Maya Angelou said, “Forgive yourself for every failure because you are trying to do the right thing. God knows that and you know it.”
Well for me, that was easier said than done. I’m proud of my ability to forgive and forget when it comes to others’ mistakes, but I’ve always found it much harder to do when I’m the one who messed up. And like so many of the other life lessons I’ve been fortunate to learn, the ability to show myself compassion and grace came thanks to my daughters.
As a mom to my girls Ruby and Matilda (ages 11 and 9), I want nothing more than to see them happy, comfortable in their own skin and thriving. And in my efforts to help them be their best, I found myself continuously pointing out ways they could be better. I was flooding them with criticism and negativity because I thought that’s what a good parent demands. In a twisted sort of way, I was feeding my own ego by telling myself that they needed me to succeed.
One evening, after dedicated time of self-reflection pondering how best to help my children grow, I had a moment of clarity where I saw it was my own thoughts and words that were breaking my children’s spirit and growing their self-doubt, and that broke my heart.
It was in that moment of great awareness, but also great despair, deep in the trenches of self-loathing, that I realized I needed to forgive myself, but I would need God’s compassion to help me. Without forgiveness, I couldn’t move forward and become the parent I wanted to be. Awareness, forgiveness, and then comes growth.
I prayed for strength and to be a better person. I prayed to be the parent my girls deserved, one who tells them they can do anything and truly believes it, who cultivates their strengths, who applauds them when they demonstrate a virtue, and most of all, who gives them unconditional love. It was pretty painful to admit my mistakes and that I had unintentionally been hurting the people I love most. That burden was too heavy to carry alone, and I reached out to God for help. It is when I asked for help from something bigger than me, when I asked God to help me be a better parent for my girls, only then did I find forgiveness.
And because I’m a single, working mom with tween girls and only human, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to make mistakes, over and over. And each time, I do it with prayer and an open heart to God. I am comforted by knowing that if I’m good enough for God’s forgiveness, I’m surely good enough for my own.