There are days, hard days, when the slog has worn me down and no kind of chivvying moves me forward. The head prescribes a kick up the rear end and sometimes the head gets it right. There are other times when what is needed is for me to be kind to myself.
Lockdown has been three months. The only flesh and blood face I have seen is my husband. I challenge anyone living through lockdown to be always cheerful and optimistic. Even my singing-in -the-morning husband who is not having to deal with busses and taxis to get him up to work on a morning, who no longer gorges on fish and chips and take away curries, who gets to bed at a sensible hour – even he has his off moments.
In these grim days kindness to self goes a long way.
I have been working through some exercises in a creative writing book by Julia Cameron. There are two or three pages to read followed by a “try this” challenge, Yesterday’s pages were about kindness, not towards others which is a given, but towards self.
One would have thought that with all the time that has been granted to one that one should have the to-do list covered. The house should be clean, the writing should be up to date and one should have hands into flour baking something. Aye right. As if that happens. As if the to-do list doesn’t carry over to the following day.
Julia suggested writing a list of ten things to do where I’m being kind to me. Going for a walk isn’t so easy these days. It’s not being kind to myself always having to plan for a toilet stop somewhere. It has come down to judging the depths of bushes to see whether I am concealed enough to do the business without prying eyes.
I have done one of my suggestions – I bought a girly mag to settle down to read with a cup of tea. The tea was freshly brewed from mint leaves from the garden. It’s an interesting and very fresh taste. I also wrote a letter, another item on the list.
Being kind to myself is recognising that there are days and seasons when it is hard to get the act together. I hold myself to some very high standards. My expectations of myself are not unrealistic, but they are relentless. There never gets to be a clean slate to begin my days. Rather than haranguing myself to get things done, there are times when kindness gets me further along the road.
I sat with God on this one, asking Him if being kind to myself was being too soft, and letting me get away with things I should be doing. In His wisdom He suggested that I write the to-do list in chalk and at the end of the day simply wipe away the things I didn’t do. I can’t point to a Bible verse that says, “Scrawleth thy to-do list in chalk”, but there must be a truth there that applies. Very often when we think of the fruits of the Spirit, we think they are about how we treat other people, but they are also about how we treat ourselves.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Kindness is in there, and gentleness. Forbearance or patience in in there too. Perhaps if we are not kind, gentle or patient with ourselves, the kindness we express to others is missing something.