In this three blog series, the first entry looked at the bleaker side of life, particularly as a modern woman. The second entry gave you all some insight into how I see the world and why I think we have hope in general. This blog--if all goes well, I want this blog give you personal hope.
I freely acknowledge that I've borrowed this hope from others, but it grows as it's shared.
This whole series began on a Sunday about a month ago when our pastor solved the internet.
I can't remember everything he spoke about that morning; in fact, I asked the rest of the family what they heard that morning and each of us had a different take-away. (That's great inspirational speaking, by the way!) Here's what I heard:
"We are closest to saints when we truly sit with our sins."
Of course, this uses Christian terminology, but substitute the words that suit your journey--sainthood can be enlightenment, transcendence, peace, unity, nirvana, or what you will, just as sins can be flaws, mistakes, regrets, hurtful acts, or whatever feels right to you.
I want you to adjust the language and then savor that thought for a moment.
It hit me like a ton of light that morning--the world needs exactly THIS. All the anger that we carry? It comes from hating parts of ourselves. And who do we hate, who do we spew on? Two kinds of people. We despise those with the flaws we don't have so we can feel better about ourselves. We rage at those with the flaws we do have because they embody what we hate about ourselves, admit it or not.
Don't believe me? Check out the comments on a political post online somewhere. Observe the dynamic of the comments, certainly, but also notice your own reactions.
Now suppose that you took a minute to fully and honestly sit with yourself, flaws and all. Think of the post and comments of again. What happens? I know what happened to me. I starting thinking things like, What if I'm wrong? and What if there's something I don't know? I lost any desire to argue; I felt content to bear witness to what others needed to say.
Here's the really, really awesome part.
I loved my epiphany and the feeling that came with it so much that I kept (keep!) returning to it. When I do, another little bit of self-criticism dissolves, making space in my head and heart. And amazing things keep stepping up to fill that space!
A few days later, I read Glennon Doyle Melton's new book, Love Warrior. She writes many honest and inspiring words, but one idea took root in my new soul space--Say yes to yourself.
This idea makes a cool Venn diagram with our pastor's idea. Both concepts overlap in encouraging us to embrace our full selves, but Glennon's idea of saying Yes to myself carried me to a way of acting on the peace I'd found in my epiphany.
Not long after I read her book, I came across this article on saying no. I'd like my daughter to be better at this than I am, so I read it eagerly...but it didn't quite do it for me. Yet, in her book, Glennon tells an amazing story about speaking her truth to a would-be catcaller. Without hatred or anger, she holds her space. She didn't say no to him, she said yes to herself.
I want that.
I want to acknowledge my flaws, my needs, my pain, my past, and my dreams, my strengths, my joys, my love. I want to say yes to all of me because, not only does it feed my soul, it spills over into everyone I encounter. This is the loaves and fishes, everyone.
As I've begun looking for ways to say yes, amazing things have leapt into my life, like
--Hamilton. The kids and I have surrendered fully. I love sharing this with them, love rediscovering my love of musical theater (since 1985), love learning new things about writing and theater thanks to the super-talented artists involved, and HOLY CRAP, what a story!
--Multiple writing opportunities. I am sitting with the reality that I'm not ready to go for them yet, but they exist! And I did enter a poetry contest.
--So many beautiful moments with the people I love. I love saying yes when I want to listen to my children or laugh with my husband.
--We went to the premiere of The New 8-Bit Heroes, which made me want to dust off my old dreams and do something.
--And I have fun times when something like this happens: A friend posted an article reminding me how precious the people in our life are. Immediately after that a favorite artist posted a link to this beautiful song, which reminded me of this TedTalk that I'd saved. And my soul felt full. I'm ready to spread the hope!
So, it's taken a month to put together this post. Maybe I procrastinate--I sit fully at peace with that flaw. Or maybe the seed of hope just keeps blossoming into more to write about. In any case, let's say Yes to hope, to writing, to peace.
Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!