(lessons from Elizabeth Goudge’s anthology entitled “A book of comfort”)
“And so of the making of books there is no end, and of the making of anthologies there seems particularly to be no end because we are all anthologists… Anthology making…is self-preservation, for where should we be in our bad times without the treasure stored up in our minds?” –Goudge
In matters of truth or education, I am analytical, objective, and skeptical. In matters of the self, I am sensitive, wary, and over-attentive.
My least favorite thing about my personality is my sensitivity. I’ve learned to welcome criticism when looking to improve on things (esp my writing), but when I’m unprepared for negative words, they cut sharp and I feel suddenly three feet shorter. We can joke about how I spill everything, how jumpy and scattered my mind can be, or how I drop my phone more than any other human being on the planet–I find these things frustrating yet funny parts of myself. But when subtly criticized for something I’m self-conscious about and trying to fix, I crumble.
I was reminded tonight that comfort comes in the forgetfulness of the self. And quite frankly, that changes everything. If I were not so concerned about masking the things wrong with me, they wouldn’t feel so tremendous when brought to light. I am an extremely self-aware person and I fool myself into thinking I’m the only one who can see my flaws. I feel free to surrender/ chip away at my flaws as long I can do this while hiding them from everyone else. I know I there is much work to be done in me, but I can’t stand the fact that other people know it too.
What I’m learning in all of this is that I need to realize the people close to me recognize my flaws and love me despite them. I don’t need to hide my errors, or only open up about them when it’s all been resolved.
But mostly I’m reminded that we are all in process. We need to allow ourselves and others enough grace to be in process. There is comfort in the forgetfulness of self and freedom to be on a journey without having arrived.
If that isn’t comforting, I don’t know what is.