2 Months Too Late
I recently read (okay, I listened to ;)) a wonderful book called Daring Greatly, by Brene' Brown (I highly recommend this book to everyone.) She is most well known for her research on Shame vs. Guilt. She says that SHAME, is focus on self. GUILT is a focus on behavior.
Shame: I'm sorry. I am a mistake.
Guilt: I'm sorry. I made a mistake.
As you see, there is a huge difference, and she teaches that there is no place in this world for shame.
Well, to say I am feeling paralyzed and suffocated by guilt would be 100% correct. I feel frozen and incapable of being useful or productive at all until I get my thoughts and feelings out.
It's hard to know where to begin. I guess this morning will do; 3:30 am, Feb 22nd 2019...
The water is crystal clear and I have mastered surfing. Someone starts poking me. That's strange. I'm all alone, just me, the sun, and the water. Still, the poking continues. Dang it, I'm finally coming to. Milo is crouched next to my bed. He's had a bad dream and wonders if I can turn some "church music" on for him. I feel around for my phone, and that's when my heart broke into a million pieces.
In May of last year, I opened a message on my social media sent from an acquaintance from years ago. We were in the same ward for a while when I was in high school . Her message brought me to tears. Not only did she give me the nicest compliments, but she had just heard her Dr. say the word "Cancer." I was so grateful and humbled that she thought to reach out to me at this overwhelming time in her life. I kept reading and my emotions were sent over the edge when I read,
When they told me I had cancer, you were the first person I thought of. I thought, 'If Jen can handle her cancer with grace and be an upbeat person while she is going through one of (or not THE) hardest trial of her life, so can I.
That. That right there is what makes all of the suffering worth it. No one could pay me a better compliment. And those moments are the true rewards.
After that, messages flowed back and forth for months. I'd check in, see how she was doing, she'd fill me in on the latest hard thing. I'd let her know she was on my mind and in my prayers, she'd find the silver lining and express her excitement about her new lazy-boy recliner. I'd try to give her a little pep talk, she'd express her thanks.
November rolled around and I was amazed by her strength through, what sounded like, a nightmare. I asked if she'd be up for a visit? She said yes, "having something to break up the day would be wonderful." I wrapped a gift and was all set to go see my cute friend. Someone got sick, and I couldn't make it. Then she had an unexpected admission the the hospital. Things kept not working out. The holidays came and I'd think about her every day when I walked by her gift; wrapped and ready for a visit, but did I ever make it over there?, No.
Just days ago, on Valentines Day, I put her at the top of my list! I thought, 'yes!, this will be perfect. I'll surprise her and just show up at her door with a valentine.'
Unfortunately, no one was home so I left her gift and card on the porch.
This morning, half asleep and trying to get music cued up for Milo, I saw it. A simple message from Melissa, but this time, is wasn't her, but her brother, informing me that Melissa passed away in December.
I don't even know how to explain how I felt, or how I feel. Even as I type, I have steady streams of tears rolling down my cheeks, accompanied by a headache from hours of crying. My heart was broken in that moment, and a big thick blanket of guilt settled heavy on my heart.
I got out of bed and immediately knelt by the couch. Through sobs I prayed, "I'm sorry." "I didn't know." "I was too late." I tried to express my heartache and sorrow for not being there for my friend. Especially in the end, when she needed me. I asked Heavenly Father to tell His beautiful daughter, who was now by His side and out of pain, that I love her and that I am more sorry than she'll know.
Jake recently gave me a beautiful priesthood blessing. I had been feeling like I was not living up to my potential and sought extra comfort and guidance. I will never forget something he said,
I bless you not to feel chastised, but CHALLENGED.
That is what the spirit has been whispering to me all morning. 'Don't feel chastised, just challenged.'
I think we can look at guilt vs. shame as Heavenly Father vs. Satan. Heavenly Father knows that we will make mistakes. Our mistakes don't change our worth, especially to Him. He just wants us to learn from those mistakes and move forward; letting those hard learned lessons challenge us to be better and become the person He knows we can become. Where on the other hand, Satan loves and wants nothing more than for us to beat ourselves up and feel hopeless and worthless. He tries to attack our self worth and wants us to believe, like shame, that WE are the mistake.
I want you to know that you CANNOT and WILL NOT, ever be a mistake. I know this is true. I know it because I feel it and have felt the spirit testify of it to me today. I also know that this heartbreaking guilt I feel today, and this big mistake I have made, has been resolved and paid for through Jesus Christ's atonement. Because of His atonement, I was able to apologize for my shortcomings, and can now use this experience to grow, be a better friend, and let it inspire me to change.
Today, again, I am accepting the challenge to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and set aside the things that may SEEM important, for the things that truly ARE important.