Today, feel Love embracing you with unconditional care and support. Lean into that hug. Today, don't worry about improving yourself. You must begin at the beginning, by feeling the presence of embracing Love.
In the book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, Henri Nouwen writes that although money, power, and sex are great temptations, "I wonder if the greatest temptation is self-rejection. Could it be that beneath all the lures to greed, lust, and success rests a great fear of never being enough or not being lovable? Instead of taking a careful look at the circumstances or trying to understand my own and others' limitations without rejection or judgment, when I fall into temptation, I tend to blame myself--not just for what I did but for who I am. My dark side says, "I am no good. I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned." Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us God's beloved."
In the book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, Henri Nouwen writes:
"When we are spiritually deaf, we are not aware that anything important is happening in our lives. We keep running away from the present moment, and we try to create experiences that make our lives worthwhile. So we fill up our time to avoid the emptiness we otherwise would feel . . .
I will see great things when I am willing to be seen. I will receive new eyes that can see the mysteries of God's own life, but only when I allow God to see me, all of me, even those parts of myself I do not want to see."
Wayne Muller in Sabbath writes:
"The old, wise Sabbath says: Stop now. As the sun touches the horizon, take the hand off the plow, put down the phone, let the pen rest on the paper, turn off the computer, leave the mop in the bucket and the car in the drive. There is no room for negotiation, no time to be seduced by the urgency of our responsibilities. We stop because there are forces larger than we that take care of the universe, and while our efforts are important, necessary, and useful, they are not (nor are we) indispensable. The galaxy will somehow manage without us for this hour, this day, and so we are invited--nay, commanded--to relax, and enjoy our relative unimportance, our humble place at the table in a very large world."
I had a therapist once who noticed how stuck I got in making decisions, how much I wanted to please everyone, so much so that I did not even know my own mind. To help me identify what I thought and felt, she would ask, "What would you do if no one cared?" (And most of the time, no one does care.)
Today, recognize that you are so much bigger than whatever roles you are playing right now: employee, boss, teacher, parent, student, group member, etc. Therefore, don't feel trapped or limited by your obligations and demands. Your real being and identity is much larger and grander. Your roles, as important as they are, are temporary. They demand your attention, but in proper perspective.
Today, expend less effort trying to do and be good. Know that Love is present, doing Love's work, and you can rest in that awareness, witness Love's work, and participate in Love's activities without anxiety, exhaustion, self-consciousness, or a false sense of responsibility for what is not yours to carry.
Today, when faced with your own difficult emotions, questions, or character traits, begin first with kindness and compassion for yourself--before you attempt to correct, or even understand, yourself. When the part of you that is confused, fearful, ignorant, or compulsive feels fully safe and loved, only then can it begin to trust enough to see new ways and to let go of patterns of behavior that feel self-protective, but which may not be serving you. The Great Kindness itself supports you in this process.
From paster Rob Bell in Oprah Magazine:
"I don't think there is a wrong way to pray. You just bring who you are, and you sort of rip your rib cage open: This is where I'm at, this is what I'm thinking about, this is what I'm thankful for. The most beautiful prayers . . . happen spontaneously. It's less about escaping the everyday flow of life than engaging with it."
Today, when you don't know the solution to a problem, begin by feeling the presence of Love embracing you and all involved. Feel Love as a power and an activity, who tenderly and fiercely cares for you and others. Don't take action until you can feel the truth of this.
Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm and numerous essays. You may read more of her work at tarnwilson.com.