I have recently discovered how much my own self-care is related to how I understand my relationship with my Lord. Particularly, how I feel a certain sense of anxiety at times as to whether or not I am fulfilling my potential. This worry takes a toll on my physical and spiritual health. My discontent with my present self makes me feel unable to rest at times and unable to fully enjoy even the triumphs after a struggle. This is, in part, because I believe that I have not fully reached my potential which is my true struggle and goal.
I have come to realize that this perception clouds my ability to appreciate and accept aspects of myself in my present state. I am struggling, I am learning, I am forming, I am changing, I am evolving, I am doing… all of this for some future goal. But, what about what I have right now? Or better yet, what about who I am right now?
I was talking to a friend of mine recently and he advised me that there is a difference between a human being and a human doing. I asked him to explain what he meant, and he said that human doings focus their attention on their actions. They self-identify with their actions and let themselves be defined by them. Yet, actions once over and gone become mere memories. To feel a sense of satisfaction, a human doing must then begin engaging in another action.
On the other hand, human beings can be satisfied with who they are. They do not self-identify merely with what they do, but with the personal qualities that make up who they are. They choose to not be defined by actions past and gone, or wait to be defined by actions still to come. Human beings accept who they are in each successive moment; their faults and all.
Reflecting over this I have discovered how much I believed that God cared for me because of who I have the potential to be, but not because of who I am right now. The thought threatened me: I worried what would happen if I changed my theology. What if I believed God could love me for who I am RIGHT NOW? Would I stop growing, would I stop evolving?
In the Qur’an and the Bible, two sacred texts that speak to the origins of the universe, it says that God created the heavens and the earth in six days. Yet, it also says elsewhere in the Qur’an that God can create anything simply by saying “Be” and it will be so. So, I began to wonder: What if God enjoys the process of change? What if God enjoys seeing creation evolve? And, if so, what if God appreciates me not necessarily for who I may become, or have the potential to be, but for who I am now…
The thought brought tears to my eyes as I felt my perception of God changing. If God enjoys watching change, that is exactly what I am doing. But now, my struggling, my learning, my forming, my changing, my evolving, and my doing can be with God’s love by my side rather than out there and beyond the next hurdle.
My focus on the divine’s love for me for who I have the potential to be versus who I am has had dramatic effects upon my self- acceptance. This has pushed me towards a narrow future-orientation depriving me of the present and giving me in its place only anxiety. I have hopes now of accepting myself as I learn to accept that God embraces me for who I am in each successive moment. For, in each moment I am seeking to be with Him, despite my poor qualities and short-comings. I am still working on it, and I am thankful for a Lord who can embrace me even at times I find it difficult to accept myself.