Self-acceptance

If I want to be other than I am

I will always perceive how I really am

as lack.

How may I see myself as good in myself?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8e/Lautrec_rue_des_moulins%2C_the_medical_inspection_1894.jpgWell, how do you do it? It does not help that I lie to myself in order to see myself as a good person, and how I have seen myself as a good person includes those bits which are not how I am. First the disconnect and denial, then the panicked attempt to make it real. Seeing what I deny has been such hard work over so long, because I deny it. Having created the blind-spot, I try to work out what is in the blind-spot. I deny it because I see it as wrong and wicked and bad, and it is important to me to be Good. (Mary Oliver- “You do not have to be Good“- addresses this.)

Having decided that, being stuck with myself, I need to make friends with myself, and a good step would be to get to know me better; and that because God’s creation is Good, then so must I be- I am observing this beautiful, hurting creature, her strengths and vulnerabilities. I still have those old habits, of calling what I am not, Good, and aspiring to it, and dissing who I am. So I tend to see those qualities of who I am as, not being that other good thing, rather than, being this good thing.

So I begin to perceive a characteristic, and I cry,

How can that possibly be Good?

and it does not know, because it has been frightened and hiding, and is not developed or matured or accepted, and I give it mean names. So I have to sit with it and work out how it could be Good, and mourn with it that it is not matured and integrated in me. I have to take this on trust or faith, a lot of the time: God’s creation is good, and therefore I am good. But, more and more, I am taking that on experience.

Gospels

Jesus said, “Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.”

-Gospel of Thomas, saying 7.

Robert Funk dates the Gospel of Thomas to the middle of the first century, around the time of St Paul’s first letters; others date it to the second century. Perhaps opinions on this depend on the value assigned to the document: the earlier it is, the more likely it is to be close to the words of Jesus.

Some would call it Gnostic. Again, I have no opinion. I find some Gnostic ideas repellent, for example the idea that spirit, directly created by God, is good, and matter, created by a tainted emanation of God, is evil; but that does not mean that nothing Gnostic has value.

What matters is whether the sayings are true. In this case, I do not know. Is it just a periphrastic way of saying control your anger, do not let it control you? If so, does calling anger a “lion”, with its qualities of power, danger and beauty, add anything? A lion can outrun and outfight a man, though people together can defeat a lion, and a man can make a spear or a cage to kill or subdue a lion.

Or does the saying mean something else entirely? Whatever, I think it is worth meditation.

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The Gospel writers changed their material for their own ends. So, in Mark 6:3, the people of Nazareth refer to Jesus as “Mary’s son”, ie, the bastard, the fatherless one, but Matthew 13:55 has them call him “the carpenter’s son”. It takes away the stigma. They cannot be trusted. Matthew was written long after Jesus’ death, after the temple was destroyed in AD70, and the Jews expelled from Jerusalem, and yet it still has value: it contains the phrase “turn the other cheek”, which I have seen interpreted as meaning extreme pacifism or non-violent resistance, which has been debated for two thousand years and still haunts all Christians, and the wider society.

Some looking at the biblical passages on homosexuality are defending gay people from Christians. For British “Liberal liberal Quakers” I find myself defending the Bible: if they think it condemns gay people, they are likely to condemn it.

For me one lesson of the story of Sodom comes from Abraham pleading with God not to destroy it. God promises not to destroy it if there are ten good men there. So, if there are ten good verses worth chewing over in the Bible, do not throw it out.

The gospel writers make the words of Jesus accessible to people of a wide variety of religious experience and understanding: those who accept the stories naively are exposed to the words. A blessing of the Church being divided, Orthodox, Catholic (and Coptic and others) then all the little protestant sects: there is no one Approved meaning of the words. The words are greater than any one institution’s understanding of them.

Pride

 

What do I have to be proud of? This is important: unemployed, not quite friendless, and much of the time hiding in my living room because that is the only thing I have control over, I need to trust myself, and for that I need pride in something. I had thought of doing posts on what can the British be proud of- the Empire, the War, Cool Britannia? Even my posts about other things are really posts about me. What may I be proud of?

Oddly enough, my web of illusion. As I seek, now, to free myself of it, I realise that I have created it myself, and that I created it to protect myself. It did its job. I am OK, comfortable, I have the time to find better ways of being in the World.

My growth and maturity and healing. For example, moving just recently from that emotional block against trusting my intuition. It was an emotional block, and it was very strong. And now I can accept intuitive promptings, without needing to construct an argument. “It is my intuitive prompting” is sufficient. That is a huge move for me. I am not just vegetating, I am healing and growing, as I have always been. That huge move last year from negative to positive– I am still working it through, and part of that is seeing challenges as opportunities-

no, I am not there-
Seeing the blessing, where I would just have seen difficulties. So all that foutering with the hormones (actually, I am sure the Scots word is linked to the French verb foutre) helps me to see and accept my emotions.

And transition took courage. Some people do not manage it. It took years of preparation, of learning: I can buckle down to something and worry at it- also illustrated by my skills on the piano. I am loving and caring. I am creative.

My inner critic is picking away at everything positive I say here. And I am still saying it. I had not come across Henri Rousseau before looking for an illustration for this post. I love his work.