I don't usually make this kind of post, but I'm doing so this year so that if anyone else out there feels as I do, they'll take comfort in knowing they're not alone.
Don't Let a Slip Become a Fall.
I can't remember where I saw that phrase, "Don't Let a Slip Become a Fall", but I wish I could. And I also wish I knew who first said it so I could thank them, because those 7 simple words appeared on my computer screen when I needed them most. I've been struggling with many aspects of my life lately: My ongoing battle to lose weight, my attempts to not allow others to make me feel unimportant and, most importantly, my relationship with my Savior - all of these things have suffered because I often feel overwhelmed and unworthy of ever becoming the person I want to be.
I am and always have been hard on myself when it comes to setting and achieving goals. If I make a single "slip" I give up. For example, if my goal is to lose a single pound per week, should a week go by that I don't lose that pound, it's nigh unto catastrophic. The rational, reasoning part of my brain knows that weight loss or gain fluctuates for everyone, and to just let it go. But the emotional part of my brain starts panicking. I berate myself. I start listing all the things that are "wrong" with me and why "it's no wonder..." I failed. Then it happens... the slip becomes a fall. And that's why my goals for 2016 are goals I know I can reach. Not easy, not hard. Attainable.
Don't set myself up for failure.
Goals are great, as long as they're realistic. Sometimes 'conditions' make it difficult to reach our goals in a certain amount of time. Hey, as the saying goes; life happens. So, rather than striving to lose "x" number of pounds per week or month, my goal will be to eat healthier. I'll make gradual adjustments to my diet that will become permanent changes. For example, I'll consume fewer processed foods. I'll eat less sugar, and I'll drink more water. Notice I didn't say I'd cut out processed foods or sugar, or drink only water. Small steps.
Only I can define the person I am or the person I become.
The fact that you're here reading this post likely means you're following my blog for the book reviews. (Thank you for that, by the way!) I find that over these past few years the way books are published and reviewed has changed dramatically! More and more authors and publishers are turning to bloggers to help get the word out about books or promotions or whatever. They'll usually offer bloggers an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I've loved this part of my life because, thanks to the generosity of publishers and the incredible talent of authors, I've been taken to worlds I'd never otherwise be able to visit, and eras I'd never otherwise experience. But along with these amazing fictional journeys, there have been moments that were crushing. I recently had an email exchange with a big name publisher's representative who informed me that - and I'm paraphrasing here - my blog is too small to be considered for an ARC, that I don't have enough followers across social media - they're looking for people with 1,000 or more - and that my 2,300+ friends and followers on Goodreads are irrelevant. Why, with all the positive experiences I've had, was this was such a blow, I don't know - wait, yes I do. It's because every review I write is based on an emotional reaction to a story, and comes from the heart. I'm not a professional writer, my grammar sucks almost as bad as my knowledge of proper sentence structure. I'm more than a bit self-conscious about the way I express myself, so, after putting myself out there, when I'm told that my blog is insignificant and that my reviews are irrelevant, it cuts deep. Even though I have amazing relationships with many authors and major publishers and I treasure those relationships, the comments (ignorant comments, truth be told, if she thinks Goodreads is irrelevant to authors and the success of a book) from this one representative gutted me. This is something I will be working on. I want to learn to not allow someone else's opinion of me tear me down. The truth is, only I can allow them to hurt me, and only I can stop it. I won't let someone else's slip become my fall.
Punishments and Consequences are two entirely different things.
I'm saving this for last because it's the most important to me, and the thing in my life needing the most work...my relationship with my Savior. Some people call it a "walk" and others call it a "journey". Regardless of what you call it, it's the same thing - a relationship.
It's interesting to me that I turn to Him in times of joy, giving thanks for all that I have. I turn to Him when I'm upset, worried, nervous... but when things get really rough, I tend to shut down all prayerful communication. I think there's part of me that feels that when things are that bad, I've done something wrong. I deserve whatever anguish I'm experiencing, and asking for help is unacceptable. The thing is, when I really stop and think about it, many of the things we look at as a punishment from on high are nothing more than consequences for our actions. If you drink too much and have a major hangover would you say God is punishing you for drinking, or is it nothing more than a consequence of over imbibing? Punishment and Consequence are two very different things though often times people who have trouble accepting responsibility for their actions or poor choices prefer to blame someone else, including God, when those choices get them into trouble.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this... God is a just God, a perfect Father who wants the best for His children. He allows us to make our own decisions and to learn from our mistakes when our choices are poor ones. Just as when a finger is put to a lit candle's flame and becomes blistered, that is a consequence of an action, not a punishment for breaking some unknown 'thou shalt not touch the candle's flame' commandment.
The bottom line: Satan's greatest tool against me is discouragement. I am the only one who can give him that kind of control, and I need to take that control back. I'm going to study the scriptures more diligently and when I read that my elder brother, Jesus the Christ, died for everyone's sins, I'm going to keep reminding myself that His death, His ultimate sacrifice, was for my sins, too. I am worthy of that gift He offered, and to say I am not is making a mockery of His atonement. He died for us all and for Him I will live.
I found this image making the rounds on Facebook and had to share.
If you made it this far in my somewhat rambling post, thank you for reading. I'm sending out wishes for a peaceful, joyous, love-filled New Year. May all your dreams come true and may you become (if you aren't already) the person you've always wanted to be.