Monday, November 25, 2013

The very worst parts of me

The other night I had a phone call from a worried little babysitter.  Like any good mom would, I hopped in the car and drove across the neighborhood to help her with the fussy baby.  As I pulled into the driveway and ran up to the front door I couldn’t help but notice a few things.  That this young family has a 3 car garage.  That their house is quite a bit bigger than ours.  My brain had done all the math before I even realized it. 

This is not the first time I’ve made this observation.  Not by a long shot.  In fact in the last 18 months I’ve probably categorized every house I’ve seen in relation to the size of my house.  And not in a pretty way, either.

I’ve realized that I had unconsciously made some assumptions during the last two decades that haven’t proven to be true for us.   I had never expected to live in homes as nice as those we owned in North Carolina, but having once lived in them I expected that our house owning trajectory would continue, if not upwards, then at least even.  Moving here was not a part of that plan.  Moving to a place where we would pay almost $100,000 more for a house almost 50% smaller was nothing I ever expected to experience.  After living in a nice roomy house for the last decade having to cram ourselves in here has been hard.  And so I compare, and begrudge, and feel guilty.  Over and over again.

I wish I could say that this is the only less than admirable quality that has shown up in the last two years, but that wouldn’t be true.  The last two years have been like a panorama of all of the mean and spiteful thoughts and feelings inside of me.  Feelings that I hadn’t experienced before—not because I was living more righteously, but because the circumstances of my life weren’t provoking them.  I have felt more envy in the last two years than in the previous 10—I’ve been jealous of bigger houses, better jobs, available choices, more established social lives, the works.  In the last two years I think I’ve felt more anger, resentment, frustration, neediness, and self-pity, than in the last decade.  It’s been a lesson to me on how evolved I’m not, and provided continual need for repentance.


But you know, here’s the interesting thing.  I started writing this the other night as soon as I got back from the babysitting house, all of the feelings fresh in my mind.  I wrote a couple of paragraphs and then stopped because I was tired and ran out of mental energy.  Today I was driving down a road near our neighborhood and passed a street filled with really large houses.  And for the first time in a year and a half, I noticed them without any emotion and drove on by. 

I’m test-driving a new hypothesis today.  Could it be that all of these negative emotions that lurked beneath the surface of my satisfying and happy life needed to be exposed, brought into the light so that I could see them and repent (over & over again) of them and maybe even put them to rest for a while?  It’s heartening to think tonight that perhaps there is method in this beyond exposing me to all of the darkness that exists inside of me.  And to hope that maybe through this pain and discomfort, healing is happening.


  1. This reminds me of when I was taking the discussions from the missionaries and they said that they repent every night of the things they've done wrong that day, and I thought "What on earth could THEY possibly have to repent of?" I guess I sort of thought that the experience of having triplets would bring out just about everything there is to be brought out!

    I have been feeling much the same way, and am really bothered by how upsetting it is to me to drive around our town and know that we live in just about the only house we could ever afford here. Our house is fine. The yard is tiny, but it's a nice house that's a little tight, but we fit okay. It just REALLY bugs me that it's our only option. And it REALLY bugs me that people who moved here 15 or 20 years ago bought their houses for less than half of what we paid for ours and pay almost nothing in property taxes while I feel like we get taken for everything we're worth. The crazy part is, I have no idea why these things bother me so much. Maybe because I don't really want to be here anyway, so the thought that we're paying through the nose to live here really rankles. Missing NC a lot these days....

  2. I feel this sort of feeling coming on in my own life. I know that I'm going to be walking into a trial of my greatest weaknesses and really, really feel anxious about it. I've been thinking about when I decided to train for that triathlon a few years ago... I had been running about three miles every day for about a year and had just assumed that I could transfer all of that fitness over to the swimming and biking, so i was shocked when I could only swim a few laps without having to stop... and I was even more shocked when my muscles were extremely sore the next day. I guess i just didn't really realize the idea that you can be physically strong and fit in some areas AND physically weak in others.

    So, I think the muscles I'm about to start working spiritually are some of my very weakest and I'm feeling scared for it. But, I think your hypothesis is pretty correct... i do think that 'all of these negative emotions that lurked beneath the surface of our satisfying and happy lives' do need to be exposed so we can see them and repent of them, but I'm betting you're not really 'putting them to rest'... i bet you're getting stronger instead. And EVEN more well-rounded and awesome than you already are.

  3. I've been working on something similar. I've been bothered for months, on an off, by a variety negative emotions and reactions to a whole variety of subjects. This has been very painful to me. I have felt like a horrible person!

    I've prayed through it all, and watched and listened for answers to come into my life. I listen very hard to anything anyone says. I listen for my answers at church meetings, lately I've been trying to focus on looking very hard while I read the scriptures for just what I need, and "listening" for my answers while I listen to General Conference Cds. As the answers have started to show up, I think the best thought of all was .. . .

    You have to have questions before you can have answers.

    Sigh of relief. . .making me think all my thoughts were perhaps not all originating from horrible me.