Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Backyards and Front Porches

The other day at the gym I pulled a trainer aside for a quick check-in. I've never trained with her before, but she's always working with someone when I'm exercising so we've become friends that smile each other even though we don't know each other's name. I still don't know her name. I told her I wanted to lose about 20 pounds, and she gave me this shocked look and then a quick scan up and down. "Are you sure?" she said. "Where?" Then I hugged her and had her write down her name so I could name my next child after her. Well, I should have.

I get this reaction sometimes when I mention that I want to lose weight. Being tall covereth a multitude of sins. I could have stripped down and shown her my thighs in more detail, but I didn't think we were really that close yet. She may not see it, but I do, and I know where I want to go. Still, it is a nice reminder that though I am striving to be better, I'm not too shabby right now.

I have no idea who said it first, I just know it wasn't me, but it has been said by someone--that we often compare our backyards with everyone else's front porches. I feel the twenty pounds I'd like to shed, others see me as fit and tall. We look at everyone else in the room, certain that they have it all figured it out because that is what we see. We hear their answers in Sunday school, we see their children at their best, and we read their blogs about how much they love their children and all the wonderful food they cook/crafts they make/problems they solve.

But that is their front porch. And everyone has a backyard. I'll demonstrate:

My Front Porch:
-I have a gift for teaching
-I can come up with a fun story on the spot
-I am great at creating food from practically bare shelves and a sparse refrigerator
-I love my husband, my children, Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and a good novel

My Backyard:
-I bite my nails and pick at my toenails
-I like People magazine and Project Runway
-I often don't want to come up with a fun story on the spot
-I am terrible at returning phone calls
-I yell at my kids sometimes
-I let them watch one movie a day
-I have found a way to go to the grocery store by myself just so I can buy a chocolate croissant and scarf it down before I get home
. . . . and I could go on.

My guess is, were we architects, our backyards would be bigger than our front porches--if we were the one designing it. There is so much good in each of us, but we often stare out the backyard and only see everything we can do better. Meanwhile, there is a front porch full of wonderful things that everyone else sees, loves, and appreciates. I am determined to spend more time on the front porch. Sure, I have bad habits, weaknesses, and flaws. And sure, it looks like everyone else has it all sorted out. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they have backyards too. I don't let that diminish them, why should I let it diminish me. None of us have much of an idea what is really in anyone's lives and hearts. We just love and accept and hope for the best. If I can do that for others, I can certainly do it for myself. And I intend to try.

So, go have a seat on your front porch for awhile. I'll ignore your backyard if you'll ignore mine.


  1. I like People magazine too ... (tho I never thought this was a flaw ... However if I religiously subscribed to say 'Star' magazine or something then I'd bury that in my backyard).

    I also like Celebrity Apprentice.

    Thank you for the post. I found it uplifting (and boy do I need some lift today!) (Hugs)

  2. My backyard has about 25 pounds running amuck and being chased by the chocolate croissant from the grocery store (who knew other people did that too???) and aided by the candy which I always have hidden in one of my drawers. They're also screaming and yelling at each other, much like my "occasional" outbursts at my children. And those are just the items I'm willing to mention right now!

    Loved this post. I also found it uplifting.

    And speaking of stories, we were discussing having a ward dinner/talent show and got on the topic of your 2-minute rendition of Saturday's Warrior (I think that's what they said, though sadly I've never seen it myself). Everyone was singing your praises and wondering if you'd be an honorary ward member that night so we could hear it again. So yes, you do have a mighty big front porch!

  3. Great post! It's a perfect reminder that ALL of us have talents as well as things we need to work on. I know most of the time I focus on the things I need to work on rather than celebrate the things I'm good at. I think I'll spend today on my front porch instead of my backyard. Thanks for the perspective.