I think back over my life, and I’m weighed down by the thousand times “It’s going to be okay” should have left my lips but never did. By all the times that my arms laid limp at my sides rather than wrapped around another human being. By all the times that I stood in the presence of someone mourning, and refused to mourn with them.
I have taken people whose backs were so laden with unimaginable burdens, and added the burden of shaming them for their weakness. Sat across from husbands and fathers who had lost hope, lost will-power, lost their will to live, and told them to get their shit together.
I have sat in judgement over those who had already judged themselves harshly, even as I sat crushed under the weight of my own self-contempt.
It’s easy to think that the most self-centered thing you can do is pursue your own healing. It’s easy to believe that by putting your time, energy, and resources towards seeing some of your own burden lifted, that you are somehow contributing to the burden of others.
You can say that people are made in the image of God, but then what image are you made in when you let yourself bleed out on the altar of self-sufficiency? You can say that others have dignity, worth and value, but prove it untrue when you deny yourself the very same attributes.
People who never give themselves the chance to heal, will always deny others the same. I think of the ones in my life who, when I asked for hope, gave me shame. I know that someone gave it to them first, because I in turn gave it to others. This cancer. This communicable disease of half-living.
You and I, we’re made in the image of God. We have dignity, worth, and tremendous value. If we hope to love people, let us spend the rest of our lives proving these things to ourselves.