When my husband really wants to make my hackles rise, he tells me that I’m just like my mother.
He knows I’m actually very different from my mom in many ways. He also knows that the best way to get under my skin is to remind me that my mother and I aren’t as different as I like to think. We actually share some key traits.
The most obvious of these is that we aren’t driven by a passion for materials possessions. Instead, we are motivated by trying to improve our imperfections. We are also attracted to other people who are trying to do the same.
That is why I appreciated spending eight hours in the car with a colleague last week on the way to and from meetings in another part of the state. During out time together, the two of us identified five truths about life:
1. Forgiving people who admit their mistakes is easier than forgiving those who don’t. Forgive them anyway. If we don’t, we are the ones who suffer.
2. If we only do the right thing in hopes for a reward – whether now, in the future or in the hereafter, we aren’t embracing the true spirit of “doing the right thing.” Goodness comes from the heart with the intention of improving the lives of others and the world – not improving our own lives.
3. We have absolutely no right to judge the decisions other people make based on our own circumstances. There is an immense difference between identifying ways to help and belittling or deriding others. People who grow up in any type of poverty, whether financial, emotional or supportive, haven’t benefited from the resources or support networks that many of us were fortunate to have. Criticizing them doesn’t add to their emotional reserves or their decision-making abilities. Helping them identify new possibilities does.
4. We can’t define ourselves by our jobs or our role in the community. Whether we are a business owner, teacher, banker or stay–at-home mom, who we are does not change based on our most successful venture or prestigious recognition. We can only be defined by our actions, how we treat others and how we behave in the face of adversity and hate.
5. No one had perfect parents and no one is a perfect parent. We all struggle and we all approach the role differently. But if we had a mother who loved, cared for and challenged us, we were given a great gift. Like any gift, we should be appreciative and use it to as a model for providing gifts for others. We should also appreciate, rather than deny, when someone says “you are just like your mother.”