Our theme for October is “We Can Do Hard Things.” As a parent, I think this comes up in a very concrete way early on. Finding ways to encourage a child to be persistent, to struggle through confusion or difficulty, is an essential parenting work. When I was a young mother, raising my first child, I reacted strongly to my own experience of being parented in a largely hands-off manner, and I was always there for Ember, frequently inserting myself into her life and interactions, rescuing, rescuing, even when she’d given no indication she felt she needed help (she didn’t!). I did hover. I thought it was good parenting. It was very fortunate that Ember’s life experiences and many other choices we made along the way helped her develop into a strong and resilient person – because my parenting style could have been deeply disabling.
Parenting, part two, is different. Now I understand – as a parent, but also as a more mature adult myself – that the ability to handle difficult circumstances, interactions, and experiences is perhaps the most important skill we can develop. I have to check myself regularly, but I am much better about trusting that Ani can find her way through, that she can negotiate relationships and can fail and find a new way forward.
Over the years, I’ve discovered this is a vital and valuable ministry, as well. In a culture so profoundly steeped in immediate gratification, the social presentation of perfect selves, the reactive Saint or Sinner model of responding to public figures…it’s essential that there be places in our lives where we can go and learn that it’s ok to try and fail, that our flawed selves are still whole and worthy, and where we are encouraged to pick ourselves up again and again and forge on, through good days and bad.
UUCC is, as much as anything else, our communal lab. It is our place where we practice our best selves, and find encouragement when our worst selves are trying to gain a foothold. It is where we are reminded that the human experiment is ongoing, and our values, carefully considered and deeply engaged, make a difference. Come, join in the work. We will embrace the whole, beautiful catastrophe of you.
See you in church –