It’s not like I didn’t know those things were there inside me. It’s more like I overlooked them and tried to go on about my business.
But now they are my business. Perhaps more so than anything I’m trying to do for you or the rest of the world.
What I saw really put me in my place.
For in discussion with a friend about the recent election, I again stated my upset with Obama over his selling out his word (to accept public financing) for the possibility of personal gain (winning the election).
It obviously allowed him to benefit from the huge advantage in funds he raised relative to McCain. Then, when he cozied up to the powers-that-be to raise even more and curry favor for the election, I found it impossible to embrace him.
It was like I was a jilted lover. I had supported him in the spring. But those two actions were in my book unpardonable sins.
Anyway, I try to practice what I preach. So as I looked at my own beliefs and actions today, I recognized that I was unable to forgive what I perceived as transgressions against his integrity.
It’s not like I had any reason to believe he’d be any better than any other politician. Maybe I got carried away by his rhetoric and the promise of hope, and superimposed upon him my own standards of what I hoped for in human affairs.
Rather than accept him the way that he is, warts and all, I judged his shortcomings. Little did I realize that I was in actuality judging myself.
For in finding him deficient, I was really seeing in him that which I found difficult to love about myself — for at times in my life I, too, have failed to meet the standards I have set for myself.
It was a harsh light that I shined upon me today. For in it I saw that the judgment I held for him was nothing to that which I imposed upon me.
I used it to find myself lacking, less than the vision of perfection I had set for myself that I thought was attainable.
Perhaps it was. Jesus lived it. Buddha, too. Probably also a handful of others whose names or faces I don’t recall.
But not me.
I was imperfect. I failed. I stumbled and fell — not once, but over and over again.
And because of it, I judged myself harshly. I condemned myself to an inner hell because I couldn’t always carry the heaven I found in my inner world into my outer affairs.
Most of those failures happened a long time ago. But inside me, I feel their pain as if they happened only a few moments ago.
Worse, the weight of my judgment is so heavy. Maybe I could carry it a while longer.
But I really don’t want to.
I want to love myself just the way I am. To accept myself notwithstanding all those times I’ve proven to myself that I was less than godlike or worthy of my own love, much less God’s.
So I’ve decided to put down that weight and give it a try. To forgive myself for being less than I want to be, and allow me to be what I am, warts and all.
If you find that makes me any less suitable to offer the help I’m trying to give, well, so be it. I still see all the things I’ve seen before. I still understand and have the insights. But now I can feel a crack beginning to open within me where the light of my own love was denied for so long.
Maybe I’ll never be as good as the holy men and women who’ve graced our world. Maybe I’ll never be someone others look up to. Maybe I won’t even engender the trust of those in struggle to lead them out of it.
Then again, maybe those things are not really all that important after all.
Because when it comes down to it, what matters most to me is that I can love and be loved. And that starts with loving me.
It’s something I’m still learning to do. I’ve come a long way, but I can see from this Obama thing that I still have a ways to go.
Does that mean I’m suddenly going to embrace him as our lord and savior, as so many seem willing to do? No. He’s just a man, like me.
He’s going to do the best he can. Just like me.
Sometimes he’s going to do what he sets out to do. Sometimes he’s going to fall short. Just like me.
Perhaps he’ll even fall along the way, and succumb to the pressures of expediency and self-interest like I did and perceived he did, too. Or perhaps he will prove himself to be a better man than I, and stand tall enough to meet those challenges without giving in to the many things that could throw him off track.
It doesn’t matter. I’ve got to allow him to be what he is, and to live his life.
For I’ve got my own to live. And that starts with finding these judgments within me and rooting them out so that I can learn to love myself where I haven’t before.
I don’t pretend it will be easy. But neither will his job, either.
But if we both do our jobs the way he thinks he can do his and I think I can do mine, then perhaps we’ll sufficiently meet these challenges to add some worthwhile contribution to our world, and perhaps inspire others to heights I have not yet attained.
Forgive me, my friend, if your image of me is shattered. Just realize that mine is, too.
It’s time for me to rebuild it with the love I truly have for myself, and for all. Maybe in doing it in such a public fashion it can help you see where you may have withheld your own in your life.
And if so, my self-judgment will have served a worthwhile purpose after all.