Signs of the Time
Coming of age during the time psychology gained traction, I embraced the pursuit of personal growth with a passion. With inferiority nipping at my heels, I enrolled in programs, workshops, and seminars. Discovering the roots of my “good girl” strategy for staying safe in the world and the source of my low self-worth inspired me. I worked hard to change my ways. Motivation to break the chain of family dysfunction pulled me forward. Experiencing a call to serve as a professional helper, I passed on to others what had become so vital for me.
My spiritual journey included overcoming my psychological conditioning. It seemed an internal mandate I couldn’t ignore. “Become the person I created you to be.”
My heartache told me I had much to learn about how to love … myself and others.
Love one another as I have loved you. ~Jesus (John 15:12)
A spiritual program of recovery and training in relationship therapy gave me skills. My clients benefitted and expressed appreciation. My family resisted my changes. When one member of a sick system begins to get well, the rest of the system often stands in opposition.
But grow I did in my capacity to love, though my longing for a sentimental version eluded me. A mixture of grief and pride accompanied my attempts to practice self-care, set boundaries, and bestow tough love.
Despite my progress, vestiges of low self-worth endured, continuing to influence my behavior. Recently I watched myself over and over seeking outside validation. My almost 40 years of serious personal work had not fully healed my lack of self-confidence.
Just in Time
In my 78th year, I said, “Enough.” I prayed for the capacity to forgive the source, my mother … and to be relieved of my own sensitivity.
I experienced grace. I came to see my mother’s constant criticism differently.
In her era, feelings and sensitivities weren’t even on the radar screen. Hard work and escaping economic deprivation comprised her mandate. She saw her task as shaping me up to survive. Criticism was the only way she knew to show her love and care… far better than the violence she experienced at the hands of her alcoholic father. Given how ill prepared she was for parenting, she did a pretty good job.
I noticed a shift within. My craving for outside validation decreased. Trust in my experience increased. My eyes opened to sensitivity as a gift … when used wisely.
For Times Like These
We live in polarized times. We as individuals can no longer adequately address the challenges we face. Challenges like climate change, institutional inequities, and dealing with COVID are too great for any one person to resolve. We need each other in ways we never imagined we would.
We are a nation steeped in independence and rugged individualism. They no longer serve us.
Our times call for a shift in the way we see … from the personal to the collective.
As I perceive it, we are being called to move
- from “me” to “we”
- from “mine” to “ours”
- from “ownership” to “partnership”
- from “separate” to “relational”
- from “hoard” to “share”
- from “rewarded” to “gifted”
- from “particular” to “wholeness”
- from “exclusive” to “universal”
- from “certainty” to “exploration”
- from “indifference” to “cherishing”
- from “disharmony” to “resonance”
- from “discord” to “coherence”
- from “freedom” to “cohesion”
- from “preserve” to “transform”
- from “global” to “cosmic”
- from “intelligent” to “wise”
Once we “see” the bigger picture of our times, the question becomes:
How am I called to contribute to the well-being of the whole?
Changing is not easy. In the process of writing this post, as I prayed for guidance and consulted voices much smarter and wiser than my own, I read words like “play” and “joy” and “love” and “dance.”
I sensed a call … an invitation … “Won’t you come out and play … join the dance?”
I have no idea what that specifically means. But at 78, I want to join the dance. We need each other to learn the steps to this new dance. Won’t you come out and play with me?