Tag Archives: Accountability

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I had an interesting experience after my last blog post. I had an anonymous commenter who chose to make sarcastic judgments about my intent and my character because she was seemingly offended by what she perceived to be my heartless judgment of others.

She was upset because she thought I was judging the two women whose conversation I used to help illustrate a point about our personal responsibility for our own happiness. She declared that I was judging them without knowing their intent or their backstories or their hearts. She essentially thought I was drawing mean conclusions without knowing the entire story.

I attempted to explain my actual intent, which only seemed to enrage her further. In the end, I ended up erasing our dialogue and turning off comments on my blog for awhile. I was truthfully kind of perturbed that someone would hide behind internet anonymity and insult me without knowing my intent or my backstory or my heart. The irony of the situation seemed to be completely lost on her.

But as annoyed as I initially was, the situation has had me thinking quite a bit about judgment.

Our society has accepted a really big lie. It is now a common belief that we cannot make judgments between right and wrong. We can't judge situations. We can't judge actions. We can't judge the things people say or do. Because to do so would be to judge them. And it might hurt their feelings to know that we disagreed with that particular choice.

I apparently can't disagree with same-sex marriage without hating homosexuals. I can't be repulsed by abortion without offending the women who think it's their right. I can't be disgusted by rape or murder or lying or cheating without it being taken as my personal condemnation of the offender. And I most certainly can't say that we're responsible for our own happiness without upsetting the masses and being declared a hypocrite.

But we absolutely can judge those things. And we should. It is our duty to draw those lines in the sand. We're supposed to stand for all that is right and good. We do that by making judgments. We make judgments every day. The Savior himself has shown us how.

15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.     (Moroni 7:15-16)

Judgment is not only okay, but necessary.

Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that we should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, we will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout our lives.     (True to the Faith)

We have to go back to understanding the difference between judging between right and wrong and judging or condemning an individual. To judge a person we would most definitely need a backstory. We would need to know the state of their heart and their intent. And the truth is, we won't have sufficient knowledge of those things, even about our own spouses. Ever. That's why that final judgment is left to the One who knows all.

We don't, however, need to know any of those things to make a distinction between good and evil or right and wrong. We are given the light of Christ so that we have the ability to make those judgments every second of every day.

I can stand toe to toe with an abortionist and declare that what they're doing is wrong. I can make that distinction without knowing a thing about who they are or where they've been. And I can make that distinction without judging the person and condemning them to eternal misery. That's not my job.

But it is my job to defend light and truth and all that is good in this world. It's everyone's job.

I can say that we are responsible for our happiness because God says that we are. I can say that it's not right for any of us to shift that responsibility elsewhere. And I can do it without condemning myself or condemning the two women at school that morning. I can recognize the wrongness of it every time I do it and every time someone else does it. It's called spiritual discernment and I hope I always live in such a way that I retain that ability.

All of that aside, I honestly do try to be kind and compassionate. I don't feel like I've ever used my blog to condemn anyone or to make them feel badly about themselves. If I have ever done that I sincerely apologize  and would hope that someone would tell me so kindly. As I told that commenter, I write this blog in the hopes that people will leave here uplifted, even if it's simply because they could laugh at my kids' antics.

Her only response was "Heaven help anyone you're trying to uplift." My only reply is this: If you sincerely feel that way, please don't read my blog. I'm serious. Please, don't. I don't aim to make anybody feel like a lesser version of themselves. I am full of my own faults and my intent is never to pretend like I'm not.

I will, however, not stop sharing what I know to be true. I will continue to defend what I know to be right even if it offends every person that I know and even if I can't always live up to it myself. Right is right and wrong is wrong and there's nothing about that that's meant to be offensive.

Note:Blog comments have been enabled once again. I sincerely do care about what others have to say, even when they don't agree with me. I do like for my blog to be an uplifting place, however, and therefore comments containing vulgarity and profanity will not be published. I would also prefer an absence of rude sarcasm, whether you agree with me or not, but as one of my friends said, it says more about you than it does about me, so those comments will be still be allowed through unless they contain one of the aforementioned "forbiddens." 

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Last week I dropped my first grader off for her first day of school. She was feeling a bit nervous and wanted me to take her. And I secretly dread the start of every school year so I was more than happy to comply and bask in the glow of being needed. It was especially helpful to my ego that she clung to me and wanted me to stay in her class. I talked all about her bravery and her love of school and we both moved on.

On my way back down the hallway there were two moms that I assumed had just completed such a mission engaged in conversation. Hence my surprise at the tone and direction of said conversation. It became abundantly clear that they were there to pass the buck, to shift this endless responsibility of parenting elsewhere. I didn't exactly mean to listen to their "private" conversation the entire way out of the building, but as they stomped and fumed and vented behind me I couldn't exactly help it.

One mother was adamant that she was going to switch her child to another district because she has "these same issues every year." At first I was wondering how you could possibly have issues before the first bell of the school year even rang. But mom #2 cleared up my confusion. "Seriously! I called yesterday and chewed them out until they switched my daughter into the class with the male teacher. I mean, she has no male influence in her life and she doesn't listen for crap. Maybe he can fix her. I'm so sick of them not doing what's best for my kid." Uh . . . surely I'm not hearing this correctly.

But I was. I heard it loud and clear. And it's the same thing I hear everywhere. Somebody else is responsible for our happiness. Nothing is anybody's problem. The responsibility is someone else's. Our children's behavior. Their success. Our success. Our behavior. Our happiness. Blame when the said area of our life is less than stellar can be swiftly and easily placed elsewhere, anywhere really, but it never seems to be placed right where it belongs.

We, as a society, have literally wiped away a basic truth from our existence. Maybe "wiped away" is extreme. Maybe "chosen to ignore in all of our narcissistic glory" would be more appropriate here. But we have failed to take responsibility for ourselves. We have failed to be the masters of our own happiness. We've shifted that responsibility to a plethora of external stimuli, blaming everyone and everything and every circumstance.

Please, let's be clear, happiness is a state of being, not a result of being.

Honestly, anyone in any circumstance can be happy. That might be tough to hear, but it's the truth. And this is something God intended for us to figure out. The most critical part of our existence falls squarely on our own shoulders. That misery that we feel that we claim to be unable to do anything about is completely ours to own. We parade around sporting our victimhood as if it's the blue ribbon of a hard knock life, earning us the right to wallow and to complain and to blame. We do it because we're weak.

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.   - 2 Nephi 2:26

Did you hear what he said? We're free. Free to act for ourselves and not to be acted upon. Our freedom to choose gives us the ability to control the very state of our existence. We do not fall prey to misery because of circumstance or outside influence, and we most certainly do not stumble upon happiness as we bound through fields of butterflies and rainbows. We're stronger than that. And we've been created to be more powerful than that.

I'm as guilty as anyone. I'm an angry grump because my kids choose not to listen or because my husband doesn't do exactly what I think he should. I choose misery because sometimes things are hard and it's easier to wallow in self pity than it is to choose to find the inner strength and character to rise above it.

Look, I get it. We are frequently victims; victims of circumstance, victims of crime, and even victims to the poor decisions of myriads of other people. But I'll tell  you what. We are NOT victims to misery. We voluntarily join that club.

Happiness is my responsibility and it's your responsibility. It's not my husband's job to "make me happy." The responsibility doesn't fall to your child's teacher. It doesn't fall to my friends or to your neighbor down the street. My children's momentary disobedience doesn't send me spiraling head first into a pool of misery. I voluntarily dive right in.

We're suddenly failing to take responsibility for everything. We act like helpless pawns being forced to agonizingly suffer through life. We shift blame to all sorts of places where it doesn't belong.

The truth is simple. It's been the truth since the beginning.  We are free; free to choose, free to act, and free to be. We're free to be miserable, but we're also free to be happy. We don't need to be bogged down because of the decisions or behaviors of others. We don't need to despair because life is hard. We can choose happiness every morning when we wake up. And we can continue to choose happiness under whatever circumstances we may be in.

As featured in The Reflector:

My husband works for the State of Washington and his department, of course, receives federal funding. This has inspired several people to ask me if I’m worried about the government shutdown.

The answer to that is yes. I am worried. We could face a furlough situation. We could find ourselves indefinitely unemployed. We have four little children and my husband’s job is our livelihood. But I’m more worried about something that runs much deeper.

As the father and provider in our home, it’s only natural that Kyle’s fear would lie with his employment. And it does. As the mother who cares for my children 24 hours a day and who is primarily responsible for their upbringing, my anxiety rests elsewhere.

The biggest fear that I combat as a mother is wondering about my ability to raise my children well in a country that seems to be fueled by irresponsibility, entitlement and moral degradation.

I hate to be the one to break the news, but our federal government is the furthest thing from responsible, that I’ve ever seen. It spends money that it doesn’t have and engages in giving things that are not its responsibility to give. Our government caters to temper tantrums and passes laws that infringe on basic, God-given rights and degrades us further. The United States is about as self-sufficient as a parasite.

So while I’m afraid for my family, I’m actually more afraid that the general attitude associated with this shutdown will define the country that I love. And although I realize that I may irritate some people . . . okay, or downright tick some people off . . . there are a few things that I feel compelled to say.

The government of the United States doesn’t owe you your job any more than it owes my husband his. When an employer is operating beyond a sustainable capacity, they cut back. Period. That’s the fiscally responsible thing to do. Going into unfathomable debt and sinking their business into the ground just so that you can keep your job sounds just as ridiculous as it is. The government is not an exception to this rule.

Secondly, increasing your debt ceiling so that you can have what you want, when you want it, is irresponsible and absurd. This is not Monopoly. This is real life. You’re never passing go and no free money will be falling into your lap. Recklessly spending to temporarily solve what you see as your current problem will only compound your problems in the future. It’s common sense.

Lastly, as a mother, teaching my children accountability is a huge priority. We’re responsible for our choices and our mistakes. Watching those governing our nation deal with this shutdown makes me cringe. It also makes it overwhelmingly clear that accountability will not be taught outside of my home, but only inside of it.

So to answer the question again, yes, I’m worried about the government shutdown. But as much as I’m worried about the financial security of my family, my heaviest concerns lie with what is being taught to my children.

I want my children to not only learn, but have embedded in their hearts, the principles of self-sufficiency, responsibility and morality. I want them to know that they’re not an exception to any rule. I want them to understand that their freedom to choose is amazingly important, but does not exempt them from consequences. I want them to understand that we work for what we have and that nobody owes them one, single thing.

But strangely, I also want them to know that even in times like this . . . times when the poor choices of others infringe on their peace, times when no one wants to shoulder any of the blame, and times when everyone else is shouting about what they should have or what they deserve . . . even in times like this, they can stand firm and feel peace.

There is security in self-sufficiency, pride in personal responsibility and peace in morality. No one can shut that down. Not even the government of The United States of America.