| Family Reflections |

I’m A-Okay

Accepting ourselves and our loved ones, imperfections and all, makes us feel secure

"My sister-in-law gets up at 5:30 a.m., jogs for 40 minutes, comes home, showers and gets dressed, makes a hot breakfast for her children and has them fed and the kitchen cleaned by 8:30. She tells me that she likes the kids to be able to relax a bit before they start their morning.

“I, on the other hand, force myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m., and then rush around as fast as I can and still don’t manage to get everyone (including myself) dressed and fed before nine. I feel like I’m working so hard, but every morning is a struggle to be on time. I don’t know how she does it. Our kids are the same age, we have the same tasks, but I just can’t get everything done. And forget the jogging — that’s not even on my radar.”

Yup. That’s how it goes. Different people have different abilities. One is an organizational whiz and the other isn’t. And the one who isn’t has other talents and abilities — or doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter because life isn’t a competition between two sisters-in-law or between anyone else; we’re all on our own individual journeys.

We're All Flawed

“Sure, we’re all different and that’s fine and dandy. But when you’re different in a bad way like I am, it’s really hard to be self-accepting. I have learning disabilities that held me back when I was in school and they continue to affect me in adulthood.

“For example, I’m terrible with numbers, which gave me grief in math classes and now affects my banking and record keeping. I have a bad memory for dates that caused me to do poorly in history class and currently makes it hard for me to remember my family’s birthdays and anniversaries. I have always had trouble with face recognition and this continues to put me in embarrassing situations all the time (like failing to recognize one of my cousins last week). I could go on, but you get the idea. I sometimes feel broken, like there’s just something so wrong with me and everyone else functions so normally.”

Yes, you’re a bit broken. Just as Hashem designed you. And me. And everyone else. Some have that little OCD wire installed in their brains and they battle their thoughts and behaviors all the time. Some are plagued with anxiety and, although you don’t see it, suffer over every little decision they have to make and every action they have to take. Some have trouble controlling their tempers, others fight cravings and addictions you know nothing about, and so on and on and on. Just because someone doesn’t have your type of brokenness, doesn’t mean that they’re perfectly fine. No one is perfectly fine and if someone thinks she is, then she suffers from one of the biggest flaws of all: arrogance!

Feeling Insecure

“My husband is on the short and fat side. I love him — he has a great personality. But my younger sisters both married really handsome men. When we’re all together, I feel like some sort of loser. I feel terrible for feeling that way and guilty for having unkind thoughts toward my husband, but it’s the truth: He literally doesn’t measure up.”

Our spouses and kids are extensions of us. When we’re in the competitive space, we can feel like we've failed because of their imperfections in addition to our own. This puts so much pressure on us. How can we ensure that all ten of us will be better than all seven of you? Or five of you? Or eight? What if my kids are terribly behaved but yours are little robotic angels?

Insecurity is the inability to accept ourselves. Security is the ability to do so. Acceptance, however, can’t occur if you think you have to be perfect. Acceptance means that you can see what’s wrong with you, work on strengthening yourself, but find yourself loveable even with your obvious deficits. It means knowing that you have to lose weight and being fine with that, and all your other imperfections. It means knowing that your child isn’t the smartest in his class and being fine with that, and all his other flaws and failings, and the flaws and failings of your other kids and those of your spouse.

Self-acceptance, a form of unconditional love, produces an unshakeable security that helps us enjoy ourselves, our loved ones, and our life.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 705)

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