Can we, with God, learn to love the less-than-lovely parts?
As we come to see ourselves more and more clearly, we choose either to accept or reject that self. The big question is whether we are able to find increasing acceptance for what might not be acceptable in our society’s eyes. Since few of us experienced truly unconditional love, many don’t know what this actually looks like. We have been taught to turn away from ourselves or others when the less-than-attractive becomes visible. We’ve also been habituated into always trying to show what is nice about ourselves to others and of not feeling at all comfortable with their seeing our less-than-lovely parts. Thus, we have imprisoned ourselves and others in this well-known societal game as we continually judge those negative parts and inwardly criticise our ambivalence.
What are the conditions we carry around true and full acceptance of ourselves and others? What judgements form the grid through which we see? Do we struggle, for example, with arrogant, abusive, or greedy people or those who won’t face up to issues we deem important? When we reflect on the conditions we each put onto others we can see that we all have experienced a wound around these particular issues. Somewhere in our experience lies a pain that reacts when someone or something negative touches it.
Though we all initially trusted others as children, now we may feel we’ve been hurt once too often and refuse to risk trusting again. But, if we say we will trust only until they do something negative, then we are getting stuck in a place. Broken trust is not a mirror that never can be fixed. Our wound can become an invitation to find healing for that hurting place. Otherwise, we simply continue to see new people as ‘wonderful’ until we find reasons to justify closing off from them. Relationships like these aren’t based on love, but on the fear of rejection.
As we don’t give up with our own children, God persists with our healing and helping us get over our foibles. He doesn’t turn away, but looks beyond our faults. We don’t need to be scared that He will put us down. Nor do we need to pretend before Him. He understands what is really happening inside when we are ugly and knows why we do what we do. He never separates from us in criticism, ridicule or disdain.
God is teaching us to walk a different journey – to learn to love unconditionally as He does. We all have holes! His acceptance and full-hearted, “Yes!” allows us to relax and to stop always imagining what others are thinking, in order to behave acceptably. He says, “Just be. You are loved. Don’t stress. I am busy with you. I will use those wounds to give you life skills.” As we learn to see ourselves and others as He does – persisting in loving, even when we see what’s unlovely – the true self will be revealed. For it is only in an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance that we are freed to risk becoming the unique and beautiful children of God that we all are.