“Why am I like that?” I berated myself coming home from an evening with friends. “And why am I berating myself over it?” I meta-asked myself. “But seriously, I’m almost 30. Aren’t I supposed to have who I am figured out by now?”
I would truly love to be at peace with myself–with my body, with my soul, with my personality–with all the facets that make me, Cecilia. But somehow, I’m not quite there.
These issues often bubble to the surface when my birthday comes along every year. I tend to reminisce over time gone by as I simultaneously start pondering the new year to come. I want to fully accept and love who I am rather than wish I were different. But, I also want to notice where my natural tendencies and habits fall short–as who I am shouldn’t remain stagnant. If I am who I should be, I will “set the world ablaze,” right? I want to be fully who God calls me to be, and not a mediocre version of myself.
For example, I tend to be pretty calm and peace-loving. This contributes to why people often feel comfortable opening up to me. However, my peace-loving nature can also lead me to avoid conflict, including necessary conflict. In order to become the best, fullest, truest Cecilia that I can be, I need to embrace my peace-loving nature but know when it hinders me from loving God and others fully.
Here are three questions I like to reflect on to help me ascertain where I am in embracing and improving myself…
Do I like my body?
At various times I have been more comfortable in my body than others. Right now, I’m in a postpartum phase of life where my body looks and feels different from what is normal for me. I don’t actively love how I look some days, but on those days I can focus on all the amazing things my body does. I also know I should treat it with respect–perhaps only eating rice krispie treats yesterday is not the best way to respect my body. What ways am I respecting my body, and where do I have work to do? When I journal the things I am thankful for in a day, I like to focus on one thing I appreciate about my body that day.
Do I like my personality?
Some days, I don’t. It has been helpful for me to explore what I dislike and what I wish I could change. It helps to start by acknowledging the good that I can clearly see about the way I am, and saying it out loud. Only after I’ve acknowledged the good, do I start moving towards recognizing what could change, or what is actually wrong and should change.
For example, I’m a willing and able listener in conversation, but sometimes I need to share more and listen less. Many things don’t bother me, but sometimes I take that a little too far and don’t allow things to bother me that should (everything from household messes to injustice).
Do I like my soul?
Maybe that’s a strange way to ask the question, but what I mean is, do I like where I am with God and my neighbor right now? How much time, and what kind of time, do I spend with God? What about with my neighbor–including the people who annoy me or who I don’t mesh with naturally? Am I truly loving the people in my life, or am I just being nice and trying to engage as little as possible? Am I too focused on what makes me comfortable, and not focused enough on my state in life, and what is in front of me?
After some soul searching, I find it helpful to end in prayer. Thank you God for my life, and for who I am. Come, Holy Spirit, and show me how to love You, myself, and others better. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.