...to everybody I have ever given advice to as though I know anything at all about anything.
No, I'm not depressed or getting down on myself. I am, however, realizing how much I have let pride and insecurity (nice combo, right?) drive my actions, decisions, and words over my lifetime.
I'm writing it here so that I will be able to find these words again when I need them:
My value is not dependent on being right.
My value is not dependent on my performance as daughter, mother, wife, friend, mentor, teacher, writer, homemaker, or student.
My value is not dependent on whether I am living the 'good life' my peers, community, Church or family wish for me or for themselves.
My value is not dependent on having made the best decisions possible in the past, my decisions now or my decisions in the future.
My value is not dependent on whether others think well of me, admire me, emulate me, respect me, or seek me out. It is not dependent on the love or esteem of my spouse, children, parents, community, pastor, friends, neighbors, strangers or people on the internet.
My value as a person is not dependent on whether I succeed in living out those values I have embraced in the past, embrace now, or will embrace in the future.
I am not a better, holier, or even more fortunate person for having been a SAHM, a homeschooler, a cloth diaperer, a co-sleeper, a home birther, or any other label or lifestyle. Labels apply to positions and preferences, not to people.
Corollaries: I am not so important. My children's entire future does not depend on having an ideal childhood now. My husband's happiness is not my responsibility. I do not have the ability to choose good or evil for another person. I cannot save others by pretending to be more, or less, than I am. I am not the Saviour.
So what is important? Where do I find my value and purpose?
I guess I'm a slow learner, but maybe it won't take too many more lessons to really learn the truth in this: I am a Child of God. My substance subsists in His substance. My Being is contingent on His BEing. My value derives from my origins and my destiny: I come from HIM, I live to return to HIM.
Nothing else counts. The rest is all....window dressing. Means to an end. Yes, I want to live a good life - but it is only a good life if it helps me to pick up all of the scattered remnants of myself to offer to Him.
"Man cannot fully find himself except through the sincere gift of self." (John Paul II, Gaudium et Spes 24). There's a conundrum in this - how can you give what you have not yet found? But surely I cannot find myself by hiding behind labels, abilities, occupation, even vocation. And how can I give myself to others when I am still defending my insecurities, fear, and pride?
So. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all the times I've judged someone else for their choices, mistakes and sins, for any time I've withheld mercy and compassion. I'm sorry for every time I have offered my own 'wisdom' when I should have just listened. I'm sorry to everyone I have tried to fix, everyone I have tried to teach what I have not yet succeeded in learning.
I'm sorry for the times I have boasted of my own successes or talents, or indulged in self-pity over my failures and shortcomings. I'm sorry for the times I have defended myself when I should have been humble or, worse, pretended a false humility in order to 'take the higher ground' in my own estimation.
Please forgive me and be patient with me.