Self-compassion and authenticity

“If Jesus were with me today, what would he see?  What would he say?”

 

So often, the poet (Cheryl Lawrie in this case) says it best:

…reluctantly
we let go the idea that somehow it was ever
going to be perfect -
or even wearable in public….

What would my life be like if I just gave up the always illusive goal of trying to “get my act together” and accepted the reality that it’s never “going to be perfect- or even wearable in public?”

What if the first step toward living the freedom of self-compassion is to surrender to the truth about my life, to tell the truth, to risk the vulnerability of authenticity, even with myself?

When Martha (Luke 10: 38-42) was in a twit, Jesus invited her to tell the truth about her anxiety: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things…”

Could she possibly have not recognized her own suffering?  If she has seen it and dared to be honest about it, might she have seen the care of Jesus, known self-compassion, and sat down with Mary?  Might the accusations of Jesus’ neglect and Mary’s selfishness been avoided?

I recall a time several years ago when I got off the phone with one of our daughters and had eaten 5 points worth of my Weight Watchers daily allotment before I realized that something in our conversation had upset me. It wasn’t even time for lunch.

If only Jesus had been standing there with his mirror… I would have enjoyed those 5 points much more if I had been in a state of savoring self-awareness rather than in numbing flight from my pain.

In my blindness, there was no opportunity to know the compassion of God or self-compassion. The pain and shame just kept churning inside of me, shredding.

If Jesus were with me today, what would he see?  What would he say?

So, here’s my big confession: I’m leaving in a few minutes to lead a retreat this weekend and I find myself worried and bothered.  My stomach is tight; not horribly so, but noticeably tense.

Will they like me?  Will they laugh and engage?  Will they argue with my ideas or uncover just how little I really know?  Will they talk to me in the off times or avoid me?  Will they yawn? Will they pity me or think me a fool?  Will I be insensitive and ask too much of them or do harm in some way? Will they be disappointed and think it was a waste of time and money?

You would think a woman who has written an entire book on self-sabotage would be a little more secure, right?  Not so mu

But here’s the good news: because I have been honest about where I am and where I am not, I can access the comfort and love of God. I can locate that

thread of grace
that won’t let it come undone.

I can remember the love of God and open myself to receive God’s care in the midst of my limitation and my fear. I can have compassion on my pain and even, amazingly, begin to offer thanks for the strength to live into my calling in the midst of my anxiety and insecurity. I can also begin to see the wisdom and the goodness and love within my fear.  Insecurity is not the whole story.  I can see concern for faithfulness and the importance of my choice to be cautious with tender hearts.  I can also see that I take my own work and words seriously, owning their power, as well as the stewardship of my gifts and these moments with which I’ve been entrusted. In the safety of my own self-compassion, I see myself more clearly, both the grace and the suffering.

So, how about you?  If Jesus were with you today, what would he see?  What would he say?  Can you hear his compassion for you and begin to extend the same to yourself?

 

  • Mary

    Thank you for this. I am a writer and I want to start a blog about dealing with mental illness through spirituality. However, I wrestle with the fear of putting myself out there with complete honesty, knowing that what I say will be subject to criticism. It is hard to put my heart and soul out there publicly, where someone could trample it. But I do believe that I have a message that can help others. So I am going to try. Thanks for inspiring me.

  • http://janetdavisonline.com Janet Davis

    Wow! Our youngest daughter is currently working on a PhD in community psychology and studying how “stigma” negatively impacts recovery from mental illness. I can see how your authentic voice might well be a healing balm for many. Thanks for your comment.


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