Saturday, January 17, 2015

Chutzpah and Humility

A few mornings ago I found myself at church leading a prayer for my women's circle.  It went something like this...

(big deep breath)

Dear God...thank you for today...the warmer temperatures, the sunshine and these women in this room right now.  Sometimes, there are not enough words to say thank you for all of the blessings, all of the beauty, all of the joy that fills our lives moment by moment...and sometimes, there are no words to describe the fear, the anxiety, the doubt that creeps in to steal those moments when we're afraid of where we've arrived or where we're going.  Help us to approach today and each day from a place of love, a place of grace, a place of openness.  Help us to confront the unknown and to leave fear at the door.

Later, I was in the kitchen cooking catching up on an episode of "On Being," a weekly radio show by Krista Tippett about what it means to be human and the kind of life that we want to live.  Its broadcast by American Public Media on five bajillion public radio stations across the country and is worth a listen over and over again ( 

Tippett interviewed panelists about what it means to rebel in these days and times.  One of her panelists said that it means to live one's life on purpose both with chutzpah and humility seeking to rise to your best self in service to others, even when...especially are afraid and your action is unpopular in the eyes of many. This is what it means to not only have courage, but to use it, to rebel against that which is status quo for the greater good of the community.

I was sold and convicted instantly.  While the onions and garlic sauteed, I sat catatonically mesmerized by his words.  He went on to say that choosing to step into your best self requires you to own and to recognize that we don't live binary lives.  We're not either/or people.  We live in both.  We are bold and timid.  We are walking contradictions.  And so while on some days, our chutzpah abounds and we are fearless and frantic for change.  Other times, we are cowards, fearful, afraid, unsure and want more than anything to just be comfortable and safe.  All of this is what it means to be human.  To wrestle with knowing when we're rising to the challenge of being our best selves and when we're choosing to stay put because it's easier.

At church giving that prayer, I felt both hopeful and fearful, excited and afraid.  Every morning brings a new opportunity, but change takes work and what if it doesn't work and what if I fail and what if I waste my resources and others' along the way?

Tippett's panelist says, it's okay.  You'll rebel against your inner fear and go for it on some days and others will bring humility and retreat and a sense of not now, not in this moment.  That is what it means to be human. 

Stirring the saute pan, I decided for now, it's enough.  It's enough to be aware, to be engaged in both parts of me....that which wants to rise greeting that which wants to stay seated.  It's sort of a beautifully messy dance.

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