Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mostly Good...

I have thought a lot about a defining moment. Heard people talk about them. Watched light bulbs go on over other people's head. Had some go on over my own head, but not in a life-changing way. As usual, I guess I set my standards so high that perhaps I've missed many defining moments along the way.

Defining moment is sort of limiting, anyway. One instance that gets to frame who you are? I mean in biblical terms, when God appears and says, "YOU ARE GOING TO PART THE RED SEA," yes, that would certainly be a defining moment. But God has never yelled at, or to me. He whispers, nudges, plays jokes, leads me to books and parking spaces, and if I didn't believe in Him so fervently I would probably shrug off those moments as coincidences.

Even the revelations I do have can hardly be called revelations. I simply wake up one day and think, "OH! Why didn't I realize that?" All very anti-climactic in terms of defining moments. However, all of these moments help me see myself more clearly. This weekend I tried to explain to my heartbroken teenager that pain is what makes you grow. That through suffering, you develop empathy and depth and compassion. You learn your limits, your strengths and weaknesses, sometimes you shine and sometimes you curl up in the fetal position and sob, and all of that is okay in that moment.

In that moment though, even as I talked to her, I had realized that my limit is one of my children being hurt. I wasn't feeling empathy or compassion. Nope. I felt rage. Rage that my baby was in pain. Rage that I couldn't fix it. Rage that someone would stomp on her precious heart. Rage, rage, rage...light bulb. All these years, all these self-help books, all these hours upon hours of introspection, and awareness exercises, and living mindfully, and there I was--the person I'd worked so hard not to be.

Then God, in His sneaky way, spoke right through Chloe and said, "Mom, you always taught me that the good should outweigh the bad." And I knew I had to let go of the anger and forgive the person who hurt her. And then, for the first time I can remember, I was able to forgive myself, too. I was able to look at the person I am: the good, the bad, the past and the present and realize that yes, I have a quick temper and an almost pathological aversion to dirt. I could own the fact that I have a drastically low tolerance for ignorance and the mouth of a truck driver. I will admit that all three of my kids talking at the same time makes me want to jump out of a window. And even taking all that into consideration, I can still say that I am mostly good.