A conversation I had with my sister yesterday resulted in a lot of thinking through the rest of the day. Really, in all seriousness, what really does count in this life? So often we are judged by what people can see. Our size and body shape, our job, our number of children, the house we live in, the clothes we wear, the car we drive. You get the picture. As a result we start to base our worth as individuals on these things. Are these the things that really matter? A few years ago, when I was pregnant with my third, I decided I wanted to go back to school. Part of my drive at that point in time was (if I am completely honest with myself) that I was feeling very judged. According to wordly standards, I wasn't much of anything. I wanted to prove that I was. During that semester, I realized that school was not what I was supposed to be doing at that point in time. I gave birth to child number three, took my finals, and said goodbye to school for a while. Other times I have contemplated getting a job. Not because I wanted one, but because financially it would be nicer. Our worldly standards would be raised (although after paying child care for 6 children it probably would've ended up being lowered!). Once again, I was told that now is not the time. At other points in my life I have felt very judged beause of my extra weight that I have gained through all my pregnancies. I, more than anyone, am aware of my current size and the fact that from behind, in certain clothing, I can look like cauliflower in spandex! So my focus went to losing weight and exerising and trying to prove that I didn't have to be an overweight mother of six, I could be a swimsuit model mother of six. Ha! We all have dreams...Through that process, I discovered what, to me, really counts. We are always going to be judged. We are going to have people that we love hut us. We are going to have to learn to take those judgements and hurts and remember what really matters. We will have to look past it.
The summer after I had my 5th child. I got pregnant again. This preganacy ended in a miscarriage in the early months. It was really hard for me. While dealing with it, I was also getting comments and "helpful" advice from those I loved that maybe it was my fault I had the miscarriage. They had all sorts of reasons why it might be my fault. I turned to my doctor for advice. Come to find out, 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage and there's no real reason why! Ha! Who knew:) I had to turn inward at that point in time a find out what really mattered.
Judgements hurt. Judgements, usually, are based on very little information and fact. People see me with my "herd" as we are so affectionately called, and they don't see much past that. They may see that their clothes don't always match, that they wear boots with shorts, that their ponytails are off center, that I am slightly overweight and may not have make up on. They may see that my house is not as clutter free as it should be and that my windows have not been washed in years. But they don't see me.
They don't see the kisses that I give to hurt little knees. They don't see me snuggling on the couch watching a movie with my little herd instead of cleaning the house. They don't see the little herd with their noses and hands pressed against the smudged windows waiting for daddy to come home. They don't see me stopping to play kickball instead of going out for a run. They don't see a table full of freshly decorated sugar cookies to give out to neighbors and friends. They don't see us each night gather as a family and read the scriptures and pray together.
According to the world's standards, we have not accomplished much. We have too many children and not enoungh income. We don't live in a big exciting place and we don't go on big exciting vacations. We like to play in the dirt and hay stacks and ride horses. Luckily for us, the world standards aren't what really count.
What really counts goes beyond this world. I have taken on the responsibility to be a mother. What I do with that is what matters. Do I teach my children? Do I love my children? Do I take time for my children? The things that people don't see, that's what the Lord sees. His judgements are what really count. What He thinks of me is what I focus on. Sometimes it is hard. People can be so in your face and judgements can be so hurtful. But it's not what really counts. All these things that the world places value on don't carry on past this life. Our money doesn't go with us, our clothes, cars, jobs and things stay here and become of no value. It's the other things that make the difference. Did we take time to love and care about others? Did we serve those around us? Did we live up to our responsibilities as mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, children of God?
I have done a lot of soul searching over the last few months. I have tried to weed out these other focuses and do what is most important, what really counts. Now, don't get me wrong, jobs, homes, education, and health are obviously very important. We need all of them to survive in life. But none of them should be all consuming. None of them should drive our existence and none of them can provide true happiness. The quiet things we do in the walls of our homes are the most important things that we can do. The world will continue to judge and we will have times when we are hurt by those judgements. But if we can focus our hearts and minds on what really counts, those judgements won't determine our lives and cause us to be consumed and lose focus.
So I continue to go day to day doing my best. I am still overweight, but I exercise when I can and play kickball when I am needed by my chidren. I do clean the house, but not when I have the opportunity to bake cookies with my kids or snuggle on the couch with my family and watch a movie. I read and learn what I can. Sometimes, the learning revolves around Skippy Jon Jones and the latest news from the playground. I will always be the mother of a small herd and will forever be grateful for that opportunity. And I will always try to keep my focus on what really counts and push the judgements of the world out of my focus.