I often tell the story of the time my Chaplain Supervisor told me,
“Deanna, I wish you would stop being so hard on yourself”
(She paused here and I had a moment to think sweetly “Oh, she really cares about me.” This tenderness quickly faded as she continued)
– “because then you would stop being so damn hard on the rest of us.”
I tell this story often because I need to hear it – to hear how my own internal expectations get in the way of my courage and love and compassion.
Shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown tells us:
“We can talk about courage and love and compassion until we sound like a greeting card store, but unless we are willing to have an honest conversation about what gets in the way of putting these into practice in our daily lives, we will never change. Never, never.
Courage sounds great, but we need to talk about how it requires us to let go of what other people think, and for most of us, that’s scary. Compassion is something we all want, but are we willing to look at why boundary-setting and saying no is a critical component of compassion? Are we willing to say no, even if we’re disappointing someone? Belonging is an essential component of Wholehearted living, but first we have to cultivate self-acceptance—why is this such a struggle? (The Gifts of Imperfection, 5).
Later she concludes:
“If we really want to live a joyful, connected, and meaningful life, we must talk about things that get in the way” (The Gifts of Imperfection, 35).
If we really want to live a joyful, connected, and meaningful life, we must talk about things that get in the way.
Raised in a culture of perfectionism and competition, my humbling chaplain training story helps me to explicitly address what blocks my ability to embrace the life that is. It helps me minister with hope for the now and not yet beloved community, when no one will be denied compassion or deny compassion to others, a courageous time of joyful, connected, meaningful life.
And the only way I know to get there is to work together to unblock the road between now and what is possible.
May we find the courage, as individuals and communities, to talk about what is getting in the way – internalized oppression, systemic oppression, a failure of imagination – and struggle together to clear the path on our journey toward wholeness.