Monday, July 1, 2013

Permission to Love

It's been awhile.  I'm feeling rusty, exhausted and desperate to see my thoughts in words rather than ideas floating around my head.  I get a lot of clarity from writing.  Like I'm free to stop thinking the same thoughts over and over and have permission to move on to the next revelation waiting in the wings.

So here's what's been floating around:
Acceptance.  Permission.  Love.  Judgement.  Forgiveness.  G-d.

Last night I finished reading Glennon Doyle Melton's book, Carry On, Warrior, and it tore my heart wide open.  In a good way.  I think.  A small breakdown of the book is this: I messed up a lot.  G-d loved me then, my family loved me then, I didn't know it.  I woke up, worked hard to remove my armor and open my heart, and now I see the love that was always there and now I can love myself, and now I can love you, too.

She is still flawed.  She is still imperfect.  She is still loved.  And she still loves.  And for some reason it hurts to write that.  To write that out there is someone who gives herself permission to be loved as she is.  I think G-d gives us that permission every minute of every day, but I don't give that permission to myself.

Some of the reason dates back to my childhood.  I somehow formed the idea that to be loved in my family, to really be worthy of unconditional, nonjudgmental love, I can't be a fuck-up.  I don't know why.  Because I'm sure that if I asked my family, they would tell me they have always loved me unconditionally.  So I'm not sure when or why I developed that idea.  Part of it is the condescension in our tone when we speak of each other.  Mom has been so spacey... Dad's been so arrogant... Sister's been such a procrastinator... Sister needs to prioritize.  I hear these things, I say these things. So I guess I assumed they were all being said of me.  I am impulsive.  I am stubborn.  I am naive.  I am arrogant.  I make bad, thoughtless decisions and look where they've gotten me!  I don't know if this has been said of me, but I hear it in my head nonetheless.

Some of it is from being a teenager.  Always feeling just enough on the outskirts of a social circle to not feel truly accepted as I was by my peers.  Some of it is from my husband.  I believe he is the hardest on himself, but it rolls over to those he loves.  He sees the strength in people and wants so badly for them to actualize their potential, that he misses the amazing experience of caring for them and being vulnerable with someone in their weak places.  Weak places are not bad.  We are not bad for being weak.  Because weaknesses tend to have the richest soil just waiting to be planted.

Some of it is how I interpreted my religion.  If you know me, or read my blog, you know I am an observant Jew.  I don't like the label, but it makes it easier to understand me if you have a context, so there it is.  Being thus, I sometimes feel that when I strive to connect more deeply to G-d, to ask more of G-d, there is a not so still, small voice that tells me, 'who are you to ask more when you give so little?  Do you pray every day?  Do you follow the commandments as you should?  Do you have faith?  People more pious than you ask for less... so try to give before you ask.'

I don't believe that is the voice of G-d in my head.  I don't even know if that is the voice of orthodox Judaism.  But just as I hear judgements in my head in my family's voice, I hear them in the voice of orthodox Judaism.

But when I hear G-d, I hear love.  I hear acceptance.  I hear, 'Child, stop worrying about which sponge you used to wash that dish and tell me more about the broken pieces of your heart.'  And that voice feels real to me.  But what if people learn that I am more concerned with feeling G-d's love for me as I am now, than I am with keeping His law?  What if I could love G-d deeper if I didn't have to worry about just how much hair and skin is showing, or how many minutes past shkiya I did my bedika.  Does G-d count minutes?  Does G-d count mitzvahs?  Does G-d really weigh our sins with our merits? Does living life bravely, with vulnerability, count on a scale?  Wouldn't one ounce of pure love, leaked out of an broken heart,  outweigh the unkosher food, and the missed fasts, and the short sleeved t-shirts?  Am I blasphemous for asking the questions?

And what it all comes down to is this:  Can I give myself permission?  Because my family is not going to write me an invitation.  My community will not send flyers proclaiming their full acceptance of me.  My husband may not have enough self love to love my flaws.  G-d's messages can too easily be ignored.  So again I need to ask myself, Tovah, do you give yourself permission to love yourself?  Right now?  As you are?

Friends, I need to explain that even typing the question turns my stomach and knots it tight.  I think:  I am not good enough.  I need too much from the people around me.  I don't give back enough.  I am weak.  I lack common sense.  I am not very intelligent.  Filling out any kind of form scares me.  I am scared all the time.  I am a pretend adult.  I don't love my children enough.  I don't love anyone enough.  I am not enough.

I am a flawed, broken human.



Am I worthy of love?


Am I G-d's child?


Does G-d love me?


Can I feel that right now?

In breaths.  In heart beats.  In moments.

Can I love myself?

In breaths.  In heart beats.  In moments.

And for now, that is enough.

I give myself permission to love the broken, flawed child that I am.

And for what it's worth, I give you permission too.

1. My mother visiting and helping and being my mommy

2. My awesome neighbors who entertain my kids and keep them happy and occupied!

3. My hubby doing the laundry

4. My hubby being my hubby

5. Baby occasionally actually making it to the potty before he poops

6. A forgiving carpet

7. Inspired writings


  1. Amen, sister. I think people need to spend a little more time working on their ehrlichkeit!

    1. I'm not sure what ehrlichkeit means, but if it has to do with lich=light, then, yay! More light!

    2. Frumkeit = laws between man and g-d; ehrlichkeit = laws between people. (Like the first and second halves of the aseres hadibros/ten commandments.)

    3. Nice! I never knew the words for the distinction. But yeah! Let's work on v'ahavta l'rayecha kamocha!

  2. I love and accept everything about you, Tovah! Thanks for the morning cry, needed that!

    1. Oh momma witz, back at you! Maybe we can cry together soon!

  3. Stick with the cracks, that's how the light gets in.
    You are deeply loved and cherished.
    XXXOOO, Yo Papa

  4. Tovah,
    I love you. I love that you ask the hard questions, the ones most won't say out loud. You are courageous, and vulnerable and wonderful. Thank you for sharing your journey --which is real, not a Hallmark card. And thanks for being a human bean!