Return to Minister’s Columns
January 18, 2011
I am staying home today because of the weather.
In our culture we tend to tell ourselves that as an individual I can do anything; that I am in full control of my own life and of all that happens in it. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
How presumptuous and God-like.
There is power in the belief in self reliance and in the belief that I am in full control of everything that happens to me or in my life. With it I can achieve great things, things beyond even my wildest dreams. So it is a powerful belief.
Except that this belief leaves out little things, things like earthquakes, wars, great recessions and supernovae which can humble us and remind us how little control over our lives we really have. Other than that, it works just fine.
Today I am accepting the limitations on my life and, in obeisance to the ancient storm gods, I am staying home.
But once again I am reminded of how often we forget that limitations do apply to us–and to others.
If I had a sled and a team of dogs, I probably would be in the office today. Or if I have a large four-wheel drive vehicle as opposed to the little hybrid that I drive, things might be different. But things are what they are and I live with the limitations that I have.
In judging ourselves and other people it is helpful to remember that my limitations are different than those of other people; and theirs are different than mine. I cannot play basketball like Shaq, I cannot play baseball like Ted Williams, and I cannot cook like Ming Tsai; but perhaps I have my own strengths. I should not hold myself to their strengths nor hold them to mine.
May I always be gentle with myself and my failures, and just as gentle with others and their failures. And when I fail to do so, may I be gentle with myself about that.