Dear <<First Name>>,
For many of us, our work during this season of reflection before the High Holy Days is about being brave enough to love ourselves just where we are. Just as we are.
At this time of year, we are asked to brush off our souls, repair relationships, and get re-connected to Wholeness.
So many ways we have gotten off track. There are so many people we “should” have called/written/reached out to. So many ways we could have been better.
The list is so long, endless and often overwhelming.
I’d like to suggest that for those of us "perfectionists" out there, perhaps our very first step is cultivating compassion towards our own selves. And taking the radical step of self-compassion.
For whatever reason, an awful lot of us are very hard on ourselves: "I could have said that better. I should have…What’s wrong with me? When will I learn?"
We are often the harshest judgers of ourselves - by a long shot.
Psalm 27 suggests that there is one thing we might seek at this time of year: to dwell in the house of Adonai/God/Holiness/Wholeness.
What if we imagine that in that House of Wholeness, we are totally accepted and loved and taken in….just exactly as we are, along with all our foibles and issues and missteps.
Because that’s what the love story of Elul offers us. This Hebrew month is named after the acronym from our tradition's most profound Love Song: “I am your beloved and my beloved is mine” (Ani l’dodi v’dodi li.)
And this time of spiritual preparation is also about the idea that the Holy One accepts us back with love - just as we are, despite our imperfection.
Does this mean that we don’t have to repair relationships, forgive others, make things right? Of course we need to do that as well.
But it does mean that we begin with ourselves. As we are instructed in the airplane, put our own (compassion) masks on first. It’s an act of courage to begin each day saying: I was given this day to be my most authentic self, to share my unique gifts, and to just BE me.
And to end each day loving ourselves just as we are. In the words of Brené Brown: “Yes I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
Yes. Perhaps the ONE thing this Elul can be about is finding ways to love ourselves first. Bringing compassion to our own wounded souls longing for perfection.
We are all worthy of love and belonging. Just exactly as we are.
Shabbat Peace to you and many blessings