Thursday, March 10, 2011
40 Days of Love
Today is Ash Wednesday. This means it is exactly 40 days before the Easter Holiday weekend. Many people use the season of lent to give up bad habits, vices, fleshy pleasures and/or certain behaviors. It wasn't until I went out to a restaurant this evening to eat in New Orleans that I was reminded of the significance of Ash Wednesday. I watched the entire wait staff walk around with ashes smeared on their foreheads and at first I thought to myself, "Why are these people walking around looking like someone put out a cigarette butt on their face? What's the purpose of doing something like that?" Then I realized that there is spiritual power when we demonstrate courage to move out of our comfort zone for self-growth and expression. Oftentimes I think we get so caught up in our physical being that we neglect to focus and find ways to strengthen our spirit.
Therefore, I have decided this lent season that I will give myself the gift of love. I have committed to give up being so critical of myself and learn how to love myself unconditionally. For the next 40 days, I am going to celebrate Jesus' love for humanity by learning how to better love and accept myself. As Jesus taught, I will learn how to love the God within.
Why do I need to learn how to love myself? The year of 2009 was a very hard year for me. Emotionally, I battled for over 18 months with feelings of rejection and unworthiness. I felt rejected in my romantic relationship, within my career field, by my father and even by some of my own immediate family members. The worst part of it all wasn't how rejected I felt by others. The worst pain actually resulted from me feeling an internal sense of "perpetual unworthiness" and "self-rejection". I made it through that difficult year and finally in 2010 I felt much better. However, I still struggled emotionally from the residue of years of feeling rejected, unloved and unimportant by people that were very dear to my heart.
Most of my life I have desperately wanted someone to constantly tell me or help me feel like I was good enough. The problem is that it's impossible for anyone to meet that requirement. Only God can fill that space and heal that type of pain. Wisdom has taught me that "worthiness" is more of a value judgement that we unfortunately place on ourselves resulting from pain, fear, unresolved childhood issues or loneliness. In the scripture it says that after creation (Genesis 1:31) , "God saw everything He had made, and behold, it was very good." The simple answer is ...All that God has made is good because it is of God. Our very nature as part of creation is good.
Well it's finally March 2011 and my resolution for this year has been to live my life "on earth as it is in heaven". It is hard to ever truly experience the unconditional love of another when you are struggling with loving yourself unconditionally. Like most of us, I am oftentimes much kinder, gentler, more understanding and quicker to forgive others than myself. By far, I am oftentimes my worst and harshest critic. Matter of fact, although I think I am a great friend to others I have at times been a terrible friend to myself. But for the next 40 days I will do everything in my power to celebrate the God in me and to practice "me loving me" unconditionally!
Below are a few simple practices that I am going to adopt for the next 40 days:
Video Journal Messages To Myself
I've got this great new computer with a built in camera and iMovie software. For the next 40 days, I am committed to making short video messages to myself. I will talk about the positive things that I like about my life and about who I am. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself!
Embrace My Mistakes
I absolutely hate to make mistakes. I have become so fearful in the past to make a mistake that the fear has paralyzed me from making a decision. As I get older I realize that the problem isn't in making a mistake but it is not owning up and accepting the consequences. Mistakes can either paralyze one from taking action or it can motivate one to act in a more strategic way. I have decided to embrace my mistakes and see them as opportunities to grow.
Dedicate 2 hours for Self-Healing
A female African-American psychologist told me that she believes that the most revolutionary thing that a black woman can do is commit time to her own healing and self-development. Therefore every week I am going to take at least 2 hours to focus on my healing through self-love and nurturing. This may mean counseling, meditation, massage therapy, self-pampering,etc.
Immerse Myself in the Beauty of Nature
There is a medical philosophy called Earthing that suggests that because we are all made up of energy centers that the more we directly connect to physical nature the more balanced our personal energy. The concept suggests that we seek as many opportunities to directly touch the earth. I know that this sounds a little California Woo-Woo but I know it works. I feel so much better and grounded when I walk barefoot on the beach or plant flowers in fresh soil. There is something powerful in connecting directly to the earth.
Seek New Experiences
If you keep doing things the same way you will get the same results. I desire different results in my life so I am committed to doing something different. I don't like to date, however I desire meeting new suitors. It's my goal to make myself more available and accessible to meeting new people.
Express My Passions
There are some things and activities that I am simply passionate about in life. Like beautiful art, independent music, jazz concerts, botanical gardens, NBA games, theatre, wine tastings, etc. For the last year I have filled all of my time with work. I am committed to actively seeking out the activities that I am passionate about doing.
Well this is my Lent Season list. I hope that you will also reflect on how you can connect to a greater experience of God's love during the Lent season. Remember love starts from within but moves throughout the universe! Love is in YOU!
Peace, Blessings and Love!