There is, deep in each and every one of us, an immeasurably precious and sacred self. Growing and maturing, interestingly, is not so much about learning more head knowledge or gaining more experience to list on a resume, but so much more about realizing and honoring the preciousness that makes us who we are. Who we are in our deepest self is unique to each of us… not who our parents think we are, who our friends think we are, not who our church or religion thinks we, and sometimes not even who we think God thinks we are. Some of the most important work we can do in life, I think, is to discover and learn to love our deepest most precious self, tenderly, passionately, graciously, and to begin to see that self as loved, infinitely more than we can possibly imagine.
Part of learning to love our most precious self is recognizing that there are very, very few, if any, who will truly understand every aspect of ourselves. To hold experiences, learnings and understandings as sacred we have to consider wisely with whom to reveal each aspect of ourselves to. This is discernment at its essence and can probably sound somewhat convenient and privileged in our current times of affirmation, freedom of speech, and “speaking your truth.” We should be able to be who we are, no shame, out and proud, right?!? Yes, a thousand times, yes! But just because we should doesn’t mean it is wise, nor self affirming, to offer up our fullness to any and everyone. To share that which is most precious and sacred with those who would not honor this gift is a recipe for disappointment, disillusionment, resentment, and shame.
Jesus’ teachings about not throwing “pearls to the swine” or “bread to the dogs” have been ringing true with me in the last year. I think many assume that his response to the woman who asked him for healing is one of those moments where Jesus “stood corrected” or demonstrated a closed-offness to those who were not “his people.” I see it though, as an affirmation of parts of himself that likely wouldn’t be as valued as they ought to be. The woman asking for healing demonstrated her openness (and wit perhaps) as she noted that she would take whatever Jesus was willing to give. “Even the dogs will nab the crumbs that fall under the table.” The teaching remains of immense value, however: Let us honor our most precious selves enough to be discerning about with whom we share.
There are so many ways to grow in love and honor and acceptance of our precious selves, and these are really not taught in a culture of comparison, productivity, conformity, and indoctrination. Time is one way of beginning this needed embrace. Time in presence and acceptance and sitting at the feet of the divine… in meditation, nature, or anywhere else that we can be free of the deafening noise of human projection. Jim Finley notes that we need our “daily rendezvous with God” where we set aside some time to just listen, breathe, and pay attention. This takes some patience and dedication as results don’t happen over night. You see how unpopular this could be in our day and age. Finding people who are going to allow, invite, and hold your precious self sacred with you is also important. Soul friends (or an “anam cara” as John O’Donohue writes about) or a dedicated and insightful spiritual director are good places to start. And also letting everyone else off the hook of assuming they will “get” you and your precious experiences in a way that you hope they will. We all exist in relationship, but we need to include in our understandings of relationship our connection with ourselves, nature, and the great mystery and not leave it all hanging on just the other people in our lives. We are, after all, humans… which makes for very complicated connections amidst all our stories and perceptions.