Pentecost 148

Pentecost 148
My Psalms 148

I was Glad!

This decade is already being called the Age of the Selfie. People are flocking plastic surgeons in an effort to make themselves look better online. No longer is a perfect nose one that meets certain criteria face-to-face. Now it has to look good from the angle of the selfie or the camera in one’s computer, iPad, net book, or mobile device. Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder. It is now in the eye of the pixels!

Organized religion cannot forget its beginnings when forgiveness was found by those able to donate to a church, temple, or mosque. Special dispensations were given according to the dollar amount of one’s alms giving. Hopefully those days are past but based upon the number of garments sold prior to religious holidays of all sorts, denominations, and spiritualities, appearance and wealth are still very much with us and a part of how we are perceived.

Writing for CNN several years ago, University of Houston professor Brene Brown discussed how the quest to be perfect does not result in happiness. “We get sucked into perfection for one very simple reason: We believe perfection will protect us. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.”

Brown continued: “We all need to feel worthy of love and belonging, and our worthiness is on the line when we feel like we are never ___ enough (you can fill in the blank: thin, beautiful, smart, extraordinary, talented, popular, promoted, admired, accomplished). Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield. Perfectionism is a 20-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen and taking flight.”

Teacher to Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan knew something about trying to become something you already are not. Her advice to her blind, deaf, and language-impaired student is actually good advice we should all remember. “Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember.”

In the book “The Gift of Imperfection”, Professor Brene Brown references what she calls “wholehearted living”. She lists ten steps to finding the positive in our imperfect being. These steps include authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, gratitude and joy, Intuition and trusting faith, creativity, play and rest, calm and stillness, meaningful work, and finally the joy of laughter, song, and dance.

It may sound like a great many things to do but breaking them down, one can see that it really is not that difficult, time-consuming, or costly to find the gladness in being. The authentic being is probably the most difficult. That means being true to one’s self, a topic previously discussed. Leaving peer pressure behind and being true to one’s beliefs and natural soul may seem daunting but once attempted, it becomes the easiest way to live. Becoming comfortable with ourselves allows us to express self-compassion and develop a resilient spirit.

The gratitude and joy that comes from being comfortable and liking ourselves creates greater self-esteem and a sense of gratitude for life. That gratitude attitude will result in joy found in the smallest of life’s moments. Feeling free to trust one’s intuition leads to trusting others, especially one’s faith. Creativity is the result of being confident enough to try things your own way, whether it is altering a recipe or drawing a stick figure. Knowing that one’s creativity does not have to equal the art of Picasso or Leonardo da Vinci allows for the freedom to try new things. Play and rest periods are essential to a secure psyche as are calm period and times of stillness. The person who can be comfortable and quiet is the person who can love. Practically all work has meaning and the self-possessed, confident person can recognize the value in their own meaningful work and will feel confident in applying for such.

Far too often the spiritual person is depicted as a solemn, morose individual. Maybe that impression is to create an aura of meditation but in truth, the admonition to most followers is to be joyous, be happy, and full of praise and life. Faith is an uplifting exercise in appreciating life. Joy is a choice to act upon the good things in you, recognizing then the goodness in life. Decide today to be glad and then walk toward that goal. The path may be hilly, with a few detours, but ultimately, when you arrive at your destination you can then exclaim: “I was glad!”

My Psalm 148

To you, dear Father and Maker of all,
I share a smile.
For the faint song of a bird,
For the rolling gait of a newborn pup,
For the soft mews of a sleepy kitten,
For the sweet dream grin of a baby,
For the soft whisper of life-giving air upon my face,
For the warmth of the sun,
For velvet pastures of green,
For majestic mountains of stone,
For the touch of a friend,
For the hug that warms my heart,
I thank you.
For all things past and present,
For all things yet to come or be dreams,
I am glad!

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