Bent Over Ourselves

Bent Over Ourselves January 30, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Beth Moore’s sister, Gay, recently shared her own decades long-struggle with alcoholism on Beth’s blog. You can read Gay’s compelling story here and here. But as Shelby reminds us this week, we don’t have to be an alcoholic to feel like we are missing the mark. If only we could learn to see ourselves the way God does — through eyes of grace.

by Shelby Dee

I’ve been reading Mary Karr’s memoir Lit – her struggle through alcoholism and depression and getting sober and finding something to believe in. In reading her story, I’ve been stuck by how universal the feelings of inadequacy she experiences are. I know I often feel like the bystander watching everyone else who seems to have life figured out. I feel out of place and all alone in it. Too often I compare myself to others in all sorts of ways – in the things we call success, in outward appearances, in accomplishments. I feel like the awkward 13-year-old who never grew into her gangly limbs.

But then I read passages like this:

“. . .that’s how I believe the human economy works—on some perverse system in which people who offer to do nice things for me are furtively pissed off by acceptance. So it’s better to refuse most kindnesses I come across, an interpretive model of human behavior that—it’s clear enough now—fosters the crappiest of conceivable attitudes in me. . . . The warmth beaming from her face can’t reach me. I’m too bent over some rotted core, as if to protect it from her.”


What I struggle to remember when I’m bent over my own rotted core, focusing too much on myself, is that everyone has insecurities. They may be different than mine. They may mask them in different ways, some withdraw from others, some throw themselves into social activities, and still others work to hide the pain. But in those moments I do remember that I am not alone, there is a certain relief in that. A freedom to be myself. To stop the comparisons. And a reminder that maybe someone I know might be hurting a lot more, and maybe just a smile or kind word, can be the warmth that breaks through their brokenness.



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