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Leaning In

I think circumstances that find us at our most alone, while they may be pitch black dark, can be such a blessing.

Is that an odd thing to find?  Ok, possibly so. My point is, and I am thinking about my own experience from 2009, that once we lean into it, with no other direction in that moment to go, we find a wide open pathway to the internal. The eternal.  It is the soul-battery we all possess.

When my own world was darkest, void of all guiding light outwardly, and left me the one direction of inward to go, it was like someone lit a match in a coal mine. Minus the methane. When the illumination settled, I saw before me a gymnasium bench. Side by side, eyes down as if still hoping, however small, to be chosen by me on my playing team sat countless ‘Me’s; iterations of my own self at every age. Sadly sat the girl whose laugh was too bawdy for her schoolmates.

Dejected the teen whose hand-me-down clothes were 2nd tier. Denied, yet so earnestly hoping to play, the independent spirit too unique to ‘fit in’. I saw them all. So, so many. In my unruly  blond-haired, California tomboy’s quest for acceptance in a new, blue-blooded private school of a beautiful but conservative town, I had benched 80% of who I was. And seeing that, I cried like a baby.

I wept from my toes. When my eyes finally dried and the heaving of my chest settled down, I cleared my throat and said to them, ” I am sorry. You are all so beautiful to me and a sight for some seriously sore eyes. Thank you for granting me the love and patience I never in my immaturity granted back.”  Then, with deepest reverence I asked, ” Will you please be on my team?”

I thank God for the darkness now.

Because when it comes I stop looking for the doorway out.  Instead, I feel along the walls for the doorway in. Since that time and the resulting soul searching trip to Costa Rica where I sat alone in the jungle meditating and writing until my hands cramped I strive to a united front of all of me. The one who laughs way too loud sometimes, curses inappropriately, isn’t ‘as pretty/smart/clever/business savvy’ as her piers and mentors or as her critic says she should be.

I am conscious of when I am judging myself, comparing or saying anything less than kind. In that moment in the darkness I finally understood ‘self love’. I don’t always practice it. But I forgive myself for that too. Because, it is not about perfect. It is about perfectly me. I love you guys. Say something uncomfortably, but genuinely kind to yourself in the mirror today and listen for the critic. Then introduce her to the new you. God bless!

Jennifer Aston is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.