Morning Failure

We all slept late this morning, which means past six, which means we are all too tired.  It was a rush to get around and going and everyone out the door.  We did it, though, and everyone did really well.

Except me, who was barking, trying to compel all of us out the door on time.

Fail.

I did apologize to the children and to Nathan in front of the children, and they apologized to me “for not following directions” which is what they always assume is wrong when they aren’t sure what is happening.

Excepting really, all that happened, is that we got dressed in our sleep and barely made it out the door on time.

We did make it, though, even through scriptures and prayers and an extra snack before breakfast at school, and we did make it with smiles and laughter as we sang our way to school.

But those days when you jerk awake suddenly, an hour past when you should have already been ready, there’s just almost no way to make that a sweet and cuddly morning with a slow waking.  Because the waking already happened, and time to go is now, and there are eight people with one bathroom and all of us need out the front door and into one car or the other in the next five minutes.

We did go to bed on time, so it wasn’t that, but we also walked at the river last night, so maybe we were just all tired.

Maybe we have been so dependent for so long on the baby waking us that we need to adjust our morning wake up call since she is starting to sleep like the older kids’ schedules more and more!

Work was comparatively calm after the chaos and crises of last week, so that I got to actually do my rounds and initiate visits with patients.  Nathan made vegetables and rice for dinner last night, so that gave me a good lunch, and the afternoon unfolded with specific assignments while Nathan was at the Bartlesville house tearing butterflies off the wall in the girls’ room.

I was sad about that!  But it is time, and the bedroom decals need to come down for our new renters.  The hallway decals stay up for now, but the others need to come down.  Nathan was brave and good to go work on it by himself today while I had to work at the hospital.

The truth is, I am supposed to be exploring my female identity as a chaplain this semester, and it’s a lot harder to think about than you might expect.  There are preconceived notions I don’t even realize I have about what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a woman in the workplace, how to embrace pastoral authority as a woman, and that’s all without other female chaplains in my church to look up to or learn from – which may be good we are gathering in Salt Lake next week.  It also doesn’t take into consideration the preconceived notions of those around me, whether members or patients or colleagues.  It’s a lot to sort through and to learn and to navigate, but I am pondering and watching and thinking and listening and praying.  This isn’t about what I do or not do, as the church trained me for understanding my boundaries and limitations and role, but rather about who I am and how I present myself and how I represent the church within that context.  While I don’t want to step outside my bounds at all for the church, I also want to be truly me.  Integrating these are far easier than expected, but my hands are still wet with it all so I don’t have words yet.

Physically, I am doing well enough energy-wise, and most days I am better than expected.  This is good, and I am grateful.  I do, however, have some significant pain in my back and in my right hip that sometimes makes even standing or sitting or walking very difficult.  I am stretching, and resting, and paying attention to how I stand and what chairs I use and my posture and all of that, so hoping it will pass.  Otherwise, my pain has been under good control, and my labwork has been good except for the infection they can’t find and that won’t go away even after another round of antibiotics.

Spiritually, I have been wrestling with a 3 Nephi 12 verse from couple’s scripture study that we read last night:

45 That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.

I know the Bible version of this is Matthew 5:45:

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

I know that the temporal layer of this is about all of us living on this planet together, that none of us are “so good” that it won’t rain us.  In my theology, I understand that historically rain has at times been withheld due to national sin or pride, and that when a community prays and fasts together, pleading for relief from drought may be experienced through the very-welcomed rain.  But rain, in and of itself, in its natural course, doesn’t just come to the bad people and not the good people, or the other way around.  When it rains, we all get wet.

In the same way, my theology excludes the so-called “prosperity gospel”.  While I do believe Heavenly Father may bless us even financially at times, and that I do believe such blessings first require obedience to tithing and other related commandments, I do not believe the blessings we receive always come in financial form.  Someone who is wealthy is not necessarily righteous, and someone who is poor is not necessarily a terrible person.  That’s not how it works.

Covenant blessings are tied to covenant-keeping.

But outside that relationship, you can’t apply certain blessings to only “the good people” and assume that people who endure struggles are somehow “bad” or earned their hard days as a consequence to sin.

I myself even received a blessing once at the hands of my stake and temple presidents, that talked about the only way to progress is through experience, and so Heavenly Father was warning me that He was about to send a lot of experiences so that I could make a lot of progress.  This was help for me and my own sanctification, and it was an answer to prayers, even though no one would choose to endure what we had the last five years just for fun.

But at a deeper level, I am wondering about when we are called to be a “light on a hill”, even without using church words, but just our spirits as beacons and our deeds as lights… how do we then, share that light on both the good and those who are not-so-righteous?

It goes back to not judging those who sin differently than I do, right?

I think, inherently, since we are within-the-veil already (which is why I do not need to “hold” the priesthood as a woman, even as a woman chaplain), this is vital as we explore being women as we understand women as light.

So when I am in the hospital, do I minister to the man who just shot his wife in the same way that I minister to the man surrounded by his grown children and their children?  Do I minister to the woman handcuffed to her birthing bed the same way I minister to the woman with her Pinterest-styled children sitting quietly on the bench under the room window?  Do I minister to the substance abuser the same way I minister to someone there for a simple surgery?

But also, when I parent, even as a mother, how do I share the same light on all my children, regardless of whether they have been “good” or not?

They really worry about this a lot, whether they are “good” or not.

We keep telling them, teaching them, that they are good, simply because they are children of God.

We keep trying to teach them that we all make mistakes, a lot of them, and that part of what we are here to learn is how to recover from mistakes, and how to learn from mistakes, and how to apply the atonement so that we progress as we learn from them… that this is, indeed, a very important part of our recovery from failure.

Failure happens.  There’s no doubt about that.  There’s no way to avoid that.

It’s more important to decide what we are going to do with failure, and how we are going to use it to transform our lives so that we can proceed with the plan of helping to improve the lives around us.

We have the atonement.  There’s no reason to get stuck in failure.  We have heard our Father-in-Heaven call us by name, and he already knows our weakness that we call failure.  He already provided the atonement, and already declared that the atonement was enough – even for us.  It is when we declare The Son that we are able to boldly approach the throne of grace, even to find mercy (Hebrews 4:16).

That’s the kind of woman I am starting out as, anyway.  That’s my identity as a female chaplain.

I am a nobody, who is everything to my Father.  I often fail, but always get back up and keep trying because my heart is inclined toward Him (Ezekiel).  I claim the atonement, so that I can boldly approach my Father, who bestows grace upon me by granting me mercy.  I testify of these things, even as the Spirit tempers my words.  I read this morning in 2 Nephi 22 (Isaiah 12):

Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and not be afraid;
for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song;
he also has become my salvation.

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About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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