You know what's kind of funny? When you understand a "truth" to be true for others, but not necessarily for yourself. I can see how others have put forward every possible ounce of effort, I can lift up their successes, I can see their failures as mere stepping stones rather than road blocks. I can look at any other human being on earth, and see their humanity, appreciate their gifts, and view them as worthy of all the goodness that life has to offer.
Not so much.
I am quick to understand that God sees all as precious, and yet often add a silent "except for..." when it comes to myself. It isn't something I do consciously, it just sort of happens.
I think many women do, not just me.
I have deemed myself never quite good enough, never quite smart enough, never "worthy" enough, and I don't really know why. Every day, I feel as if I "coulda, shoulda, woulda" done more, that I haven't quite done enough to help the kids through all the challenges they have, that I want to be more for Dominick as he works so hard, that I haven't reached out to my friends enough. Seldom do I sit back at the end of the day and think to myself, "Yes! Today I really rocked it!" I don't know if part of is it cultural expectations gone awry, my own internal sense of self, or something else I have yet to put my finger on. All I know is that since I was very young, I have been my own worst critic.
Our family, in particular, has been blessed time and time again, and not just in little ways, but in enormous ways, with very real commitment and care. It always leaves me feeling as if I can never do enough to repay the generosity and kindness of others, though I desperately wish I could. We have been cared for better than any family I know, in a million different ways, and at the end of the day, I often ask, "Why? Why us?", for there is no reason I can discern for God to have wrapped us up in so much love and goodness.
Next Sunday afternoon, I am embarking on a very special trip, an early gift for my 50th birthday...a
I should be excited, dancing in the streets, hardly able to contain myself, yet most of what I have felt is that I am unworthy of such a gift, guilt because of leaving the family for so long, and concern that I could never offer such a thing in return, despite the fact that I know this is freely and lovingly offered.
My God loves me a heck of a lot more than I love myself, and through this experience, which is perhaps one of the first blessings that is really and truly all about me, I have discovered how my lack of self-worth has caused me to miss something special in the lead up to this trip...I have ruined the joy of anticipation with my sense of being undeserving. It is particularly ironic, largely because this is the very thing I have worked so darned hard on with Olesya, to try and build her self-esteem, to help her see herself as worthy in every possible way. I am a big one for modeling behavior, and I have failed on this one, Big Time.
As we sat around the table tonight creating a menu and going over schedules for the time I will be gone, it was obvious that everyone was excited for me, and that they were happy I was getting a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Dominick smiled and said he totally has it covered. I swear, that man is a better mom than I am, sitting there with his schedule all coordinated, meals laid out with each kid cooking one day a week, grocery list already started. Wayyy more organized than I am! They all want me to relax and enjoy myself, and, sadly, it seems I am not quite sure what that looks like anymore, or how to "have fun" for more than 10 minutes without jumping up to move on to the next task. What I do know is that they are all quite capable, and they really aren't "babies" anymore, not by a long shot. I was reminded tonight by them that I have no reason to feel guilt about leaving them, as they are all excited to enter into their own "adventure" without Mom around for a bit.
This morning our sermon once again spoke to me. Initially, it had me thinking in a couple of totally different directions, but as I sat down to write this blog post tonight, it was something that hit me a bit about this as well. The message was based on Psalm 67, which starts with: "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us..."
Duh. God doesn't view any of us as unworthy, not even me, and is instead gracious and good to us, God wants to smile upon us, to bring light and hope to us, and to refresh our weary souls. I have so very much to internalize, not just know in my head, but to take in deep and let my soul be changed by it.
So I have decided that this is where it ends, that I am going to stop viewing this marvelous gift ahead of me as something to feel unworthy of. Well, that might take a lot of work, but I am going to at least try to enter into the coming week with enthusiasm and excitement, to put aside a lot of the heaviness that has been a hard load to carry the past year or two and see this as a a way of God wrapping me up in a hug. I will grab my camera, pack my bag, and set aside all labor to go play. No teaching, no laundry, no cooking, no guiding, no planning, no grading, no robbing Peter to pay Paul, no feeling like I am never quite doing enough. It'll all be waiting here for me when I return, and a fresh perspective will surely bring a lighter-hearted Cindy back home, ready to dig in and deal with the myriad challenges that are coming our way this year, that are too many to mention.
May we all feel worthy, as we truly are.
May we all feel loved, as we freely are.
May we all feel blessed, as we surely are.