Monday, April 21, 2014

Almost Every Moment

Since the moment I signed my contract with Deseret Book to publish  'Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?' I have been asked a hundred times, 'Aren't you just LOVING every minute?!'

Of course I am! How could I answer otherwise?  I am a published author--of an inspirational book, nonetheless! I landed a my first book deal from my very first pitch session at my very first writer's conference. I am proof that miracles can happen, that dreams can come true! 
So, of course I tell people I am loving every moment. Because I should, right? Right? How dare I not?

I've loved almost every moment.

But, the truth is, I haven't loved every moment. In fact, there are some moments I haven't enjoyed at all.

Like the moment before I signed the contract, where I cried and wondered how I could possibly publish a book about insecurity when I still had moments of insecurity.

Like the moment I realized my book wasn't flying off the shelves, and people weren't fighting to get their hands on the last copy in the store.

Like the moment my book was replaced by the 'next big release' and I was an 'old release.'

Like the moment I was snubbed by someone I looked up to.

Like the moment I walked up to a woman at my book signing, handed her my book, told her all about, only to have her hand it back to me and say, "No thanks, I just want Where's Waldo."

Or like the moment an old friend called me after many years to tell me she she bought my book and she felt the need to tell me I was a terrible person who needed therapy, that I am sick and twisted for writing such things, since I was a deeply disturbed person inside. That she will read my book, though she won't enjoy it at all. 

That moment was awful.

I wasn't expecting any of these moments, and, frankly, they all sucked.

Then there were other moments that were filled with surprising and unwelcome feelings.

Doubt that I could write another book. 

Fear that if I tried and failed I would become an official 'One Hit Wonder.'

Sadness that the phone stopped ringing and the emails stopped coming as I stepped off the euphoric New Release roller coaster and back onto the platform of real life.

Confusion when I struggled to know what direction to take next.

Pressure to write another book before the few fans that I have forget me.

Though these moments and feelings have only dotted the joy that I've felt during this experience, they are still real. And I have felt awful for feeling them.

Have you ever felt like that? Like you had an amazing opportunity, blessing, or experience, and yet, there are some bad or tough moments, or negative or difficult feelings that arise? Perhaps after the birth of your child, or a new job. Maybe a new relationship or marriage. Have you ever felt guilty for not loving every single moment?

I'll admit, I grappled with justifying the contradictory moments and feelings. Then I've found  few things that have helped me to understand how it all fits in--how we can feel bad amid the good, and what we can do about it. 

First, I accepted the fact that I am human. We have bad times, even bad days. That doesn't mean we're bad--that I'm bad.

Secondly, I recognized the adversary's influence in my difficulties. As I looked at timeline of the bad moments/feelings, I saw a direct correlation with my successes and opportunities. As I took a step back, it became easy for me to see the influence of the adversary on my journey. He doesn't want me to succeed. He doesn't want me to be happy. And he definitely doesn't want me to write another book.

One of the things I have loved about the publication of my book is the way it has touched and empowered so many women. I get emails and phone calls, meet them in person and online. Through hugs and tears I have heard their stories, their heartbreak, and the hope and joy they have found through the truths contained in my little book. Satan wants to stop the good from progressing. He wants to stop me.

Once I realized that, I allowed the bad moments and feelings to be just that, moments and feelings. They didn't ruin my experience. They didn't take away from the beautiful and far-reaching effects of my intentions and efforts. They didn't mean I haven't done any good, that I am weak, or that I am not cut out to do this again. They are just moments and feelings. They aren't me.

I am prone to these moments and feelings because I am doing good things, because I am pushing myself, putting myself out there, and trying hard.The adversary wouldn't mess with an unworthy opponent or one who wasn't a threat. It is a sign that I am actually doing good--really good.

Third, I also realized that, though these moments and feelings were real, and sometimes awful, it was the guilt that I felt over even having them that weighed the most heavily on me, as though having them meant that I either didn't appreciate or deserve the wonderful experience as a whole. Once I saw them for what they were, just moments and feelings I could compartmentalize and work through, rather than an indictment of my failure or unworthiness of this experience, I became free to focus once again on the joy of the journey. 

And it has been a joy.

Fourth, I realized, once again, the power that prayer unlocks. Through a lot of prayer, God has mercifully given me glimpses of His perspective and purpose. He has eased my fears, and strengthened my shoulders and heart. And He has let me know that, as always, He has a plan for me--even though I might not love every moment of it.

Fifth was the realization that difficult moments don't mean the experience isn't a or valued one and I can't still be grateful. It's okay to not love every moment or be grateful for everything we have or don't have, as long as we have gratitude in our circumstances. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke of this recently:

"Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other, I'm suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances--whatever they may be." 

He acknowledged that it can be difficult to be grateful for the things that are painful or difficult--but, he said, we can have gratitude IN all our circumstances.I can have miserable moments and feelings and still have a thankful heart. And that's ok.

As I look back at my journey this past year, there has not been a day--even days with tough moments and negative feelings--where I haven't felt an overall gratitude to God for His love and guidance. It was ok that I wasn't grateful for every moment, that I didn't love every second. I could have those not-so-happy experiences AND still be grateful. It wasn't an either or. 

That was a big moment for me. The guilt I felt for struggling with these moments and feelings left. There are some residual feelings there, especially as new pressures arise and new opportunities loom (or not loom), and that's all right.

Lastly, I realized that this will probably happen again--and that's ok. Good marriages are dotted with tough times. Parenting is riddled with challenging moments.Pretty much any worthy goal that requires effort to achieve will also bring on moments and feelings that might not be joyful-that might be downright awful. But that is the ebb and flow of life, the rhythm of growth. The reason we are here.

We aren't here to love every single moment of this life. But, we are here to develop the ability to have gratitude in our circumstances, whatever they may be. We are here to reach and grow, to extend ourselves and improve ourselves, to be more than we are today. That kind of reaching brings growing pains, from inside ourselves and out. With God's help, we can have the perspective to see through and beyond those moments and feelings, to the wonderful things He has in store.

So, have I loved every moment?

No. But, I am deeply grateful for my experience.

Do I look forward to the more painful moments and bad feelings?

No. But with perspective and God's help, I am ready for them, and I say, "Bring it on."

Now I'm off on another journey, another book, another amazing ride, and another set of difficult moments and feelings. 

And I'm gonna love (almost) every moment of it.

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