For years when I would feel pain part of me would recognize that I was in a dark place and that I needed to do something about it. But not having acquired many tools I tried to banish the darkness in my soul by willing it to go away or perhaps cussing it or perhaps talking about it with a friend or therapist, fighting darkness with darkness. Not realizing that my pain could lead me closer to God I would cry out for comfort and relief. But here's the lesson I am sure many of you learned long ago, darkness cannot banish darkness. When I will myself to be better because I don't like who I am I am only adding darkness to darkness heaviness to heaviness and clothing my soul with muddy shoes that make it harder to travel. Self loathing leads to self loathing which leads to dark behaviours which leads to self loathing...an endless spiral into darkness which can seem pretty overwhelming. But here's the awesome part: all it takes to banish darkness is one tiny little speck of light. Even a glimpse of self compassion lights up a soul enough that the darkness fades. It took me a long time to quit fighting my dark side. It felt scary and defeatist to do so. It felt like if I stopped the struggle to be good I would cycle down into being completely bad. But when I stopped the struggle, well the struggle stopped. And when the struggle stops we can reallocate our energy towards tending the spark to light the candle of our souls. To stop begging God for relief and begin appreciating the Infinite Love of the Divine. To rest... Our culture doesn't support this much, rather we are encouraged to "fight the good fight", to "suck it up" to "just do it". All of these attitudes have a time and a place but for the tender work of soul healing they aren't particularly useful.
Rather bringing light to my dark soul has looked a little more like a warm fuzzy hug and a little less like fisticuffs. I needed to make a new friend and that friend was me. Thinking about the qualities I value in a friend (kindness, honesty, humor) gave me clues as to how to begin to treat myself. And as I nurtured this new little friendship with myself I barley noticed as the internal darkness turned to grey then slowly began fading into light. When I quit fighting, I began winning. "The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still" Exodus 14:14. Today I remind myself what I value in a friend and I endeavour to apply those qualities to my own internal relationship. I stop beating at the darkness and instead reach for a light. The spark in my soul is lit by kindness, nourished with love and sustained by an awesome new friend I have in me. Is it time you made a new friend in you? Become your own advocate and enjoy the bright flowers the spring up in the soil of your soul. Whatever you do today do it with an attitude of kindness towards yourself, a little patience for yourself and loving words to yourself and you will make a friend to last a lifetime!
Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom....