I often spend time encouraging people to recognize and celebrate what is good about themselves because I find so many of us focusing mainly on our flaws and foibles. In workshops and retreats I have been known to give a piece of advice learned from a friend long ago. She tells groups of women (and sometimes men) to look in the mirror every morning and say, “What a woman!” (“What a guy!”) When I say that the whole room laughs and only once did someone admit practicing something like that compliment! When the laughter subsides, I ask why that was their response and what it says about our self-esteem. If humility is truth, we should be able to give ourselves a compliment without discomfort as long as we credit God for the provenance of the gifts we possess. Our reticence most likely comes from all those influences from childhood that encouraged us to be seen and not heard and never, never to brag. “All in moderation” and “Consider the Source” might have been more helpful.
Having said all this, I was interested in the tiny bit of squeamishness that arose in me as I read Macrina Wiederkehr’s reflection this morning called The Truth. As you do the same, consider your reaction.
I will believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is. I believe in my power to transform indifference into love. I believe I have an amazing gift to keep hope alive in the face of despair. I believe I have the remarkable skill of deleting bitterness from my life. I believe in my budding potential to live with a nonviolent heart. I believe in my passion to speak the truth even when it isn’t popular. I believe I have the strength of will to be peace in a world of violence. I believe in my miraculous capacity for unconditional love. I will believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is. (Seven Sacred Pauses, p. 109)
Perhaps we would do well to create our own list of beautiful truths. Some of us may have to start small; Macrina must’ve spent a long time developing her list. But if you dug deep and kept looking in that mirror, (honestly try now) what would your list include?