This theme of needing to be kind to ourselves has been popping up in my life over the past couple of weeks, and I wanted to share it with those who recently graduated. But the more and more I reflect on it the more I believe we all need to hear it or be reminded of it no matter what stage of life we are in. Therefore...
Dear Graduates, (Dear Mom's, Dear Everyone,)
This is such an exciting time in your life, to celebrate accomplishments and look forward with hope to all that the future could bring. Over the course of your graduation and transition to your next endeavor I'm sure you'll hear so much advice on how to be successful. You'll hear beautiful speeches about achieving your dreams and receive flowers and cards filled with wonderful words of congratulations and praise. You will celebrate your success and you should, because it is a great one!! I am proud of you!
But one thing that is rarely talked about on these days of celebration and dreaming about a wonderful future, is that there's a very good chance you will fail. I don't mean to rain on your parade or discourage you from chasing your dreams. I mean that on the path to success there are obstacles and risks and everyone who has ever been successful has also failed, often many, many times before finally finding their way. What separates the very successful, of course, is how they handle their failure. Do they get discouraged? Do they give up? Do they continue doing the same things expecting different results? No! They keep trying. They learn from their mistakes and change their actions. They don't dwell on their failings but on their talents and potential to be successful next time.
So the advice I want to share with you as you set out into the world is: Be kind to yourself. When you fail, because you will, at something, or at a lot of things...be kind to yourself. No one says worse things to us than we say to ourselves. And it's the negative voice that makes us want to give up, or makes us believe we won't ever succeed. So, when you fail, be kind. Talk to yourself as you would to a friend. Use encouraging words, see your positive attributes and your potential to succeed.
The second part to this advice, is that most of all, I'm not really talking about your success or failure with your career, although it relates as well. I'm really talking about your success and failure with relationships. Because those are the ones we really lose sleep over. At the end of the day, at the end of your life, the successes and failures at work will matter so very little, but the ones that will weigh heavy on your heart or fill it with joy have to do with the way you are in relationship with people.
This has been so prevalent in my life right now as a stay-at-home-mom, because honestly, most days I feel like a complete failure. There are 4 tiny people completely dependent on me for their every need. It has pushed me to the end of myself when I feel I have nothing left to give. And at that place I am not the mom I want to be. I fail them. I fail myself. I fail my husband. No failure I have ever made in the classroom or at work has ever left me with the terrible feeling that sits in my gut after I have lost my temper with these precious tiny people. I always tell people, I used to think I was a pretty good person, and then I got married. My flaws were a lot more obvious when I was living with another person, but having children brought sins to the surface I had no idea were in me!
It's so ugly really, selfishness in all it's forms as a parent. And it comes out in a lack of patience, in harsh words, in LOUD words, in words that fail to see good. Maybe it's a whole terrible day, but most often its five minutes that I can't take back, words I can't retrieve, a tone I can't soften.
Maybe for you it's a family member you struggle to repair a relationship with. Maybe judgment always trumps love. Maybe you try and try but it always ends the same. Maybe its a friendship that seems irreparable. Maybe its the way you spoke to someone at Walmart that you may never see again. Maybe you really want to overcome this sin but your best efforts fail. When we know we were made to be better, but we fail, it hurts the most.
It's good that we feel that way to some degree, we need to know the difference between right and wrong, good choices and bad. We need to want to do better. But there is a danger of getting stuck in the guilt and rut of failure, and not believing we can get out. This is when it is so important to be kind to yourself. When you are at your lowest, when you see your failures, when you feel that hurt in your gut, when you know you were made to be better....be kind. Because the voice saying all those terrible things about you isn't the voice of God. He still sees your potential. He still see's the good. He still thinks your worth dying for.
If He believes in you, then you should too. You will fail, at one, or ten or fifty relationships with friends, and coworkers and family and especially the people closest to you. When you do, be kind, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, try again. This is what defines successful people, at work and in relationship, they continue to try.
Saint Francis de Sales said it much better than I have:
"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about redeeming them--every day begin anew."
Every Day Begin Anew.
Sometimes I even begin the day anew at lunch time.
The same day I read the quote from St Francis this song came across my phone...pretty amazing the way God reminds me that He's paying attention to me. I've been letting the refrain replay over and over again as I go about my day, I hope you will too.
Praying for you to be kind to yourself today!