I hope this little message finds you well and being as gentle with yourself as you are with those around you.
I do a trade with a farmer throughout the growing seasons. I work at the market stand a handful of times throughout the spring, summer, and fall in exchange for a full CSA share. I love everything about this arrangement, from the delicious fruits and veggies and the excuse to explore cooking new foods to promoting the bounty of the farm to people who make their way to the farmer’s market.
It is fun AND delightful.
for a couple of weeks ago
I left my brain at home.
At first, I couldn’t remember the names of varieties of squash we were selling.
Then, I charged a woman $44.00 instead of $4.40 for a tomato and bulb of garlic.
Then, I rang an order through that was incomplete and incorrect.
And more than once, I misquoted prices and gave back incorrect change (my internal calculator was broken).
Overall, it was a disaster.
Without fail, EVERY SINGLE TIME I made a mistake, Adam, the farmer for whom I work, was there witnessing it all (which only added humiliation to the distress created by my multiplicity of mistakes).
And without fail, EVERY SINGLE TIME I made a mistake, Adam showed up as my teacher, offering me kindness and understanding, compassion and gentleness, empathy and the reminder of times when he found himself in the exact same brain-left-behind-at-the-house situation.
I didn’t want to accept his kindness.
I couldn’t let myself accept his compassion.
I just didn’t deserve it.
I was ready for a furrowed brow or a look of judgment and concern.
I felt as if the harshest of criticisms were merited by my mistakes.
But rather than getting what I thought I deserved, I received what we ALL deserve because of who we are as perfectly imperfect people - compassion and grace.
Trust me, the loud voice in my head tried to overwhelm that of Adam’s gentleness, but he persisted.
Adam rained down kindness upon me and I couldn’t help but be immersed.
If the roles were reversed, I imagine I would have treated Adam exactly as he treated me. I would have been understanding of any other person’s humanness and kind in response to someone simply having an off day.
Why couldn’t I treat myself the same way?
Why do we place unreal and unreasonable expectations upon ourselves and then, when we can’t live up to them (because we can NEVER live up to them), beat ourselves up?
Why, when people offer us that which we so generously give others, do we believe ourselves unworthy?
What would happen if we began to trust that we deserve the kindness we give?
There is enough suffering in the world. Let’s not add to the heap. Rather, let’s open our hearts and receive generously. Let’s gift ourselves with gentleness, kindness, compassion, understanding, and real-human-expectations. Let’s move in the world willing to be showered down upon with grace that comes from a place of empathy. Most importantly, let’s allow that experience to teach us more fully how worthy we are of love.
Please, please, be gentle with yourself...and know that I am being gentle with myself. With gratitude for Adam and all of the teachers who show up and shower us with reminders of the truth of our worth.