I'm not. And I'm excited to tell you that today.
Last week, I had the privilege of attending Momentous Institute's Changing the Odds Conference. Those of you who have been around for years are accustomed to my "what inspired me" posts that come from this conference. This year, the topic was belonging. It was about the need we have as humans to be connected, and the importance of such connections for truly impacting our communities for the better. This made me think of the barriers we put in place to hold one other at a distance. We erect images of perfection like walls around our hearts, without any doors or windows, so that no one can come inside and see, or even take a peek at, our truths.
As a community of parents, let's be truth tellers. Let's have honest conversation as a way of connecting and offering genuine compassion to others. It takes courage to tell the truth, but doing so is the most effective way to truly serve and love others. It unites us beyond the walls, it unites us as humans who all struggle. Your truth may be just the thing someone else needed to hear. The reciprocity of your truth may be just the thing you need to heal. Mark Nepo, philosopher and poet, said:
"The mystery is that whoever shows up when we dare to give, has exactly what we need hidden in their trouble."
Let's be a school community of parents that is so much more than small talk. Let's not miss the opportunity of genuine fellowship. No person, no kid, no family is perfect. Not one. Let's live in the freedom of being the whole person God made us to be. We do not need to hide behind false images that keep others at a distance. Let's be brave, let's be a community that lives in truth and compassion and empathy and wholeness. Telling the truth is such a simple way to love and serve others, right where we are.
I don't know exactly what image I project or how I am perceived by our community. I certainly feel pressure for you all to see me as poised, confident, having it all together. A comment once made to me - "How do you do it all - a working mom of young children, I’m so impressed with how you always have it all together," once made me feel such pride, although, upon reflection, it should not have. Accepting that compliment from a mom in the hall that day put space between us. Accepting that mom's perception of me and allowing her to believe it as truth did not do anything to change me or her for the better. It didn't lead to a moment of connection, conversation, empathy, compassion, or growth. It was a missed opportunity. And, it's simply not the truth. I don't have it all together. Here are just a few current truths of mine.
- I struggle with work life balance every day.
- I feel guilty that I'm not more present for my family.
- I feel anxious over just about everything, including every social event and every speaking event.
- My son has struggled with anxiety since the day he was born.
- I wonder if that's my fault.
- I worry what people might think about him when they see his sometimes odd behavior. We've had to carry him out of birthday parties as he tantrums because he gets over-anxious or over-stimulated or because we're failing to raise him correctly OR WHO KNOWS WHAT. And I worry about that. Because I love him so much, just the way he is. And I want others to love and accept him, too.
- When my children don't behave appropriately, or normally, or kindly or PERFECTLY, I worry how that might make you all feel about me serving as your school leader.
Maybe this shatters the image of perfection some of you may see me project that has been plaguing me for so many years. But I don't want to be a slave to the impossible task of achieving perfection. Perfection is reserved for our Lord and Savior. My only super power is that I belong to Him. We are children of God. We are humans. Let's be willing to admit the impact of that to one another, so we may live in authentic connection and kinship as brothers and sisters in Christ. Let's make the Day School a safe haven where you are free to be fully, wholly, you. By doing so, you will be blessing others to be fully, wholly, them.