Monday, May 18, 2015


(I rediscovered this poem of mine penned in the back of one of my college notebooks Spring 2013)

My fingers feel new,
pale and pink like a baby freshly washed.
They ache as they uncurl
Released from the tension of holding on too tightly for too long. 

Spaces between my fingers expand to hollow imprints 
left behind from too much pressure.
Scars fade from bleeding red to hopeful white
blending into the milky paleness of my skin

Once locked, now free.
Free to reach and feel
Free to shake with uneasiness and vulnerability 
Free to work the ground and feather through the grassy blades
Free to write once more 

Thursday, May 14, 2015


I want to be your hiding place, your safe haven, your pillow of comfort. 
(Come to me)
Bring your streaking rain storms and sniffled thunder
for I've packed my puddle jumpers and warm hope  
 I'll wrap you in blankets of affection and pour you a cup of steaming love. 
Just come to me.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Be Ye Therefore Perfect

I am not perfect.
I have a weakness. 
It's not comparing myself to others.
It's comparing myself

Perfectionism is occasionally discussed in the Mormon culture with a focus on not comparing ourselves to others or assuming everyone has a perfect "Molly-Mormon" lifestyle that we somehow have to obtain. I've observed a room full of women commiserate with each other about the habit of comparing ourselves to other women and feeling unworthy when we don't measure up. Apparently this is a huge struggle, and I don't discount that, but that is not the struggle with which I grapple. Oh sure, I have my share of comparing myself, but it isn't often with other women, it is usually with myself, or more appropriately, my "perfect" self.  This is a different side of perfectionism, and I think it needs to be discussed. It takes a righteous desire to be good and turns it into an unrealistic expectation to be perfect NOW! 

I guess I'm what some people would call a "pleaser." I like to please people, I like to appease contention, I like to feel productive and fulfilled, I like to have purpose, and want so desperately to do the right thing all the time. Because of this, I am quick to say "I'm sorry" and can't last long when a relationship isn't in equilibrium. It gnaws at me telling me that something is wrong, that perhaps I did something wrong, and even if I didn't, I need to figure out how to make things right. 

But, what is right? What is wrong? And what is wrong with being wrong? Some people hold strongly to the belief that whatever we choose to be or do, is fine and perfectly human. We can't judge the man who continuously drinks his money away because there is something beautiful in his pain and desperation. It's the "whatever you choose to be is great, just be a good one!" mentality. As a humanist, I strive to see that beauty in imperfect humanness, but  I also feel strongly that there are in fact rights and wrongs as determined by God's laws. Sometimes this pull between my imperfect humanity, or natural man, and my desire to be like God causes cognitive dissonance and a distinctly uncomfortable imbalance.

Luckily, we are not left alone to constantly free-fall in areas of grey. We've been given the opportunity to receive personal revelation from God. We are told that if we ask, we shall receive, and are invited to "reason together, that [we] may understand" (D&C 50:10). We are also given the gift of the Holy Ghost to to testify unto us the things that are true and warn us when we give in to things that are not. Perhaps the most loving gift of all is Christ's atonement which allows us to make mistakes, be wrong, and still have the opportunity to wipe that all away. It is a freely given atoning love, and it can change our concept of perfection.

In Matthew 5:48, Christ says "Be ye, therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Even before I recognized the word perfect as meaning complete, this idea never bothered me because we have been taught to be like Christ and in doing so, develop to become as our Father in heaven is. But, I guess I didn't weigh in the difficulty of taking a mortal, human being, born with weakness and telling her to become like a perfect being, in order to become a god. Woah. Suddenly, I'm holding myself to an unrealistic expectation to be frankly "perfect."

May I introduce my idea of "perfect" Jenny? She is the epitome of balance. She spends just enough time with her family to feel that she is nourishing that most important relationship, while also serving and interacting with friends who buoy her up and make her happy. She is constantly seeking to better herself through learning and discovering new perspectives and insights. She isn't idle or lazy. When the spirit tells her to do something, she does it without hesitation or kick back. She is selfless and serving, but also takes care of herself. She knows who she is and where she's going, and knows God will help her get there. She is healthy in spirit and body, and helps others to be their best selves. She is beautiful without being vain, she is funny without being crude, she is gentle without being weak, and she is strong without being coarse. She is perfectly trying to be Christlike. Her path is straight and her promises are sure.

So that's who I am comparing myself to because that is who i'm trying to become, and the truth is, I'm falling short. It is exhausting keeping up with that! "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt 26:41).  The real trouble is I fight myself when my desires don't match what I think they should be, and beat myself up for being weak. Unknowingly, I've allowed Satan to sneak into my thoughts and discourage me. "You're better than this. Why don't you ever learn? It doesn't matter how righteous your desires are if you're not brave enough to make the hard decisions. Are you sure that's the right thing? I can't believe you're putting your selfish feelings above this. Is this the best choice, and if it isn't, why do you still want it? Time is ticking. Why is it taking you so long? You are not living to your full potential. You should do this, feel this, be this. etc."

 These feelings drown out peace, assurance, and joy. Men are that they might have Joy, not guilt trips! These feelings are full of fear, doubt, and discouragement. They are heavy. They leave me feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, but the difficult thing is that I'm not entirely sure how to take leave of them. 

It's a struggle. It's a weakness. But, what I'm coming to realize is that weakness does not equal failure, and being perfect does not mean I don't make mistakes. As Elder Gerrit W. Gong put it, "We can cease to be idle (See D&C 88:124) without running faster than we have strength (see Mosiah 4:27). We can be 'anxiously engaged in a good cause' (D&C 58:27) while also periodically pausing to 'be still, and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10; see also D&C 101:16)."  I'm in the process of perfecting, and that is a process of trial and error. As a work in progress, I am enough. It is certainly not easy, but Christ's atoning love comforts me and enables me:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest...For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28,30) 

In a way, I have to be imperfect in order to need a perfect savior. We all do. True perfection only comes through reliance on him, letting go of myself, and becoming weak. "I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 2:27) 

 Even as this imbalanced, imperfect, human, I am enough, and his grace is sufficient for me. "By his grace, [I] may be perfect in Christ" (Moroni 10).