Tag Archives: Responsibility

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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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Our culture is afflicted with a lot of problems. That should be obvious. But what doesn't seem to be as apparent is what I would consider to be one of the major downfalls of our society. There's a trend that's been developing over the past several years. We celebrate mediocrity.

We celebrate it in classrooms, on athletic fields, in places of employment, and even in parenting. We reward sub par behavior, work, and performance all for the sake of sparing people's delicate feelings. We act as if we're on a mission to artificially inflate the self-esteem and egos of every person with whom we come in contact. We're eliminating responsibility and effort, victory and defeat.

I could go on about this for days. I could lament over the "participation" trophies awarded to every child who picks up a ball or joins an athletic team. Sorry, participation is simply that. You didn't win anything and you don't deserve a trophy. I could complain about the high marks given to children when they put forth zero effort to accomplish a task. Oh, you can't write a grammatically correct sentence free of 'LOLs' or 'OMGs?' Great. A+ for you! I could ramble on about the "everybody's a winner" mentality that rages through our homes and schools. It's okay, little Johnny, it doesn't matter what you do, I'm going to tell you that you're the best no matter what and you're going to believe it. I could make myself sick over the number of people who deserve to be let go from their particular employment because of laziness or law-breaking or general non-performance. You failed to perform the duties of your employment, we're going to have to let you go. Discrimination! You just hate me because I'm (black, white, gay, straight, female, male, etc., etc.). 

See. I really could go on for days. I won't, but there is one aspect of this that I'd really like to address: the general lack of concern about mediocrity in motherhood (or just parenting in general).

I've read numerous articles and blog posts that tell women something to similar to this: "Okay ladies, let's stop beating ourselves up! Every mom is doing the best she can and we need to give ourselves and each other the credit we deserve!"

Uh, sorry, but no. By making these blanket empowerment speeches, what you're really doing is giving an excuse to every lazy, neglectful, abusive mother that exists.

Yes, there are a lot of mothers out there doing the best they can most days. But not all days and most certainly not all mothers. I'm all for ending the mommy wars that we hear so much about. I don't care if you use cloth diapers or disposable ones. It's none of my business whether you choose to nurse or use formula. If you've got the time to make your own baby food, more power to you. I think we can all agree that when it comes to these sorts of debates, every mother is making the choice that she feels is best for her and her family. It's nobody's business and placing judgment there is absurd.

But I hope we can also agree that there are many mothers who are doing far from the best they can. I hope we can acknowledge that there are children being hurt and ignored and mistreated.

And even more than that, I hope we can recognize the excuses behind this theory.

I'm sorry, but there are days when I don't do the best I can. I like to think that I give an 110% effort most of the time, but I don't do it every day. Sometimes I'm exhausted or upset or just plain don't feel like it. On those days my performance as a mother is merely adequate. That's it. I do the things I have to do and I ignore the rest. I let my kids watch too much TV so I don't have to deal with entertaining them. I throw frozen pizzas in the oven because I don't want to cook dinner. I read blog posts on the internet that justify my desire to sit on the couch doing nothing while my bathrooms get dirtier and my kids lonelier. That's not me doing the best I can. And I don't want people excusing my lack of effort.

We, as mothers, are not entitled to compliments or praise. Complacency has no place within this sacred role. Earn the praise you so desperately want to receive. If you yell at your kids too much (guilty), don't claim that you're doing the best you can and act like you deserve praise for it. You don't. Yelling is not praiseworthy. Take praise where it's due, but also make corrections where necessary.

Everything we do is not always good enough. We don't put forth our best efforts all of the time. And we shouldn't be rewarded with undue praise when we don't. It's far more beneficial and empowering to acknowledge our shortcomings and to work on correcting them. What good does it do anyone for us to proclaim that we're doing the best we can when we aren't? It's the plague of mediocrity and we're encouraging each other to be comfortable there.

No mother is perfect. This is all about effort. Your best effort is sufficient. It's all that is asked of you or required of you. But don't be satisfied with a puffed-up version of your motherhood. Acknowledge your mistakes. Identify your weaknesses and then give your best effort to turn them into strengths. Quit being satisfied with mediocrity and quit listening to fairy tale accounts of our perfection.

More than anything, let's take responsibility for our motherhood. Own it. Love it. Choose it. Take pride in it. And work at doing the best job you can.

As featured in The Reflector:

Last week I spoke at an activity for a bunch of women at our church. The theme involved being a light in the darkness, essentially being figures of hope.

Hope has been on my mind a lot lately. I shared with them a conversation I’d had with my little sister. She and I had been talking a lot about the moral and political state of our country and were feeling quite forlorn over it. We worried for our children and the battles they would have to face because of it.

Then we talked about how we believed in something better. We discussed how we believed in the human race and how we knew goodness and morality were still there. We ended up feeling a little perplexed about the fact that the voices representative of that morality and goodness, including our own voices, are strangely silent in comparison to the opposition.

I possess a lot of hope. Even when things seem irreparable or hopeless I’m still capable of feeling it. A significant portion of my hope rests in God, but I’m also inspired by my confidence in others. I’m confident that there are good people in the world. I’m confident that those people don’t have to be forced into kindness and caring. I’m confident that there are people who still possess the capacity to be moral compasses to those around them. I’m optimistic that people can still differentiate between right and wrong. I’m optimistic that when given the opportunity, those people will choose all that is good and right and moral.

So if I’m confident that these people exist, if I’m hopeful in the goodness that still remains in this world, then why aren’t I hearing more of it? Why aren’t I sharing more of it?

I told my sister that sometimes my silence stems from the fact that I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I don’t want people to find my stance offensive or rude. I don’t want anyone to feel like I might be trying to force my religion or my opinions on them.

But guess what? With hope comes responsibility. I strongly feel that the two are inseparable. If we feel hope and confidence in humanity, then we should be spreading that hope. If we feel optimism in regards to the morality of our nation, then we should be encouraging and sharing that hope out loud. If we find hope in the God of us all, then we should be sharing it. It’s our responsibility.

It’s amazing to me how tolerant we are of the voices of dissent and immorality and irresponsibility. No one questions their right to voice their opinion. They’re screaming loudly and everyone is listening.

Yet those with a message of goodness and hope are comparatively silent. We feel our hope inwardly. We share it with our inner circles. And even when our morality is yelling at our souls, that what we’re hearing is not right, we sit silently at the risk of offending the supposed majority. And the supposed majority engages in fighting our right to share our beliefs and our hope, in the way that they so freely share theirs.

You know, I was amazed as I spoke to these women. There were about fifty of them and they weren’t from the congregation that I attend, but from a neighboring one. So some of them I knew and some of them I didn’t. But what amazed me was that as I looked around, I could see the hope in the eyes of every single one. And if there’s that much hope right here in the middle of nowhere, I have to believe that there’s that much hope everywhere else too.

The hopeful need to start talking more loudly than they are. I told my sister that I feel almost guilty that I’ve been so reserved and quiet on the source and subject of my hope. If immorality can spread like wildfire, morality can too. If irresponsibility can be made to look good, then responsibility can be made to look as good as it once did. Honesty, integrity, loyalty, hard work . . . all of them can make a comeback. I believe that. I believe there is still good in the world.

I’m a mother. I have children. Four of them. There are four, lovely, little people living in my home. I want them to grow up feeling hopeful. I want them to recognize what’s right when they see it. I want them to embrace morality and goodness and kindness. And I want them to be strong enough to share what they’ve acquired with the rest of the world.

If I want those things for my children then I have to 'be' those things for my children. Children are what they hear and do what they see. They have to hear my voice in chorus with the rest. They have to see me defend all that is right. So my silence is ending today.

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As featured in The Reflector:

My oldest is only in the second grade, so I figured my experiences with the often discussed bullying problem wouldn’t come until much later. I was wrong. I’ve never wished so hard that I had been right instead.

The most tragic part about this situation is that the blame can be directly placed on the shoulders of adults. I’m not trying to be insulting, but it’s the truth. Adults do a lot of stupid things, myself included. We’re just big kids sometimes. I get that. But shamelessly and deliberately being poor examples for our children is where I draw the line.

So I want to talk for a second about what we’re teaching our children.

This past spring I was sitting along the third base line watching Hunter play baseball. He was only in the first grade, but the oldest kids playing were only fourth graders. They were just babies. All of them.

They were playing baseball because it seemed like the fun thing to do. It had nothing to do with their talent or visions of a championship. Sure, winning was fun, but tossing around a baseball with their classmates was more fun. It all started just as it should.

There were a few, little battles over the rules that turned this game into the ugliest sporting event I have ever witnessed. And it was a machine-pitch game for a bunch of little kids.

The real clincher, however, was that the blame for the display that took place rested with the parents.

Insults were being hollered at our coach at an alarming rate. No one seemed to be even mildly alarmed by the fact that the kids were listening to all of it. The insults being hurled attacked his integrity and even his religion. It was appalling.

But then something even worse happened. One of the little boys on the other team who was sitting on their bench stood up and literally started screaming at the umpire. You could have heard him on the next field over.

My initial reaction was shock. If our son had acted that way he would’ve been yanked from the game. He would’ve been lucky if we ever let him play again.

My second reaction was pity. I don’t know whose son he was and frankly, that’s irrelevant. The issue was that not one of his parents stood up and let that little boy know that his behavior was inappropriate. Instead they giggled and smirked. He was, after all, just copying what he’d been listening to for the past hour.

Another completely separate issue came to my attention just last night. This same son informed me that some kids were picking on him at recess. He was playing with a ball and some older kids told him they wanted it and demanded that he hand it over. We’ve taught our kids to stand up for themselves, so he said no. They came and took it from him.

Hunter did the only thing that he knew how. He went to one of the recess aids and explained the situation. He found an adult, someone big enough to help him. But instead of receiving help, my son and the offender BOTH had to sit on the wall in a “time-out” and he never got the ball back.

I just stared at him dumbfounded when he tearfully explained the situation to me. It took him days to even tell me it had happened because he was ashamed of himself for getting into “trouble.” There was steam coming out of my ears.

What are we teaching our children!? Nothing that we should be, that’s for sure.

So for the record and just so that I’ve said it out loud, I’d like to announce that this sort of behavior is not okay. Ever. Not at all.

We are teaching our children in a public arena that it is okay to be insulting, rude and mean. We’re teaching them that we care only about winning and that we care nothing for actual people. We are teaching them that another person's mistake is sufficient grounds to crucify him. We are demonstrating to them that we care nothing about forgiveness, mercy, kindness or grace.

We’re teaching them that they can’t trust anybody. We’re showing them that adults don’t care at all about truth. As a matter of fact, we’re teaching them fear. We’re teaching them that honesty will get them nowhere in life. Doing things right will get them nowhere. We’re teaching them that bullies win and there’s no such thing as a trusted adult who will help them.

So essentially we’re teaching them to lie. We’re teaching them that no one is on their side. We’re telling them they have to defend themselves because no one else will and if they’re not strong enough to defend themselves, we’re going to let them drown.

This is a crying shame. It’s a travesty. As adults, we have the amazing and serious responsibility to teach our children love, honor and respect. We have the chance to spread goodness and perpetuate integrity. It’s our responsibility to raise children -- children who will one day be adults. Adults who will hopefully act better than this when given the opportunity.

If we, as a society, want this bullying problem stopped, adults should probably start looking in the mirror. Quit looking into what’s “wrong” with our youth for a solution to the problem. That’s not where the blame lies.