After playing at the small neighborhood playground for an hour or so, it’s time to head home. We four adults, grandson, Oliver, and little black curly haired dog, Moby, make our way up the street. It’s late afternoon and the sun is low behind the cozy houses along the way. As we approach the street we need to cross, Oliver’s dad reminds the two-year-old that it is time to hold his hand. Oliver, always thinking, looks at his dad with a smile and immediately grabs his own hand. Greg quietly laughs and tells his little guy that holding his own hand doesn’t work in this situation; he needs to hold his daddy’s hand.
I smile at the innocence that enables this little guy to think that holding his own hand will keep him safe.
Thinking about it later though, I realize that holding one’s own hand is a practice that really could save someone from being hit by something dangerous and bring safety to an unperceived threat.
For example, one time I went shopping with a friend to a jewelry store, to help him pick out a ring for his girlfriend. It was a surprise, of course, because he was going to have the ring in hand when he proposed to her. Later in the day, when we were all together, I accidentally mentioned that we had been in a jewelry store! Oh my goodness, I was appalled that I had let this little bit of information slip. For the rest of the day I was incredibly embarrassed and angry with myself. Shame quickly came and camped out on my shoulder insisting that I agree about how inadequate and incompetent I was. Oh yes, “stupid” slipped in also.
What I really needed in that situation, instead of a royal ranting and relentless lecture, was the wisdom to hold my own hand. Even though this was not a major issue, I became a war zone to my own soul, rejection spewing sour and putrid.
Grace is what I needed for the 20 something girl who was me. One who was incredibly shy, who spoke before thinking it through. I needed grace for a silly slip of the tongue. A deep breath and a clear thought would have told me it was OK…that I was OK. My friend quickly offered the forgiveness I sought but I didn’t even think to apologize to myself for my angry and accusing thoughts.
Susannah Conway writes in, This I Know, “When you know you can rely on yourself, no matter what, you can do anything. Go anywhere. Make magic happen in your life, because you have an ally in your corner who’ll always cheer you on. who will believe in you and mop your brow before you head back out for round two.”
Through books like Conway’s and through healing work and scripture, I realized that
If God is for me, I will not be against me.
If God is for me then I will be for me too.
If God so loved me, then I will so love me too.
Who am I to call inadequate who God has declared a part of his handiwork? (Ephesians 2:10)
Realizing this truth was a deep revelation and a gentle light to my soul, as I slowly gave myself permission to love the me that God created and loves. Sure, I make mistakes, but I recognize the need to jump quicker to be kind to myself.
This love for myself is NOT because I am so great… far from it. It is because God is so good.
Have you ever thought to hold your own hand? To say to yourself, “I am going to be on your side, quick to be patient with you, understanding and kind.”
The beautiful thing is, like Oliver, I have a Father who stands with me. He is ever- present, His hand on my back, ever-ready to guide me “across the street.” This Advocate, who loves me perfectly and who has much more power and authority, stands with me to tell shame to skedaddle. And it has to leave, because who can stand against One so full of such a powerful love?
Like Oliver, I need to know that I can stand by my own side, because I am always in the shadow of my Father’s protection. Every day I pray that Oliver will be wise as he grows to know that, like his daddy, his Heavenly Father is with him, offering him a hand of grace, forgiveness and love. I pray that for myself as well.
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13