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?