Sometimes I feel stuck, like I can’t change despite my efforts. From physical afflictions to moods and attitudes, there are parts of me that seem imbedded beyond any self-helping or God-healing reach.
I usually feel better when I spell out my frustrations, either by journaling, conversing, or meeting with my counselor.
At the end of a recent counseling session, I blurted out to her,
“I’m doing my best!”
Then I burst into tears. It was a breakthrough for me to make such a statement.
- I had spent an hour telling her about all the ways I was trying to be a better person. And how I was failing.
- I have spent decades trying to become better, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And changing too little.
- I have often insisted, either silently or as an aside, No-one ever does their best.
Of course, I include my self in this judgment. My counselor helped me dig for the roots of this damning belief:
For one, as a kid, I saw my dad refuse to control his own impulses even as he commanded obedience from his wife and children.
For two, I learned from the Bible and church to have high ideals. When I miss the mark and do not live consistently, I blame my character flaws.
For three, there’s often a weak part of me that stays in bed a little too long, a bratty part that refuses to be kind.
However, speaking of parts, my therapist pointed out another part of me: my inner child.
I know you’ve heard of that inner child. She or he is the little kid you wouldn’t lift a finger at, let alone accuse of slacking. For that child, we have gobs of compassion. We tell her or him, you are loved, no matter what.
Or do we? Do I?
It turns out, most of us don’t have enough self-compassion. We are hard on ourselves even though we can’t imagine being that tough on our sweet grandchild or the neglected kid next door.
Why don’t we love ourselves better?
When I was eleven years old, I was invited to be in a fashion show. Of all the clothes offered for me to model, I chose a plaid suit with snaps on the jacket.
As a young adult, I always smirked at that kid in the photo. I didn’t have much love for someone with such bad taste and bad hair.
But a few years ago, I decided to love that little Chris who felt so good in those snazzy cuffs. She wasn’t worried about how good or bad she was or about what other people thought. She was her best self in that moment. In fact, despite the turmoil of her divorcing parents, she was definitely doing her best.
Lately, I have more grace for my shortcomings. The passion I have for grandson Asher and granddaughter Callaway trickles down to the hidden parts of my heart. Aided by the panoramic view of grand parenting, I can sense the little girl in me who still needs love, and hugs, and healing.
Today, things are looking up. I feel better about my stuck-ness now that I’ve shared it with you.The changes do come, usually in tiny increments. But one big measure of my progress is the fact that, sometimes, I have compassion for the little child inside me and I say the phrase out loud,
“I’m doing my best!”