Guest Post by Sonrisa Hansen Parker enjoys deep one-on-one conversations, family time, and time alone to practice yoga, meditation, read, nap, and organize. She is an IBCLC, postpartum doula, and La Leche League Leader. She spent her childhood in Northern Utah and her adulthood in Chicagoland, where she resides with her husband and three growing children.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved to organize and tidy. It makes me happy to feel some control and have a neat space. My sister can attest to the tape line I put in the middle of our shared bedroom, in an attempt to keep my side orderly. When I discovered the KonMari method, it sparked joy in me immediately. Marie Kondo encourages her audience to hold up each item they own; if the item sparks joy, keep it, but if not, thank the item and let it go.
I grew up in a conservative, homeschooling, Mormon home and developed a solid faith in everything I thought a good Mormon girl should know and do, including fearing judgment and subconsciously burying my negative emotions. My parents rarely let themselves show a negative emotion, and that’s what I internalized. Looking back, I can identify that I had a lot of anxiety, and some depression, but at the time, I didn’t have the language to talk about it, and felt too anxious to reach out for help with any of it. I felt the scrutiny of people at church, one of the few places I had social interaction, since I was homeschooled. Some of the women and girls in my hometown were brutal with their judgments of each other, especially about clothing, and women working outside of the home.
I did all the things I had been taught. I got married in the temple at 20, graduated with a bachelor’s degree at 21, and began a family of my own at 22. I probably had peripartum depression, especially after a long distance move, but I really wasn’t in tune with my emotions, so I just kept struggling along. I made so many choices based on how I thought others would perceive me, including being a full time stay at home mom. I tried to be the perfect Mormon woman. The advice to enjoy every moment put a lot of pressure on me, because motherhood was supposed to bring me great joy and satisfaction. I had many good times with my kids, but also was stressed out and exhausted.
BAM! FAITH CRISIS!!!
At the time of my crisis of faith, I had struggled for six months as a Cub Scout den leader before I let myself feel and name my struggle. My eyes opened to the chasm between how men and women are treated in the church from a very young age. While those little privileged uniformed eight-year-old boys were wrestling on the floor of the room I was in, the girls in the room across the hall had a significantly smaller program, with leaders that weren’t given the resources or the autonomy to create opportunities for the girls. Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. I thought back on my experience as a ten-year-old in the Merry Miss A class with an occasional activity like coloring a Family Home Evening lesson packet about the creation, while my brothers had their weekly scouting activities and monthly recognition meetings beginning at age eight. After that realization, I quickly became a feminist, and wondered what else feminists thought; luckily Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings had just come out, and I devoured the book.
My eyes were opened as I deconstructed my belief in the patriarchy; I began exploring other concepts that I had blindly believed. During the long and grueling process of deconstructing and reconstructing my life and faith, it is very useful for me to apply the KonMari method, by holding up each concept and asking myself if it sparks joy.
I have begun to see a KonMari mindset as a form of self care, making it easier to say yes to opportunities that will spark joy, as well as making it easier to say no thanks and set boundaries between myself and opportunities that will not spark joy.
Traditional gender roles did not spark joy. I had become very good at selflessness, and put my family ahead of myself. I became so selfless that I lost myself in service to my family. I had to find myself again, and discovered my passion. I set a goal to become an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) by the age of 40, and recently achieved my goal with over a year to spare.
I have been working toward letting myself feel all of my feelings, instead of ignoring them like I had been conditioned to do. This is taking a lot of practice, therapy, meditation, and journaling. Having a few friends I can be vulnerable with has been crucial in this process.
My greatest fear was my perceived judgment by others. I realized that I had made many decisions based on what I thought people would think of me. My whole perspective shifted when I realized that probably no one actually cared, and if they did, that was their problem, not mine.
I have found so much joy and love in community with others who have struggles with their faith. I feel good when I pray and things seem to go better when I set intentions and act mindfully. I’ve reconstructed my thoughts and feelings about my beautiful body and my inherent worth. Giving and serving bring me joy.
I have thanked and let go of many things that no longer serve me. The pandemic has helped me discover that I like Sunday better when I don’t attend church. I let go of the duty and stress of a calling. I let go of scripture, and have been loving using Uplift Kids with my youngest instead.
While life can’t be as neat and tidy as I would like, I continue to KonMari what I have, letting go of what isn’t bringing me joy, and definitely keeping, embracing, and seeking what sparks joy.
This post is part of the series, Reconstructing Faith. Find more from this series here.