In Praise of Inadequacy.
I am currently looking after my brother’s family. He is seriously ill and has gone to the US to receive lifesaving (hopefully) cancer treatment. His wife is with him. They have six children still at school, and I feel woefully inadequate. I am doing my best, at least I think I am but… Seeking support from a friend, Mary, who has had six children, she assured me that what I feel and think, good parents think and feel on many days. Parenting well is a constant challenge and you can often feel inadequate, even a failure. It struck me that that sense of inadequacy also goes with my vocation as a nun.
I have been a nun for over forty years and ‘praying’ is my job. And I still feel that I am inadequate to the task, that I am still learning. Yes, but when I take the focus off me, I know that prayer is really God’s love flowing through me and that I have to just be within the dynamic of love.
In its deepest sense, parenting is sharing in the mystery of God bringing another person to the fullness of life. Babies come so helpless and you as parents nurture them and before you know it they become that restless, difficult adolescent wanting care, but wanting to be beyond care: oh how they can make you feel inadequate. Maybe the source of the inadequacy comes not from being inept but from a sense of the mystery of parenting. You are like God in their lives and you don’t want to stuff it up. That is not just a good thing, it is sacred. You are walking on holy ground, and in the middle of all the mess and muddle you know it. In those moments, let God be with you: just as you are trying to bring your child to the fullness of life, God, through your child is doing that for you.
Loving Father, you know the challenge of parenting. Be with me, stretch my mind and heart as I try to love and nurture my child/ren. Give me the wisdom and love of your Spirit to do my best and then rest in your love. I ask this in Jesus’ name, confident that you will hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb