The radical mastectomy left her worn out, frightened, but most of all it left her deformed. She was still a young woman, nice figure, lovely face. And married. It was the married part that worried her. She knew her husband loved her – but now? Now what? It was time to go home to him and she feared what might be in store. That night she changed in the bathroom and slipped into bed. It felt so good to be home, to be back in his arms. They were gentle and loving. Then, oh then, he unbuttoned her pajama top and lightly traced his finger over the long red scar. He kissed it ever so softly. As the tears ran down her face she relaxed in his love. Accepted! Loved! Still!

Oh, thank you, God!

We all have moments when we feel unlovable. We are too stupid, too ugly, too untalented, too ordinary or not ordinary enough. We long to be accepted – to have the “real me” accepted. But often we are afraid to be known, afraid the “real me” will not past muster. And that makes us afraid to be spontaneous and be true to ourselves.

Who can know us if we are not true to ourselves? We are on guard, presenting a phony fancy facade. We pretend to be what we are not. Or else we hide so no one will notice how plain and ordinary and unlovable we are.

It takes a certain amount of energy to put up a front. Consider the woman who never lets her husband see her without her make-up or the man who pretends to have more education or more experience or more money than he really has. It requires constant planning and wariness. When one can finally accept the fact that “this is how it is” and accept one’s own reality, there is a new freedom as well as more energy to be directed outside of one’s self. When you can finally say, “I have been struggling with alcoholism, or bowlegs, or acne, or laziness” it resonates with others who have other struggles. Then you can really be accepted as “one of us” – us being all of flawed mankind, people who are a work in progress.

We are told that we should love our neighbor as we love ourself. It follows, then, that if we are to love others well, we must first love ourselves well, warts and all. When we can be gentle and accepting with ourselves, it is easier to be gentle and accepting with others.

“Please love me,” is the cry of our heart. When will be realize that “please love me” is the cry in most hearts?

We have it on the authority of scripture that God loves us. He calls us “beloved.” He not only loves us, but loves us just are we are! We do not need to be perfect for him to love us, but we strive to be better because he loves us and will help us on the way. Is it strange, then, to realize that when we love other people they will blossom in the sunshine of our love?

My e-mail often provides me with inspirational messages and clever insights. A recent gem informed me that “ the happiest people are the ones with the fewest masks.” I believe it. Need we be afraid to be judged by other people if we are true to ourselves? That’s called integrity. I attended a retreat a few years back and the overall message I seemed to hear was “Be who you are.” Sometimes that’s not easy, especially since who I am seems to be somewhat countercultural. I wear a wool knit hat in the winter when there is no other woman in church with a hat of any kind! I pray in front of an abortion mill twice a week on the killing days and most folks think that’s a little odd-ball. Before God we are utterly transparent. Our masks are useless. Do we dare to care only about the judgment of God?

~~~

This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou can’st not then be  false to any man. Shakespeare