In my writing and speaking I focus a lot on the unearned grace, tenderness, and love of God.
For in my life, I cannot recall a time I didn’t believe I earned all the affection I received. And was therefore to blame when I felt unloved. I am not the only one with this experience, and lived reality.
This belief was formed into me over the formative of years with restrained praise, and affirmation. That only some of my successful hard work was worthy. It didn’t matter the pride/value I placed in my work. That I was only the success others picked for me.
One of the hardest parts of responding to the call Jesus has placed on my life is the lack of affirmation and encouragement from others. It is so lonely, and I struggle to make steps forward, believing no-one will care.
So I’m doing the work in myself to turn the tide:
– I have created distance from some people in my life. Distance physically, relationally, and/or emotionally. I’m working to devalue their opinions, as they have (knowingly or not) wielded them as a weapon against me. I also have forgiven them for their harm.
– I have been trying to clearly state my need for affection & praise from safe people in my life. When that affection & praise does come, I do my best to let it confront the toxic belief within me. I am also asking for affection untied to my success.
– Most commonly, what I do is what I seldom received. I am trying to be quick with praise & affection (in a reserved and safe way) for others. To praise and affirm others for being, in their shortcomings, in their disappointments, and in their work. I speak to them, & to myself.
Related to this is attempting to break the cycle of unworthiness in others, and in myself. It’s been a hard year that has given me much practice in that. To try to stop shame or dismissal that robs us of love for ourselves.The frustrating thing is that my brain has wired in that the world is not a safe place for me. I’ll fight this, but these neural pathways are fixed. So let us work to create a world that is better for others than it has been for us.
To create space that they may flourish more naturally and organically. That they would be more freely able to accept the love, grace, mercy, hope, and faith that Jesus gives to us so freely. That their very breath might affirm the pride, & tender love God holds each of us with.
This is part of the reason I write reflections the way I do. It is why monastic rhythms, & patterns, are so important to me. They help me experience such a radical acceptance of myself. One that I’ve never known. It is why I invite people into the depths of themselves.
Our culture tells us that we need to go to God. Instead, I’ve found God waiting in the place of my biggest hurts, pains, & insecurities. There showing us that we are beloved. That none of our brokenness will change how He feels about, or sees us.
God loves us & we will be okay.