Note: Hello friends! Those of you who know me from The Sexy Celibate blog will see a lot of changes here, especially the name. I have realized the last few months that singleness is not on my radar quite as much as it used to be, and I have kind of exhausted that topic. I still want to be a voice for single people, and I will still have posts about my process with this, but I wanted to change the identity of my blog so that I wouldn’t be pigeon holed into that topic. I also want to reach people who are outside of the single circle.
I decided on the name Resilient for my blog because it encompasses a lot of what I want my life to be about: living a good life despite it looking different than I had envisioned and embracing the healing God has given me in my spirit and my mind.
I thought I would start out the new name with an excerpt of my new book on self compassion. The working title of the book is The You in Beautiful: A Journey Towards Self Compassion and Reflection.
I hope you like it! Thanks for being so faithful even through a long period of silence from me.
On with the post!
“You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won.”
From the song Falling Slowly by Glen Hansord and Markéta Irglová
If someone were to stick an antenna to my head to create a radio station, that would be a bad idea.
Because it is a big box of weird in there.
Right now, the show would sound like this…
“Okay, Kate. Put some words on the page. It’s time. Book time. Words. Upwords. Isn’t that a game? Don’t get distracted…I think I like club soda.
Club soda, grapefruit. Grapefruit, bananas, big monkey. Big monkey wearing socks. Thirteen socks in the laundry today. Only eight were matching. Where did all those socks go? Perhaps this is proof of a spirit realm? Sox, baseball games, baseball games with Dad…
Kate, earth to Kate! Time to write….
This radio station is quite disorganized. While most stations have a policy of putting commercials on only during the breaks, mine interjects jingles, often from my childhood, right in the middle of the talk show.
“You have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. The best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup. . .You should put an alarm in your iPhone so you don’t forget. The best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup. . .”
There are several voices that sound off in that small but important piece of real estate called my mind. There is a lot of drama, a smattering of ego, and glimpses of beautiful in that place. But one thing is certain.
It is not often peaceful there.
It’s the kind of neighborhood that you would never want to walk through in the dark. There is too much hostility there to be safe. Pieces of myself are often battling other pieces of myself. In fact, most of my selves have quite dysfunctional relationships with each other. Some part of me is frequently bullying another part of me about my choices or my failed relationships or my thighs. Always the thighs.
With all the drama, it feels more like a telenovella than a place that I would like to sit and have a cup of tea.
More often than not, the good hearted, worn out creature that I inhabit puts her hands up in the air and takes the mistreatment.
Recently, though, something happened that made me realize that my role as a helpless bystander needed to change. It was time for an intervention.
The turning point came when I went on a solitude retreat in the mountains of Julian near San Diego. I was reading the book Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning and came to this paragraph
“That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ, all these are undoubtably great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ.
But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself- that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness– that I myself am the enemy that must be loved– what then?”
My soul rattled inside of me. I breathed in and out slowly for a few moments, and then I began to cry. I asked God to cradle me, and I hugged my arms to myself. I sat in that position weeping for a good twenty minutes.
I was the beggar in need of my own alms, the enemy that I needed to learn to love.
I realized in that moment that I have had a profound sense of self doubt from the time that I was young. An uncertainty that I am really worthy of love. When I began questioning my value at that young age, these voices started to develop- the bully, the orphan, the perfectionist- and they often rivaled the compassionate friend in me.
I have almost always seen the good in people. I have spent a large portion of my life writing songs and books and teaching seminars about how valuable people are. I have volunteered for years with homeless people and at risk youth, always with the message that they are beautiful no matter what the world tells them.
What I realized that day, surrounded by the mountains, my arms wrapped around my knees, is that the only person in my life that I don’t always see as valuable or beautiful, the only person that I am often unkind to
Later that day, I came across a verse that I had read dozens of times before. But this time, through the eyes of self compassion, I read it differently.
“One of them, an expert in the Law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35-40, NIV.)
That’s when I saw it: Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, not more than yourself.
I was stunned. With this new way of looking at the verse, I realized I was not obeying this command the way I thought I was.
I had two thirds of the command down. I had followed Jesus’ teaching to love God with all my heart. My love for God was my lifeline. I had worshipped and churched and listened and prayed and memorized and hiked and retreated and loved.
I had also followed Jesus’ command to love my neighbor. Loving my friends and family and people in need had been one of the core values of my life. I had volunteered and forgiven and cooked and and taught and served and charitied and sang and written and given and given and given.
But what kind of history did I have with loving myself? That list was very different. I had screen timed and regretted and worried and overeaten and undereaten and ran ragged and looked on as unattractive and unworthy. These actions did not indicate love. They indicated an attempt to anesthetize a deep seated sense of shame.
Perhaps I inwardly believed this was how it was supposed to be. In my twisted way, I thought that’s what it meant to be humble.
And yet, right here in the Golden Rule, Jesus asked me to love myself. Just as much as I loved my neighbor. My habit of not loving myself was actually going against what God had commanded me to do.
In pondering this, I realized the brilliance of Jesus’ words. There is a triangulating relationship between God and neighbor and self. The more I love God, the more I learn to love my neighbor and myself. The more I love myself, the more I learn to love my neighbor and my God.
It is a sacred balancing act.
It seems that it’s really difficult to have compassion and connection with others and God when we’re not even kind to ourselves.
I realized that the way to solve this problem was not to hate the parts of myself that were being hateful. That would just spur on the vicious cycle. Instead I needed to give myself the gift that I would want to give to a good friend. . .
The gift of listening close.
I need to ask better questions and to search out the better answers that are already in me. I need to become a compassionate observer of the voices inside. To understand where they came from and how to bring them the love they so desperately need. And to ask them, please, to make peace with each other so that I no longer have to carry this war inside of me.
It’s time to put the sticks down.
It’s time to rewrite the story line.
It’s time to offer myself the alms of my own kindness.
It’s time to make this neighborhood safe again.
Let’s find our way home together.