So I have a dream.
On my way down to St. George years ago, my best friend and I were talking about what we wanted our futures to be like. One part of the conversation focused on culture, and I’ve never forgotten what I decided that day. She was talking about the culture her parents had established in their home. She talked about what she did and didn’t like about that culture and what her culture in her home was going to be like. I had never considered the idea that my home would have a culture of its own. But I loved the idea. I could control the climate and culture of my own home! Ah yeah.
So, what did I want my home to feel like?
I dreamed. I dreamed big. I wanted a home where my children and their friends preferred to be. I wanted a home where anyone would enter and feel welcome, feel they were enough. I wanted a home that is clean and orderly. I wanted a home that was full of traditional memories: of good, home-cooked food that they craved above any other, of open and long talks about life, of holidays and seasons being celebrated and lived, of early and late work on the farm or in the garden. I wanted a home that was built on self-reliance. I wanted a home that was truly a haven of goodness and refreshment.
The Lord has been teaching me a lot about work lately. And a large part of that tutoring has been based from this dream. Andrew and I hope for a lot in our future. Lots of land, lots of children, lots of self-reliance. I didn’t come from such a background, and I’m very aware of my shortcomings when I think about the insane amount of work and self-discipline and diligence that my dream entails. Let’s just say those shortcomings and that work load have been on the forefront of my mind this last week.
My current level of industry each day is equal to….minimal. I’m pretty lazy. Mostly, I’m just professional at procrastinating. “I’ll do that later” or “I’ll clean that in the morning” or “I’ll take care of that when Thea is sleeping,” which all translate to “I’ll do that when I absolutely have to.” So my house is usually a mess, which drives me crazy. My car is a mess and falling apart, which drives me crazy. My fridge is either empty or full of stuff I don’t want to make, which drives me crazy. My projects remain stuck on my to-do list, which drive me crazy. And I usually end up frustrated and overwhelmed by all that I need to get done. In other words, I feel like I can barely take care of my tiny town home, my tiny car, and my tiny family, so how will I ever be able to survive in my dream life??
The answer has been clear and reassuring: I won’t; not unless I repent and change. Repentance is the process through which we access the atonement to change our natures from carnal and fallen to saintly and holy (Mosiah 3:19–my all time favorite scripture). It is through repentance that we become as God is, obtaining his character and attributes for our own. It is through the atonement that I can change my nature from lazy and procrastinating to industrious and achieving. And do you know what is going to get me there? Work.
Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day” (“The Transforming Power of Faith and Character,” Oct. 2010). This is what has really helped me this week. Instead of being true to what I feel like doing, I’ve sought to be true to what I need to be doing in order to be the type of person that has the type of culture I desire. I started with my goal of a home that is clean and orderly. And guess what, once I start working, it doesn’t take long for me to get in the swing of things and pound it out. It’s like it has been taught about the enabling power of grace: “It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). I can’t sit there and hope to get the motivation to change. I have to do everything I can to act for myself, and then I can qualify for additional aid. The Lord isn’t going to do for me what I can do for myself, even if I think it’s difficult. I have to get up and get to work. Then He can help me stay motivated to keep working, until I can do that part, too, on my own. That’s how we change. That’s how we repent.
I have a lot of changing and growing to do in order to make my dream a reality. But the Lord reminds me, too, that it comes “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). I don’t feel overwhelmed by the goals I have set for myself and for my family. I don’t feel like I need to have it all now. I’m satisfied with any level of progress I can make in the right direction. In fact, after this week and what I have been able to accomplish, I’m pretty stinking excited.
And can I just say, there is little else greater than enjoying the fruits of your labor. Fruit I have to catch up on isn’t as sweet as that for which I have purposely and diligently worked for. As I sit in my clean house at the end of a day of consistently cleaning up after myself, my husband, and my into-everything baby, it just feels extra peaceful and rewarding.