I chose that word intentionally. One of the worst things the womanchild and I can call each other is a hoarder. We've lived through that and had to spend weeks getting rid the stuff my husband had gathered. Even now, when she comes home to visit, a planned activity is getting rid of the stuff I've accumulated. (Do I really need four cast iron pans designed just for cornbread sticks, even if they did all come from grandmothers?)
I want to do that with the mental clutter as well. I'm afraid that I've taken the adage that the unexamined life is not worth living too seriously. I've examined a lot, sometimes scouring for deeply faded memories for just more fodder for the mental grist mill. Let's get rid of some of it, or at least box it up somewhat neatly. So here we go....
Do I fear my own lack of competency? That's one of those that is both easy and hard. The easy answer is yes, I do. Why I feel that way is more complicated. I'm one of those people who basically does things well. Other than anything involving serious math or athletics, I'm pretty good at whatever I set my mind to. I'm reasonably intelligent and know that I have talents and limits. I'll never be the type of cook who can go into the kitchen, look at what's in there and just whip up a delicious meal. I've always been able though to follow just about any recipe and make a dish that people ask me for the recipe. I've always fallen into some training responsibilities at every job I've had because I can help people become better at what they do. As a very shy young adult, I followed a career path that led me into sales and found that I am good at a job which requires putting your personality out there constantly and using persuasion skills. These aren't the only examples I can cite. So, I have proof that I'm competent, and that niggling, undermining lack of belief in myself is still there. I've used this before as a tool, sort of an 'I'll show you' to prove something to myself.
I can do it again, but I think that there has to be a more positive way. I'm terrible about getting stuck in the past, and there have definitely been things in my life to undermine my self confidence. What I've come to realize is that forgiveness is a chore I have to tackle. I'm not in the forgive and forget school of forgiveness. Forgetting is too high a price to pay. Forgetting would change the person I am, and underneath all the garbage I've piled up in my mind, I basically really like who I am. Forgiveness, though, is a path to peace. It both comes from and increases our ability to love. Plus, I can never forget this. If I am to live as a Christian and not just call myself one, forgiveness is my responsibility. I cannot legitimately pray 'Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us' if I am not working on forgiveness.
It's not easy. There are words and events that still hurt. There are people I've loved, trusted and admired who sometimes taught me that I wasn't good enough. That probably wasn't the intent, but it has been the affect. One thought has come to me over and over though, you can't fault someone for giving you the best they have even when it's damaged. We are all flawed, hurting people who come from flawed, hurting people and choose to involve ourselves with more flawed, hurting people. It's a universal condition of being human.
Forgiveness won't change that, but I do believe that forgiveness can reach into the past. I don't think that it will blur and soften the old, hurtful images. I actually think it sharpens not the picture but our vision. It lets us take in more information, understand more and eventually gain more peace. I also think I've going to have actually make myself focus on forgiveness every time of those old, self-negating thoughts comes into my head.