Monday, August 11, 2014

My thoughts on Feminism, Batman, and Some Other Stuff Too

So, I clearly cannot sleep. Therefore I have been listening to random old General Conference talks... If any of you are wondering what the heck this General Conference is, please continue to the really big 'anyways'. If you're not, ya could probably skip to the next paragraph... Or keep reading to learn about "G.C. According to Me: A Brief Detailed History"... I should write a book **awkward silence** Okay, fine I will spare you. Maybe... AAAAANNNNYYYWWAAAYYYSSSS... General Conference is a meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that occurs worldwide twice a year. It happens in a conference center and is broadcast to many countries throughout the world. At this conference, the leaders of the LDS Church, including the living Prophet and Twelve Apostles--yes, just like in the New Testament--speak to all of the members of the church. Questions yet? Please comment or email me or ask the missionaries or read this article. These addresses are really intended for anyone, LDS or not, and serve as sort of a spiritual highway through current issues and events. Remember, these leaders are addressing people all over the world. They must seek the utmost divine guidance to be able to spiritually reach over 15,000,000 people who speak nearly 200 different languages. This conference is a miracle in itself, but the real miracle is that the talks given ALWAYS hit home. Without a doubt, there will be at least one address that speaks directly to a personal struggle, question, or doubt. I don't care who you are, it works. Every time. Try it, I dare you... But really, from personal experience, I know that the Lord speaks to us through these servants. I know that He knows our needs and uses these messages to meet some of them. So, when I seek comfort, I turn to the words of the prophets--the living word of God.

Okay, we are back to tonight... Well this morning, considering it is nearly 4 A.M... I was randomly scrolling through past conferences on my phone and came across a talk titled "An Elect Lady," The title caught my eye so I decided to give it a listen. Considering all of the recent hullaballoo about feminism and whatnot (I just sounded like an old person) I thought it would be interesting to remind myself of the Lord's perspective on his precious daughters. In this talk, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, elaborates in great detail on the divine calling of women on earth. To read or listen to his talk, click on the title of the talk. I'm not going to re-hash his whole talk here, so really if you want to know what he said you are going to have to read the talk. My opinion is pretty much all you get from this point forward-- lucky you! Alright, I may throw a few quotes in there but just enough to be a little boring. I can tell that you are so ready to keep reading!!

**Hush child, it's just gettin' good**

So, back to this whole feminism thing and let me preface by saying: contrary to my somewhat negative tone towards 'feminism', I am all about equality. I do not think in any way that one type of people deserve more rights or privileges, just because they happen to be that type of person. I do, however, believe that different types of people--men and women in this particular situation--fill different roles in society, humanity, and in Heavenly Father's plan. Does this mean that one 'deserves' more than the other? No. Does it mean that they 'deserve' exactly the same thing? Once again, no...

 Let me explain myself with a little personal story. Once upon a time, my sister and I were somewhere in the zone of maybe 4 and 5 years old, she being the elder. My sweet sweet mother being the phenomenal woman she is, devised some sort of chore/reward system. Being that we were too poor at the time to earn a weekly allowance, she decided that if we completed small tasks. Some of these included making our beds, picking up our toys, eating all our food (hem hem, our sandwich crust), and whatever other chores 4 and 5 year olds are capable of. If we completed all of these things willingly for a certain amount of time, we would be able to pick out a small prize from TARGET. **swoon**.  So, whatever we did the stuff, earned our keep, did what we needed to do to 'deserve' what we were promised. At this point if our mother were to treat us 'equally' we would have both received the same prize without question and without getting to pick. But... Dun Dun Dun... that is not how it works at our house. My precious older sister wanted a Batman action figure more that life itself and I probably wanted a sparkly Lip-Smackers or something else dumb. The point is that she got the Batman and I got the chapstick. Probably not equal in value, or coolness in each other's eyes. But all I know, is that if I got Batman I would have been PISSED... Or the 4 year old equivalent. And she most likely felt the same way. The moral of the story is this: true American equality is not getting what everyone else gets just because it is the same, but working for what YOU want and being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If what you really want is to be the same or better than a man, or another woman for that matter, work hard and be better than them. You can because this is America... At least for now... (Yes, I am aware of the larger global issue, but that is another rant for another day). But seriously, stop asking for whatever someone else has just because they have it and you don't. Someone will always have something better than what you have. You can spend your time wishing you had Batman, but I really would rather enjoy my sparkly chapstick and maybe not even share it.

That was a really long story/rant for me to say that I think the whole feminism uprising is a little on the trite side, but maybe thats just me. But moving forward...

In his talk, Elder Perry quotes Sister Marjorie Pay Hinkley, wife of the 15th Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, President Gordon B. Hinkley. She addresses the women of the church, but in particular mothers saying, “It is the mothers of young children I would like to address first. These are golden years for you. These are years when you will probably do the most important work of your lives. Don’t wish away your years of caring for small children. Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans. This is a time of great opportunity for you to build the kingdom. When you teach children to love their Heavenly Father, you have done one of the greatest things you will ever do. If you can be a full-time homemaker, be grateful. If not, you must do what is best for you. I for one have never felt a need to apologize for my role as a full-time homemaker." 

As a woman, a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, and someone who hopes to be a mother someday, I am specifically referring to 'feminism' as the negativity towards women who chose to raise a family over a career or other worldly luxuries. It is like Batman and lipbalm. Each made a different person happy and brought them satisfaction. And each held value in the eye of the beholder. To some wearing a pantsuit and making buckets of money brings them satisfaction. To me, fulfilling my divine role and serving my Heavenly Father will bring lasting happiness and joy. I admit sometimes I forget that my life won't always be about me, but that I was called, chosen, elected, and ordained to one day bear and raise children. The wife of a man who very literally spoke to God has told us that this is the MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do. Like ever. What good is the other work that we do in life if we cannot pass it on to our own flesh and blood who can take that knowledge and wisdom, improve it, and then pass it on, and so on and it could go forever.... Whoa. that was deep. But in all seriousness, everything I do is for the benefit of my future children. I can't wait to be a mom and get to teach my little darlings all about life and love and Jesus. Yes, that is part of a future that I hope to have. No, it is not happening anytime soon. So?... I am not letting life happen while I make other plans. I am working towards my degree and planning a career and vacations that I will probably never be able to afford. I am living. I am enjoying what I have right now and working hard for what I want in the future. I am trusting in the Lord and the promises He has given me. I am serving and loving and trying to be like Him. For sure not perfect, or probably even very good at it, but I am trying. I am learning to have an attitude of gratitude. I am taking the callings I have been given at this time (daughter, sister, student, friend, leader, etc...) and am being the best at that. Okay fine I am not the actual best, we already established this. But thats not the point. We all have different callings or roles, and it is up to us to do those things better than anyone else. So stop trying to be what the world says you should be. Or what someone on some ranty blog says you should be. But, figure out who the Lord whats you to be, and work like crazy to try and become that version of you. Embrace what you were sent here to do. Live it. Love it. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This Time

Sometimes I write blog posts all about angry, ugly things, and then delete them and then write a post about something sunshiny and happy and positive and flowery. This is not one of those times. (Although this is a vast improvement on the original, much more hopeful.)

Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes plans change. Sometimes families are messed up. Sometimes awesome kids get cancer. Sometimes people lie. Sometimes your past is your present. Sometimes reality bites. And sometimes you can't do anything about it.

So heres to embracing it this time.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Best Birthday Gift

So, today is my birthday. I am trying this new thing where I don't even pretend like it is not my birthday. It has actually been kinda fun, too... But this post is not about me being a birthday princess or whatever (I am still not completely sold that making it another year alive in todays world is really cause for celebration) it is about a gift that I was given that cannot be held or touched.

I had been sitting in my religion class this afternoon for maybe 5 minutes when my stomach suddenly felt like it was going to explode. I tried to sit there and let it pass but that definitely was not happening--happy birthday to me. So, I awkwardly get up and walk past the projector screen to get to the door to head to the bathroom. Just when I thought that sweet relief was near... The bathroom door was locked. Who locks a public bathroom on a college campus in the middle of the day? Weird I know. Now I am walk-running all the way to the other side of the building to the other bathroom praying that this one was not also locked. Hallelujah that it wasn't. Well, I took care of things. That was a relief. As I was washing my hands I could hear someone crying. I looked around to find out where it was coming from and spotted someone sitting on the floor in the end stall. I slowly approached not knowing what I was going to do next, but knowing that I could not leave this poor soul all alone on the floor of the bathroom. The door to the stall was closed and I still didn't know what to say so I slowly sunk to the floor and reached my hand underneath the door. It seemed like hours I sat there waiting for her to grab my hand. Eventually a tiny, sweaty, shaky hand grabbed mine and held tight. In that moment I could feel all of her sadness and pain and anxiety flow into my body and I began to cry as well. I knew then that no words were needed. All that was required was for this sweet girl to know that she was not alone.

How many times have we felt utterly isolated? Cried and begged for someone to care just for a moment. I don't know a single person who has not been there, crumpled on the bathroom floor. How many times do we hear or tell ourselves that we are not alone? That Christ has felt what we are feeling, that He is there for us.  In dark moments I try to remind myself of this but if I am being totally honest I don't know if I can always feel it. I am usually too focused on myself.

Today I was given a gift that goes beyond any description. For just a moment I was allowed a tiny glimpse into how the Savior feels about me and about each of his children. As I connected with my new friend in the girls bathroom, I felt nothing but love for her. I wanted with everything in my soul to take her pain away or to at least help her carry it. As I stretched out my hand and waited, I knew that this is what Jesus does for us. He holds out His hand and waits as long as it takes for us to take it. And He will never let go.

This is the greatest gift.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bananas Help

Well hey there! I suppose it has been a while... Again. Okay, no one is surprised. So here I sit in lovely Rexburg, Idaho about 4 weeks into a new semester. I am back to life. It is probably a miracle or something. I have even declared a major--whoopee! I am studying Family and Consumer Sciences Education, a really awesome title for an even better major. I could not have found something more suited to me to study. It really is a miracle. I spend my days learning interior design, delving into the philosophies of education, and cooking up a storm in the foods lab. It is pretty freaking fantastic. I am also serving as the Relief Society President of my YSA ward (Relief Society is the women's service organization within the LDS Church). It has only been a few weeks but I feel like I have grown insane amounts! Now don't be fooled, this is not just fun and games and baking cookies--this past four weeks have been some of the most difficult I have ever faced, but I am growing. Funny how life and God do that to us. Make us grow. Like when we were kids and got leg cramps because we were just growing like little weeds. Well, I guess now we get life cramps. But half a banana and some prayer always seem to work as well as it used to in the old days. I guess some (or most) of these little life cramps have been brought on by school. It is no secret that school has never been my favorite pass time. Something about sitting still and paying attention... But I am taking a class on the philosophies of education and It has helped me to see school, and myself as a student in a different light. I am learning how to learn. How to develop and how to become. It is so much more than a test score (although my competitive nature makes it about that sometimes). School is about life. It is about knowing and feeling and testing limits. Sometimes it is about just learning how to play the game (still trying to figure that one out without ample sarcasm). I guess what I am saying is that school isn't so bad. Don't tell anyone I said that--I can't afford to lose my tough guy rep. But for reals. I am learning to appreciate where I am now. To not stress too much about tomorrow or yesterday but to just live. Nobody said I was good at it yet, but like I said--I am growing. Just like a pretty little flower. So let yourself grow a little too. Don't be afraid of the life cramps, they are not too bad once they are over. You might be surprised at what you will discover!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Learning How to Use My Words

Hi. It seemed like a good time to share some more of my inner-most thoughts with the internet. So here we find ourselves once again. I suppose it is good that we are keeping in closer touch these days, ever since I shared all of my secrets with you and such... Ya know, we are tight now--or something. Anyways, I guess I am kinda moving on to a new phase in my life--shocking, I know. What?! Madison is moving and starting fresh and trying to be a grown up?... I was surprised too.

So, I am home from my mission (somewhat abruptly, and by somewhat I mean extremely), I am living with my parents and 4 younger siblings, not working, not really doing much of anything. Granted for the first two months of being home I was pretty much stuck in bed having seizures--but that is a story for another time. Remind me to tell it if you are really interested in hearing because there is a 99.99% chance I will forget. But back to this story. So here I am after months of constant progress just kind of floating. It felt pretty nice for about 5 seconds, too. Funny thing about just sitting, when you do it for very long you start to slide backwards. It is like sitting in neutral on a gradual incline. Never a happy ending.

There is a bit of a dizzy/light headed feeling when your vehicle is slowly rolling backwards--well, it was nothing like that. It was more like getting smacked upside the head--if you will. One minute I am going along my merry way and the next I just know that I am not where I am supposed to be/doing what I am supposed to be doing. It was pretty dramatic. Through out my life I have had similar moments. You know, those moments when you know that the Lord is ready to make a change? I am pretty sure he drops smaller hints to begin with, but I tend to be pretty dense. But when I know, I know. And this time I knew. I couldn't keep going in the direction I was headed. So, to my knees I went.

I tend to make decisions this way somewhat frequently. It may seem rash at times, and due to my excellently poor communication skills I feel that I may even hurt others in the process at times. I am deeply apologetic if you have ever felt hurt and/or confused at my quick decisions which usually include no explanation. But, when I have a personal revelation shouldn't everyone else around me automatically know and understand what is going on deep within my soul? No? You are telling me I actually have to use words? Well, here we are.

I have begun a new journey. One that I know I need to be on. I am off to continue figuring out how to be an actual person. One who contributes to society and is kind and happy and educated. I am on my way to school at BYU-Idaho. I am taking the long way round and I am exactly where God wants me. I will not pretend to know exactly what will happen next, but I know that as I include the Lord in this process, He will lead me step by step. For I am His and no one else's. It is not easy, but man is it worth it.

Communication is key. I am working on it. I guess if you can tell the entire internet all about your inner most crap, you should be able to have a simple conversation with the people closest to you... Hmm, maybe someday. For now, I blog.

I know I do not have a huge audience, but I would love your feedback. Is there anything in particular you would like to know more about me/my life/my opinion on random things? Oh, I am being one of those vain blogger types who thinks the whole world wants my opinion? Whoops. Oh well.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Well, Now You Know. Surprise!

It has been awhile, hasn't it? I missed you too. Lets have an intimate little chat and rekindle our friendship, sound good? Great! Now that we have reestablished our endearment to one another, we can talk about our deep dark things, right? Maybe not? Well, we are going to anyways. Lets talk about mental illness. Put your big kid pants on because I guess this could be a conversation that makes some people uncomfortable. Okay, maybe it makes me a little uncomfortable. That is precisely why we are going to talk about it in all of it's ugly glory. Because I am choosing not to let "it" own me anymore. Period.

I know I have talked about feeling different before. About owning who I am and being that person. Well, a huge part of who I am and why I am different--or maybe not so different from more people than most of us think--is that I suffer from mental illness. I am not mental, or crazy, or psycho. I have an illness, it does not have me. From childhood I have suffered from anxiety and depression. Throughout my life it has come and gone, lurking in the shadows behind me occasionally showing its ugly face towering over  me in moments of darkest despair. For years I have tried to outrun this sneaky beast. Pushing it behind me, closing the door on it, and shoving it deep down inside encasing it in chains and concrete and steel bars. I locked "it"  away but with it other precious things became trapped. I held others at arms length as to not allow them to discover my inner dungeon of mystical nasty secret problems. I pasted a lovely smile on my face and taught myself to be pleasant but never attached. I could still enjoy most of life, in fact I did pretty well within the limits I had set for myself. So well that I felt I could probably live my whole life that way and never have to relinquish the prisoner within my mentality. I was in control. There in one simple word, "I", lived the root of all of this evil.

Now, let me take a small break from my dramatic monologue to reassure you that as I refer to "evil" and "darkness" I am referring to my feelings towards my mental illness, not to my feelings toward myself. Is it strange to say that even though I felt that I was hiding something evil within me, that I still knew of my divinity as a daughter of God and my inherent goodness? Like I said, I have mental illness, it does not have me.

Anyways, I discovered this big "I" problem when my life was suddenly no longer about ME. I spent the most important eleven months of my life thus far learning how not to think about myself. I also learned how to let down my barriers. To care deeply about others. To actually LOVE and Feel and Care. I learned to let go of my need to defend myself with sarcasm and biting words. I learned to see others and love others the way that our Savior sees each one of his children. It is a beautiful thing to see another with all of their flaws and scars and ugly pieces and love them all the more for those shortcomings. I learned that if I could feel this way about others, that there are others who could feel this way about me--beginning with my Father in Heaven and my Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. They love me not in spite of my faults, but because of them. I learned that I owe it to Them and to myself to unwrap those chains, and break down that wall and unlock the door that had kept me so safe for so long. I knew that the only way to become who my Heavenly Father knows I can be, I had to face my ugly pet mental illness. I am doing it for Him. I am doing it for me. I am doing it for my family. For my future spouse and children. For anyone who needs to know that they can do it too.

We are all given challenges. It is part of mortal existence. For some it is the challenge of mental illness, or maybe it is an addictive personality, maybe it is cancer, maybe it is a rough family situation, or poor circumstances. Whatever it is that you are suffering with, you are not alone. You don't need to lock it away and pretend like it does not exist. It does. There is help. There is support. Most importantly, there is our Savior, who through His grace suffered each of these challenges for us. "And He shall go forth suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of EVERY KIND." (Alma 7:11). Because He suffered for me, I am not defined by my challenges in life. Are they still hard? Yes. Every single day. But I know that I am not alone. I also know that you are not alone. If you feel alone, I promise that you have a friend.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because I don't know who, but I know that this will help someone. Maybe it will just help me. I am glad we are friends. I am glad that I can open my heart to you now that I am not letting it be all clogged up with icky metaphorical prison-like stuff. I am trying. I know that I can be successful. You can be too. Always hope. Good chat. Goodnight.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Well, I guess I am wearing pants today...

How do you start a post telling everyone that you are no longer a full time missionary? I guess just like that. It has not really been public information until recently that for the last several months of my mission I have been struggling with severe health issues. I will spare you all the ugly details, but it was determined by my doctor and my mission president that I would need to return home for a period of time on medical leave. I am home and I am ok with it. I know that I need to get healthy so that I can continue serving the Lord. Coming home was the most difficult thing that I have ever been asked to do but I know that it will effect the rest of my life in the best way. I know that I will receive the care that I need and that I will be able to make a complete recovery. I know that Heavenly Father knows and loves me and that He is with me every step of the way. This is not easy and I know that it will continue to be difficult but I am surrounded by love and support. I know that God has a plan for me and I know that this is part of it. I love each of you and am grateful for the love and prayers that I can feel on a daily basis. Please continue to keep me in your prayers. I will periodically update you all here on the progress of my health. I don't know how long this will take or if I will be able to return but I know that with faith all things are possible. 


(Sister) Madison Baker