I feel like a very terrible person. I was reminded yesterday of my biggest character flaw, which is that I am very likely to not follow through on things I entirely intend on doing. It's like, when the time actually comes, my brain just pauses long enough for the moment to pass and then it's too late to fix it. Then I start feeling guilty and lock it away instead of trying to remedy the problem...yeah. It gets messy. Unfortunately, my husband and I both share this terrible trait (PLEASE don't let us pass it on to our children!!!!). We let down some friends pretty tremendously this week, and I am feeling tremendously awful about it.
About this time last year, my husband and I started attending Sabbath services with some friends of ours; we started coming at first because we felt like we wanted religion in our lives but we weren't really sure exactly what we believed. Our friends are extremely devoted to their religion and when they offered for us to join them, we thought it couldn't hurt to at least go once. We ended up going on a fairly regular basis, and although we wouldn't ascribe ourselves to their religion, we did start at least attempting to follow some of the basic rules, like eating kosher and observing the Sabbath.
Over the course of the year, we started to feel like we really belonged, like we were part of the fellowship of faith that our friends invited us in to.
Unfortunately, we are the "black sheep" of that fellowship. We forget holidays. We neglect to read the weekly portions. We basically are very nonchalant about this whole experience, whereas our friends are extremely devout and thorough about their devotion.
So, there's the background...I've kind of left a lot of it out because it goes in to the religious side of the issue more than I care to do. But what is important to know is that we've been growing in to this religious community for a whole year now and besides our friends who we attend services with, probably no one else in our lives is even aware that we've changed anything (because we've been failing so often at it).
This past week was Sukkot, a Jewish holiday that is celebrated in remembrance of the time that the children of Israel spent wandering the wilderness. The most notable part of Sukkot is that it is commanded that you spend the week dwelling in a sukkah (basically a tent, although there is a little more to it than that...the point is you are supposed to be sleeping outside all week).
We promised ourselves we were going to do this holiday like we were supposed to. We even made plans to set up our tent at our friends' house so we could celebrate at least part of the holiday with them. This was supposed to be the first holiday that we actually participated in, instead of just passively observing.
And then the kids got sick.
And then I got sick.
And suddenly, sleeping outside for an entire week in October didn't seem like such a great idea.
So, we made our excuses, told our friends we wouldn't be able to make it (which really was because we didn't want anyone else to get our illness), and we stayed home. Inside. With our pillowtop mattress and heat.
Yesterday, the last day of the holiday, the shit hit the fan, so to speak. I honestly didn't even know that yesterday was still part of the holiday, and moreover that it was a sabbath (meaning we shouldn't be cooking, cleaning, etc.)...so here I was, baking bread and mopping my floors, when our friends show up at our front door. >.<
Then, they ask "Oh, you already took your tent down?" >.<
Then, they give us a card. "This was for Sukkot, but you guys never came over..." >.<
Worst of all, after they leave and I open the card...it has money in it. $200...because they felt that we qualified to be given part of their tithe for the year.
It's hard to adequately describe exactly how traumatic this whole situation is, but I suppose it is a little like being told you've just won a contest that you never entered. Now, of course, they weren't giving us the money because we "earned" it being so good all year or anything, but still, that they would choose to give US part of their tithe is kind of a big deal. And here we were doing everything the opposite of what they believe in (some with full awareness and some without).
They are the most gracious and understanding people I have ever met, and some of the best friends that my husband and I have. We love them like we love family (and we probably like them a little better than we like most of our family). It feels pretty awful to have so blatantly let them down.
We should have been doing this for ourselves, anyway, not for our friends. But the fact that we didn't do it at all is very depressing.
I was trying to think of the best solution for this problem, how I could help them to see how bad we feel and how much we want to change. I thought at first that I would write them a thank you card and try to explain it in there.
But then it came to me---words are the opposite of the solution here. Words are what I always use to alleviate problems. Because of this bad habit I've developed throughout my life, my "word" has become pretty useless. What I need is action.
The only real way for me to solve this problem, this "character flaw," in all its manifestations, is through action. In this, actions truly will speak volumes louder than words. It is time to start making myself accountable. I know I am capable of it-I do it every day in some areas of my life (for instance, I do NOT find myself letting my children down-I follow through with them more than I have ever done before in my life).
So now I need to work on doing it 100% of the time. Part of this requires figuring out what the heck is really important to me. Then I need to prove it.
Here goes nothing.