May we forget about our impressive family background and anything else that might make us haughty. Instead, may we stand before You like paupers, aware of our paltriness.
—Prayer Number 97, Likutey Tefillos (The Fiftieth Gate, BRI)
“Please! I already feel so low, why do I have to speak to God about my imperfections? He already knows what they are. I already know what they are. (Boy, do I.)”
If you’re thinking this, I don’t blame you. Many of us put ourselves down, beat ourselves up. We focus on our flaws and this makes us feel terrible.
Why would we ever want to turn the spotlight on our imperfections?
Because in fact, we may actually be focusing on the kinds of flaws that don’t really matter. So-called flaws that may have little to do with who we truly are and what truly counts.
Flaws such as our lack of family, social or career “status”. Or lack of wealth, or the possibility that we aren’t the skinniest, most beautiful woman who ever lived. And if we’re focusing on these and other imperfections that might be out of our control to fix, this keeps us trapped and feeling bad, like sludge at the bottom of an old drain.
On The Other Hand
On the other hand, arrogance, and an inability to see our faults, is as psycho-spiritually damaging as poor self-esteem. Egotism acts like an airbag that’s deployed too early—it blocks our vision and prevents us from seeing the warning signs: Slow Down. Narrow Road. Dangerous Curve Ahead.
Sure, arrogance might temporarily save us from feeling bad, but ultimately when we do crash (and we most certainly will), it will be far more painful because we weren’t able to see the warning signs.
Interestingly enough, both that sludgy feeling and that sense of arrogant entitlement come from the very same source—the yetzer hara. The yetzer hara, or evil inclination, loves to trick us. It’s a shape-shifting, self-replicating, dark energy that tries to prevent us from seeing who we really are.
So, who are we really?
A trembling bundle of faults that cause us secret (or not-so-secret) shame? A hubris-mobile complete with a trade-up policy? A mixture of both low-self esteem and aggrandizement?
Or are we a pure, shimmery soul yearning for spiritual connection and purpose? A soul who’s temporarily residing in this body in order to accomplish a mission or two?
Some of our flaws and faults are obstructive, and they do indeed prevent us from recognizing and accomplishing our soul-mission. But is it possible for us to recognize serious flaws and still be gentle and objective? Are we able to forgive our self?
Can we find the good points insider but admit we’re not perfect? Are we able to slow down, take a deep breath, and see the beauty that is our innermost self, our soul? Can we appreciate that God Created this soul and this body, and put them together for a reason that we must strive to uncover?
How is it possible to love our self?
Just follow God’s lead, make Him your role model. His lovingkindness ultimately wins out over stern judgment.
He loves each of us, flaws and all, because like everything else about God, His Love for us is perfect.
He loves us so much he wants us to grow. Your job is to love yourself you want to grow, too.
Reb Nosson continues:
*May we totally trust in Your great kindness, and the fact that You dwell with those who are humble and lowly of spirit, that You are close to those whose hearts are broken.
With this trust in Your great kindness, let us open our hearts and speak deeply to you in prayer, with joy. Let us rejoice in your help that saves…
* A free translation.
Note: People who are able to forgive their own imperfections are able to forgive others’ imperfections. People who are humble are able to admit their own imperfections and, with compassion, only see the good in others.