Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Becoming: Am I Ruining My Kids Because of My Choices?

"Your kids have the same access to the Atonement that you do."

I sat in the office of a dear friend who just listened to the latest on my divorce. I had just attended the court-ordered family class discussing the steps I should take to eliminate trauma for our children as much as possible. There were 12 steps introduced by an amazing instructor that followed the concepts and practices of love and logic. I loved the class and was exhilarated by learning more tips on how to help our kids process this decision. Then, I was hit over the head with an immense feeling of guilt that led to a more intense feeling of shame.

The number 1 rule was around eliminating/mitigating as much change as possible from our lives. At the time of this instruction, I was offered a job in Utah (I lived in Idaho at the time) and was also filing for full custody. I remember distinctly the instructor saying that even changing wall colors could be detrimental to the kids, and here I was....making the decision to uproot our little family, new walls, new people, new church, new routine, new family dynamic, new....EVERYTHING.

The reality of my choices came crashing down on me. I couldn't get through a sentence without crying. I even remember thinking, "Maybe they will let me keep my old job. They haven't started the hiring process yet." It would have been easy, and the kids would have access to their dad, which is also what I wanted. 

The voice inside me kept saying, "I am ruining my kids, and they will be forever traumatized because of me."

I shared my thoughts with others, not necessarily seeking sympathy, but more because I am not very good at hiding my feelings and also see the value in sharing truth. I had several who helped me remember several things:
  1. Remember the original witness: Over the course of planning to move, I didn't get a triumphant feeling that "YES!! THIS IS THE DECISION YOU NEED TO MAKE," but everything lined up - a clear sign that I was headed in the right direction. As more and more chaos ensued, it got harder and harder to remember the original witness. Similarly, I also had to remember how I came to the decision to not carry on in my marital relationship.
  2. God will never interfere with my agency: During this experience, I became more aware of Heavenly Father's love for me particularly as I struggled through making the decision to go through with the divorce in the first place. How grateful I am to know that Heavenly Father cares about my agency so much that even when I am in the most painful space, He will not stop my progression by interfering.
  3. The Atonement is for everyone: In the moment, it was as if I was hearing this for the very first time. Even if I changed everything, even down to the color of the walls, I have to believe in the Atonement and my kids ability to reach out to the Savior in their trauma. This moment was beautiful for me. 
The one thing I felt I could control in all the scenarios that played out in my mind over and over is helping my kids know that they can turn to the Savior for strength - like I am trying to do. I am still working through this, but here are some thoughts:
  1. I can be vulnerable. Every time my kids see me cry, or if I am struggling with the divorce or choice to move, try to share with them (as much as a 3 year old and a 1 year old can understand) where I go to find strength. This will also help me make sure I am turning to the right place. I can share with them how I feel my relationship with the Savior is helping me through this.
  2. I can be sincere about my feelings for their dad. I will always love their dad. Even though things didn't work between us, there is no reason to disparage him or cut him out of our lives. I shouldn't feel guilt for wanting great things for him and great things for them through him. I can still pray for him. I can still hope for him. I can still empathize with him. I can teach them about forgiveness, repentance, compassion and kindness.
I am so grateful to have been surrounded by my earthly angels at this crucial time in my process of "becoming". I am comforted knowing that even though God will not interfere with my agency, that His plan includes allowing my path to cross with other sons and daughters of God who have been so very instrumental in my development and growth. 

This journey, while quick and fast, has not been easy. I still have a lot to work through. But one thing in sure, as read in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through aChrist which bstrengtheneth me."

Here are some scriptures that have helped me come to some of these conclusions:

Doctrine and Covenants 6:21-23

21 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the aSon of God. I am the same that came unto mine bown, and mine own received me not. I am the clight which shineth in ddarkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might aknow concerning the truth of these things.
23 Did I not speak apeace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater bwitness can you have than from God?

Freedom of choice is a God-given eternal principle. The great plan of liberty is the plan of the gospel. There is no coercion about it; no force, no intimidation.