E45: Brooke Romney: Why Our Souls Crave Connection—And What We Can Do About It

Episode #45: Published Sept. 4, 2019

Brooke Romney is a strong believer that we are wired for connection. Connection with those around us, connection with our families, connection with God. “Humans are hard and friendship takes work,” Romney says, but she also believes the effort is worthwhile, “His intent was never for us to walk any of these paths alone.”

Read Brooke's column, "It's time to stop being friendly and start being a friend"

Find the closest Time Out For Women to you. (Brooke will be presenting in Boise, Idaho; Logan, Utah; Phoenix, Arizona; and Salt Lake City, Utah.)

Follow our new "All In" Instagram page.

Listen to Melissa Inouye's episode of "All In" that Brooke mentions.

Read Brooke's column, "So That No One Sits Alone," about her experience sitting alone at a party.

"We're craving what God really intended us to be. He never intended us to sit behind screens. He never intended even for us to just write articles about good things. He created us to do good things, to touch people, to connect with people. That's what this is all about. And I think, because life has gotten so easy and so removed, sometimes we forget that and it's what our soul wants so badly."

Show Notes

3:08- A hunger for human connection
7:07- Breaking down barriers to friendship
11:46- A need for vulnerability
17:50- 3 ways to be a true friend
22:00- Getting out of your comfort zone
28:03- Connecting with your children
33:00- Modeling true confidence
34:51- I am _____________
36:52- Loving your children the way Christ loves
39:17- God’s desire to connect with you
44:42- What does it mean to be "all in" the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Read a full transcript below

Morgan Jones: Did you know that "All In" now has an Instagram page? You can follow us at @allin.podcast. Again, that's @allin.podcast. We're also on Facebook so if you're more into that you can find us there. Now, you know. (Laughter)

In March 2017, Brooke Romney lost someone in her life she considered to be a friend. But in the wake of the friend's passing, she found herself wondering, "Did she know I was her friend?" This question prompted introspection about what it means to be a friend and why connection is so important in our generation. It led her to write, "I will be better. I will find energy even when it feels like I am running on empty; I will listen when I want to talk, and I will pray for more strength when mine is gone. I will re-teach myself how to be a friend, even to those who might be different, needy, or closed and I will find joy in the process of loving, serving and connecting with them.  If the question, 'Did she know I was her friend?' ever arises again, I want to say with confidence, 'Of course, she knew. We were wonderful friends.'"

Brooke Romney is committed to sharing real life with a hopeful twist. Her fresh perspective and relatable style has engaged millions of readers in the Deseret News, Washington Post, Studio 5 and LDS Living, as well as on her own blog and Instagram, Brooke Romney Writes. She is a TOFW, that's Time Out For Women presenter, and she and her husband, Mike Romney are the parents of four sons. 

This is "All In," an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, "What does it really mean to be 'all in' the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" I'm Morgan Jones. And I am delighted to have Brooke Romney here with me today. Brooke, welcome. 

Brooke Romney: Thank you. I'm so excited to be here with you seeing you in person for the first time. 

MJ: I know, I know, this is so crazy. So Brooke and I have worked together over the phone for years in publishing pieces, both for LDS Living and for Deseret News. And so this is like a magical moment where we actually are meeting in person.

BR: Well, and for me, it's a huge gratitude moment, because you were the first person to discover my writing and bring it to a bigger audience. So I am forever grateful that you believed in me from the beginning. 

MJ: Well, I definitely can't take credit for discovering you because I think the thing is, is people loved your writing. And I was like, "There is no reason that we should not be like putting this woman up on a regular basis to write for us," because people just eat up the things that you say. And I think that's because you have a gift for recognizing the things that are on people's hearts. And that truly is, it's like a spiritual gift. So thank you for sharing that with us. And I'm excited to kind of delve a little bit more into some of these topics today.

BR: Well, I'm so excited. Thank you.

MJ: So I want to talk a little bit. And this is something that I've had on my mind a lot lately, and that is the idea of connection. And I'll tell you why I've had it on my mind so much. I've found it really interesting observing podcast behavior. Because with articles, and you know this, because you've written a ton of them, with articles, people share them on social media, and they'll say like, "I love this article so much," and then you start seeing it be shared. And that's kind of how it gains steam. Podcasts are very different in observing the behavior of our audience. It's...they spread by word of mouth. And so people talk about them when they're sharing them when their friends. And I think that that is a reflection of where we're at as a society, I could be off and this is not scientifically-based, but I just think I'm like, I think that we are so hungry for connection, so people are listening to the podcast, and they feel an intimacy that they don't get from like reading an article, because they feel like they're in the room. And then it's giving them something to talk about with the people that they love. It's like a conversation starter. And I think our generation maybe struggles a little bit in knowing what to talk about because we're so used to being behind a screen so anyway, that is a lot of lead-in. But what are your thoughts on that? 

BR: Well, I've thought a lot about this too. Because our societies were, you know, before we were made to connect with each other, we needed each other in various ways, whether it was, you know, to make food or to buy food, and whether it was to just come together as a community to protect ourselves or to know what was going on. You know, people didn't have internet to tell them what was going on, you had to hear by word of mouth, what was happening. And so now, people could literally be alone for two, three weeks and be capable of surviving, you know, grocery delivery, Doordash, all those things, keep us really secluded. And I know that God made us to need each other. I know He did. And so I think that as we start to crave more connection, we're craving what God really intended us to be. He never intended us to sit behind screens. He never intended even for us to just write articles about good things. He created us to do good things, to touch people, to connect with people. That's what this is all about. And I think, because life has gotten so easy and so removed. Sometimes we forget that and it's what our soul wants so badly.

MJ: Yeah, I think that is that spot on. And there's this hunger, you know, I think our needs are being met in so many different ways. And it's interesting, the podcast thing, just because it's something that people can do while multitasking. So I think they think that it's feeding that need. But even still, I think the greater part of that, the part that I love, is that it's getting people to talk, in person, face to face.

BR: Well, and first, though, to think, because I think sometimes we're letting other things: machines, just a life being almost inundated all the time, that we've sometimes turned off our ability to think and to process. And this helps us think and then lets us talk it out, which is so beautiful, and then connect and share ideas. And sometimes they're ideas we agree with, and sometimes they're not. But being able to have those real conversations is so important for who we are and who we're supposed to become.

MJ: Yeah. And this is something you have talked a lot about one of my favorite pieces ever. We'll link this in the show notes, but is an article that you wrote for the Deseret News, which is called "It's Time to Stop Being Friendly and Start Being a Friend." And so some of the questions that I want to talk about today kind of stem from that, some stem from other things that you've written. But first of all, I think that within this desire to connect, there's also artificial barriers that we kind of put up around who we can connect with, for sure. And so the best example that I can give is one from my own life, which is that I read a book, Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers." At the very beginning of the book, he talks about how we hang out with the people that it's most convenient for us...or it may have been "Tipping Point," I think it was "Tipping Point." But he talks about how we hang out with the people that it's most convenient for us to hang out with, because our schedules match up with theirs. And that too, we naturally, our lives intersect. And for me being single I, earlier this year, end of last year, I guess I found myself in this single bubble. And I realized that I wasn't ever getting outside of that. And so because of that, I was kind of starting to feel suffocated. And so one of my goals for this year was to get outside of that. To intentionally try to spend time with my friends that are married, to spend time with families, to reach out to older people. And it has changed my life. And so if it's okay, I kind of want to start with this idea of why do different stages of life lend themselves more naturally to connection? And how do we overcome artificial barriers?

BR: Oh, interesting. So I would say there were stages that were really easy for me to connect. So when I had really young kids and I was home all the time, it was really easy for me to connect, because I had to have some adult interaction. And so I would plan things I would go to the park, I would make myself very available. I had a long to-do list, but I knew it wasn't going to get done anyway. And so I was willing to put myself out there and connect and but I also see your idea of you know, like the echo chamber right of being with the same people who are just like you all the time. And I think sometimes when I wrote that article, one of the things that broke my heart was I had hundreds, I'm talking hundreds of people messaged me, and tell me how lonely they were, and how it looked like they had friends, but no one really cared about them. Or how they've been trying and trying and trying to make friends you know, in their new neighborhood and no one ever reciprocated or acted like they cared and it broke my heart because I've been there too. And there's nothing like feeling lonely. I think there's a lot of people that feel that way. And sometimes it is a stage of life, right? Sometimes it is just for a moment, or you've just moved or maybe all of your kids are out of the house now and you're not sure quite what to do with your self and how to go back and connect when you don't have PTA and sports teams. But I love what you bring up in the efforts that you made. It really, unfortunately, connection isn't easy. And I think that's why so many of us pull back from it. Humans are hard, and friendship takes work. And your guest Melissa, she talked about how it's messy. And we have to be willing to jump in and be a little messy and be inconvenienced and have other people's problems on our hearts, which is actually really trying and difficult. I love the idea of essentialism and minimalism and the way that the world is going. But I think we have to maybe break free of that when it comes to people. Because if we're only doing the essential, a lot of times, it's only what works for us. And we have to remember that the point of us being here is not just to do what's easy. It's not just to do what works for us, or what doesn't make our life a little harder. It's to connect and be there for the people who need us the most. And we forget what we reap in return when we do that. So maybe, you know you're trying to be there maybe for a married friend. But you get so much in return. And I think we have to remember that—that friendship, and connection, sometimes even a family, it's not easy. But that is what gives us the rewards of feeling like we are growing and becoming into more of the person we're supposed to be. I don't think when we reach heaven, there's going to be a list of like, "How did you minimalize the people in your life?" I don't think that is the point. But it is going to be, and it doesn't mean having a million connections either, but putting forth the effort to make your connections matter. And sometimes doing what's inconvenient, sometimes being there for that person who's really hard and that maybe you don't even like that much. And then that relationship grows into something that was really, really meaningful for both of you.

MJ: Yeah, there are so many things that you just said that I would love to touch on. So first of all, this idea of it requiring effort. I think that there's a tough balance to strike in offering vulnerability, we have to be willing to give vulnerability in order for others to feel comfortable with us. And I think that's hard. That requires effort. And then you touched on having other people's concerns on our hearts, which that is so hard. 

BR: It's so hard. It's one of the things, when you talk about being vulnerable, I think the world is really coming around to a good place when it comes to that. For a long time, I think people felt like perfection was the standard. And people are starting to realize that there is no perfection. It's just process. Process is the standard, growth is the standard. And so being willing to share what we're going through. And that's, that's one of the things that's really important to me is for us to start sharing our hearts. So when someone says like, "Hey, how's your week going?" It's okay to say "It's tough. Like it is, it's a hard week." And I remember I was going through something difficult with one of my kids. And, you know, I write these articles about parenting and about motherhood and about, you know, maybe doing things in a way that works well. And I thought, "Oh, my word like, Here I am giving people advice. And I am just a big fat loser like I this is not going well, like nothing is turning out the way it's supposed to." And anyway, I opened up to a couple of friends. And all of a sudden, there was so much love and support. And they had advice they had love. I had a flower show on my porch. And I thought "These women are not interested in me like being able to rock everything I do. Like they're interested in who I am." And as you share your concerns and your fails with people, you're so much more approachable. And that's how relationships grow. I started getting really comfortable and maybe too comfortable with sharing some of the things that I don't do well and that are hard for me. But the support has been incredible. And I think we forget how good people are. We forget that people actually want to be there for us. They want to support us, they want to love us. But if you're nothing to love, if you've got it all figured out. How can they be there? Like how can your lives intertwine? We were in a Relief Society meeting talking about keeping the Sabbath day holy. And that's it. That's a very broad topic. I love the idea that there are doctrines and principles and then actions and they're all you know, doctrines, loving God and serving God, that's a doctrine. A principle is keeping the Sabbath day holy people might do it in different ways, you know, and then the practices are very different. And so somebody was talking about how taking media out of their home on Sundays has been really great and brings the Spirit. And one of the cutest friends that have she's got she's a single mom, she's got five boys. And she said, "I'm sorry, that doesn't work for me." And she opened her heart, that's hard. That's hard in Relief Society when you say, "I can't do that. It's World War II if I take media away on Sundays, and I have a horrible day, and they have a horrible day, and I just hate Sundays." And so for her to open up and say that, well guess what? There's a million other women that felt the same way and said, "Okay, yeah, so we try to limit media to this type of media, or we give everybody a couple hours of media, and then we have to do...then there's family time too." It was such a, like a breath of fresh air to say, "Okay, like, it's okay, that everything doesn't work the same for all of us." You know, and just being open.

MJ: Yeah, there was a, there was a Relief Society class, my mom and I were in Arizona visiting my brothers and we went to their ward, the best Relief Society lesson I've ever heard. And it was because there was this, there's almost like a holiness that comes into the room when that space is created. And it really does take, all it takes is one person being brave enough to appropriately be vulnerable, and create that safe space for others to then say, "Me too."

BR: Yeah. And it was just, it was so amazing to see the support, there was not one minute of judgment. And I'm not saying there never will be right, like maybe if you're going through something hard. And maybe if it was a lot of your own doing there maybe will be moments of judgment, which is part of life. But it's actually the love that comes in return, even after judgment is maybe past whether it's okay or not okay to judge, the love is always so much stronger than the judging when we really open up to the right people who we know care and love us.

MJ: Yeah. Another thing that I wanted to go back to that you said before you were talking about minimalism, and kind of how we need to be sure that we're not cutting people down, or out of our lives. So to Christ, that was one of the essential things was taking the time to be there, meeting people where they were, which is one of my favorite things that I've learned this year from "Come Follow Me," but meeting people where they are, and being there in that space with them,

BR: Which is the best example for us when it comes to connecting. Right? I think about the people that He stopped and saw, who maybe weren't on his schedule. You know, I don't think a lot of the people were on the plan for the day when the apostles, you know, wrote it out. But He stopped where He was needed. And that's another thing that I think is really important for us is to slow down and to stop and be where we're needed. 

MJ: Yeah, I love that. So, Brooke, as you got these responses from people about feeling like they didn't have friends, which I'm with you, that breaks my heart. But I think like you said, I can think back to times where I felt that way. And sometimes it's not even when you move into a new place. Sometimes it can be after you've been somewhere for a while, and you just find yourself in a weird spot. So I want to talk a little bit about friendship. For you, what do you think it means to be a real friend? And what are some of the ways that we can connect with people, rather than just have small talk when we're all busy?

BR: Right. For me, the best two words about being a real friend is "show up." You've got to be in someone's life, you have to be there. And we're all busy. We all even if you're not technically, you have you know, things you have to do. Most of us fill our lives with enough things to keep us busy every day. And showing up can be really hard. In fact, my mom is one of the best examples of this for us, because we always joke that she's like a funeral groupie. Because she's, I feel like she's going to so many funerals. And I'm like, "Whose, you know, whose funeral is this?" And she's like, "Oh, it's the mom of this person." I'm like, "Oh, did you know her," "No, I didn't." But she's showing up for the person that she knew, for the person that she loves. The other day, she told me that she was on her way to a friend's grandson's junior high musical. And I'm like, okay, that is true friendship. That is love, that is love to support somebody in that way. And so showing up in the good times and in the bad times, you know, letting someone know that you're there for them, that you're excited for them. It's not a competition, right? When something goes well, you're so excited for that person or for that person's child. And when something is hard, you feel it, you know, I think I'm so guilty of if it's in my life, it's a big deal but if it's in someone else's life, they're going to be fine. And I think really turning that around and saying "Okay, how would I feel if it were my kid that didn't make the team?" Or "How would I feel if it was my grandma who passed away that I loved even if she was old, and it was her time to go?" You know, really kind of putting ourselves in those shoes, and then loving them in the way that requires love.

MJ: Yeah. I love that. So let's recap that. First of all, showing up. And I think that's one thing that I have tried to work on. My grandma was the exact same way. We used to make fun of her because she would go through the obituaries in the newspaper, and we'd be like, are you just trying to see like which ones you're gonna hit this week? I don't know. But I think showing up and when you show up for people, they show up for you. You know? And that it creates like that give and take. It gives people one of my friends actually recently told me she said, "You know, you are someone who you tell people when you're having a hard time and then that gives them the ability to be there for you. And that creates like a rewarding, it's rewarding for the other person as well."

BR: Absolutely. 

MJ: So I love that thought. And then secondly, celebrating good things. I think sometimes I have a tendency when I'm going through a hard thing, being super happy for other people that are going through good things like I'm like "I cannot go to another bridal shower" like so help me, and you do have to like, have boundaries and protect yourself. But at the same time, like being happy for other people and recognizing that good things are going to come to you as you're happy for other people. And then lastly, feeling those hard things that other people are feeling. So I think those are such good points. 

BR: Thank you so much. Yeah, I think in my life, when I know I'm right with God, I can do those. I somehow make time to show up. I somehow can be happy even if things are hard for us. And somehow I can feel enough to love in the way they need to be loved without it obviously taking over your life and making something that, you know, where you are all of a sudden, so deep in a hole that you know, you can't help others. But I think the Atonement really helps us be able to make those things happen when it's our desire. 

MJ: Yeah, absolutely. I love too, Brooke, earlier you said something about you said, "You know, I've been the new person in an area." And you have been that's the whole reason you started your first blog, right? In Michigan.

BR: I was new. Yeah. And some places we've lived, we've moved about 13 times, and we've been married almost 20 years. And so sometimes you go somewhere, and you are loved immediately, and people bring you in, and it's so easy. And you think "Oh, this is you know, this is where I belong, this feels so good." And then other times, it doesn't go that way. And there is real effort and real work that is often not reciprocated. And that's one of the things that people said to me so often was like, "I've been trying, I've been trying so hard," you know, because sometimes people say I don't have friends, but they've never invited someone to dinner, they've never asked someone to go on a walk, they've never started a playgroup, they've never said ask somebody if they want to go to dinner, you know, and, and those are all things that we have to realize, you know, we're not special enough to never have to do any work to make a friend so we do have to put the effort into it. But there are times when we've put a ton of effort into it and the friendships just don't come. And that's when I love what you said, open your circle, you know, look elsewhere, I think, especially as members of the Church often we assume that our ward must be our friendship base, you know, and sometimes we're lucky enough to have that. And sometimes we need to go further. And I think maybe you need to look, you know, maybe you join a group, or volunteering somewhere, or finding people at a soccer game, because and it's not so much that those people don't want you. But I think the Lord has a different path, and He might need you somewhere else. And if you're super comfortable, and if everything works within your two block radius, you may never extend yourself further. And that's maybe where you need to be. Maybe, and this is hard for me sometimes when I feel overwhelmed or like I just need a friend, but sometimes someone might need you. And I think the Lord has a path and a plan for us. And maybe He's ready for you to make friends with the older woman in your word. Or maybe there's someone that's lonely, that doesn't maybe seem all that fun, but maybe needs a friend. And that's where you need to go. And so just really being in tune, especially when you feel like you've hit a roadblock with friendship, being in tune to where the Lord has a friend in store for you. Because I know He does. I know his intent was never for us to walk any of these paths alone. And so keep looking.

MJ: Yeah, I think that's something Brooke, that has been a little bit tough for people in regard to ministering. I think that it requires so much more thought and effort. And obviously like what you were just talking about, it's nice because the Lord is telling us, I've always loved this about visiting teaching. I was always like, it's like one of the only times that God tells you who He wants you to be friends with, you know, like mission companions and visiting teaching. But I think that ministering is trickier because it requires more work.

BR: It does. 

MJ: And so I think that it's interesting because it does require kind of sitting in a space where it's like, "What do I say next?" and relying on the spirit. How is ministering kind of changing the way that we're connecting as sisters in the Church?

BR: Well, I love thinking of it as a higher law. Like Heavenly Father said, you're ready, you're ready to do more, you're ready to feel more, you're ready to be more. And I also think He knew how badly we were going to need connection. Not a once a month visit but someone in person who cares about us and cares about our family and cares about what's going on, because it was so easy to visit once a month and leave a message and say, "Hey, let me know if you need anything," and walk away. Right?

MJ: Check! 

BR: Yeah, done. 100% visiting teacher, but it is a little bit more uncomfortable for all of us to say, "Okay, how does this person needs me? How does this person want to be loved? What do her kids need right now, you know? And making it a lot broader is difficult. But it's also incredibly rewarding. I think relationships can be built with ministering if we do it right. And I'm not saying it's easy, because there are some times where I'm like, "Oh, I'm crummy at this." But sometimes I say "That was amazing. I was there for her exactly when she needed to meet to be because I was listening to the Spirit. And that meant something to her." And I think if we just keep trying and keep being in tune, you've got to know your people, though, you have to know...it goes back to what is being a friend, you have to know what's going on in their lives. And you have to show up. And you've got to feel and you've got to do all those things that we talked about, you've got to celebrate with them. And then you've got to love them the way they want to be loved. You know, I've got one friend who isn't super into the church stuff. And so we've been able to connect on all kinds of different levels. And it's one of my most favorite relationships that I have that I wouldn't even have an opportunity to have had I not been assigned, you know, that many years ago to her. But it has nothing to do with the gospel, it has everything to do with just loving each other, loving each other's families.

MJ: Yeah, I think that that's so true. And so much of it again, it goes back to just sitting in the spaces that sometimes it may be completely out of your comfort zone

BR: Well and we have to be uncomfortable to grow. Right? If all I ever had to do was take somebody a meal, that wouldn't be hard for me at all. But you know, asking someone, "Are you okay? Like, how are you dealing with what's going on? Like, I'm feeling really badly about this, are you okay?" That's uncomfortable. You know, I don't always want to do that. But when I do, the way people open up, the way we can relate to each other is just really incredible. But those relationships don't come from me dropping dinner off, they can start from me dropping dinner off, but they don't continue, they don't deepen unless we're willing to go somewhere that is a little uncomfortable for us. And I'm just 100% sure that it's where we need to be.

MJ: Yeah, I want to kind of shift gears a little bit. In terms of raising children, connecting with children, this is something that Brooke, I know nothing about. I am a child who tries to connect with my parents, but I have never been on the opposite end. And this is something that you've talked a lot about. So how do you kind of model this with your children, both in terms of helping them learn to connect with others and then connecting with them?

BR: We might want to just give a little background, I have four boys who aren't, you know, you wouldn't say connection is high priority always with boys, three of them are teenagers right now. And so it is not—connection isn't just easy. One of the things that I think is really important for us as parents, but as people too is to be able to appreciate differences. And I've thought about this a lot. And this isn't quite to children, but I'll get there, there's a woman my life that we are complete opposites. And I wasn't quite sure for a long time, I thought it was wrong, the way she did things, the way she thought about things, what she appreciated, what was important to her, I thought it was wrong, like I was right and she was wrong. And as I've grown up and matured a little bit, one of the things that I am sure of is that God loves variety. He loves variety, and He put all of us, you know, trees, flowers, animals, all those things, because variety makes Him happy. and He knows that it's what we need. And so as I have grown in my relationship with this woman, I started instead of seeing her differences as problems or as fault, I started seeing them as gifts, as a way to help me think differently, to see things differently. I started seeing where my weaknesses were her strengths. And I started to be grateful for that. And it has it completely changed things for me. And I think it's it's a lesson that I tried to use with anyone who I feel like I'm not quite on the same plane with it's really easy to think that differences are wrong, but differences are wonderful. And so I've tried to do the same thing with my kids because believe it or not, even though they come right from me, we are so different in so many ways. And so the first thing that I that's really helped with my relationship and with connecting with my kids is to start seeing their differences as really great strengths and opportunities. You know, maybe stubbornness is very frustrating as a parent, but to start saying, "Wow, you're going to do some great things in this world because you don't give up." And sometimes I look at another child and I think, "Wow, you're really not very motivated. This might be a problem." And instead, I think, "But you are so happy and you are so friendly. And you're so loving, that I'm sure things are going to be great." And so as with our kids, one of the things I say is would you ever want to connect with someone who only tells you all your faults, and all the things that are wrong with you, and all the things that don't make them happy about who you are, you would never choose was to connect with that person. And so sometimes when we're not connecting with our kids, I think sometimes going back to what our relationship is with them and saying, am I positive? Am I someone that they're interested in making a relationship with? Or am I constantly tearing them down, lecturing, and there's a place for that we're parents, right? We've got to make sure that people are staying on the path that will bring them to success. But in the meantime, there's a lot of good that's going on that we often don't realize, or maybe we just don't vocalize. So connecting with our kids, the first thing that I try to do is really love them for who they are and truly like them for who they are, too. And it can be a challenge, depending on what stage you're in, for sure.

MJ: Yeah, I definitely can see that just in my own family with my siblings, like, we are all so so different. And sometimes it's like, how are we raised by the same parents? You know, like, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. But I look at it and I'm like, I'm so glad they're my family, you know? 

BR: Yeah, it wouldn't work without it. Right? My family wouldn't work, even my little family with my teenagers. They're teaching me things, they're helping me grow. I feel really strongly that we were put here in the families that we have, so that we all have the best chance of getting back to our Heavenly Father. And so sometimes it's through trials, that I'm learning and growing. And sometimes it's through their thoughts or their experiences. And sometimes I hope they're the same, like some of the things that I'm doing are doing the same thing for them. But I think we're put in the families that we are, in order to give us all the best chance we have of getting back to our Father in Heaven.

MJ: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Another question that I had in regard to parenting is, I think sometimes, as adults, we model insecurities in our way of connecting or making friends. And I think sometimes, then we don't manifest true confidence or self-worth for children, or for those that are younger than us in my case. So for you, how would you say that we can better models true confidence and self-worth as we strive to have better connections in our lives?

BR: Well, I thought, when I was a teenager, I thought the minute I got married, all of my failures and inadequacies, all my temptations, all of that would just go away. And I'd be this adult, right, who never felt sad, and who never felt insecure, and all those things. 

MJ: I think we all think that. I have this distinct memory of thinking, at some point, I'm just going to understand finances completely, because I'm an adult.

BR: Because I'm an adult, right? It's just going to work like, you know, like an assembly line at, you know, Ford Motor Company. And it's just going to be clockwork. And I've been surprised at how challenging so much of growing up as an adult really is. And I thought I would never feel insecure when I wasn't worried about getting asked dance. But we do feel those things. And I think we feel those things so that we can have empathy. I think we're supposed to feel that way. I was supposed to sit alone at a party, so that I could remember what it felt like to sit alone. And so that I would reach out and be better the next time. So I wouldn't just get so comfortable in what it felt like to have friends. But I think if we start understanding our worth, if we start understanding where we come from what we're capable of, and then if we're willing to be on the path that God has laid out for us, our unique path, then I think we can have a lot of confidence even when things aren't going right. Even when we're feeling like nothing's measuring up. I was in a yoga class not too long ago. And we were doing...and it was the end of class. And so she was doing some guided meditation. And so she said, "I want you to fill in this blank I am ______." And so she started with all these words. And she said, "I am fabulous, I am smart, I am successful," you know, she's going through this list. And I was in a bad spot. Some things were going on in my family that were so hard and I was feeling like a failure. And I could not honestly say any of those words, and it was so hard. And I was just sitting there in the quiet and the word "trying" came to me. And I said I can say that word, "I am trying. I am trying and it's not working out. But I am trying. And right now, that's about all I've got." And then as the Spirit confirmed that that was my word. And that was enough. Trying in that moment was enough. And I think as we help our children understand that trying is enough, progression is enough. And sometimes things don't work out because this is life. And it's hard. And it's supposed to be that way. And we're supposed to grow and learn. And then we're supposed to find happiness in the trying. We're supposed to find peace and reassurance as we're trying. And I think in our relationships with our kids and connections with others, putting that effort. God recognizes effort. And He understands our hearts. And when we're doing those things, He's going to make up the difference. And it's not going to be tomorrow. all my problems didn't go away, because I felt confident with my place with God. But I was able to get through those times. And I was able to say trying is enough. And as we teach our children that, you know, maybe we don't have the happiest family right now. But we're trying. We're doing those family activities. We're saying family prayer, we were a few years ago, we are trying to have morning scripture study. And it was going really well for all but one of my children, and he was not interested. He was not interested in scripture study. And he was certainly not interested in waking up early to have scripture study. And so few years ago, and we really like...as parents, we really like our kids to do the right thing. And we like them to do what we want them to do on our timetable and all those things. And so when he wouldn't come to scripture study, there was a little bit of a different vibe from us as parents, we were a little bugged, we were a little annoyed. And then every now and then he'd accidentally make it to scripture study and, and then we would be very happy and very encouraging. And he came to me and he said, "Mom, I feel like you guys only like me when you when I come to scripture study." And it hit me so hard, because I thought, these are the words of Christ that I'm reading. And He didn't have a caveat whether He loved someone or not, whether someone was welcome, whether He was happy with somebody, you didn't have to do all the right things to be loved by Jesus. And as a parent, I never wanted to feel that way again. And so it was off the table, I wanted my children to see that the gospel brings me joy and purpose, and teaches me how to love in a way that nothing else has ever been able to teach me how to love. And so I need to be an example of that. And so, scripture study was optional, and we love it, if you would come. And if you didn't, we still love him. And we were still happy with him. And I think it's really important for our kids, especially in this day and age when so many of them are dealing with so many things to know that there's unconditional love from their parents, and when they feel that connections happen. And I think we can be guaranteed of those.

MJ: Thank you for sharing. I love that experience. That's beautiful and so true. I think that in all these forms of connection that we've been talking about we see that if we're following the example of Jesus Christ, he doesn't discriminate, depending on where He's meeting us. He is there and loves us. Regardless, I want to touch on that one other form of connection before we wrap up, which is connection with God. I wondered how your desire to connect with your children, or even with those around you and kind of paying attention to this idea of connection? What has that taught you about God's desire to connect with us?

BR: It's actually a really humbling question because I realize I'm not as good as I should be. As a parent, all I want is for my kids to be able to come to me. In their happy and their sad times. I want them to make me a part of their life, I want to be the first person that they go to if something is wrong, not so that I can fix it because it's just not possible sometimes, but so that I can walk through it with them. And I realized that I often hold back from my Heavenly Father, I don't invite Him into all those corners of my life. I'm good at saying my prayers. I'm decent at reading scriptures. But that act of inviting Him into my life, and changing me and being okay with that. I'm not good. I don't share all of my happy times, I'm really good at begging, when things aren't going well. But I think I could do so much better at making Him a part of my life in the way that I hope my kids want me as a part of their life I need, I need to be better at just sharing my heart with Him. Saying I'm struggling and I don't have the answers, saying this is going so well and I'm so grateful right now for what it is. I need to be better about inviting Him in in more spaces of my life and more often, and with a more willing heart to do that. And so I as I was thinking about things that we were going to talk about today, I realized that that was somewhere where I need to improve. And I know that I can do that through prayer. When I say my prayers in the morning, and I ask for Him to be with me, I find so many opportunities to connect and I connect with Him and others. When I write places where I've seen Him in my life, it does a lot for me to realize that He's not so far away, that He is orchestrating my life and my path in the way that He wants it to go that will bring happiness, if I follow it. So I need to do better at those. But those morning prayers, and then recognizing His hand has been something that has worked for me in the past.

MJ: Yeah. I, yesterday, went for a walk. And it was interesting because I ended up having a very weird day. But yesterday morning, I got up and I went for a walk and my headphones died. And I thought, you know what, I'm just going to pray while I walk. And so for a good half hour, I just talked to God. And I realized how rarely I do that. But I told him about the things that I was concerned about, I told him went through every member of my family and why I was grateful for them, the things that I wanted for them. And I realized that when we take a second to do that, when we take a little bit more time to spend time with God. My whole day, I felt His love so much more. And so I think that there's so much value in just stopping. I think I have a tendency with my prayers to just talk at God and then just be like, I'm done. Right? See ya. Hang up. And we've got to facilitate that conversation better in order to feel that connection to him.

BR: Well, I've been working really hard at being still, which is not something that comes easily to me. And I have noticed such a change in my heart and also in my actions because I can hear Him, not voices. That's what I always wanted those as a kid, I wanted voices, but I can feel Him. I get impressions, I know where I'm supposed to go and what I'm supposed to do. And I get perspective changes, where I start to be able to understand things through his eyes, which is so valuable when things maybe aren't all going as you planned, which, unfortunately, is fairly often

MJ: Things rarely go as planned. Yeah, no, and I think having the gift to see, I've been thinking a lot about with "Come Follow Me" this week spiritual gifts and the gift to see is just as valuable as the gift to hear voices, you know, there are so many different gifts. And it goes back to that idea of variety and that we need everyone, we need everything. We need to connect with others in order to use all of those gifts that we've been given together. Because our powers combined are always going to be more valuable than our individual gifts.

BR: And that's been so important, especially as you work with people, you know, in your ward that maybe think differently than you do instead of saying, "I don't like the way they do this." But like, "What could I learn from it?" You know, because sometimes, our ways need to be a little rounded out. And we need a new perspective, or we need a new way of thinking about something so that we can connect with as many people as possible.

MJ: Yeah. Well, Brooke, thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful thoughts with us. I feel like I need like a checklist to go through and just be like, "Okay, these are things that I'm working on this week. And then next week, we'll move on to another one." But thank you so much. In conclusion, what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

BR: Because I knew this question was coming. I've been thinking about it. And it was hard because there were so many answers that came to me. But the one that really stuck was that for me to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ means that I see others as God sees them. That means that I give people the benefit of the doubt, that I forgive when it's hard, that I see the best parts of people, and that I have a real desire to want to be better because of that. I think it's so easy for us to stay inside ourselves. But when we're really willing to look at others as God sees them, that we're able to understand that we're all here for the same purpose. And so for me, at the end of the day, I know that I'm all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when I'm looking at others and seeing them as God sees them.

MJ: Thank you so much. I think that when if you were to really boil the gospel of Jesus Christ down, that's what it is, right? It's learning to see people the way that Christ sees them. So I love that answer. And that's a new one. Good job. But we just thank you. I can't thank you enough for sharing these thoughts and experiences and we've got a lot to work on. So I'll get to work myself.

BR: Thanks, Morgan. It was great.

MJ: Thank you to Brooke Romney for joining me on this week's episode. You can find Brooke on the TOFW stage this fall and by visiting BrookeRomney.com. Please don't forget to leave us a rating or review if you haven't already. And we'll be back with you again next week. Thanks so much.