Open the door a crack. I’ve returned constantly to that graced remark. Memory after memory has arisen of people in my past who re-directed or re-affirmed my approach to what I believe and how I treat others. Here are a few of the many I recently recalled who brought me what I needed to help shape my inner focus:
Veronica Marie, an older sister in my religious community, turned to me a few years after I entered and quipped, “You are really stubborn” I responded, hands on my hips, “I am not!” but then went on to gradually realize how I needed to be right and have all the answers. Oh, how much I’ve changed regarding that attitude, thanks to her spoken insight.
A good friend assured me in my thirties, when I fell into a dismal space due to the ending of a valued relationship, “You have more strength in you than you realize.” That is when I started believing in my inner resiliency and my ability to move beyond defeat.
A wise colleague often advised me in my first years of public speaking, “Just be yourself,” when I fretted about a talk I was scheduled to give. That advice helped me move toward belief in my own worth, rather than counting on others to confirm that truth for me.
Jennifer, my spiritual guide, lifted a small bronze heart from a nearby table one day after my tirade about a president who was currently in office. She placed the heart in my hand and asked, “Have you prayed for him?” (Oh, how much easier to complain than to open my heart and pray for someone whose philosophy and actions oppose my own.)
Then there was the Sufi speaker who looked into my eyes when I affirmed the wisdom of his speech, and responded, “I am but a reflection of thyself.” Until then, I did not understand how that which we admire in another can be found residing in our own being.
Here in the United States we celebrate “Thanksgiving” in late November, but we actually pay attention to gratitude throughout the entire month. Wherever you live, I suggest you pause and think about the people in your personal history who “opened the door and let in a crack of light” for you by their chance, or deliberate, remark. If they are still alive, why not write a note of thanks to them for letting in the light that led you to greater personal transformation?
Jeanne Charters writes about the business of living your life to the fullest. Over the years through her magazine columns, books and blog posts, she has sought to help other women face life's challenges through humor, strength and perseverance.
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