Perfect and Whole
Gods love, tree of life. Artwork by Naomi Erickson
You Were Perfect And Whole On the Day You Were Born
This post is dedicated to those who feel like they are never good enough.
When I started this blog a few months ago, initially, I was nervous about what people would think about the name The Everything Housewife. I didn’t want people to feel like I thought I was “everything,” because in reality, I often “feel” like I am exactly the opposite. I am a person who struggles with low self-worth. On the surface, you wouldn’t see it. I have high self-esteem in the sense that there is no project I won’t tackle, but my value as a human being, the worth of my soul before God and in my relationships, has always felt low. It took a short pep talk from my sister who was helping me with the site, before I moved forward with the name, and when I finally moved forward, it was because I knew in my heart what my intentions were, and that this would be a great site where I could share a “little bit of everything” to everyone.
To be honest, I didn’t think I would ever post a “religious” post. I thought this blog would be for all the many projects I am constantly working on. But for those who are close to me, you are all very aware that the last year of my life has been an intense spiritual struggle, and for those of you who were not aware, it was because I was not prepared to talk about what I have been going through because I didn’t have any answers to give. This post today is one of my answers. It is one of the things God has taught me over the last year. It is one of the many things I know he is going to teach me—this is just the beginning.
Themandalajourney.com , placenta tree of life print artwork
Over the last several weeks, I have been having déjà vu (if you want to call it that), with the Tree of Life. Every time I turned around, I was “coincidentally” bumping into it. Whether it was within my own personal studies, my casual conversations, when asking for advice, or when someone was trying to teach me something. I knew in my heart that it was a personal sign that God wanted me to learn something. During this period of déjà vu, I came across a beautiful article about a woman’s placenta. That’s right…a placenta!
Placenta tree of life, treoflifebirthphotography.com
Have you ever had the opportunity to look at a placenta after a woman gives birth? The veins on the placenta that supply blood to the baby and give the baby life are shaped exactly like a tree. As the Tree of Life is to us, the placenta is to a baby in the womb. The scriptures make several references to the womb of the mother, and it was not until I became a mother that I began to understand and actually feel the deep meaning found in these verses.
Most of you know that I have given birth to two of my children completely naturally from home. If you had to use pain as a scale to measure, the third birth was significantly easier than the second. In essence, each birth has progressively become easier because I gained knowledge and experience from the prior birth—which is why you will often hear doctors and midwives describe first- time mothers as having longer or more complicated labors because we just don’t know yet what we are doing.
During my first and second birth, I never recalled having an “urge to push.” All I ever felt was what seemed like an unbearable amount of pain, during which and at some point, my midwife would check me and tell me when I was fully dilated and then I would begin to push after, and only after being told to. With the birth of my third child, it was a great concern that I had—how would I know when to push? What if I was enduring pain beyond what I needed to? The scriptures call this pain the “travail” of a woman. We call it labor.
During the final stage of labor during my first birth, the most painful stage, I remember grabbing both of my husband’s hands and saying over and over, “help me, help me, help me!” During my second birth, when I reached the final stage, I remembered silently praying over and over and over, “God, help me. God, help me. God, help me.” During the birth of my third child, I learned something completely different, something of which I am just now beginning to understand. I learned that I didn’t have to suffer. I learned that maybe, just maybe, that excruciating pain that I was feeling was the urge to push all along. So with the birth of my third child, when that all too familiar unbearable pain came, I pushed—the baby was born 5 minutes later. Some of you are probably wondering why I would choose to endure any pain at all?
I want to be very sensitive when I say this, because moms are sensitive about being moms, and the world loves to criticize us and tell us what we should and should not be doing. That is NOT my intent. However, for me, somehow I just knew that I would find purpose in the pain. What I mean by this is that from the beginning, I felt a strong desire to go through the process as it was designed by God—no one told me this, I just knew it was what I needed to do. I knew, that I would gain experience from it for this life…and oh boy has it taught me! As I recognize the feelings and emotions I experienced during the births of my children, I can see a pattern that emerges.
We are meant to find purpose in different experiences in life, that does not mean that everyone will find it the way I have through childbirth and motherhood, but it does mean that there is purpose out there for each of us and God wants us to find out what that purpose is for us individually. For me, it has been through my calling and role as a wife and mother. I have often read the scripture, “can a woman forget her sucking child?” (1 Nephi 21:15). It wasn’t until I read that scripture as a breastfeeding-mother that it triggered an emotional response within my heart. I struggle to even leave the house without the baby without worrying in my mind, “will my baby be hungry?” And even if I wanted to forget about it, my physical body would eventually step in and remind me in a physical way that I NEED to feed my baby. The spirit and the body work with each other in a complete way to help us understand—and this is one of many ways, designed by God to teach us. So how does this play into my self-worth?
When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they were naked! And guess what? They didn’t know they were naked until Satan told them! Adam and Eve were exactly as we are when we are born. When we are born, we are naked—we are whole and perfect on the day we are born! (Moroni 8:8). We don’t know that there is something “wrong” with us until someone tells us it’s wrong. We don’t know we are not good enough, not holy enough, not spiritual enough, not loved enough by God until someone tells us we are naked! And is there anything “wrong” with being naked to begin with? Satan sought to deceive Adam and Eve by distorting their understanding of who they were. He wanted them to be ashamed, and it worked, they were ashamed, and so they hid themselves from God.
Too often we want to divide ourselves in society from others, just as Satan wants to separate us from God, just as he did Adam and Eve. The World (i.e. Society) wants us to say to one another, “I’m better than you,” or “I know better than you.” But what if all of us are perfect and whole just the way we are, and it’s The World that tells us we aren’t? What if being different is okay? What if it’s not about who is right and who is wrong, but instead, it’s about loving everyone—because we are all different, and that’s okay!
The two greatest commandments from The Savior are to love the Lord thy God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Who is our neighbor? Everyone. What is God like? God is loving, just, merciful, forgiving, and slow to anger—God is love. How does he treat us? God is no respecter of persons. “For he maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) God gives these gifts to all of us regardless of our choices. In defining His love, I have come to understand that He gives his love to us freely—His love is a gift! He requires nothing in return! There are no strings attached!
When my husband and I were first married, we had many problems. In fact, it had reached a breaking point for both of us, and we were contemplating divorce. During this difficult time, a good friend gave me a copy of a book titled, “The Five Love Languages.” The book taught me how to love. This book taught me that love is a gift that must be given freely—there can be no strings attached. It must be given freely, even if you and your gift of love is rejected. I had nothing to lose if applying the techniques didn’t work—we were on a path to divorce as it was, but I had everything to gain if it worked. Here we are almost 11 years later—real love works! God’s love works!
God loves us exactly the same way—with no strings attached! He loves us enough to send His Son to atone for our mistakes even if we choose not to atone for them ourselves. He does this while also giving us the agency to choose good or evil, virtue or vice, light or darkness, happiness or eternal misery. I have often heard it said that God loves us enough to “let us” make mistakes. I want to bring that statement up a level—God loves us enough to let us choose, and maybe, just maybe he loves us no matter what we choose and will always love us. Maybe he even loves us enough to send His son to shed his blood to guarantee us the ability to choose because sometimes “we know not what we do.” (Luke 23:34)
Before we came to this earth we were a spirit with an identity. We knew who we were—and when we were born, we were perfect and whole, and it was only “Satan” in the garden (i.e. The World) who told you that you were naked (he wanted you to feel ashamed for your nakedness)—and your “nakedness” was just who you were before you were deceived into thinking it was “wrong”. Maybe this life is about becoming who we really were before that snake in the Garden of Eden told us to be ashamed, or before he convinced us that we weren’t good enough. (1 Nephi 8:25-28)
I finally get what the rest of the Christian world means when they say, “I was born again.” I finally get what it means to feel “whole.” It’s going through the lone and dreary world and only gaining knowledge because we get to choose. The sooner we start remembering who we are, the sooner we will get it.
All my life I have carried an immense amount of guilt, shame, worry, and fear—and I carried it because I chose to. God didn’t love me enough to “let me” make mistakes—he loved me enough to let me choose those mistakes, and to let me live them, even when He knew they would bring me pain. He loved me enough to give me everything I asked for because that was the only way I believed I could learn. Maybe I didn’t have to suffer? The price was paid for by Christ, so who was asking for payment? It was me. I did it to myself.
My favorite photo of the day Alora was born…why? Because of how I felt in that movement. Surrounded by love!
With my first birth, I cried out “Help me. “ With my second birth, it was “God, Help me.” And with my third, He taught me, and I knew that when the unbearable pain came, I didn’t have to suffer, I could push. It was that way all along. God didn’t require me to suffer. He doesn’t require any of us to suffer. The price has been paid. He doesn’t require any of us to carry guilt, shame, fear, or worry. We are the ones who require it of ourselves. The greatest thing God asks us to do is to love Him—and he doesn’t even require that…we can choose!
How great of a God is He that he allows us to choose! For those of you who feel like you are never good enough, not only are you good enough, you were perfect and whole on the day you were born! Maybe, just maybe, this is how we learn to turn our hearts toward God, and then toward our brothers and sisters on this earth. We allow people to choose their path, and just love them in the process. That is what God has done for me. This is what He does for each of us. The greatest love is to love others regardless of what they choose—regardless of whether or not they choose us. This kind of love is Gods kind of love— and God’s love comes back around full circle. We love God because He loved us first! (John 4:19)