I stumble. I fall. I strive to do my best, but sometimes my best doesn’t feel all that good.
I want to do the right thing, but while sometimes the answer is crystal clear, sometimes it is far from it. The picture is cloudy, the right answer hidden somewhere in the fog.
I want to be a good person. I want to do the right thing – except for those moments when I temporarily feel like I don’t. Except for those moments when I wish I didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons and spend so much time and energy thinking, analyzing, evaluating.
And yet I know that one of my biggest measures of success is being able to look myself in the mirror – with as clear a conscience as possible, knowing that I did my best.
Even so, there are days when I make mistakes.
Sometimes I do things I wish I hadn’t; sometimes I don’t do things I wish I had. Sometimes my emotions are very mixed.
Sometimes the answer or the right course of action isn’t clear and I feel like I’ve failed no matter what I do. I feel stuck, uncertain.
Sometimes I wish I had handled a situation differently, even though I have no idea what I should have done instead.
There are days when I want to run away from it all, not forever, but for now.
I want to scream and cry and rage, but I know I would feel guilty and hold back.
I want to shake and rattle the world, but I will often put on a smile and cry or vent behind closed doors.
No I am not perfect. And in my more clearheaded and clearhearted moments, I feel like – I KNOW that – G-d loves me anyway, even with all my imperfections. That He knows He created me as an imperfect human being and is proud to see me trying to do my best. That when He sees me striving, even when He sees me stumbling, feeling remorse and trying again, I am still His daughter, and He loves me there too.
I have spent years trying to be ‘perfect’, pray ‘perfectly’, behave ‘perfectly’, make ‘perfect’ choices – and the results were far from perfect. Instead of feeling elevated, I felt more distant from G-d and my soul. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulder, feeling like I was letting G-d and my community down when I would get distracted, lose focus on prayer or, more generally, in life. And there are still times – and will likely continue to be situations – where I feel conflicted inside and wish I could just easily and simply do the right thing.
I put so much pressure on myself to do, do, do what I felt I should be doing, needed to do, that it became something so different from what the Loving G-d would have ever wanted for me.
And so I have learned that in many areas of life, less is more.
I’m learning that perfection is elusive, striving to do my best is much healthier and more realistic.
I have learned to be more forgiving of myself, that lapses and mistakes and moments where I knew better don’t define my worth as a person, but rather they describe what it IS to be a human being. Yes, I could perhaps be perfect – if I were a robot, if I weren’t a human being with wants, needs and feelings. Yes, I could perhaps be perfect – if I were an angel, without the conflicting and sometimes oh-so-strong emotions and inclinations.
Just like I wouldn’t expect anybody else to be perfect, and just like I love my family and friends even though they aren’t perfect, I have been learning to be more loving towards myself. Learning to be – I’m not there yet, and I have a feeling that in many ways this is the journey of a lifetime.