I hope that one day I can accept that a part of me will always be insecure, that I will always be private, slow to warm up, cautious before leaping into anything. I hope that one day I can accept that I will have awkward moments, that I’ll say things that make me wince, and that I’ll get flustered at times. I hope that one day I can accept that I’m neither bubbly nor peppy, that my energy shows itself differently—in a deep, intense sort of way rather than a chipper zest for life. And I hope that one day I can accept that there will always be this dark, brooding side to me intermixed with all the humour and quirkiness.
I’ve never fully felt comfortable in my own skin.
And I hope that one day I can accept that too.
Both God and I know that I lost myself in university. Not that I was living a “wild lifestyle” or anything like that—but slowly, subtly, I was losing sight of who I was. I can’t fully explain it, but I just didn’t feel okay with myself. I wanted to be different, partly because of the expectations of others, but mostly because of the expectations I had for myself.
My failure to accept and embody who I was left me feeling more fragile, timid, and unsure than I ever intended to be.
I lost my voice. And even though there are few things I value more than authenticity, I, myself, was not living a fully authentic life. Not that I was intentionally deceiving anybody; it was more like I was concealing myself, shrinking myself, because that’s what shame does. It makes you hide rather than share yourself with the world. Before I knew it, I built walls around myself, and they became so cemented that even I could hardly knock them down. I still have a hard time knocking them down.
But my desire for freedom, for vulnerability, for a life of authenticity—I think God wants these things for me too—probably even more than I want them for myself.
I’ve begun to realize that God never asked me to change; it’s me who thought I needed changing.
God never embarked on a quest to make me different; in fact, he wants to restore me back into the person he made me to be.
It occurred to me that God is kind of like an artist who is protective of his artwork; it angers him when someone else adds one last “finishing touch” on a painting he’s already regarded as finished and not needing of any touch-ups. Today, at Adoration, I felt as if he was using his palms to rub the metaphorical makeup off my face and see glimpses of his original creation again, removing layers of pretense that had accumulated over the years.
I felt as if he was saying to me, with the kind of frustration that only comes from someone who loves you:
“Why do you look to the world for the affirmation you desire? Why do you allow other people to define things for you? Why do you turn to their opinions? Only look at Me and I will show you who you truly are. I will be the mirror with which to see yourself. The way you search the eyes of the world for a hint of affection—search for that in My eyes instead. I will restore you.”
I hope that God can be bigger than the masks I wear, because the plaster gluing them down is still pretty strong. I hope that one day I can be free enough to live a life that is more aligned with who I am. I hope that one day I can be free enough to give in to the present moment, to be myself, and to let others in again. I hope that one day I can be free from being a slave to the world’s opinions and to be defined by God, alone.
How precious I must be in his eyes, that he doesn’t want me to be anybody else. Who I am, according to his careful design, is perfectly fine as it is. I hope that one day I can believe that too.
Recently, I’ve had a similar revelation about myself. I’ve chosen an affirmation: “I love and accept myself unconditionally.” I’ll write down things that I like about myself, my skills and talents, compliments that people have said about me in a notebook and review them to help myself overcome my negative self-critic and to recover some sense self-esteem. One book I read had this affirmation: “You are gorgeous and people love you!” I jus know that it is time to try something – to make a change for the better.
Thank you for sharing. I agree – it’s often so easy to focus on what’s wrong with us that we forget to acknowledge what’s right. Writing down our positive qualities serves as a tangible reminder of that.
The prayer of St. Augustine sounds fitting here: Lord that I may know me as you know me. Insightful and wonderful as always my dear.
Ahh yes, very relevant. 🙂 Thank you for sharing Frater Emmanuel!