A little background for those who have not read my blog here is in order. I was raised in Judaism, attended synagogue with my family, went to Hebrew School until I was 16, and became a Bat Mitzvah at 13. The religion was also practiced in our home, with the lighting of the Shabbos […]
My writing writes me. Sometimes the words come through while I am awake, eyes wide open. Much of what pours out arrives in the wee hours, while in dreamland. This morning’s missive was one of those.
Recently I was speaking with someone whose view of himself was dim. He had impossibly high standards, with the intent of finding favor with God. Ironically, hellfire and brimstone was not part of his upbringing. He didn’t ascribe to a belief that he was going to burn if he took a misstep. It was more of a sense of not having a ‘life well lived’. This, despite the fact that he was relatively young, in his 30’s. We spoke about the formation of his self-flagellation. Likely its onset was childhood. He was a lonely kiddo, without many friends. He read into that, that he must not be likable and carried that into his adulthood. Since spirituality was part of his paradigm, we decided to use the Divine as part of our discussion. He accepted the concept that we are made in the image and likeness of God. I then asked how he saw God. His response was ‘kind, compassionate, loving’. My natural rebound was that if this was the case, by extension, wouldn’t he be also? A small smile spread across his face, as he nodded, “I guess so.” Not totally convinced, we continued to meander down a path that had him sharing what kind, compassionate and loving acts he might engage in. I then asked if he could see himself the way God saw him, how might that feel? He admitted that it would feel pretty good. I suggested that he put his God-glasses on.
I too, experience ‘not-enough-ness’ as I wonder what more I can do to feel worthy. I can list stuff that I do to make the world a better place. I hold space for others to do that as well, and yet…I trail off wistfully. I imagine that you feel that way from time to time. I attempt to take my own inventory each day, asking if what I am about to do is of benefit not only to myself but to others as well and if what I am about to do is of benefit to myself and not just others. I learned to be self-sacrificial since my parents modeled that behavior, or at least I interpreted it that way. My father was one who would ‘take the shirt off his back’ for other people and yet, would repeat the concept that ‘charity begins at home.’ I never felt neglected when he would volunteer time at the synagogue and the local firehouse. I didn’t feel as if we mattered less than our community when my mother volunteered at the hospital. They didn’t do it to earn brownie points. They did it because they could. They did it because they were mensches, translated from Yiddish as ‘good people.’ I would like to think that my motivation is the same. Sometimes I doubt that what I do has an impact. Then I remember that we all form ripples on the pond with our actions.
How do I imagine the Divine views me? Perhaps as a thriving human being who need not be a human ‘doing’ to feel like she is enough. Might be like someone who has lofty visions for what her life can be that has her reaching and striving to be more than she thought was possible. Could be a woman who lets loose on the world, the gifts, skills, and talents she has been given. One of them is embracing the world by offering FREE Hugs. I have hugged people in Philly, DC, NY, and Portland, at train stations and airports, at my polling place on a few Election Days, on street corners and street fairs, at sporting events, festivals and rallies. This past May I hugged my way across Ireland.
In the past few days, seven friends have sent me the video of a toddler hugging people at an outdoor event. How lovely that they see me that way.
Perhaps I need to put my God-glasses on.