Accepted and loved as you are
We can be really hard on ourselves, often much tougher than we are on others. We normally find it easy to be compassionate towards those that are suffering and those that have made mistakes. We reach outwards with love and kindness but we can find it difficult to extend that same kindness towards ourselves. For ourselves we often have higher standards, tougher regimes and less tolerance.
I often find myself giving permission to those I travel with in Spiritual Direction. Permission to fail, to make mistakes, from the need to be perfect, to have parts within that are still broken. Permission in this context is like a bag of seeds that needs to be scattered liberally and often throughout our lives in order for us to grow.
I’ve noticed that we don’t tend to grow very well or very healthily if our lives are rooted in shoulds, oughts, rules and laws and yet we’re often quick to place ourselves under the demanding nature of these. I have to, I must, I should, I ought, these all come with a sense to being pushed, a sense of demand and a level of unkindness. Yet it seems we com with with an inbuilt leaning towards harshness rather than a kind compassion. On top of that we can be largely unaware that we’re like this towards ourselves whilst having great compassion towards others.
We can set ourselves unrealistic expectations and then punish ourselves when we fail to meet them. Punishment seems to come easily and severely but its companions are judgement and criticism which can lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy. These are nowhere to be found in the heart of God who is only ever loving, accepting and forgiving. It’s not that we ignore our mistakes or become glib about them. Rather we are invited to be kind towards ourselves – ALWAYS. As Brené Brown often says, “I made a mistake rather than I am a mistake.”
We can be compassionately aware of our failings, weaknesses and shadow side without them defining us – harshness will only send us into battle with these parts of ourselves which entrenches their position. Recognising them but then holding them in compassion and love is a welcoming posture that invites the love and compassion of God towards them and towards us. This brings healing and freedom and a deep place of acceptance towards ourselves even when they are present. God knows we’re doing our best, he sees the bigger picture of our lives and the wounds that have made us who we are, it is all loved, all accepted, all welcomed. There is room at the table for every part of us, every part is offered love, kindness and grace by the Trinity.
I want to end this short blog with a few questions. Perhaps one or two resonate with you and will be helpful for you to spend time with.
Am I aware that my language contains should, oughts and musts? If so, can I receive permission and grace from God for my language to change to being kinder and less demanding?
Do I notice a place in my life where I am particularly tough on myself?
Is my life driven? If so, how? Perhaps it would help to sit with this drivenness and see what surfaces within as you do.
Where in my life would I breathe a sigh of relief if I was given permission to let go, say no, give up? Can you let God give you that permission? Can you let yourself give you that permission?
Where may there be an invitation to cease from pushing and simply stop?
What is God offering in place of harshness and demands?
Do I notice anywhere in my life where I’m punishing myself? If I do, can I let myself off the hook and receive the forgiving grace of God’s love and kindness?