The image of trying to get all my frogs in a bowl keeps coming to mind whenever I notice a desire for things to go my way or fear that they won’t. This noticing brings a little more freedom. I can take a breath and let my desires and fears loosen their grip on me. I can envision letting go of what I think I need and begin to rest in the reality that I am enfolded in God. God is all I need.
Julian of Norwich says,
This is the reason why our hearts and souls are not at perfect ease. We seek refuge in small things, but cannot find comfort there. We do not recognize our God who is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-good. He is our only true rest.
Recently, I noticed my heart was not at ease and was tempted to “seek refuge in small things.” Julian’s words led me to ask:
What is bothering me?
What do I hope will bring comfort?
Sometimes it takes a while to name what’s going on. Eventually, I recognized that one of my life-long desires has been to be myself and be accepted. I have begun to notice that when my heart is not at ease, it is often because I’ve done something that I fear will cause another to pull away. Then I scramble to find ways to get the frog of acceptance back in my bowl.
But I have chosen to retire from frog training and let go of all the I-would-be-happier-ifs. That means letting go of my desire to be authentic and still belong. I already have that in Christ. What if I don’t need it from others as much as I think I do?
Wow. That’s a biggie. I can be misunderstood or ignored and not be undone by it. I admit, it will be uncomfortable, but I don’t need to change myself or try to change others to satisfy my desire for acceptance.
When I feel accepted, it’s golden, a gift I deeply treasure. But when I feel the pinch that I’m not acceptable, I can begin to picture myself saying “Oh, well” instead of “Oh, no!”
That “Oh, well” allows me to turn my gaze outward. My focus is no longer on getting what I desire. Instead, I can welcome and be present to the ones I am with.
This lesson of love became the foundation of all the showings that were to come. Contemplation of God’s love gives the soul perspective. In light of this vastness, we behold our own littleness, and this fills us with awe and humility. It also awakens in us abundant love for all our fellow beings.
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
–Psalm 36:5 (NIV)
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September 30 is Orange Shirt Day. Phyllis Webstad’s story is the reason I am wearing an orange shirt that day. Every child matters.