Feeling Real and Having a Self…

Feeling real is more than existing; it is finding a way to exist as oneself… and to have a self into which to retreat for relaxation. Donald Woods Winnicott

Meditation: I remember years when I was not at peace with myself. This was in my twenties. I had separated from my family of origin and began my own life. I was at a complete loss as to who I was, given that before my whole identity and self-image had been based on my role as “pastor’s daughter” and as the “second mother” in our family system. Without my family I felt I was nothing. At the same time I felt the urge to exist as myself, without my family defining me. However, I did not feel real yet, and I had not found a good relationship with myself in which to retreat for relaxation. My search for “feeling real” and “having a self” required me to walk through years of emotional desert times and through anxious years of searching for who I was. Coming to the US and working as a chaplain gave me finally the experience of “feeling real”. Caring for people who faced ultimate challenges of life and death led me to feel real and exist as myself. I learned what “self-care” looked like after long and tiring nights of providing emotional and spiritual care to strangers. Instead of the “navel gazing” and desperate search of self in my twenties, my thirties led me to the care of others. This is how I became to feel real and learned to exist as myself in relationship with others. This is how I got to know and love myself.

Prayer: Gracious God, You accompany us on our journey of searching who we are and who we are meant to be. Your Spirit leads us through desert times and through desperate searches to find ourselves. Your goal is for us to have peace in You. Your goal is for us to fully accept and love ourselves and to find a community we can belong to or a vocation or a relationship that allows us to “feel real”. I pray for all who are seeking at this time for this peace and this “feeling real”. Take our fear. Let us know that You want to give us this peace of having a self into which to retreat for relaxation. Amen

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27