Essential Takeaway: Jack-O-Lanterns are fake

Fall is my favorite time of year. I am usually pretty happy from September 1st to January 1st. I just love everything about this time of year.  One of the very few things I do not enjoy is carving a pumpkin. I don’t like the difficulty of actually carving the pumpkin and I certainly do not like the mess.  I don’t need to intentionally create more messes to clean up.

I do wonder though, “am I a -Jack-O-Lantern?”  They have a very large smile carved into their faces. Sometimes in life I have a large, stiff smile carved into my face.  

We know that men are that they may have joy. However, we also know that we are human and subject to all sorts of emotions. I am not talking about clinical depression. I am only speaking about those bad days that every single one of us has.  Sister Aburto said in the 2019 Women’s Conference “My dear sisters, it is normal to feel sad or worried once in a while. Sadness and anxiety are natural human emotions.” In the same talk she also stated: “However, if we are constantly sad and if our pain blocks our ability to feel the love of our Heavenly Father and His Son and the influence of the Holy Ghost, then we may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or another emotional condition.” *Disclaimer:  If depression is what you feel, I urge you to get some help.*  This is not the type of sadness I am addressing today.  How can we get past the fake grin? Can we cut each other some slack and not worry so much about the fake smile? Take a moment and have a bad day now and then.  I try to have some chocolate, a good cry and go to bed early because tomorrow I can try again.  Something else we can do is see through the fake and help someone.  This is hard to do. I have a hard time seeing past the laundry pile, dirty dishes, kids school work, and my own selfish desire to read a book for one afternoon.  It’s not like I don’t try to see others and want to help them, I just can’t find them when I am staring at my long list of things to do all day.  Maybe I could put the list down, focus on the people around me and see their real smiles.

Do I have that fake smile carved onto my face AND I’m empty on the inside?   Am I so hollow that I’m shriveling up over time?  I think there are times that I have been.  I have been so carved out and so empty that there isn’t a single seed left inside.  Think of ways to fill yourself. I feel “full” when I have been getting enough sleep, gone for my daily walk, read my scriptures, and dumped the guilt when it comes to the pumpkin crushing list of things to do everyday. This is very hard for me to do because I like to get things done.

I am going to take more time to fill my pumpkin and not worry so much about carving that crooked smile onto my face.  Then, ask what is really essential? Sometimes the only thing that is essential is reading a book all afternoon.

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