I’ve been doing some work on Liz, lately. It may be why I’ve resisted writing and publishing for a few weeks. Then today I had a little breakthrough that made me think I should share.
I have a naturally analytical brain. It is my instinct to ask questions about things I don’t understand. It is also one of my favorite teaching tools. (Is that the Socratic method?) So when I’m struggling with any particular area of life, relationship, faith, etc. I start wondering why I am struggling before I try to “solve the problem.”
In my recent self-reflection I’ve been dealing on many levels with criticism. Some of this criticism is constructive. Some is helpful. Some is challenging. Some is hurtful. Some is unfounded. In considering these criticisms and why I was struggling I realized something. Now maybe this is no big surprise to you all out there, but it took me off guard (maybe because I was too busy being defensive and angry about the criticism).
I have several people in my life who keep me honest, not the least of which include my dad, my husband, my sister and my daughter. But the criticism I have the hardest time dealing with is from me. The pressure I put on myself to do things in a way that leads to success, is sometimes overwhelming.
The irony is, if a parishioner came to me and told me how hard they were being on themselves I would advise them to be gentle with themselves, be grace-filled for themselves, forgive themselves, because God is already forgiving them. When I realized I was being so hard on myself I breathed a sigh of relief and frustration at the same time. And in talking through all of this I realized I could have grace for myself, and now I know what I need to do to fix my misstep. While I was holding myself hostage for the cause of self-pity and self-criticism, I could not see to the other side of what I thought was wrong. But once I named my self-anger and released myself from the bondage of what was ultimately a small mistake, once that was named I could forgive myself and I could almost immediately see what I needed to do next.
Be gentle with yourself in your self-criticism. Give yourself room for grace. Confess your anger to God. Forgive yourself and allow God to show you a new way.