Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Revisiting "Piety or Peace?" (parts one and two)

Photo courtesy of Spokane Community College
Excerpt from original post (part one):

Queen Sophia Charlotte had what I consider to be a serious character flaw, and if I’m not careful this discussion about my shift in priorities could leave you thinking that I’m prone to the same serious flaw. In fact, the truth is that I am, and you very likely are, too. I hope that by bringing this issue into the light we will diminish its power and see a clear path to take in detour toward true freedom....

Sophia Charlotte with Her Children
Photo courtesy of NCGenWeb
Lest I become guilty of the very thing I’m highlighting, I must say that I am so very grateful my radius of people for which to set an example is far smaller than hers was. In case you aren’t tracking with me here, the character flaw I’m speaking of is critical judgment based on a high moral standard. To put it into modern language, she looked down her nose at others who did not think or act the same as she did. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have been struggling with a bit of writer’s block approaching this post. I think I’m beginning to understand a bit more why....
Sophia with Child
Photo courtesy of Forgotten Founders Exhibit
So the source of my writer’s block is this duel between judgment and affability, stinginess and generosity, public and personal life. Hmmm…and here we find our link to the “perfection disease” I posted about on Monday. 
Tiara and Combs
Photo courtesy of Jane Austen World

Truthfully, I sincerely wish we had more women in high position making domestic duties fashionable. Though it has become more fashionable to be a mother, most of us stay-at-home moms still search for our identities in what we do instead of who we are. Herein lies the problem with the mother of a nation, or any such role model, setting such high standards. I will not repeat the article I posted before, but I draw attention to the disease of perfection here. None of us are perfect and by setting any kind of standard of perfection without allowing for grace and mercy for ourselves as well as for others, we set ourselves up for living for other peoples’ approval, ever striving for more and better, looking down on others for what we think is going on in their lives, and looking down on ourselves because we will always offend ourselves if we are offended by others....

Photo courtesy of Motivate Thyself
(part two, originally published 10/06/10)

Today, I know that my tiara is sparkling firmly upon my head not because of what I have or haven’t done, but because I’m happy to be me doing what I’m doing right here and now. Instead of bracing himself for my hasty exit, my husband smiles when he walks in the door because he knows I’m going to be happy to see him because I missed him and not because I’m eager for him to take over with the kids so I can escape. My kids are happy, and they fill the air with far more joyful noises and dancing than angry words and fighting. I no longer find myself counting down the minutes so I can leave them and do something for myself....

Despite its negative overtones, I think this is the most important lesson I’ve learned from Sophia in these past couple of months. It is clear that she was firmly grounded in her life as a mother and a wife. She did not look to her public life or image to make her happy. Certainly she took her public role seriously, but she drew her strength from being with her husband and family. I want to take this lesson of drawing my strength from serving my family first, but without the excessive piety, judgment, and stinginess that marked her life. By putting first things first, I’m certain I will be free to be myself everywhere I am, thereby transferring this joy and strength to others far more effectively than when I was serving others as a means of escape.