Perfect love casteth out all fear. Love of what? Our love of God gives us the courage to believe in Him when it seems completely hopeless. Our love of one very special person drives away the fear of hurt, failure, and the unknown enough to let us give ourselves to them for eternity. Our love for children overpower our fear of sleepless nights, pain, sorrow, and sickness. Love trumps all. If we let it.
In all this love, do we love ourselves? Do I love myself enough to do what I fear? Do I believe in myself enough to accept and love myself unconditionally? Why should I?
Because if I do not feel love for the person I know better than any other, what hope do I have of truly loving anyone else? I know my flaws more intimately than anyone ever could. I am fully aware of shortcomings, failures, flaws, and downfalls. And still, only I can rise above them. And somehow, I've stopped doing that. I've allowed myself to stay trapped underneath them, only seeing the flaws when I look up and try to climb out.
Many years ago I sat in my oldest sister's high school graduation. She was the Salutatorian, and did a wonderful job with her speech. And then the Valedictorian stood. I cannot say I remember who it was, what they said, even if it was a boy or a girl. All I remember is looking at them and deciding then and there that I was going to do that when I graduated. I was in 6th or 7th grade at the time. I determined that I would finish at the top of 8th grade and be number one when I finished high school. I tucked that dream away and went to work. I prayed about it. I did my homework. I took the right classes. I studied for the tests. I never relinquished that vision. And I got a standing ovation when I gave my Valedictorian speech. I think it was the Forrest Gump impression. Always a winner.
The point is not that I am brilliant. The point is that there was a time when I saw something I wanted and I went after it, completely convinced that I would do it. That piece of me has dimmed of late. Being a mother is a wonderful, priceless gift. But, it can swallow you. Suddenly, every achievement becomes wrapped up in how these little people talk, behave, listen, and perform. And really, I have zero control over that when it all shakes out. But, when they don't listen, I feel like a failure. When they hit each other, I feel like a failure. When they stomp and slam doors and whine, I know that it is all my fault and I wonder if anything I do is any good at all. But, what they do isn't who I am. What they do is not who I am.
I can set goals. I can achieve. I can tackle life again with adventure and hope. And I can be a better mother by doing it. Really, the most important mothering I can offer is giving my children a calm, consistent, happy example. I can show them how much I love the scriptures--because I do. I can show them how to tackle fears and discouragement with courage--because I will. And I can show them love, pure wonderful love for themselves, God, each other, and everyone else--because I will feel it.
Fear cripples us. It has crippled me. But this morning in my scripture study, I learned some wonderful things. The Spirit reminded me that God keeps His promises. God sets us free. He frees us from bondage. The bondage of debt, the bondage of sadness, the bondage of loneliness, and the bondage of fear. He has provided "some better thing for us." Today I am determined to seek that better thing. But not because I hate where I am. But because I love who I am. Who I am is pretty good. And I'm only getting better. . . .