February 26, 2021
“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.” Psalm 139: 13-14
“If you never make a mistake, you’re probably not a very good engineer.” That quotation is attributed to my husband’s former boss and mentor, Mark. They were discussing an employee’s very costly monetary mistake in a product that was about to go out the door, and Mark’s reply was filled with gracious acceptance and nonjudgment. The engineer responsible had been working on a completely new product with new technology which required taking risks. This particular risk did not work, but lessons were learned, the most important one probably being the engineer’s appreciation for the gift of grace.
Mark’s comment touched me and led me to expand it. “If you never make a mistake, you’re probably not a very good engineer . . . If you never make a mistake, you’re probably not a very good parent . . . not a very good teacher . . . not a very good writer . . . not a very good partner or friend . . . not a very good Believer in whatever or whomever you place your beliefs.” For most of us, we hear the exact opposite. Mistakes are to be avoided. Mistakes equal punishment, even shame. Mistakes diminish we who are. Yet in the eyes of Divine Love, which Mark was just a mere reflection of, we are loved despite our mistakes or maybe—shockingly—even because of our mistakes.
Spiritual guide and psychiatrist Gerald May wrote this about love, which includes love of ourselves, in his book The Awakened Heart: “Every religion has moral commandments intended to promote kindness toward others . . . .The real commandment of love is an invitation born in our own yearning, not an externally imposed ‘should.’ . . .Jews and Christians honor the great commandment to love God with one’s entire being, and one’s neighbor as oneself. The very name of Islam implies surrendering completely to God. The heart of the Hindu Song of God, the Bhagavad-Gita, is God’s request for complete, unconditional love. Buddhism seeks the inherent compassion existing at the root of reality. . . .In every deep world religion, the greatest commandment goes to the very core of being, and there it depends radically on grace” (p.14).
We are invited to love something bigger than us, and that invitation also implies that whatever is bigger than us also loves us. We are invited to love our neighbor, and that same invitation includes love of ourselves. Each one of us composes part of that Love Triangle. If that is so, that we are loved beyond measure, that we are included in the equation of Love, then in this season of turning, we can turn back from our own lack of self-love and turn toward that Source who makes us whole, just as we are. We are made for Love.
We Christians are fond of saying that Jesus Christ came to save us. But I often ask, “Save us from what?” Sin? Death? Despair? I’ve come to believe that Jesus Christ and other spiritual leaders come to save us from ourselves, from our own lack of love for ourselves, just as we are, both broken and beautiful, composed of shadow and light, yearning to know Love. Yes, we make mistakes, but those mistakes don’t ever define who we are. When we turn back to Divine Love, we can give up our lack of self-worth and give to ourselves the compassion and grace that remind us how wonderfully created we are. Wonderful are Love’s works. ~ Rosemary
A Blessing for Whoever You Are
May you be entranced by the hue of your eyes—
emerald green, slate gray, cornflower blue, burnished brown,
and all the wondrous shades in between that were selected
just for you.
May you be blessed by Love’s design for the color
of your skin—ebony, ivory, bronze, cream, caramel—
and the marvelous blends on the palette
created with care for you.
May you receive the blessing of your shape, your size,
your height which are a delight to Love’s eyes
because you were created in Love’s image.
Love breathes in you.
May you be blessed by releasing all that says
you are less than, you are not enough, you are unlovable
and wrap your arms around your very heart.
May you be blessed by the sacred place within you,
the chamber where Love waits simply to gaze
upon you. And may you believe that gaze
that washes over you and whispers,
“Love. Love. Love. Just as you are. Just because
© Rosemary McMahan