voices

  • Dec 21, 2009

tomorrow I’ll post photos of our Christmas tree cutting adventure and der Tannenbaum in all it’s glory. I want to record it before Christmas to preserve that memory. But today I want to write, because it feels disingenuous to document only the beautiful moments. I photograph to watch my kids grow, but I write to watch myself grow.

The voice haunts me at night.

I settle into my soft bed, down comforter, one pillow, alarm set for 5:30 a.m. So tired, always so tired. I’ve been aching for my bed since lunchtime and my body begs for blessed sleep.

But the voice whispers, “Not good enough. Not good enough.” And every neglected task, forgotten phone call, poorly prepared lesson and unpaid compliment swash and spar through my mind.

On the rare nights I manage to elude the nagging voice at bedtime, it infects my dreams and startles me awake in a sweaty panic. “Not good enough. Not good enough.”

Most people, when they hear I’ve been called as Young Women’s President over some 50 girls, exclaim, “Oh you’re perfect for that job!”

But with others, I can see the look in their eyes, “Why on earth did they choose you?”

The words are unsaid but I want to reply, “I have absolutely no idea.”

Oh, I know I have my good points, but leadership isn’t one of them. I’m naturally reserved and my voice doesn’t carry across a room; I blush when the attention is on me. I’m extremely disorganized. Thankfully, my mother left me her iphone and it’s been literally heavensent with it’s calender and appointment alarms and texting-for-dummies ability. But still, I envy the innate faculty to keep lists and plan menus and remember promises without writing them down.

I’m creative, but not crafty. I’m extremely immature. But worse, I tend to say really stupid things. Really. Stupid. I constantly have to clarify and apologize because, you know, writers tend to be people that don’t talk so good. I’ve often thought I’d make a good nun because a vow of silence would do me a lot of good– especially in the early morning hours.

I think the voice is louder and keeping me awake at night now because my days are so full. Christmas is a delight and a wonder, but there is scarcely a moment of the day when my children don’t need me. Do we all wonder this time of year if we are enough?

But here is the truth: whether I feel capable or not, I am it. I am the Young Women’s President. I am the mother of six. I am a wife and sister and daughter and friend. And I am a good teacher, and a good listener and I have a great capacity to love. I can usually see the best, the most beautiful in everyone I meet. I find people truly fascinating and I love learning their stories.

My life is rich and full of opportunity and I’m working to overcome my crippling insecurity, to block out that voice that worries and lies and hear instead the words of my husband, my children, my counselors, the voice of God.

December 18, 2009
December 21, 2009

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14 Comments

  1. Reply

    jamesrivergirl

    December 21, 2009

    Michelle, I’ve linked to your blog from my blog because I love coming here. By way of introduction, I’m Carrie, Mara’s sister-in-law and I know of you through Segullah, where once upon a time I volunteered very briefly and minutely.

    Anyway, I love this post. I identify with this post. I love your photographs, especially the light and the color in them. At first, I listed your blog under the title “Where I go for ideas of how to do my job right.” And then it was listed under “Where I go for beauty and inspiration” and now I just have “I Follow.” But, I still come for beauty and inspiration and ideas of how I can do my job right. (I’m a stay-at-home mother of two young boys.) I’m always thrilled when there’s a new post. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Reply

    katieo

    December 21, 2009

    I constantly have to clarify and apologize because, you know, writers tend to be people that don’t talk so good.

    Haha! That’s me.
    I love your posts. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Reply

    Kerri

    December 21, 2009

    Ummmm…did I write that? I think I did, except for the part about being YW pres and being a writer. Oh, and the fact that it was so eloquent. So I didn’t write it, but I feel it in my very bones.

    Not good enough… That phrase haunts me all day and all night. I’m so grateful to NOT be in a position of leadership right now because I feel even less capable when I am.

    All that all being said, I loved loved loved Angela Hallstrom’s Segullah post on Thurs or Fri about this same subject, and its gentle reminder that we’re not supposed to be good enough. God uses us in spite of our weaknesses. We’re not supposed to be perfect in this life. And just think, there may be a few girls in your little flock that need you to just love them, not to be perfect.

  4. Reply

    Jeanelle

    December 21, 2009

    I didn’t think I was a good enough YW president until I was released and had some clarity as I looked back. You may have your faults and you may think they are getting in the way of you being the YW president you imagine you should be. However, there are two qualities that you mentioned that are key to being a good YW pres: you’re a good listener and you have a great capacity to love. The girls don’t want to be talked to – they want to be listened to. And when all is said and done, they will remember how much you loved them more than they’ll remember stupid things you said.

  5. Reply

    andrea

    December 21, 2009

    I think deep down inside more people than not are crippled by insecurity. It’s just refreshing to hear someone say it out loud. I feel like you wrote this just for me…and for that, I thank you.

    PS–you are good enough.

  6. Reply

    Jeanelle

    December 21, 2009

    p.s. I just love you.

  7. Reply

    Tracy

    December 21, 2009

    “…I’m extremely immature” – Sorry, but it is nice to hear someone else say that. At 41 I still feel like a 17 year old and think I cannot possibly be responsible for all of these people and things and have this life? Really? How is that so?

    Thank you for writing this. I appreciate your honesty and can.so.relate.

    Love you.
    xoxo,t

  8. Reply

    jennie w.

    December 21, 2009

    First the good news: the more you ignore those voices, the quieter they get until pretty soon you rarely hear them at all.

    Now the bad news: I think you are totally full of it! Tactless? Ha! Disorganized? Double ha! (you have six kids who go to school with two matching shoes, right? Then you are organized enough.) Immature? Whatever! Even if that were true, it’s not a bad thing.

    You’re an awesome person, and you are good at lots and lots of things. Don’t deny it. They wouldn’t call you to be YW Pres if you were a total loser. Or even a partial loser.

  9. Reply

    Sue

    December 21, 2009

    When I was called as YW president, I had 50 girls, too. I was pretty overwhelmed…and so worried that I’d forget something or someone. I kept copious lists of things to do, interviews to remind the bishop about, girls with special activities or problems, and on and on. The lists did help, but what helped most was having a great Board of women who really supported me. And a husband who did the same.

    I would bet you have both of those, and after a little bit of time passes (I think it took me a year or so), you’ll have it down and feel way more comfortable about the responsibilities. And I agree that it IS a huge responsibility. I’ve never felt that weight of stewardship more in any other calling.

    As for feeling “not good enough” in general, we all have to talk ourselves through that one every so often. The good news is that when you get ancient like I am, those voices of self-doubt and deprecation fade quite a bit. Almost entirely, in fact. I’d love to think that’s because I’ve grown to that extent from life experience, but I suspect it’s just that my brain no longer has the will or energy to ruminate as I used to!

    πŸ˜‰

  10. Reply

    martha corinna

    December 21, 2009

    I almost had a panic attack last night after I booked our camping spot for girl’s camp this coming summer. It was sort of the same voice telling me there was no way I was going to pull it off all by myself. Luckily the new stake YW president is my neighbor and I called her in order to talk me down. The thing is…I see you as so incredibly talented and capable and wonderful. I think you can do anything. Truly.

  11. Reply

    Annie

    December 22, 2009

    You are lovely and loving. And good enough, definitely good enough. (I always think of a dear friend who says “never let perfect get in the way of good enough.”)

    I completely understand what you’re saying, though. Sometimes the gap between my expectations and my feeble ability is enough to swallow me whole. What the YW need though, what children need, is not perfection but an example of how to be a work in progress.

    Thanks for your thoughts here. It’s good for me to know that even you struggle with this πŸ™‚ (although I’m sorry you do!)

  12. Reply

    jess

    December 23, 2009

    Michelle, Michelle. You are beautiful. And YOU ARE ENOUGH!Just as you are!
    Insecurity and self-doubt has plagued me most of my life. It was particularly poignant and overwhelming as a missionary. I felt crippled by the feeling of never being good enough and it wasn’t until I realized that the adversary had found an easy way in to make an effective instrument in the Lord’s hands absolutely useless. His lies about my worth were keeping me from becoming the woman that the Lord was trying to shape me into and keeping me from making a positive impact on the lives of others. Once I realized that, it became easier to shake off as I felt challenged to do more and then say “oh yeah? not good enough?well take that!” Maybe that is just my competitive side coming through, but you better believe that when someone tells me there’s something I can’t do I will do everything in my power to prove them wrong. Take it as a compliment… someone feels threatened:)
    Love to you. You are making a difference in the lives of your children and all of those lucky girls. Hang in there.

  13. Reply

    m_and_m

    December 27, 2009

    “Why on earth did they choose you?”

    They?

    He.

    And that is enough.

    You are enough because HE will make it that way. THAT is what keeps me from completely giving up and giving into those voices.

    Keep it up. You are doing marvelous things.

  14. Reply

    Malisa

    January 6, 2010

    My friend Kerri (in the comments above – another incredibly talented, but often self-questioning woman) pointed me to your site. We are thinking about taking a photography class together and she said she would love to take photos like yours. I agree. Your photography is amazing…and quite possibly the BEST I’ve come across in the blogging world.

    This post made me stop though. It’s probably true that your talent for taking pictures makes your life look more glamoruos than it is, but I was surprised that even you sometimes feel just like me. My insecurities definitely hold me back. I often feel not good enough or that I won’t measure up and I find myself dismissing the things that I do well while dwelling on my shortcomings.

    You have a lovely blog.

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