dying from the army that had been attacking them. In the scriptures, it said, "And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life; nevertheless, Gideon did spare his life." King Noah was being selfish.  In the end, most of his people were spared and taken captive, but Gideon ended up slaying him anyways later on.  It's ironic because the idea behind selfishness is that you are only looking out for yourself, to be happy and protected.  But just as King Noah died anyway, if I continue to be selfish in my marriage I could destroy it, as well as destroy myself, in a sense, because my marriage is one of the greatest sources of happiness in my life. It may sound dramatic and exaggerated, but I'm afraid that if I don't think in extreme terms then I might not be motivated to change myself.

I found my journal from my sophomore year of college at BYU-Provo. I was enrolled in a Doctrine & Covenants class in which the professor required us to write in our journal daily in tandem with reading scriptures daily. I was at a spiritual high in my life and it naturally made me more loving towards others and want to serve them. That's how I need to treat my husband. I need to get back to that. I need to learn to be more selfless. It goes against who I've been for a long time, but I know with practice, the Lord will help us to strengthen our marriage so that we may attain true joy, which will in turn bring joy to our son, whom we love so much.

1 comment:

  1. hi ari!
    This is a great post. Can I say that what you and Josh are going through is completely normal? The months right after having a baby are CRAZYTOWN. Every time I had a baby it felt like I threw a stick of dynamite at our family. Because our mom had so many babies that wasn't something we even thought about growing up, but turns out adding a newborn to the mix is the hardest trial! I think it's great that you recognize that you want to improve whatever is going on in your family. There are rough patches, but the time and effort to work through them are totally worth it!

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