You Are a Child of the Universe
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No More Self Improvement

I’ve never really been one to make New Year’s Resolutions.

It’s not that I don’t believe in setting goals, because I do. It’s just that January 1 is too arbitrary for my tastes. If I decide to lose weight, I don’t care what the calendar says. If I decide to change some aspect of my personality, I’m going to do it right then and there.

But I question whether self-improvement is really beneficial.

For me, the last 10-15 years have been about learning to believe that God does love me, exactly as I am, warts and all. God loves my procrastination. God loves my bad temper. God loves my lazy side. God loves my critical side. Because God loves ALL of me. God loves me regardless of my sins and weaknesses and failures.

After all, I love my daughter, both her faults and her talents, and who am I to claim that I can love better than the Divine Mother?

Paradoxically, the more I focus on accepting myself the way God accepts me, the more I improve my self.

It’s one thing for me to realize that my weight is not what I want it to be. But resolving to lose weight is a losing proposition, as millions can attest. Instead, successful weight maintenance depends on embracing a lifestyle that maintains the ideal weight. And that starts with acceptance.

So often, we begin our self-improvement quest with rejection. We reject our current weight, our current fitness level, and our current appearance. We reject how we are currently keeping house (cleaning, organizing, finances, etc). So we simply set out to create new habits and fix ourselves.

But if we can’t accept ourselves at 200 pounds, why would we be able to accept ourselves at 150?

If we can’t accept our hatred of housework, how can we expect to accept suddenly adding a bunch of tedious chores to our life?

Furthermore, while rejection of something can be powerful motivation, I’ve discovered that self acceptance is far more powerful.

For example: I might look at another person and judge them, feeling arrogant, prideful, and contemptuous. Those feelings are not fruits of the Spirit, and do not please God. Eliminating those feelings would be a good move. How can I do it?

I could repent of the sinful attitude, and let guilt push me towards being loving and humble. In that case, I reject those feelings as unworthy. I must seek forgiveness for them and find a way to create new feelings for that person, asking God to just insert good feelings into me. And while God can do that, underneath it all, I’m reinforcing the message of rejection – God rejects me for rejecting another person.

You Are a Child of the Universe

Or I could focus on God’s acceptance of me. I could remember that despite my sinful attitude, God loves me. In that moment, I chose to accept my feelings, because God accepts them. God loves me even as I am feeling arrogant. So I sit with God’s love. And that love softens my heart. As my heart softens, I see how the judgment of another is really judgment of myself. And it’s unnecessary, because I am utterly adored. And so is that other person. Acceptance of the feelings leads to humility. And as I accept myself as God accepts me, that love overflows. The good feelings I long for occur naturally as I recognize God’s love and acceptance of me. And beneath it all, I’m reinforcing a wonderful truth: That God accepts me wholly and completely just as I am, and therefore I can certainly accept other precious lives in part.

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