Last fall the church released this video (It’s about 8 1/2 minutes long! Check it out!) on Mormon Channel.org called, “You Never Know.” The woman in the video is wearing a ring on her left hand, but there is no man in sight. Let’s assume he is on a huntin’ trip. If you’ve never lived in Utah you might think I meant to write “hunting” but if you have lived there, even briefly, you know that’s not a typo.
So this woman is apparently planning to visit her cousin Kate who will be at the airport on a layover later in the evening and it seems to be the only thing she really has to look forward to. She appears to really need a girl’s night with Kate even if it’s just a crazy night of Cinnabon and Diet Coke in the Salt Lake airport.
She has multiple kids to juggle who are, well… kids… so let’s just say they are adding to the overwhelm she is feeling. Requests keep pouring in to babysit for the neighbor, make dinner for a couple with a newborn, listen to her sister complain about what I call, “rich people problems,” and don’t forget about the science project her son needs for school which starts in about 20 minutes. Mom obliges all.
That evening, when the babysitter arrives to take over while this poor woman goes to see cousin Kate, she’s late for all sorts of reasons and… you know what’s going to happen, right? Yep! She misses Kate’s layover by a long shot. My guess is she missed first-grade the day they taught the difference between the big-hand and little-hand on the clock because she isn’t even on the way to the airport yet when Kate’s 2-hour layover ends. But that’s not the point.
This POOR woman comes back into the house very crushed and angry and holding back tears. She snaps at her kids and reluctantly agrees to a bedtime prayer before sending them to their rooms. Now, before we address the end of the video, let me share with you what many of the women I know thought about this video:
Many of them said this video made them mad or sad.
It reminded them of what they had seen their own mothers do: giving relentlessly at their own expense and turning into unhappy, unhealthy people in the process.
It awakened that little voice in their heads reminding them they could be and should be doing more.
It hit very close to home as they saw this woman doing what is right by serving (which should help her feel joy), and ending up feeling feeling frustration, sadness and overwhelm because of it.
It was a very realistic example of what so many of them do or see the other women they love do, and the painful reality of the toll it takes on them.
I don’t know about you, but I can relate to nearly all of these opinions and I’ve thought about this video a lot ever since, and here’s what I think today. I do believe our Heavenly Father wants us to serve and make sacrifices, but I do not believe he wants us to sacrifice our happiness or emotional health.
I believe he needs us to be stronger now than ever before so that we can help our children navigate the world and return to him. I believe this so strongly, I devote my days to learning and coaching and writing to women in the church. I wake up at night thinking about how to reach you and what to tell you. I pray every day that my message and my work will be what the Lord wants it to be. I see you giving and I see you suffering and I don’t believe that relieving the suffering has to mean an end to the giving. I believe the opposite. I believe if we are stronger, healthier women who learn the skill of self-care, we will be much more effective in serving our families, our wards and our neighbors.
Now, the end of the video is amazing. As this poor name-less woman sobs (Could someone just give her a hug? I hope her husband killed some really big animal that she’ll have to clean and cook later.) her son says a sweet prayer wherein he casually thanks Heavenly Father for allowing him to win the Science Fair at school and for allowing them to, “get all the things done that you needed us to do today.” Mom looks up in surprise and in comes music and President Hinkley’s distinct, sweet voice reminding us that, “We often do not see the results that come of what we do,” and that, “You never know how much good you do,” all while we get behind the scenes glimpses of all the people she helped that day and what an impact it had on them.
I love that message. I love that voice. I love the intention of this video. I believe the intention is simply what President Hinckley says in the end, which is to remind us that when we serve others, we are serving the Lord and we do more good than we can possibly know. That’s such a loving message and a powerful thing to remember.
I think the concern and pain that this video brought for us was an unintentional, valuable gift. It has reminded many of us of the work we need to do on ourselves to really show up strong. I believe if we can learn to serve one another, serve our fellow men, AND care for ourselves then we will be on the path the Lord (and our Church Leaders) want us to be on. I believe this life is about learning to love one another, AND to love ourselves.
I think a great start would be learning how to say:
- You can either eat what I made for breakfast or go hungry. I love you muffin!
- I’m so sorry you forgot your project was due today! This is going to be a tough lesson son, but I’ll be here to help you through it and so will the Lord.
- I don’t have time to make dinner for that sweet couple, but I’ll pick up food to go for them and make sure they know how loved they are by our ward and by their Heavenly Father.
- It’s my responsibility to make sure my needs are met so I must make that as important as taking care of the people around me. This is not selfish. If I don’t, the people around me will end up having to take care of me instead. We’ve all seen examples of this.
- I will serve and give but I must take care of myself also. You can’t pour love from an empty pitcher.
- I love you, but no.
If you can relate to the woman in this video and want to learn the skill of self-care, stick with me. Start with these three simple tips and I guarantee you’ll begin to feel better right away.
Thanks for reading.