The wonderful mystic, Hildegaard de Bingen wrote: “A divine voice spoke to me, saying, 'How fragile you are, Human, made of dust and grime, but I am the living Light. I make the darkness day, and I have chosen you to see great wonders, though I have humbled you on earth. You are often depressed and timid, and insecure. Because you are conscientious, you feel guilty, and chronic physical pain has thoroughly scarred you. But the deep mysteries of God have saturated you, too, and so has humility.' When I heard the Voice, I began trying to live a godly life. The path became difficult as I questioned myself again, saying, "This is pointless." I wanted to soar. I dreamed impossible dreams and started projects I could never finish. I became dejected, so I sat and did nothing. My self-doubt is my greatest disobedience. It makes me miserable, and I struggle with this cross daily. But God is by my side, reminding me that he created me. So, even in the middle of my depression, I walk with wise patience over the marrow and blood of my body. I am the lion defending itself from a snake, roaring and knocking it back into its hole. I will never let myself give in to the devil's arrows."
I absolutely love what she wrote. While I do not live with chronic physical pain as she did and my life is different in many ways, I relate deeply to the phrase, "My self-doubt is my greatest disobedience." When I was interviewing for jobs, one of the questions commonly asked was what I felt was my greatest flaw or area of growth, and I said then what I will say now, that I know it to be my insecurity. To me, though, it truly is more than a flaw or area of growth. It is, as Hildegaard de Bingen said it, a disobedience. It is disobedience in so many ways. It distracts me from doing what I feel called to do. It calls me to focus on self more than on care for others. It takes up time and energy that could better be spent serving or enjoying the beautiful life God has given us. But most of all, that self-doubt is a liar. It lies to me on a daily basis and makes me hesitant in my decisions, causes me to question things I have said and done, keeps me out of the present and more in past guilt or future anxiety. It tells me that I cannot succeed at things I feel called to do and keeps me, at times, from even trying, even pursuing what is clearly a call for my life.
I fight this. From many people I hide it. I am certain that there are many who would be very surprised to hear that this is such a huge part of my existence, of my being. I hesitate even to put it out there now. But I have found that Catholics and 12-step groups have got it right about confession in many ways. When we confess what we have done wrong, we have a much better chance of working it through, of letting it go, of "repenting" in the sense of turning the other way and going a different direction. Naming it out loud takes away power that is given to it through silence, through "secrecy".
But it is actually for another reason that I am choosing to blog on it today. Occasionally I have days that are truly filled with little, what I would call "love notes," from God or the Universe or "that which is beyond". These are days that call me on something in a beautiful way. I wrote yesterday about the situation with the dove family and that wake up call for me, especially as the one dove baby was found alive and we were able to help it. But there was also a series of other things going on. I experienced three different situations in which I had made negative assumptions about the way others were interacting with me. In one, I was absolutely certain a person was angry with me who, it turned out, was just having a really bad day because of family problems. In another, I was absolutely certain about a person not liking me who it turned out was just a very quiet and shy person. And in a third I was absolutely sure a person had regretted my being hired at my church here who completely showed me that she felt differently. I did not confront any of these three people, each came to me with a different message from what I had understood before. Three in a row. And I felt, as I often do, that it took all three of those coming at me in that way for me to get the message. I got the message. I need to stop worrying so much about what others think because I will never actually know what they think. I may as well assume the best because no matter what my assumptions, they are likely to be wrong and assuming the worst leaves me miserable and paralyzed in situations where that is completely unnecessary. As I have been writing this, I just received an email note of affirmation as well... And that to me confirms again that it really is a love note from the Divine, reminding me to let go of the insecurity again.
Twelve step programs have a wonderful saying, "It is none of my business what you think of me/feel about me." The point is that what matters is how people treat us, not how they really feel. But also, we can never really know how another person feels about us, we can never understand completely why someone is behaving the way they are, so worrying about it is pointless.
So, for me personally, this is something I will continue to work on. I will take the things I believe I am called to do one step at a time. One step forward, I will try the actions that scare me, setting little goals that lead to the bigger picture. I will keep walking and meditating (both of which center me and bring me out of "me" and back into the present needs of those around me and the present calls to action). I will keep laughter and music around me which also lightens the heavy physical burden of doubt from my heart. I will keep moving forward. And I ask for your help in accountability around this. For we all are called to support one another in this journey.