Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A wordy post

I've had this nagging feeling that I've needed to write this experience down and submit it to the Ensign. I gave a talk about 10 months ago on forgiveness and told about this experience. People reacted in a way that strongly suggested to me that more than just my ward needed to hear it, that this experience was special....but it was also given to me to share. Its been nagging me really hard lately. So, tonight I went online to see what kind of articles the Ensign is needing....and what do you know...... it related to my story. Who knows if it gets published or not, but the nagging feeling can now go away. It is almost 2am, but how would I have been able to write this during normal hours of the day?

I will pray tonight that the Lord will sustain me in my tasks tomorrow, since I did as he nagged me to do. Enjoy:

Fasting for Practice

By Katie Matteson

The struggle between our spirit and our mortal body can sometimes create a weird dichotomy that can be hard to piece together. When we know what we are supposed to do, but our body doesn’t naturally want to respond to that knowledge we foster a dissonance so putrid you can almost smell it from the next room. You can apply this to many discords in life, mine was forgiveness. It took me four-and-a-half years to pinpoint this. It took me four-and-a-half years to truly forgive someone that really hurt me and the practice of fasting made it easy for me once I realized the root of my struggle.

I was such a strange thing on BYU campus; a young, single mom. I was a complete misfit but at the same time, I completely belonged there. I loved mixing secular knowledge with my religion, it was invigorating. I was only 24 and people were usually shocked to know I was this old, let alone divorced and had a son. My peers were usually curious to know what happened when they found out my past. It was really simple, actually. I could usually sum it up in one breath. My husband left me when I was six months pregnant to be with another girl. End of story. It didn’t bother me to talk about it, I’d already forgiven him. I never spoke ill of him. It was nothing I could control because we can’t control other people. I had been a victim of his choice, but I wasn’t bitter. In fact, I had moved on. I was now enjoying my new life as a student, AND a mother.

Yet, whenever I had to speak TO him on the phone, or read an e-mail FROM him my blood would start to boil. Always. It was so odd. It was as if I was cold and shivering, but I wasn’t. I would physically be shaken up like one would get after a car accident.

So, it was no surprise to me, that one afternoon as I was driving home from classes I began to shake from the inside out again. I had just talked to him on the phone. It was a very indifferent conversation really; just the passing of information about our son, nothing more and nothing to be upset about. I was probably letting him know about the sleeve he cut on his sweatshirt at pre-school, or how he decided to wear two different shoes that day and I let him. Perhaps maybe that was the day he learned how to “pump” himself on the swings and his teacher didn’t have to push him. It was a simple, probably happy, exchange of information. Yet there I sat driving, shaking and somewhat flustered at my reaction.

I was quite annoyed because I thought I had already forgiven him. But if I had, why was I feeling like this time and time again?

I started talking to my Heavenly Father out loud.

“Why? Why after 4 years am I still angry? I’ve forgiven him -you know that! I am happy, I am remarried to a WONDERFUL man. I am healthy. Why is my body still so angry?”

I thought about these words as tears flowed down my face. I looked ridiculous driving like this, but I didn’t care. I needed answers about why my body was still reacting the way it was. I couldn’t make it stop even though I absolutely wanted to! Heavenly Father had to know the answer.

It hit me like a red brick, the Holy Ghost screaming the answer to me, “It’s your body!”

“Really? My body was the problem?”

I talked to myself out loud as the answer flowed from my lips. My spirit had already forgiven my ex-husband. My spirit had made peace. However, my body was still trying to protect me, the “fight or flight” response still kicking in every time I heard his voice. My ex-husband had hurt every fiber of my being when he decided to leave, and my body knew that. My well-crafted body was doing all that it could to protect me from him.

You see, we are equipped with a sympathetic nervous system and when a particular stress emerges or is present, our fight or flight response is turned on to the present danger (I had to take physiology twice). Every time I communicated with my ex-husband, it was as if I’d just heard a bear in the forest, or felt a spider on my hand, or saw a mouse in the kitchen. However, this danger had passed. My ex-husband was no longer a threat to me. It was then that I realized my spirit needed to control this next phase of my healing. My spirit needed to calm my body because the reaction was something my body could not control otherwise.

As soon as I realized this an enormous weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt my body begin to calm because my spirit was stronger.

I was amazed at how immediate the healing took place but knew that it absolutely came so quickly because I had been practicing. A few years back, one of my wise Doctrine and Covenants professors had taught me that fast Sunday was a practice for real life situations. Meaning that when we were faced with temptations so strong that our bodies could not resist, our spirits would be able to take over because we HAD PRACTICED it already. Every first Sunday of the month since he said that, I’d made certain that I was getting my practice. It was the first time I had been able to put it to the test on something that absolutely consumed me. I could immediately feel my saviors love as my spirit demanded that my body forgive someone to whom it didn’t want to forgive. It removed the putrid smell that was festering within and replaced it with a calm, peaceful assurance that all is well.


Merilee said...

Katie, thanks so much for listening to the nagging and sharing this! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, partly because I am touched by your story, but also because I think my body has been telling me the same thing for years and years. My Mom had several affairs over a period of 8 years, and then when my Dad finally decided he couldn't take anymore they divorced when I was 18. I was 15 when I found out about what my Mom was doing, and being the oldest of my siblings, I was the only one who knew. My mom quickly married the man she had an affair with, and they are still together. I too feel like I have forgiven them, but whenever I talk about those years, I shake uncontrollably from the inside.
I know this is something I needed to hear, and I am sure there are many more who need it as well.
I loved what you said about fasting. I will look at it in a different way from now on. :) Thanks again.

Lisa said...

Katie, that was amazing. Who knew you had such hidden talent? (As a writer.)

I have struggled with this very thing, and have prayed FERVENTLY (and yes, for years like you) for it to go away. It is inspiring to hear how you received an answer from the Holy Ghost and that is ultimately what helped you. You give me hope.

I love your insight about the connection (or sometimes disconnect) between body and spirit. I love the way you say that your "well-crafted body" was doing all it could to protect you. It really helps me to make sense of why we feel this way around certain people. I can't thank you enough for this post Katie.

Eva Jane said...

I love you, you are amazing :)

cambridgeclan said...

That is such a great experience to share. I am trying to figure out as many ways as possible to apply it to my life. Having our spirits control our bodies affects so many areas of our lives. Thanks for sharing.

gramakelly said...

Katie you are an amazing woman. You are incredibly strong ~ emotionally & spiritually. Thanks for sharing such a personal & tender experience. I along with many others will benefit from your thoughts.

LeMira said...

I love this post. You really hit it right on, you know?! I learned this concept but in a completely different situation (Clarissa). It's amazing what our bodies hang on to that our spirits can handle much easier.

momhirt said...

that was well expressed. thanks.

Katie said...

That is one great thing about this concept. It can be applied to ANY struggle we are facing.

howellblog said...

Beautiful post, Katie!

The Good Life said...

I love you! Your spirit shines through you and I am so glad I know you. Thanks for being REAL always. I second Eve, you're amazing! :)

Katie said...

A video my dad sent me a year or so ago....its really good too and hits right on this same concept.

Sam Hirt said...

super cool Katie, I loved it

Unknown said...

They allow single mom's into BYU? Weird. ;)

Great post. Definitely good to learn from others without having to go through their trials. Thanks.

Ali said...

Thanks for sharing Katie. I hope they print it in the Ensign. It was beautifully written!

Homemade Addictions said...

I really needed that. I always learn so much from you!

I shared that as a mini fhe lesson and the spirit was so strong.

Thank you!!!