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Jody Moore: Hey everybody, welcome to Episode 281 of the podcast. Today's episode is so good, you're going to love it! And it's not bragging for me to say that because the goodness comes from my guest today, Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife. If you aren't familiar with her, I don't know where you've been, but I'm happy to get to introduce you to her. Most of you probably have already heard from her, but she's one of my most favorite people to listen to and learn from, because she's brilliant. She has really valuable insight for all the things that she speaks about. Her specialty is in relationships and sexuality. She's a member of the LDS church. She wrote her dissertation on LDS women and sexuality. And so when I first found her, that is the topic that I heard her speaking about the most and she really just had some mind-blowing insight that she offered on that subject. I'm so grateful to her for that. And since then, I've heard her speak about a whole bunch of other subjects related to relationships and related to the culture we have in our church and how to evolve ourselves in terms of our interpretation of doctrine and our own relationship with God and our own spiritual development. So we had a really insightful conversation about topics such as obedience, modesty, and spiritual maturity in general. So I cannot wait for you to hear my conversation. 


Well, let's get into it. I wanted to begin by just thanking you because I have listened to you tons, and when I first found you I kind of binged on you, and I still listen to you off and on. One of the things I appreciate so much about what you do is that you, as a fellow member of the church, are speaking to topics that are sometimes controversial and certainly emotionally charged for people. And I appreciate so much your courage in being able to speak to those topics and to share what you've learned through your experience for yourself personally and your education and expertise. You must get some people misinterpreting or you have to get some negative backlash, because I know I do. And I feel like you push the boundary a little bit even more than I do. And again, I don't mean to say that I sense in any way that you're trying to push boundaries. I think you're genuinely trying to help people, and that requires courage. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Yes. 


Jody Moore: And I just am so appreciative because sometimes I listen to you and I can feel that you're coming from a place of genuine love and that you have a strong testimony of the gospel and that your hope is that people love God and draw closer to Him. It requires courage to say the things that you say. So I just want to begin with a thank you. How do you handle any of the negative feedback that you get? 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Well, to be honest, I do get negative feedback sometimes, but I don't get as much as you might think. And I don't know why exactly. I don't know if it's that people can feel my honest intention, and so even if they think I'm misguided, they don't think I'm out to create harm. And also when I do get negative feedback, sometimes it is because I haven't been thorough enough in my explanation of my position, or they've only heard one aspect of my position. But the other thing is that I really believe so strongly in the importance of integrity, not just for the benefit of others, but also for your own mental health and happiness. There is no peace of mind with cowardice.  That’s just how the world works. God and goodness expect us to live honestly--that's how you find real strength of character, that's how you find real peace of mind. You may deal with people's invalidation, but you earn your self-respect and sanity and the ability to better track what's real and what's important and what matters in life. And so it's one hundred percent worth it to lose some invalidation. And I understand that I may be wrong about things. I'm certainly still learning things as I go and I understand that my own perspectives will evolve and change as they continue to do. So it's not so much about getting everything right as it is about earnestness. Also, some people are in a different place in their development and thinking than I am, and that's okay. I just know some of the things I say that I would have, twenty years ago, been a little stressed by. So I can have an appreciation for my younger self, too, and that's okay that there are some perspectives that maybe feel frightening. But I think the thing that I really always care about is that people are honest with themselves in sorting out what they believe is true, even if they have a different perspective than me. 


Jody Moore: Yeah, I love that. I want to dive a little deeper into integrity and I want to talk about spiritual maturity and a few other things that I've heard you talk about before. But first, I’m interested in hearing how you view your role as a therapist and a coach and being a disciple of Christ. And at what times do those things intersect and in what way does it sometimes feel appropriate to you to separate them? How do you navigate that? You're a whole person. You are who you are. And I think certainly our belief systems inform what we do professionally as well. But certainly, when it comes to mental health and self-help, there seems to be a strong intersection between our religious beliefs. How do you navigate that? 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I'm just thinking a little bit about the question. I think, for me at least, what it means to me to be a disciple of Christ is very much aligned with what it means to be a therapist. Now that's different than imparting a particular theology or belief system in the sense that I'm not trying to get people to believe in my faith per se or to follow the tenets of my faith. But I am very much asking people to live up to their highest conscience and their higher selves because I think that’s essential for people and for our peace of mind. And I trust people deserve to be where they are in their questions and their pursuits and what they're trying to sort out. I just want to help people be honest with themselves and not indulgent because people have to live with their choices. And so I won't be silent if I think they are doing something in an indulgent or self-diluting way. 


Jody Moore: What do you mean by indulgent? 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: It can be indulgent when we deceive ourselves into the view or the perspective that we prefer that reinforces us and that justifies us. The indulgence is allowing the part of us that wants to not deal with something that's inconvenient or deal with someone else's perspective. And so we can use an idea that will allow us to make a choice that's not really coming from our best or strongest self. And I feel like my job is to help people, to the best of my ability which is not perfect by any stretch, to be as honest with themselves as they can. They have to live with their choices for a long time. And so I think I have a responsibility to help people make choices that they know came from the best in them. I can't control that, of course. And sometimes people would rather fire me than keep listening to me, and that's okay too, actually. And I could be wrong. I'm not saying I'm getting it right and I always know, but I'm using my moral compass to offer and live up to my responsibility to them in sorting out their moral compass. 


Jody Moore: Yeah, I love that. So that leads into this topic. I first heard this term from you and I don't know where it came from originally, but this idea of spiritual maturity. When I first found you years ago, I was listening to episodes where you were talking about sexuality and you used the term spiritual maturity. It just jumped out at me as a powerful way to think about us navigating the way we think about church doctrine or anything else that we're taught by leaders. So maybe would you mind speaking to how you define that, what you mean by spiritual maturity? 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Well, let me start with what I think a lot of times people think spirituality means, and then I'll see if I can articulate what I think it means. I think what a lot of people often will say (and I know when I was a younger person I also thought) is that someone is very spiritual when they are doing all of the things that one would expect in the tenets of one's faith. So I know that you and I are both LDS, so someone's spiritual if they're going to the temple, reading the scriptures, obeying the Sabbath, that kind of thing. And so what defined their spirituality was the depth of their compliance, the consistency of their compliance. I think compliance has real value in the sense that I think of it like the guardrails, a way of minimizing harm. Not being sexual before marriage, not drinking alcohol. These are minimal realities that allow you the space in which to safely engage moral development and moral questions. And that doesn't mean that if you challenge any of those that you're lost or gone forever or anything like that. And I don't mean to be simple-minded, but they're valuable guardrails. 


But if people stay there, I think that's spiritually immature in the sense that you're looking to be commanded in all things, you're looking for a type of moral laziness. “If I obey all these things, I will be safe in an otherwise complex world,” is a little bit of a fantasy. And I think that's a false understanding of what's being asked of us as human beings. It's a little bit of a fantasy to say that "If I just do what God says, I'm good, and I'm going to get all the good things in life." But it's not actually pushing ourselves to live with wisdom and to be agents and moral actors in a complex world. A complex world that asks us to understand, to be stretched, to know and to love people. To love people is not to necessarily feel warm feelings towards them, I mean, that's an okay thing, but it's more about doing right by people and doing things that help the development and well-being of the people around you, and especially the people you have a direct responsibility to. 


That process pushes your evolution as a person to be wiser, to understand how the world works, to understand what your responsibility is in it, to better understand who God is. We all have a stereotype of who God is, but we're all wrong because that's based on where we are in our development. And so the more you live according to true principles, that is to say, the more that you learn to really love others, to really know others, the more honestly you live, the more you repent (as in course correct and confront your limitations), the more you confront your self-deception, the more wisely you live, then the more able you are to make good and decent choices in the face of complexity and uncertainty that any checkbox thing will not solve or satisfy for you. And so I think spiritual maturity is very much linked to our capacity to love. Spiritual maturity is very much linked to our peace with ourselves, not because we're perfect, but because we live in a basic honesty with who we are and a basic understanding of who we are. And we're all limited in this form. I don't think anyone except Christ would be resolved in those ways or living fully in those ways. But I think that there really is a freedom, not a freedom that has no constraints, but a real internal freedom and joy that comes as you evolve into deeper wisdom and deeper honesty in the way you live. So it’s hard to define spiritual maturity in one sentence. 


Jody Moore: It is a complicated topic. I think of it in regards to all the other forms of maturity that we see in basic human development. One of the things that we know about children is that they tend to be very literal. And I think one of the things I notice about us as members of the church is we have a tendency to want to be literal, too. It's just easier. It's much easier than doing all these things you're describing of confronting our own selves and taking the risk of owning our decisions. It's so much easier to say, "But in this conference talk, it says this thing." And again, I think about how we, as you said, provide guardrails as we should, especially to our younger kids and our youth. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "But in the first strength of youth, it says this." And I want to say, "But that's for the strength of youth," and not that it's not applicable to you as an adult. There comes a point at which what the Lord desires of us is to explore gospel principles and then decide what that means for us in our lives and how that looks on the outside in terms of your actions.  And that is much harder to do. It requires, to your point, a lot of negative emotion. I think it requires fear and courage and confusion.  And so, of course, I've heard you speak to that a lot around the law of chastity, which I love. But I wanted to explore a couple of other principles and get your thoughts on how we can take a more spiritually mature approach to these things. One is the principle of modesty. I feel like there's a lot of misrepresentation or there has been. And I like to think that we're getting wiser and that we've made a lot of progress in the way we talk about that. But could you speak to what you see can be damaging or problematic in the way we teach the principle of modesty? 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I talk a lot about the idea that we have false traditions, we have a lot of these ideas that get handed down as gospel that are really culture. And one of the cultural realities that we have often mistaken as gospel are notions around sexuality that are very gendered. So I'll be as brief as I can about this, but basically, the idea is that men are more sexual than women. That men desire and women should be desirable. That women's sexuality exists primarily as an offering and their chastity is an offering to a man when they get married. So there's a lot of these ideas that men are really the ones who are the actors and the doers, and they're the ones who sexually desire and women have a little bit of sexuality, but they're the sober drivers in the realm of sexual desire. And so I think that modesty and the way we talk about modesty betrays that set of assumptions because we talk to women often like they have partial responsibility for men's thoughts and feelings. And so we teach women the idea that men's sexuality is sort of lurking and ever-present and slightly out of control. And so they have to do part of the heavy lifting by masking and managing their sexuality, their desirability. 


You know, of course, there's an extreme version of this in fundamentalist Islam where you're literally covering up women entirely to suggest that they have to completely suppress and mask their sexuality to help manage men's sexuality. The problem, of course, is two things. One is that it delegitimizes women's sexuality and makes their desires a threat and a problem. I have a lot of clients who have just actively suppressed their feelings and then they get married and have shut it off so much they have really no reference point for their own sexual desire. But another big problem is teaching the idea that you're responsible for something that you, in fact, can't be responsible for. You can't control anybody's sexual thoughts and feelings. You could be completely covered up and still somebody could sexualize you. So you can't control that and any fantasy that you can or should or that your sexuality is a threat is false. It also teaches a really poor idea about men, because it's basically the idea that men aren't trustworthy, that they can't handle their sexuality, and that it's partially a woman's responsibility, even within marriage. A lot of my female clients are sort of thinking that they offer their sexuality as a way of keeping their husbands from looking at porn. And, of course, that completely obliterates any real capacity for joy and openness in a sexual relationship, because it's more about doing your job as a woman than it is about love and freedom. So, I mean, that's clearly the problem with it and the modesty rhetoric exposes it. 


Now with that said, I would say modesty is about not being boastful and not taking advantage of an advantage or capacity that you have. So to be modest about our strengths, to be modest about our beauty, all those things matter, but it's out of a function of self-respect and respect for others. It's a way of being appreciative and grateful for the good things that you have and not flaunting them and using them to make yourself feel superior to others or exploit others. So I think it's perfectly appropriate to talk to our children about self-respect and respect for others and not being flagrantly boastful about any good thing you have in your life. And that can apply to clothing, and that you're dressing in a way that is appropriate for whatever the situation is. But it’s not about shame or fear of sexuality, it’s about respect for your body, respect for yourself, and respect for others. It's not fear-based, it's respect and love-based. 


Jody Moore: I love the idea that modesty could be taught in the context of all the different things that we are as humans. Because to just teach it about our bodies and our sexuality trivializes us into just sexual beings, which we are not. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Exactly. And it's a distortion of what the truer purpose and meaning of modesty is. I think much of our notions of goodness are too focused on sexuality. Something I talk about a lot is that we tend to think of sexuality as Satan's pathway, as this scary thing that will pull us into debauchery and indulgence rather than sexuality just being a beautiful part of the human experience. Who you are as a person is the issue. So, how you relate to yourself and others is the issue because your sexuality will follow suit. So the kind of human being you are is the really important thing. That's what we need to be thinking about during the sacrament or during prayer. Of course, you want to be aware of your sexuality and how you're in relationship to it, and you want it to be self-respecting and respectful of others. But not to feel like sexuality is the problem, because that paradoxically creates more immoderation in people, either suppression or an indulgent struggle around sexuality. 


Jody Moore: That's amazing. So it speaks to the other topic that I wanted to hear your thoughts on, which is obedience. I heard a podcast that you aired, an episode on obedience, and I loved your thoughts about the dangers of celebrating obedience over integrity. And when I heard it, I thought that agency is such an important component of our experience here on Earth, according to the LDS doctrine. That was one of the things that separated the Lord's plan from Satan's plan. What are your thoughts on obedience and how we, in a more spiritually mature way, think about it? 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: One of the things that we often say is that obedience is the first law of heaven. And some people have mistaken that to mean that it's the highest law. And I think it's quite literally, in a developmental sense, the first. If you look at the moral development of children, looking at even non-religious models like Solberg's model of moral development, and Falconer's which is a more religious focus, it starts with a compliance frame. What's needed with minimal psychological and emotional development is very clear boundaries, "Listen to what mom says. Don't hit your sister." It's the real basics that allow a child to keep growing until they're able to move into more complex thought. So again, it's a good starting place, but if we stay locked there, it's fundamentally lazy. It's fundamentally not staying awake to what life is really asking of us and so that's why it's not virtuous. We talk about that we can't be commanded in all things and that we need to be anxiously engaged in a good cause. The parable of the talents in the New Testament, I think, is very much this idea that you've been given gifts and capacities and you have a responsibility to develop them and to create goodness through them. And God's not going to say in all the specific ways that you should do that. You just need to be involved in the world asserting choices and creating goodness. 


So one of the things I don't like about a hyper valuing of obedience is that, while it's a good starting point, we tend to make it the ending point. I think fundamentally it's the way we language it because it's sort of putting responsibility outside of yourself rather than within yourself. And I don't really care what word you call it, as long as it's clear that it's within yourself. So what I mean by that is, sometimes if we think, "Well, God just wants me to do what I'm told and then I'm going to get blessings and I'm going to be good." That's the external reference point and it's staying childlike. If it's that "I'm doing what I believe is right, and I feel that God cares that I do this and that I should do this because I can feel it's the right thing," somebody could call that obedience and that's fine with me, but it's an integrity-based choice. It's an integrity-based choice because what it is saying is "I know this is the right thing for me to do, even though I don't fully understand it. I don't fully know why I need to do this, in the sense of I don't yet get it from the level of having done it, but I can feel that it's the right way to be." 


I see this with working with my clients where they're quite afraid to love more open-heartedly in their marriage. They're quite afraid to let their spouse really, really matter to them. They're afraid to give their spouse the validation sexually or emotionally or whatever it is, because they can kind of hold some control over their spouse's sense of self by withholding it. But they know it's wrong, they know it's cheap, they know it's hurtful, but they're terrified. When they are like "I know what I'm doing is not right, even though I don't know what right really feels like and looks like yet. I just know I can't keep doing this thing." That is integrity-based. And it is a kind of calling from the divine, from the better in them to say, "Be better." So they're following that. You could say that they're obeying it, I think. But to me, it's like they are saying, "I must be better than this. I can't live with myself doing the other." And as they do it, they get clearer, they get more solid, they get more comfortable in themselves, and they develop spiritually. 


We talk a lot in our faith about how faith leads to knowledge, and that’s what’s happening. It’s like saying, “I feel it, and it feels right. I don't fully understand it. I just know my conscience is telling me to move in that direction. I want to pretend it's not there and I want to come up with excuses.” I mean, we're all very good at denying that call to live more honestly.  But if you're being honest with yourself and you move towards it, even though you're afraid, that's faith, and that leads to knowledge. And that's why it's a virtue because your fear doesn't win out on doing what's right. And when you do what's really the right thing, you grow in your ability to be wise. You see the world better. You see yourself more clearly. You have more peace in your heart. The reward of it is enormous, but it's not a reward of protection from living life and the messiness of it. It’s a reward of greater wisdom, greater self-respect, a greater ability to navigate and trust yourself in the world, and a greater sense of God and goodness and how real both are. That’s the reward.


Jody Moore: I heard it said in this really simple way once, that Satan starts with putting a thought in our head and that if we don't manage that or dismiss that, it can plant it into your heart, become a feeling, and eventually bleed into your hands and show up in your action. The Lord works in the opposite. He asks us to take action and we can feel the goodness of it as we do so, and then we can come to understand the principle behind it. I like the simplicity of that. I have found that to be true myself, that sometimes just doing what somebody that I trust has told me to do and then feeling the effects of that, and that does lead me to an understanding of it. The danger is that we can't just take the action and then wait to see what happens next. I think it's our job to explore and to want to understand. And that if it doesn't feel in alignment with love and God and trust and faith, then to listen to that message and learn from it. And I mean, we see extreme examples of this in cult situations. That kind of blind obedience is dangerous. I don't think that's what we mean when we teach the principle of obedience, but sometimes the message can be misconstrued that way. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: That's right. The idea that God cares about us and so we do what he says, makes God seem like an insecure, petulant person who is just obsessed with his own power. And that's kind of what the picture is. Rather than the idea that God wants us to grow into wise agents, people that can make decisions in complexity with greater wisdom and greater freedom internally because they've learned how to live in alignment with life's rules. 


Jody Moore: Yeah, and I don't believe that he will override our agency and therefore, the intentionality behind it does matter. To your point, it's not just like “I did this thing. I checked the box. Where's my blessing?” The blessings are given to us by God, but they're somewhat created internally. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Joseph Smith talked about that idea, right? That the blessings we receive from God are connected principles. 


Jody Moore: You know, if I take a class online and my intention is just to get the answers so I can turn in the assignment and get the grade, that's one way to go about it and you might receive the grade or the credits. But if my intention is to learn what they're trying to teach me, then it changes. And even though I might be able to get an A in that class, that doesn't mean I learned what they were teaching. And so I think that's how God blesses us. If I don't, at some point, decide to understand “Why is this a commandment? Why does the prophet counsel us to do this? Why has God commanded us to do this?” Then he can't possibly force that knowledge upon me. So I think we have to make space for ourselves, and here's the challenging part, we have to allow space for our spouses and our children and all the people we love to also navigate their own spiritual maturity. This means sometimes they're going to make choices we wish they wouldn't make. Sometimes they're going to say, "I don't know if I believe in the law of chastity, mom, I kind of want to sleep with my boyfriend" or whatever it is. Of course, we're there to guide people and all of that. But I don't think that God's plan was ever that none of us ever even make mistakes or poor choices as we navigate our maturity. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: No, exactly right. In fact, you have to. That's why we need the atonement because mistake-making is essential to this process. It's not like the atonement is the backup plan if you screw up. Part of our development is to make mistakes. And of course, there are some guideposts so you don't just have to pay dearly for that process. It's not the absence of mistakes that is the issue. It's about the more you can borrow wisdom, the easier it will go for you. So there's value in borrowing wisdom, but you do have to go out there and roll up your sleeves and be willing to try things and take positions. I remember when I was working a lot with Dr. David Schnarch, with whom I've done quite a bit of training, and he recently passed away. But one of the things that he said to me was, take a position. Because sometimes with clients I would get stuck between, “It could be this or it could be that, and I don't want to get it wrong.” And so he was saying, you are limiting your effectiveness by not asserting a choice. Take the risk of going with what you most think, because only if you take a position can you find out the flaws in your position. If you straddle, you never move. And so that's very helpful. You take the position and if it's right, you quickly can feel that it's right. And if it's wrong, it reveals itself to you, so you can self-correct and take a clear position or a better position. 


Jody Moore: So I have to be willing to be wrong is what you're saying? 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: That's right. And that's faith, and also humility. My ego is not as important as me sorting out what is true and best and I'm willing to be wrong in the effort to do it. That's why perfectionism is a false positive. It's like a false virtue because... 


Jody Moore: Because there's no progression in it. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Yeah. And there's the terror of finding out that you're human. It's more courageous to say "I am human and I will make mistakes and I can hold on to my essential value anyway, because that's what is required for me to develop as a person.” 


Jody Moore:  And I also love what you said that obedience is a great shortcut sometimes. I think about when I was first starting my business, my coaching practice, and I didn't know anything about how to build a business. And so obedience, for me, was the best way to listen to others who have done this, who gave me advice. But not too far into it, and even as I listen to them, I had to start making my own decisions about the nuances of it and that no one person can give me a template that's exactly for me. And so I think, to your point, we're not anti-obedience by any means, but not at the expense of integrity. Not in a way that limits our own progression and spiritual maturity in the end. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: That's right. I think about it in terms of, for example, if you had a medical concern, I would never want to have to learn everything that is needed. I mean, I would probably die if I had cancer or something like that. You need to borrow wisdom. You need to on some level trust those that have thought about it a lot more. But, in the case of my dad, he was given a cancer diagnosis maybe eight years ago and they said, "This is the only treatment we have. It will give him at most a year. That's all we have." And they said there wasn’t much else we could choose from. And thankfully they were honest about it. But because we knew there were limits, I had a brother who just researched and researched and researched and found out that they were doing a stage two trial, and it ended up prolonging my dad's life for another six years. So, if he had just said, "I'll just do it and I will not trust what anybody else has to say," my dad would not have lived as long as he did. So it's just my point in saying, on the one hand, letting their knowledge inform it, it brought us up to a point. And we could have just said, "Okay, well, that's it." But thankfully, my brother continued to pursue, pursue and pursue and learn as much as he could and then found another option that prolonged my dad's life. And this is just another version of how there are limits to that, although it still has value, real value.  


Jody Moore: Yes. It's the combination of listening to the expert, but also not abdicating your own ability. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Exactly. 


Jody Moore: So I just kind of want to end with one last thought. Time Out For Women couldn't happen this year the way it normally does, and so they put some talks online. And I was listening to some recently and I heard Anthony Sweat speaking, who's a professor at BYU. I thought what he said was really interesting. He said that we talk about our purpose, or I should say the Lord's purpose, is to help us return to him. And he pointed out that that doesn't exactly make sense to think that if we were all with him, why would he send us here and then say "I hope to get you all back to me." It sort of misses the bigger picture, which is that his purpose is to actually help us become like him. And I love thinking about all of this in that way that we are here to become like him. That is his purpose. And that is one of the main reasons we're here. I think part of it is just understanding our own value. We all question our value, and come to know it and embrace it, as well as the value of others, and our equality, and all the things that help us become more like him. And I don't know if you have any final thoughts. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I think it's a beautiful point and I agree. If the point were just being there, he wouldn't have sent us. That doesn't make a lot of sense. But on the other hand, we're here for a purpose, which is our own growth and our own change and our own development. And it's a really valuable process to offer us, although painful when you love your child.  My daughter is a musician and she decided that she wanted to go to boarding school. So she's at a musical boarding school that she'd always hoped to go to, and it was just hard. She's 14 and living away from home, and because of Covid I couldn't even help her move into her dorm, I had to literally drop her off at the parking lot. She was crying that night and she was like, "I can't find the cafeteria." And just to watch her try and get her room organized and all on her own. 


Jody Moore: I don't know if I could do it. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: But my point is she has matured so much this semester. It's just so remarkable to see herself subject herself willingly and facing a lot of difficulties. To step into something that was well beyond her current capacity and to see her grow into it and for her to become a more mature, self-developed person. And that's very much a similar thing. That's how you develop capacity as you step into situations that exceed your capacity when you scramble and struggle, trying to figure it out. And it hurts. And you do a lot of things wrong. And you check in at times just and say "Remind me that I matter and I'm okay." But then you're back in the struggle, and I think that's a very, very valuable process. And I think the more we can understand it and value it as such, the more tolerance we have for the pain that's within it. 


Jody Moore: Yes, I love that. I coach a lot of women who are feeling like they wish they could be better mothers or they have a lot of guilt or shame for the areas where they fall short. And, you know, I love what you said about stepping into a situation that exceeds our capacity. And if our mothers come along and are always filling in the gaps for us, we lose that opportunity to grow. And not that we don't try, but it's a blessing that we will fall short, that we just won't always be able to. That is to our kids’ benefit, not to their detriment. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Exactly. And sometimes being a good mother is not stepping in even when every cell in your body wants to. 


Jody Moore: That's right. 


Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: It's like they talk about in the psychological literature about "good enough" parenting, being a "good enough" mother. I love you and I'm flawed.  And that, thankfully, that child has their own agency, their own relationship with the divine, and their own relationship to their integrity. They have so much ability to determine their path and to sort things out, and not all children do, and not all people do, of course. So it is hard to see a child struggle, but thankfully it isn't all on us.  


Jody Moore: Well, thank you so much for your time, Jennifer. I appreciate it. I always love listening to you and appreciate you coming on.

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Developing Emotional Maturity

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