I saw a poster today that implored me to "Sink into the real you."
Pondering the statement, I wondered how anyone would want to become submerged that deeply.
As a teenager I often found myself filled with thoughts begging me to be anybody else besides the real me.
Be more outgoing.
Don't be so shy.
My "Don't be you" went on for many years which led me to "Who are you anyway???" in my adult years. Thankfully I have grown more comfortable with myself and find that who-I-am is not-so-bad and I should-not-be-afraid to be me.
But once in a while I get caught and can't seem to find my way out. Recently I found myself in a situation that I couldn't have planned for. Feeling inadequate and embarrassed about feeling not-good-enough, I didn't seek help to talk it through or feel confident to confide. Navigating my own expectations felt shaky and impossible to reach. It all seemed so unreal and I felt so disappointed in myself.
By hovering over some disparaging thoughts, I sank into despair.
Henri Nouwen writes: “Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self rejection…I am constantly surprised at how quickly I give in to this temptation.”
It surprised me too.
If self-rejection is a trap then perhaps we need to be prepared for the next time we are tempted to fall. I’ve come up with a few strategies.
- Get plenty of good sleep.
- Write, write and write some more. This simple act has led me to some outstanding discoveries. The act of writing is more powerful than you could ever imagine. Writing helps me untangle what happened and draw conclusions I could not have come to just by thinking about it.
- Pray! How can I be protected with out calling on God to send out his rescue team? I recently joined a group of praying women to do just that.
- Give God the first word every morning. Open the Bible. What does he want to say to me, his beloved child? From the book of Jeremiah, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness."
- Look for ways to connect with others and to listen to them, encourage and delight in them. I am reminded of my gifting, my calling, the way I am truly wired.
- Worship: How Deep the Father's Love for us...What Wondrous Love is This O My Soul...Breathe on me Breath of God, Fill me with Life anew...
- Search for how God is moving in the world.
- Get active. That quilt is calling. Sweep the front porch and sidewalk. Bake cookies. Meet friends and get that body moving. Pull fresh air into your lungs!
- List out all there is to be thankful for. My list today? ::Brian ::two hours at the library ::God's great love ::Onalee is coming! ::a great latte from Greyhound Deli ::create as folk's sign ::the warm mild weather ::those delicious chocolate chip cookies I baked yesterday ::Brian, again. (can't be thankful enough for that guy.) ::being known and loved ::remembering that it is OK to be me
At first, ‘sinking into the real me’ seems somewhat frightening. But each time I allow myself to even balance on the edge of it, there are new riches to discover offering an incentive to practice a healthy fresh dose of self compassion and acceptance, faith and trust in my mighty God who calls me beloved.
I’m ready! Next time an invitation arrives suggesting that I forget the freedom I have fought so hard to win, I will deal with it instead of flailing helplessly afraid that all my hard work has been for nothing.