John Michael

Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise XXVII: You Are Beautiful and You Are Loved

(Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash)

John Michael continues his series Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise, reflecting on life and people encountered, reminding you that you are beautiful and you are loved.

 

I spoke at my church a couple of weeks ago; it is something I get to do four or five times a year. I enjoy it despite the nerves that sometimes come up; although I do grow more comfortable each time. I try not to over-prepare and some may think I don’t prepare at all. The idea is: the less prepared I am, the more emotionally honest I can be.

Before church started, there were a few people in the sanctuary.

I stood up and said, “I have nothing to hide,” as a way of not shaming myself before I even got started.

One guy said, “Do your talk naked then.”

I laughed. I thought that was a pretty good line.

I began by saying, “I want you to understand that you are beautiful and that you are loved.”

This, believe it or not, was not greeted with a lot of smiles and head nodding nor people saying, “Thank you, yes, we know we are.” Instead, I saw quite a bit of emotion and doubt pass over people’s faces.

That we are beautiful and loved, are things we don’t hear and are not demonstrated to us much, throughout our lives. It can leave us depressed and suspecting that something is deeply, deeply wrong with us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christ’s brother, James, tell us that God’s word is actually implanted in us. What could be more beautiful and love-worthy than that?

 

“I want you to understand that you are beautiful and that you are loved.”

 

I spoke about how one of the most beautiful people I had ever met was a recovering drug addict in a mental hospital we both were inhabiting in Texas. Her teeth were a mess, yet her smile was uninhibited and gracious. Her body was too thin and in a wheelchair, yet she sat happily telling me stories about how she recovered in God’s care and how blessed she felt.

I also spoke about what is hopefully an antidote for growing up in a world where an abundance of love is not on display.

I said, “You have to love yourself as much as you love God. In our self-hate we find all sorts of ways to punish ourselves and to punish others around us. A person can say they love God and mean it, but if they don’t love themselves, they secretly are not going to let God love them either.”

There are many ways to demonstrate to yourself that you love yourself. The simplest is to just say it to yourself, in the mirror or just in your mind. I can get overwhelmed with negative emotions, like fear, anger, and hate, easily at times. When I catch myself, I will find a quiet spot and just let myself know I am a child of God, that I am loved and beautiful and that I love myself.

The highest aspect of ourselves is always at oneness with God or the universe, so to speak. But busy lives, busy minds, and disbelief leave most of us not recognizing our divinity. If you can know and trust this, you can be enlightened by the time you finish this essay. But our minds and egos are raised on fear, doubt, and hate, so, it may take some practice.

Be that as it may, know that you are loved, beautiful, and divine.

 

John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

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