Friday, September 19, 2014

You can say "No"

 I saw this movie go viral on my facebook yesterday, and since I love 99% of Mormon messages, I decided to watch it. I turned it on while I was washing dishes from breakfast. I feel a tiny bit guilty for saying this, but I was actually completely appalled by this movie. After sleeping on it over night, I decided no, I can't keep quiet about yeah, here's a blog post.

I'm guess to most people they see the message that as long as you are trying your best to do the things you need to do that God will bless you. Also the message that you never know how much one action will make a difference. Don't get me wrong, I think both of those are great messages, but I was bothered by how they chose to depict it.  The whole middle part of the movie with her sister is it what really drove me nuts . 

"I don't know. Everybody is looking for me to help them. I don't want to stay there if I'm not happy, but at the same time I don't want to abandon them. I really just want to think about myself, but I can't." ~right around the 4 minute mark

Yes, yes you can think about yourself! It's actually good for you! LDS women have the right to say "no" even to church people and their kids. It's okay to do that! Really! Taking care and loving yourself is vital for a happy family. Boundaries are healthy.

Lets see what would happen if she didn't do everything that she said "yes" to.

0:45 - Her daughter refuses breakfast. So she gives her a different one.
Alternative - she could have stuck to her statement that she isn't going to make anything else.

1:21  - Her son forgot to do his science project - so she rushed to help him do it.
Alternative - She could have let him fail. And guess what? He might have learned more from failing and would have been legitimately proud of himself next time knowing that he did the project himself. Does a blue ribbon really count if your mother threw it together with you right before school?

2:10 - Someone asking her to babysit. I actually thought she handled this well. It was an emergency. She asked first if anyone else could do it, and she figured out a way to make it work with her schedule.

3:00 - Someone asks if she can bring a meal to a family. She reassures them that she has time.
Alternative - she could have said no, not today, but I'd love to tomorrow.

3:24 - Her sister asks her to meet her for lunch.
Alternative - There are so many ways this could have been done different. It's her sister for pete's sake, she should be able to tell her no, but also sisters are special. You can tell them," Look, I'm meeting our cousin Kate for dinner. I'd love to have lunch with you, but I have x errands to run. Do you want to eat on the go with me while we talk and run errands?" If she spoke up about her needs, they could have been met with a few changes. Because guess what? Her needs matter too.

4:48 - She forgets that she was supposed to make dinner. She then makes a home cooked meal.
Alternative - order pizza for your kids and the family and leave. They probably would have liked it more, too. Not everything has to be homemade. Or call someone else to cook dinner or order pizza for the family. Or call the family and ask if you can bring it another night because you completely spaced.

Then she misses the one thing that she had on the calender for herself - a dinner with her cousin. She sits on the couch and cries. She is burned out. You can see that as she snaps at her children. You see that as she is too upset to pray. Her relationship with her children and with God is suffering because she gave too much of herself.

That isn't right. She should not feel obligated to say "yes" to everything. She shouldn't have to do everything herself.  And you know what? That's a completely okay. She doesn't need to be more selfless, and she doesn't need to be more Christ-like. She is allowed to be disappointed, hurt, and overwhelmed.
(By the way, something else that annoyed me is where is her husband in all of this? And if she's a single mom, why didn't she pay the babysitter and take herself out?) 

Then we see all the ways that she blessed other people, which is great, but it came at her expense. I've seen so many comments that this video shows how much we need each other, but I'd like to point out that no one helps or even listens to her (Her sister couldn't even let her talk during their lunch). At the end, she's alone. Her children don't comfort her. She has no friends that she calls. And she doesn't ask for help. 

What would have made this a better movie? Boundaries and saying "yes" to things that she could manage. People will find people that can help. If you can't do it, someone else will be found. Our Savior does not expect us to do everything. If you really can't help, He will keep knocking until He finds someone that can. He's good at it. 

Some of you might think that it's no big deal because this is just a small movie, and that I should probably have kept my mouth shut, but lack of boundaries, perfectionism, and depression and stress are problems that are so prevalent in LDS culture, especially in Utah.

What all of these articles have in common is perfectionism. Being the person that everyone can count on is something many people strive for. Being the "yes" person. It makes it seem like your life is more put together and that you have everything under control. It also makes you feel depressed, trapped, and out of control. 

We don't need to be perfect. There was actually a beautiful article in the Ensign in July about this. 

For those who may feel chronically burdened or anxious, sincerely ask yourself, “Do I define perfection and success by the doctrines of the Savior’s atoning love or by the world’s standards? Do I measure successor failure by the Holy Ghost confirming my righteous desires or by some worldly standard?”

Do you think doing her son's science project was success by the Savior's or the world's standards?
Do you think babysitting was success by the Savior's or the world's standards?
Do you think bringing a home cooked meal was success by the Savior's or the world's standards?

I think those are all very personal questions, but we as women do not need to abandon taking care of our needs and wants in order to help other's needs.

In taking care of home and family and being a nurture in the home, taking care of yourself is part of the job description. We live in the home too, and there should be reasonable boundaries to protect your own well-being.

And I know life isn't perfect, so for those days that I really just stink at balancing things...I listen to this song on repeat, so that I feel my Savior's love as I struggle. Because I know to Him, I count.

For additional resources about church, life, and family balance, here are some more articles.

  Conference talk
Good, better, best
Forget me not
Savior to Lighten your load


  1. I agree with you 100% I kind of hate that the underlying message for this movie is to always put others first. Ordering a pizza was my first thought on that dinner- like really, when you're already late why would you START cooking? This made me so sad to watch- so yeah, I'm glad you posted this.

    1. Thanks. :) I'm with you on hating the underlying message. "Men are that they might have joy," not be unhappy with your life because you put everyone else first. Balance is a great thing.

  2. I learned years ago that the PTA will ask you to do things and keep asking you to do things until you finally say NO. Then people will looked totally shocked for maybe 60 seconds--and then they will ask the next person. So say no when it is right for you, not when you have been driven to the end of your rope.

    In a church setting, a woman Ralph home taught was pregnant and was driving home in her small car when she was hit by a school bus. She was not seriously injured, but was kept in the hospital for a few days as a precaution, while the ward (mostly me) helped out with her little boy. For the next couple of months I got a call at least once a week asking me to tend her child or drive her some place. The compassionate service leader always said, "I just don't know who else to call," so I would be 'guilted' into doing it. I have her son for 24 hours straight when the baby was born. And this was only a month before your dear husband made his appearance. So when the compassionate service leader called to ask if I could keep him for the next day as well, I finally said, "No, I'm exhausted. There has to be someone else in the entire ward who can watch this kid." At that point she said, "I just don't know who else to call. I guess I'll have to look in the ward directory."

    Arghh. I thought she meant that no one else was willing to help, not that she couldn't think of anyone else to telephone, so she called me first every single time. So the lesson there was that I should have asked two months before, "Well, who else have you tried?" So I try to always remember that.

    1. That's a great example! Thanks for sharing it. :)

  3. I felt weird about the video but I couldn't think of why because everyone else was loving it. I didn't like her giving the sugar cereal (and also, do very many people make breakfast for their kids? Toast yes, but scrambled eggs were for when I has a big test or something). AND. Where was the husband? I wish the had mentioned or explained why there wasn't one! I wondered about that the whole time. I am glad she watched the girl. And the dinner was an okay thing (though if she realized it wasn't cooked she should have done pizza). But I was really really sad that she didn't get to see her cousin.

    1. I was upset by the ending. I don't understand why she had to miss her dinner. I think the message would have been better with a happier ending.

  4. And dinner with her cousin is important too. Not just because it was a thing for herself, but because cousins are like sisters. They're family. You need to spend time with them.

  5. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad you posted this!!! I watched this last night and just sobbed when it ended (might have been pregnancy hormones, but also I felt really really bad for that poor sad woman!) and couldn't understand why so many people have been posting it. I'd say more but I think you really said everything I wanted to say in your amazing post. Is there any chance you'd mind if I share this on facebook? Because I really do feel like we need to speak up and say something about this, and you said this all so well!

    1. Thanks so much and yes, feel free to share it! I agree that women need to speak up more. I've been trying to do it more in my own life, which is why there are more blog post like this. It's weird because I'm always a bit worried about offending people, but I always feel so much better about myself when I speak up.