I posted the following on FB and Twitter the other day: “Sometimes the person we most need to make amends with is ourselves.”
This is a concept I’ve been wrestling with since Luke and Lane were born. Those early days of motherhood acquainted me with my own limits in a way that I did not like or appreciate. I didn’t like feeling inadequate for the task. I didn’t like feeling depleted. I didn’t like feeling like such a floor-dweller. So highly un-showered. I still don’t. I don’t like to feel overwhelmed, like I can’t handle things. I like things to feel controllable and perfect. And it’s incredibly grievous when you find yourself in a situation that you cannot control and is highly un-perfect. Like having to learn zone defense right out of the gates.
So . . . when I start to feel any or all of these ways, I begin to turn on myself. I begin to get frustrated with myself. I begin to push and punish, badger, rehearse, beat down.
When Elle was born, and I just had one baby to take care of, I saw—for the first time—how hard it was to have twins. I saw that I wasn’t some kind of failure. I saw that the whole enterprise wasn’t hard because I was failing. It was hard because it was hard.
And I’ve been making amends with myself ever since. Or, to be more honest, trying to. Trying to decipher why I internalized struggle as failure. Trying to radically accept my own humanity instead of raging against myself for having limits. I’ve been trying to let myself off this scrupulous hook that I conjured up. I’ve been trying to reconnect with myself from a place of empathy and understanding—as I would a dear friend—instead of condemnation. I’m trying to sit with myself and say quietly, “It’s OK. It’s OK. It’s OK. It’s not perfect. And, you’re doing great.”
I’ve been trying to invite God into the squeeze, when I feel it, allowing him to sit with me and to help me find a way into some breathing room. Usually some sort of idea arrives: Go outside. Take a nap. Breathe. Reach out. Say no.
Space arrives in tiny, found doses.
I wonder if this message needs to work its way into your life in any way. Do you need to make amends with yourself? Making amends is different than an apology, though an apology is certainly part of it. Making amends involves restoration of some kind. I recently read that amends are about a change in behavior. This resonates, doesn’t it. For many of us, certain behavior got us into an adversarial relationship with ourselves. And that certain behavior needs to change.
We keep an absolutely punishing schedule.
We hold ourselves to a standard that God himself does not hold us to.
We rehearse perceived inadequacies and punish ourselves for simply being human (having limits).
We strive, endlessly.
We deny our heartbrokenness.
These are the kinds of behaviors that need to be addressed. Stricken. Banished. These behaviors keep us at arms length from our true selves. Because, and I’m just starting to get this through my head, these are adversarial behaviors. Treating ourselves as a suspect in a crime.
Making amends means we’re not going to do that anymore. Somehow, by the grace of God, we’re not going to do that anymore. We’re going to figure out some ways to befriend ourselves. Period. We’re going to dabble with reconciliation. We’re not going to abandon ourselves, leave ourselves out in the cold.
I believe our most creative work, our truest messages, our greatest peace will flow out of making amends with ourselves. I really believe this. And, just in case you’re new here and you haven’t yet heard me say this: I also really believe in you. I believe in your ability to do things differently. I believe in your capacity for healing. I believe in the wildly creative person inside you. I believe in your voice. I believe in your beauty.
And, moment by moment (always beginning again), I’m becoming more and more comfortable believing all this for myself.
Let’s believe on behalf of each other . . . that we can live radically free.