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  • Writer's pictureallhallowsconvent


Anyperson felt deep down that they were horrible; they could never get anything right, and were bound to mess up. It wasn’t pleasant to feel that way, so Anyperson learnt early on to hide those feelings, and worked hard to prove to other people that they were capable and a nice person. Of course, Anyperson didn’t really need to convince others of this, they needed to convince themselves, but this was a continual process because Anyperson actually knew, fundamentally, that they weren’t capable, but were actually horrible and stupid. Every time Anyperson said or did something wrong, or clumsy, all the stupid, horrible feelings would come flooding back, until Anyperson could stuff them back down again. As a result of this process, Anyperson became overly dependent on praise from other people. If things went well, or someone praised them, or simply implied that they liked Anyperson, it would keep Anyperson happy for some time. But not permanently; Anyperson knew that they needed to keep working to keep people liking them, because they also knew that they weren’t likeable, and would mess up sooner or later. Then, they feared, everyone would turn against them and isolate them. It was a continuous circle.

For a long time, Anyperson was not aware of this process, but gradually, over time, with prayer and by talking to Wiseperson, they gradually became conscious of this process, and mindful of how much they were allowing other people to dictate their life. They were grateful that they had lived mainly among people who hadn’t abused this, and hadn’t dragged Anyperson into dangerous situations. But still – it wasn’t a pleasant way to live, and they were aware that they should take more responsibility for themselves. For a time, it got worse as Anyperson became aware of the negative feelings they had towards themselves, and they had to live with them more. Anyperson knew that it wasn’t seen as good to have these feelings, and felt she ought to abandon them, but they could only do that by repressing them and pretending they weren’t there, which was unhelpful.

One day Anyperson was praying, and realised a basic fact of their faith that applied to this situation. ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (see Romans 3:23). Anyperson realised that, in actual fact, it was possible that part of her was stupid and horrible; it wasn’t the whole story (they were also made in the image of God). But they were quite capable of doing things that weren’t right, that might upset people, that might seem stupid. Anyperson realised afresh that they were a sinner; that they messed up; that they did things that were wrong and that might hurt other people. Whether those were deliberate or not was irrelevant (most of them were actually not); it was a fact of her faith that she wasn’t perfect. Anyperson regularly confessed in her prayer time; they were aware that the feelings of being horrible and stupid were wrong and confessed them; as also their tendency to want to be perfect. Yet they realised, almost for the first time, that those feelings of being horrible, that idea that they were stupid wasn’t anything to be ashamed of; they didn’t need to be hidden. For that is part of the human condition - almost ‘for all have been stupid and fallen short of the glory of God’. Anyperson understood that those feelings had been so painful partly because they hadn’t accepted them, had felt that they should hide them, had been taught that they shouldn’t be there. Part of that had been correct; feeling that they were stupid had limited Anyperson’s life more than it should have done. But Anyperson now knew that they were stupid sometimes; it was resisting that, pretending that it wasn’t there and striving to make it not happen that had caused much of the pain and difficulty.

Anyperson came before God, praying openly about these feelings, and writing about their day and what they had done, well or not well. Anyperson knew that those feelings were never going to disappear completely; but they also knew that they could bring God into those feelings; into those times when they had done something stupid or horrible, and allow the Spirit’s compassionate forgiveness to enter deep into their soul.

Anyperson began to realise that they needed to forgive themselves for not being perfect, for having overly high standards, for those times when they had been stupid. They also needed to forgive those people and situations that had taught them they were stupid in the first place, had taught them to fear that everyone would be angry with them if they were horrible, whether they knew the origin of those feelings or not. This would take time, but Anyperson also knew that they needn’t isolate every incident; nonetheless they needed to let go. They weren’t sure how easy this would be, but they didn’t want to go on condemning themselves for being human. They were aware of the dangers of the stupid feelings becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, that they would be incapable merely because they thought they were. Anyperson discovered that in order to move forward they would have to take risks, to be willing to move on in ways that the stupid feelings had prevented; and they weren’t sure whether they really wanted this. Yet, in order to journey to becoming the person God had created them to be, they would need to ‘let go and let God’ in ways that they never had in the past. It could be the beginning of a totally new journey.

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