These past three days, I’ve been feeling burdened and tired. I’ve been going to sleep early (like 8.30 p.m. early!), and waking up feeling sluggish. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was “depressed”.
But I do know better.
I know that this is all part of the process that I am working on.
Part of me is currently in “avoidance” (the desire to sleep early) – because this week I started off my week with a commitment to “go deep”, and address questions about my life like “what’s holding me back?”. I agreed that I would work on “finding my authentic voice” and that I would work on clearly identifying purposes and passions in my life that would move me forward.
The most important question that I have been asking myself is “what do I need to forgive myself for?”. So, at 8.30 my body says “enough”, I can’t keep on this any more – let’s call it quits for today!
But I have been digging up “shame” and “bitterness” and “regrets” in my past, and releasing them and myself from them! What shame have I been carrying about the past that does not belong in my present? What regrets have I been carrying with me that o longer serve me?
Because when we decide that we are going to forsake old beliefs, ways of thinking, and emotional baggage that is holding us back and that we simply no longer need to carry, there is some work that we may need to do internally to release it. For me, that usually involves forgiveness.
Forgiving myself or forgiving others. Often it begins as forgiving others, and then turns into forgiving myself for the way I allowed others to treat me – for failing to clearly establish and honor healthy boundaries. Failing to show myself the minimum love and respect that I expect others to show me.
And any time that I make a commitment to do this type of work, and to allow to surface whatever needs to surface, I feel “tired” and “burdened” and weighed down. It’s part of the cost of doing the work!
I know that next week, it will all have been worth it – I will be so much lighter for it.
But this week feels like a dark week!
Ephesians 4:31-32 (RSV)
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
The same way that we are called to be kind and tenderhearted with each other, we need to be kind and tenderhearted towards ourselves.
Needless to say, when I am in this place, it seems that Divine Presence is far away. I am doing the hard work and oftentimes there is little joy in this work and effort. But I have discovered that Presence only leaves if I block it or close the door. God is always here. Am I willing to practice God’s presence in my life in spite of my circumstances?
So, this time round, I have done things a little differently. First, I have spent quiet time in meditation, and then I have spent time in my gratitude journal, giving thanks for all the blessings and good in my life. Then I have moved on to the harder stuff, the forgiveness work and the digging deep into my heart to clear out the baggage and leave space for more love in my life.
And then, once I’ve completed for the morning the forgiveness work, I have gone back to re-read my gratitudes for the day and remind myself about everything that is right and well in my life. That there is a silver lining in this cloud and this work that I am doing.
Throughout the day, I have also been more conscious about taking a moment to connect when I feel weighted down or not able to concentrate and focus. And I have come back to the exercises in the evenings before I go to bed, especially coming back to gratitude again.
Some days, like yesterday, my gratitude before sleeping was literally only 2 minutes long, because all I wanted to do was go to sleep. But I allowed myself to do this. I was understanding and compassionate with myself – knowing that I was pushing myself hard to do the heavy work and that I need to also rest if I am to complete it all.
As I learn what self-love means, I learn what God’s love for me means also.
1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
I know that God is not judging me, so why am I judging myself? And as I forgive myself, and I release the judgment I have been carrying, I am set free.
But no, this work doesn’t feel “good” – it will feel great once I’m through this little patch and I’m on the other side, but for these days, it still feels a little heavy.
How will I know that I’m done? When I sit down to write and ask “What is holding me back?” and nothing else comes tumbling out onto the page! When the voices inside my head that usually accuse me are finally silent, because I have forgiven and released it all.
I know, of course, that this will just be for now – that it’s just like a layer of an onion – I may peel off one layer now and probably later there will be another one that needs to be peeled off.
But I will cross that proverbial bridge when I come to it.
In the meantime, I remember that in my consciousness of Oneness with Christ and Creator, I am a new creation – the old has gone and the new has come! And so I consciously release the old and boldly embrace the new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!