It wasn’t until this morning that I finally figured out what it was I wanted to write about. These ‘tune in’ posts require more quiet time to think about than I have been able to give. That and Wednesdays are feeling like they are every other day.
I posted on my Instagram feed this morning about 3 Nephi 12:16
Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
When I read this scripture the other day let your light so shine really stuck out to me. It made me start thinking. It made me question and wonder what it really means to let your light shine. I have been thinking about it a lot and honestly I feel like it might mean different things to different people are different times in their lives.
Right now, for me, it means to be more myself. I don’t feel like I have really been able to be me in 11 years. We moved when I was a senior in high school and felt like I lost everything. I felt like I had no idea who I was anymore. I wrote more about that experience here. I faked it until I felt like I was making it but I never really felt like the old me. I was way more shy and I ended up letting that just be the new norm. No matter where we went, everyone seemed to know who I was because of my dad and his callings or job or because of my mom and her callings and how friendly was. I never really had to put further the effort to get to know people nor did I want to. I just couldn’t seem to do it and since everyone knew who I was, I just let it be.
As the years went by though, it started to bother me. I hated that I wasn’t as outgoing as I used to be. I hated that I felt like there was a cloudy over my head and that every memory I thought of was dark. I wanted to just be me. I don’t want this to come out wrong, but I wanted to be me, not someones daughter or sister. Just me.
Most people get that opportunity to be out on their own and really get to figure out who they are. I didn’t. I stayed home for the two semesters of college I went to and lived at home until the day I got married. I don’t regret that decision or time in my life. It was what Heavenly Father wanted me to do.
It wasn’t until I met my husband that I really started to feel more like the old me again. He had no idea who I was or who my family was. It was a refreshing, fresh start. He saw something in and brought something out of me that I hadn’t seen or felt in a long time. But I still couldn’t get past the feelings that in any other situation I still didn’t feel like the old me.
Can I just say it’s hard to change and be the person you want to be when others won’t let you?
When we moved to Kalispell for the short 9 months it was just what I needed and Heavenly Father knew it. It was the best 9 months, the shortest 9 months, and best learning experience. No one knew who I was. No one knew my family. It was an opportunity to relearn me and give myself a fresh start. Heavenly Father moved us to a ward with people who wouldn’t let me stay shy. Who helped to bring me out of my shell. For the first time in 11 years, I was feeling like my old outgoing self!!
Moving back to Frenchtown was one of the hardest things ever. It felt like no one looked at me, smiled at me, talked to me, and I felt so alone and back in my dark place. It was awful. I dreaded coming back and I dreaded being back for months. Before we left Kalispell, The Hubs and I had made a plan. We both loved the outgoing me that had finally emerged. My plan was to find someone in Relief Society each week that was sitting by themselves and sit by them. It helped me feel like I was making a difference. It helped me start to feel better and helped me to feel more like me. Each week I started becoming more outgoing.
After going to Time Out For Women this spring and listening to Wendy Ulrich talk about how she struggles with going to church every Sunday how she made a similar plan by talking to 2-3 people each week and sitting by someone she didn’t know and making at least one comment in Relief Society, I decided to adopt the same thing. Taking my plan other step. Again, things started getting brighter and I started to feel more and more like myself.
As our ward celebrated the Relief Society’s birthday, something happened to me that hasn’t happened in a long time. I sat by someone who I had only met one other time. We both seemed to be the only ones wearing jeans when the invite said casual. So we laughed and helped others feel ok about wearing jeans as they showed up and before I knew it my table was full. I didn’t even get to sit by a friend I had been planning on catching up with. Then after the dinner, a few more people came up to me to chat! I have not felt this social, cared about, or loved since Kalispell. It’s been almost a year since we left.
I know this is a long post, but I have one more cool thing to share that was a remind to me, a confirmation, that what I have been doing is what Heavenly Father has wanted me to do.
While at Time Out For Women I picked up a book called Through His Eyes: Rethinking What You Believe about Yourself by Virginia H. Pearce. She relates a story very similar to mine about how I felt about church. Then she talked about how the woman could make a choice about her experience. This is what she wrote:
Don’t wait for experiences to just happen. We can actually create new experiences for ourselves. The friend described earlier, who discovered that she was actually helping to create the painful experience of not belonging at church, can make a decision. She can choose to speak to two or three people ever Sunday. She can choose to initiate these conversations. She can choose to find things that she has in common with other ward members. She can choose to respond when others approach her–to look at them and smile. At first these new behaviors will be awkward, but as she persists, they will become more comfortable–and new sensory date will start to come. Ward members will begin to respond to her and be more free to initiate conversation when they are welcomed with a smile. Of course, she must be careful not to filter the new data out by saying things like, “Well, they just smiled at me because I smiled at them–not because they like me.” This isn’t easy work when our filtering and interpreting habits are entrenched, but if our desires to live out of Truth, rather than out of lies, are great enough, we will persist.
I read this paragraph to The Hubs the other night and we thought it was pretty cool that I have been doing that already. That this was a great confirmation that what I have been trying to do has been and is working and worth it.
So, whatever you feel your light is, during this time in your life, let it shine brightly and bring light to others who may be in need of a little extra light themselves!