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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

INVENTORY INITIATIVES (LIVING IN LOVE)

“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 109:8).
Each spring my storeroom is almost empty.

SPRING INVENTORIES  

The cycle of harvest is about to again fill the freezer and the empty jars lining storeroom shelves. It's a continuing cycle of living and loving.

As fruits and vegetables from the garden or nearby markets become available what do I need to do?

Washington cherries mature soon, followed almost immediately by apricots, and then peaches, plums, pears, and apples. How many jars or packages of each should I prepare and store?

How can I know?
It is time for inventory.

As the months march along, bottles and shelves are depleted
unless constantly refilled.

What resources are available and which are depleted?
First I need to clean, wash and dust; sort and organize; and if necessary dispose of outdated products.
Invariably, it seems, a dated jar has been lost in a corner or accidentally mixed with newer goods.
Yesterday, I found two jars - of what? 

These jars are dark in color with a somewhat reddish-purple cast, and labeled July 2012. Labels can help. I should have also identified contents! In July I am usually canning cherries but these are a puree and a juice of some type. I am sincerely puzzled. Whatever they are, they are seriously out of date, of little or no value, and best dumped into the compost. 
I also found 2 dated cans of fruit cocktail! WHAT?

How did those get out of rotation?

We didn't like this brand.
Some of the fruit seemed woody,
and other parts quite tasteless.
Lesson: Try different things! 

ESSENTIALS

Inventories can also help us understand our relationship “storehouse;” what has been, what now is, and what focus is needed for the future.

My spring storeroom inventory may focus on family home production and storage, but relationships need balance in all aspects of well-being: family finances and education, health and employment, and especially spiritual strength (see “Catching the Vision of Self Reliance,” lds.org).

Imagine the storehouse of your marriage, or other vital relationships.

What is essential?

Water is essential emergency storage.

PLENTY OF PRAISE

Patterns of daily diligence, kind consideration, and appreciative praise—when repeated persistently—repair, refill, replenish, and restore essential resources.
“Those who consecrate themselves to their marriage by bringing their whole souls …to the everyday events of a relationship are building a storehouse of sweet memories. They are building an eternal relationship …” teaches Dr. H. Wallace Goddard, Professor of Family Life for the University of Arkansas, in his book Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage (2007, p.104).
 “[H]appy marriage partners throw open the doors of the storehouse and give kindness, help, and goodness” (Goddard, p. 102).
When my husband observes that dirtied diapers make me gag, and offers to take over—all the time—because it doesn’t really bother him, he is replenishing our relationship. I am so grateful! I wonder what I can do to help him that would ever equal such a gift.



Goddard pointedly asks, “Have you … given your whole heart to your spouse? What can you do to make a more complete offering? … Are you willing to invest your whole soul in the hope [of] … eternal joy?” (p.106).

He teaches there is a better way than “the inevitable score-keeping” accompanying attempts to equalize shared responsibilities.

Seeking equity encourages people to think about and value their own contributions, [and] … under-notice and under-appreciate the efforts of others.
      We can gladly offer our best efforts.

      We appreciate all that our partners offer.
      We give gladly and we receive graciously” (p.102).


ROTTEN

Sometimes a nasty smell emanates from a store room. The offending item (or items) must be carefully investigated, and disposed of properly.


Have you ever smelled a rotten potato?   You’d rather not!
Sometimes a jar may ferment or spoil.
It is dangerous. Its contents can kill.
In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (2015), New York Times bestselling author Dr. John M. Gottman proposes there may be destructive habits or practices in relationships that cause stress, trigger damaging interactions, or scar emotions (p.157).
Thorough inventories, although at times uncomfortable when feelings or customs are involved, may  reveal what is outdated, or perhaps ‘rotten,’ and help to determine ‘cleanup’ procedures.
In previous generations physical punishments such as spanking were common. While raising our family, a Marriage and Family Relations course was offered in our local ward (congregation in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

It helped us inventory our relationship habits and expectations.

CLEAN-UP
Our older children experienced some of the poisons of compulsion, but we decided spanking is an outdated toxic practice. Our younger children escaped the coercions of corporal punishments. We learned better options. Nevertheless, fallout from the past remained.
Even when relationships move past problems, Dr. Gottman teaches, “emotional injuries” may be causing “residual damage.”

If these are not “addressed” they “become constant irritants—like a stone in your shoe” (p. 157).
“The past is never dead. In fact, it’s not even past,” quotes Gottman from William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun (p.187). “Negative emotions hold important information about how to love each other better” (Gottman, p.157).
Every store room is different, as is every relationship.

Gottman reminds marriage partners that “some difficulties are inevitable,” but just as we can avoid aggravating physical ailments such as a “trick knee, bad back, irritable bowel, or tennis elbow” we likewise can foster “strategies and routines” that alleviate relationship difficulties (p.139).

PACKAGE DEALS
Dr. Goddard emphasizes that different opinions and viewpoints are not “wrong or bad, they are just different from our [own] experience and preference,” and although such differences may cause frustrations or become irksome, it is possible for the “more spiritually mature” to accept their spouse [or others] “as a total package” (p. 106)

Issues are more about how things are handled than any specific action, lack of action, or circumstance. Gottman explains, “No one is right. There is no absolute reality in marital conflict, only two subjective ones.… Acceptance is crucial” (p. 157).
Saying “I’m sorry,” is a courageous start. One day, my husband took a public stand on Facebook against corporal punishment, and we apologized to our children, publicly and privately.
When another “person understands, respects, and accepts” someone “for who they are” with all their feelings, including those that are not positive, they facilitate freedom to change, forgive, and return compassion with “fondness, and admiration” (pp. 157-158).
It is also possible to learn to “mellow about …faults,” and “although … every emotion in the spectrum [is communicated], including anger and irritability, disappointment, and hurt … [a] ‘warts and all’ underlying regard and acceptance is also conveyed" (pp. 158-159).

LOOK AHEAD

Elder Boyd K. Packer, a Latter-day Saint apostle, directs attention to an often overlooked Book of Mormon declaration that we “are instructed sufficiently that [we] know good from evil” (2 Nephi 2:5). Packer instructs:
It is critically important that you understand that you already know right from wrong, that you’re innately, inherently, and intuitively good.

When you say, ‘I can’t!
I can’t solve my problems!’

I want to thunder out, ‘Don’t you realize who you are? Haven’t you learned yet that you are a son or a daughter of Almighty God? Do you know that there are powerful resources inherited from Him that you can call upon to give you steadiness and courage and great power?’…
When you have a problem, work it out in your own mind first. Ponder on it and analyze it and meditate on it. Pray about it. I’ve come to learn that major decisions can’t be forced. You must look ahead and have vision … (See Proverbs 29:18).
Ponder on things a little each day, and don’t always be in the crisis of making major decisions on the spur of the moment. If you’re looking ahead in life, you can see major problems coming down the road toward you from some considerable distance. By the time you meet one another, you are able at the very beginning to take charge of that conversation.

Once in a while a major decision will jump out at you from the side of the road and startle the wits out of you, but not very often. If you’ve already decided that you’re going to do what is right and let all of the consequences follow, even those encounters won’t hurt you.
I have learned that the best time to wrestle with major problems is early in the morning. Your mind is fresh and alert. The blackboard of your mind has been erased by a good night’s rest. The accumulated distractions of the day are not in your way. Your body has been rested also. That’s the time to think something through very carefully and to receive personal revelation (1975/1978).

REFILL, REPAIR, REPLENISH

In contrast to the early morning peace described by Elder Packer, during the chaos of evening meal preparations, with multiple meetings and activities looming, if I pause (while working at the kitchen stove, naturally) to pray for patience when I notice my spouse or child hovering about or in the way, hoping for unidentifiable attentions, then I invite them to stir a bubbling pot, chop vegetables, lick a beater, or sit close enough that we can chat.
Listening, making meals, keeping a tidy home, and doing laundry or dishes may seem mundane, yet all store a harvest for future enjoyment.

A full storeroom after the harvest: photo by Mandy Court

Goddard probes, “Do we bring our greatest generosity and richest forgiving to our marriages?” (p.102). Do we “invite” (p.101), or demand? “No partner on the face of the earth can meet all our needs” (p.100), but “[w]e can follow Christ’s example and act to serve and redeem our partners” because “[w]hen we have the mind of Christ, there is no one we cannot fully love nor gladly serve” (Goddard, p. 101, quoting James Farrell’s The Peacegiver).
Goddard reminds us that marriage is “an ideal [place] to practice the law of consecration, giving “everything we have and are” and then asking “God to increase our capacity so we can give yet more” (p.102). 


References:

Goddard, H. W. (2007). Drawing heaven into your marriage: powerful principles with eternal results. Fairfax, VA: Meridian Pub.

Gottman, J. M., and Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work: a practical guide from the country's foremost relationship expert. New York: Harmony Books.

Boyd K Packer 1975 https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/boyd-k-packer_self-reliance/

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1978/04/solving-emotional-problems-in-the-lords-own-way?lang=eng