For When You’re Not At Your Best

Last week was hard, and I’m kicking myself for losing my temper with my kids.

On Thursday, I was taking Anna and her friend skiing. We both needed to get our work done before we could go, plus I needed to help Will get organized for the day. Anna was needy as I was trying to start working. Will had a pile of catch up to do, including redoing something he had submitted incomplete. When I teed this up with him, he muttered, “Oh, right that thing you’re making me redo because I wasn’t smart enough to do it right the first time.”

Will and I both need to work on our self-talk, but I admit to you now, I had no compassion for him in that moment. He has been putting this off for a week, and I was already pretty sure he had rushed through the assignment in the first place. I know this because he didn’t show me the assignment first. When he’s proud of his work, he shows it to me.

I laid into him about this being a problem of his own making, about how all he has to do is take the help we’re offering him, and he’ll get so much farther faster. About how I can’t be the only one who cares about his schooling – he needs to too. It was quite a release to unload all this on him, but I knew as I was doing it that it was counterproductive and even damaging. He’s already beating himself up about procrastinating, and I just fed into his self-narrative.

So I beat myself up about it and felt so much shame. I also hoped he’d learned his lesson. (What lesson was he learning???) I sat at the ski chalet reading Father Clay to find a blog post for this week, and this one popped out. I offer it to you in case you’re beating yourself up about something, and I offer it to myself to let go of Thursday, and I offer it to Will – if only I can figure out how to help him take it to heart.

Do You Know How Good You Are?

Do you know how good you are? I don’t care who you are. You are beautiful. We all are. That goodness and beauty is covered with all the junk that is done to us and all the junk we do to ourselves, and it is pretty hard to see. That is why it is so hard for me, when I look in the mirror, to say, John, I love you. I’ll bet this is hard for you, too. It’s very hard because we don’t see the deep goodness that is there. We see all the negative things that have happened, the bad things we have done, all the difficult things going on in our lives. But you are beautiful and good. So am I. You do bad stuff, and so do I. That doesn’t mean that this deep goodness is taken away.

So remember that this healing love that is God, His mercy, whatever we want to call it, is there all the time, surrounding us, inside of us. Be open.  Here is one of my talks with God.

I say, “God I screwed up royally,”

God says, “I know. I am not surprised. I know you very well.”

I say, “God, I need your help.”

God says, “I am always with you.”

We are surrounded by Love, the love we name God. That love holds us, embraces us, cradles us, looks at us tenderly and with compassion. That love lives dep within our souls and bubbles up with powerful, healing energy.

Let us be aware of that Love, the spirit that surrounds us and is in us, cherishing us, loving us. We offer to that Love, which loves and knows us, all the things within us. Especially at this time, let us offer the ways we have sinned, the things we have done that are wrong, the ways we have hurt ourselves and other people –  sometimes little things, sometimes bigger, sometimes horrible things.

And let us be honest. We don’t have to be afraid to be honest, because this great Love knows all this already and loves us anyway. We are just hiding it from ourselves. We can be honest now about all the deepest parts of us, those deep dark parts that make us embarrassed and ashamed. Let us be aware of them and give them all to his infinite Love for healing. As we do this, Love is working in us more and more deeply in the slow, long, difficult, painful journey toward wellness. Let us not be afraid.

From the homily, “Sin is Big, Mercy is Bigger,” by Father John Clay, published in Awesome Love, © 2013

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