“…And having done all, to stand.”

I’ve been enjoying a certain kind of book lately. These are compilations that include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and so forth. They have been inspiring, practical, supportive, and met the needs of my temporary short attention span. Life has been changing rapidly for me lately, you see. And I haven’t had my usual focus. In fact, I feel pulled in so many directions that I’ve had to do special kinds of self-care just to push back and preserve my priorities.

Here are three such compilation books I own. The first two have been especially valuable for me lately. They are always near my reading chair, and I even carry them around with me. Not both at once, heh heh. Not saying I tried. Or that I didn’t try.

Pure Love

This is an LDS book, satisfactorily thick. It contains LDS writings, classic literature and poetry, and more. From journal entries to public speeches, it’s a great way to spend short periods of time reading about all things related to charity, defined here as Christlike love.

A Book of Comfort

Another compilation with many spiritual (and religious!) writings included. Elizabeth Goudge was Catholic, I believe, so many Catholic writings are included. I checked this out of the library recently following the passing of my mother. Because it was a such a thick book I never got through it and had to return it. I bought my own copy.

The Book of Virtues

This was the one that first exposed me to the idea of these fat satisfying volumes. It was a gift from my brother and served us well when the children were young. From silly to serious, mythical to inspiring, it had offerings that met every day’s mood.

The Book That Lived

One of the thoughts that comes to me is an observation of how books have depreciated as rapidly as they have. I have a pretty tight budget, and being able to get these kinds of books for $5 has been a huge blessing. Nevertheless, I do sort of mourn the loss of value for these as reflected in their monetary cost. Overall I am simply grateful that they are available, and that at this point in time, their reduced costs works entirely to my advantage.

I may never have owned these books if I had had to pay much higher prices. I don’t know; years ago, I pre-ordered the hardback editions of the Harry Potter series. Of course, that was before the 2008-2009 financial crisis that continues to affect my family to this day. Books like these ones feel like friends. They feel like verbal chocolate. They have been a comfort and support during difficult times.

This is one example taken from Pure Love.

Joseph F. Smith is discussing what he calls “the courage of faith”. He quotes from Ephesians 6:13, and then goes on from there:

“…”Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

“After we have done all we could do for the cause of truth, and withstood the evil that men have brought upon us, and we have been overwhelmed by their wrongs, it is still our duty to stand. We cannot give up; we must not lie down. Great causes are not won in a single generation. To stand firm in the face of overwhelming opposition, when you have done all you can, is the courage of faith. The courage of faith is the courage of progress. Men who possess that divine quality go on; they are not permitted to stand still if they would. They are not simply the creatures of their own power and wisdom; they are instrumentalities of a higher law and a divine purpose.”

In my personal situation, the challenge I face is not evil, but change, particularly natural, celebrated change. The passing of a loved one, with her release from suffering. The moving on of a grown child as she stretches her wings and experiences and explores the world around her. These are my loss, and my gain. They are my tears and my smiles. They are words, mute emotion, people, and books. So I appreciate having a phrase like ‘the courage of faith’ to cling to.

 

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Womanhood

What I really want to talk about right now is books, but since a recent current event (concerning national library boards and Laura Ingalls Wilder) has upset me and I doubt I can discuss it on the level I usually strive for, I will focus on another topic near and dear to my heart.

Womanhood is a characteristic of my life that I have often dissed, much to my own misery. Many times I wanted to be a man, because they seemed to get all the breaks (I know better now). I disliked my physical appearance: I went from woefully skinny to morbidly obese, with all the health complications that accompany such conditions. It took me a long time to actually carry a pregnancy to full term, and then those were c-sections, and I felt horribly inadequate as I grappled with the challenges of life from within a hopelessly false bubble of self blame and disrespect, not to mention ingratitude. I have since come to celebrate my womanhood, not as better than manhood, but as a great part of being me, myself, and I. Here is an LDS talk that resonates with me on a regular basis. Since I was just revisiting it I thought I would share it here:

The Joy Of Womanhood

Here is the short bit that sticks to my brain:

“Women of God can never be like women of the world.

The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.

There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.

There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.

We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.

We have enough greed; we need more goodness.

We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.

We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”

Truly, these are characteristics I want to be known for, to recognize in myself, to have deeply woven within my every fiber. I want to be a blessing to other lives, not a blight. I want the highest standards that do not shift on a weak and sandy foundation. I want to feel the real strength of self respect when other voices ridicule or undermine my efforts to be my best. So as a repeat, I want to be:

  • A woman of God
  • Tender-hearted in spite of the evil around me
  • Kind in healthy ways
  • Refined by the refiner’s fire, that I may lose my dross and shine more clearly
  • Faithful to my eternal heavenly Father and to causes that are worthy of my effort
  • Good in thought, speech, and deed
  • Virtuous, which is a word meaning strong in keeping to true standards
  • Pure, in that I avoid the pollution of the world and fill my being with cleaner, purer, more nourishing sources of food, emotional health, and spiritual capability.

So what did I not say?

I did not say that I want to be perfect now, or that I want to be better than you, or that I will live barefoot in the kitchen in a homespun dress which honestly sounds wonderful anyway because I hate shoes. Having high standards is not the same as having impossible standards. So read into my sayings at the risk of revealing your own deeper self. However, I do enjoy discussion, even out here in the nether regions of the Net where I enjoy talking to myself so much. Because oh, dear, I do talk to myself. And I like it.