(This is a part of my "loaves and fishes" offerings - click here to see the original post. Being Gentle with myself in the Questions - Part I is here.)
I have so many contradictions:
- I want to be wanted...I fear to be wanted.
- I want to be useful...I don't want to have others' unrealistic expectations imposed upon me.
- I love and thrive to be alone...I ache in being alone ...
Is this normal?
How can I invite others to deep places of these painful questions and contradictions, with an invitation also, to surrender even in the midst of unsatisfactory answers? I know the discomforts of living by faith with a nebulous, Mysterious Lover. The heights and depths and widths of His Love both surpass my understanding and whet my appetite for the more. But "the more" is daunting, and my doubts ebb and flow as constant and rhythmic as the tides. When the tide is low, so much in my life and soul feels exposed, stranded, stuck.
Breathe. I must remember to breathe.
I hear an echo of voices past and present urging me to be gentle with myself. I cannot hear this enough, It is easy to dispense similar advice to others, but honestly, I struggle to know what it looks like in my day to day life and calling. It makes me wonder if the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control – is as much a gift toward myself as it is toward others? In other words, how can I be gentle with my neighbor if a) I have not experienced God's gentleness and b) I have not been gentle with myself? Without these primary experiences, any gentleness I show to others is contrived and likely manipulative – existing only to portray my spirituality, not embody it.
- How are you able to be gentle with yourself?
- Or how have you experienced the gentleness of God?
- What difference might it make to be more gentle with yourself?
- Which area of your life do you struggle most (i.e. have high expectations of yourself) in being gentle?
- What does your heart want to pray?
If you are asking ultimate life questions - trying to “figure life out” - or ready to consider some of these deeper longings of your soul, please consider journeying with a soul friend – a trained spiritual director. Spiritual Direction is an ancient practice in the church – where you companion with a person who journeys alongside and lends you courage to pay attention to all that your life – your true life – is voicing and longing to voice and contribute to a world in need. A Spiritual Director does not direct or coach your life – but (s)he will help you overhear the nuances of your own soul in tandem with the True Director, the Holy Spirit. For more info or questions on how to find a Spiritual Director and/or ask what Spiritual Direction is all about, click here or on the links below.
- creating unhurried space for the soul
- soul care retreats, resources and coaching