Every once in a while we as individuals are privileged to experience moments of pure revelation and genuine inspiration – when life seems full of promise, our hearts and minds feel centered, and everything we know about the world suddenly makes sense; when the fog lifts, the air is still and our lives begin again. This is clarity. This is peace. This is life at its stripped-down, laid-low essence.
This is what acceptance is.
My moment of peace came this morning, and I wasn’t quite prepared for it. (Of course, one never is.) For the last 6 hours I’ve forced myself to stop and breathe it in -- to remember that it arose out of genuine humility and acceptance, and to be still and allow it to permeate my every cell. Such is the power of this thing called acceptance: it’s so awesome that it quiets us even as we think about it.
My peace came after I read this piece by Karly Pittman, one of the many brave writers featured in the “Breaking Point” series of Laura Munson’s. What she said resonated. Her admission that she “tr[ied] to banish [her] pain, not care for it” struck a nerve. Her confession that she finally “bowed to her pain,” “surrendered” and “stopped fighting against [it]” struck another. And her challenge to “love all of me – even the dark, most painful bits” bowed my head. We are all wonderfully, fearfully made. But I haven’t believed that. I forgot that none of us – including me – was made perfect. I've strived for it and docked myself every time I haven't measured up, so the negative feedback has been constant.
But this morning I sat here, staring at the computer screen, wondering what loving myself means. Surely it begins with absolute acceptance. And surely absolute acceptance requires us to acknowledge, nurture and care for the most broken parts of ourselves. The parts we previously wished weren’t there. The parts we’ve hidden. The parts we’ve always tried to make better. The parts we’ve always tried to banish.
I thought of the scared and wounded child hidden inside of me and wondered whether that little girl deserved love or hate – encouragement, nurturing and acceptance or banishment. I decided the answer was rather obvious: love, encouragement, nurturing and acceptance. The scared little girl doesn’t have to and shouldn't be scared forever, but she’ll never overcome her fear and be truly healed until someone says, “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you. You are beautiful. Come out of the corner.”
Why would be any less empathetic and compassionate with ourselves than we are with others? Why would we hide, when what we want is absolute acceptance? Why would we fight the incontrollable and angrily say to ourselves, “Shape up! Nobody likes a [insert loser/whiner/hack/needy/overweight/unintelligent/unaccomplished] person!” Why do we think others can grow only when in a healthy and safe environment but think that we ourselves will grow in the midst of a negative free-for-all? Why are we so unloving and demanding toward ourselves? Why don't we see how destructive that is?
Why, why, why?
Today that ends. Humility begins with acceptance. Acceptance of even the worst bits, yes – but seeing them as only part of the larger picture. That’s how we love others. That must be the key to loving ourselves. The first day of spring is the perfect time to plant the seed of self-love and -acceptance. It's the perfect time to accept ourselves, allow the seeds of knowledge to be planted and permit our hidden selves to face the sun.
So, my name is GratefulHumble. I’m 30 years old, and I haven’t accomplished near as much as I thought I would have at this point. I’m not married, I have no impressive career, and I have very little money in the bank. I’m (ever-so-slightly but still) overweight, I frequently feel insecure and I all-too-frequently demand too much of others and myself.
That is me being vulnerable before you, the world, and brutally honest with myself. But that isn't me being critical of myself, as usual. It's me saying, as Karly Pittman said, "It's okay, broken parts -- I love you. It's okay, disappointment -- I will care for you. It's okay insecurity -- I am here." (#439)
The seed of acceptance, hope and inspiration has been planted.