Be Gentle with Yourself

One of the wonderful things about being raised with animals, is that children learn the virtue of being gentle and kind to those who have no voice nor any choice in how they are treated. They learn what righteous dominion means and how to apply it in their stewardship of our world.  As parents, most of us actively try to teach our children to be tolerant and forgiving when others make mistakes. We encourage them to keep the failures of others to themselves instead of parading it around for everyone to hear. We know this moral integrity is directly related to their future well being and their ability to develop and hold lasting and meaningful relationships.

We know and teach all these things to our children and grandchildren…yet sometimes, we are not so kind to ourselves.

Last week, on a rushed and hectic morning, I quickly grabbed a washcloth and washed my face apparently a little too hard. As I was looking in the mirror afterward while applying moisturizer, I saw a broken blood vessel below my eye rapidly spread into a bright red blotch. I had essentially given myself a “black eye”.

I actually groaned out loud, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

As I stared disbelieving at this, hoping the spreading would stop sooner rather than later, I told myself that I needed to make sure that I was more gentle with my face from now on. And then this thought came…

How many times am I not gentle with myself during the day and bruise my spirit? 

That immediately stopped me in my tracks and I woke up to a new realization. I am not as kind to myself as I try to be to other people. How many times have we heard the phrase, ‘We are our own worst enemy’? How many times in a day do we berate ourselves and infiltrate our minds with negative thoughts about how we are doing or being or becoming? We leave bruises we can’t see, and pile up all kinds of interference to creating a positive outlook and becoming our best.

I’ve pondered on this all week and a scripture I have read countless times has taken on deeper meaning. In Matthew, when the Lord is teaching the first great commandment, He also tells us that the second is to love our neighbor as our self.  This presupposes that we actually do love our self, which if you believe scripture, we certainly must learn to do. Simply put, if we wouldn’t say it to our neighbor, we shouldn’t say it to ourselves.

Aesop tells us that, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted” …even on our self.