In years to come when I look back on my time in Germany, my memories will hold more than the beauty of the country, the richness of the history, the love of missionary work, great church members, and the immersion (and sometimes drowning) in Army perks and deprivation. Behind the memories will be an overarching word: Recovery. When that comes so will a feeling: Peace.
You may remember my Life Lesson pill several weeks ago–my iceberg. Well, I’ve been doing some daily work on that tough stuff. The reason I share this and any of my other life lessons is because I’m learning that I’m not alone. If you recognize any of the following in yourself, I hope it lets you know from this that you are not alone either.
In reading the book Codependent No More, I have awakened to many important things. The author, Melody Beattie, writes a lot about eliminating the “shoulds” in our life. I use this word all. the. time.
I should have taken a different route to avoid traffic.
I should have remembered to take out the trash.
I should have said this to my husband.
I shouldn’t have left the key in my ignition and locked the doors.
I shouldn’t have left my wallet home.
I shouldn’t have trusted that person.
The big question that popped up for me was “How’d I get this way?”
I could spend years studying the ‘how’ and ‘why’, but I would die of exhaustion before I found the answers. As hard as I tried to sort through the past to find that one thing that started my pattern of worrying about others problems, trying to fix them, feeling for them, anticipating their every need, not trusting people, avoiding conflict to preserve the relationship, etc., I can’t go back and change any of it. There is no time machine. It doesn’t really matter “how” I got that way; it just matters that I did.
Sure, we can learn from the things we should or should not have done or said. The crucial part of this for me was taking it one more step by feeling unnecessary guilt with those shoulds to the point of self-destruction.
Melody Beattie’s book has been very helpful to me but it was in studying the scriptures at the same time that helped me put some important puzzle pieces of healing together.
1 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?
2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye hadareceived the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the btongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
3 aAngels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, bfeast upon the cwords of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will dtell you all things what ye should do.
4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye aask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will ashow unto you all things what ye should do.
The insight given to me from reading in this Book of Mormon passage is that the Lord isn’t concerned with what we should have done. He’s not concerned with what happened in the past as long as we’ve done our best. The grace of the atonement makes up for what we did not get right. He’s only concerned with what we should do in the future. And what’s more, we can ask for His help and have the Holy Ghost to show us the way.
The other Codependent No More tool I’m practicing is the use of “It doesn’t matter.”
Whenever I dwell on what someone might think of me I try to say, “It doesn’t matter”. Whenever I look at my number of blog comments compared to other bloggers’, I say “It doesn’t matter.” Whenever I find myself dilly dallying and it keeps me from achieving my goals I try to say, “It doesn’t matter.” Whenever I hear a German horn honk at me I try to say, “It doesn’t matter”. Whenever I start analyzing why I did this or that this way or that way when it could have gone better the other way, I say, “It doesn’t matter.” It’s not easy but I’m trying.
I’ve spent years ignorantly honing my shoulds and my incessant feelings of unnecessary guilt which means that just eliminating a few each day feels like a milestone. The miraculous word is “recovery”. By taking these small steps I’ve recovered some space that is now available to focus on what does matter and asking for the Holy Ghost to show me what I should do. That’s where peace took root.
And the gift of time to pick up a figurative spy glass and learn these lessons means more than getting to travel around Europe.
Thank you for reading.