Imagine for a moment that you at once let go of all those inane notions of your own holiness, and trusted entirely that you were human, rubbish through and through, yet full of a goodness entirely not your own.
As I watch the women around me, I see many desperately clinging to an “I-having-it-together-ness” as if it, and not the goodness of G-d, were their salvation. We parade our patience, kindness, and gentleness as if it were our own hard-earned accomplishment. Consequently, when we drop the ball, yell at our kids, get grouchy with our spouses, or drink too much wine, we are left aghast wondering how in the world such a wonderful we could do such a terrible deed!
Pride condemns us to a constant concern with failure and performance. And the self-hatred we nurse is just as indicative of pride as the Napoleonic self-inflation that we typically associate with the proud….
Perfectionism and self-deprecation both draw their energy from the deep wells of pride.
But there is a better option: Humility and self-forgiveness.
Humility releases us from clinging to the fear that our failures might tarnish our perfect nature. Humility knows that the opposite is actually true; our nature is absolutely imperfect, and the successes in goodness, kindness, and patience we display are miracles of divine intervention. Let that make a nest for itself in your heart.
While the inferiority of the soul is only one part of the humility puzzle, to deny it is to set your self up for a lifetime of trying to avoid mistakes and denying your faults. To refuse your inferiority and choose the neuroticism of perfection is to live an inauthentic life that denies your child the fruit of loving the true you. The death of the body has nothing on the drudgery of the proud.
In the face of such opportunity for joy and release, I want to encourage my reader:
Motherhood is undeniably an adventure in love, surprise, time and priority-management. Motherhood is also a journey in self-forgiveness and humility. We are not the best mothers we can be, we don’t do everything perfect or always say the right thing. We don’t give our children every opportunity, and we don’t live up to the glaring expectations of the “other mothers" (whoever they are). No, what we do is pursue holiness and goodness with all the freedom of one who knows the destination is in the journey. Humility knows how to laugh at itself, enjoys its children, and sees in them not a reflection of failure but a celebration of striving. Parenthood is a long road travelled by broken people and to deny your inadequacy is to reject the help of a benevolent G-d. The pursuit of perfection is blinding and it keeps us from the joy of true and honest connection with our children. As a new parent I have found freedom in my search for humility, and I hope you can do the same.
So this week – engage the discipline of letting go. Enjoy a delightful humility for yourself, your children, and your spouse. To this end, let us pray for one another.