A few years ago, in our attempt to downsize and declutter, I attacked the hundreds of books I own with an attitude of discernment. Where should this book reside? Where would it’s best home be? Shall I keep it to read again or send it along to be enjoyed by another reader?
I was particularly torn about one book, Made for Goodness by Desmond Tutu. It was a book my Circle read and discussed together. When I thumbed through the book, discerning, I opted to take a few photos of the pages that had truly made an impression on me, save them and send the book on where it could be loved by another. (Disclaimer: Some books are wistfully retrieved from the send-to-another-home pile and placed back on my bookshelf. With books – and life – this letting go is a journey.)
Yesterday, I came across a photo from this book, a poem written by Tutu for his daughter as seen through the eyes of God. I immediately thought of a friend who could use the comfort and encouragement of this message and started drafting an email to forward the image.
But, wait….I read it again and thought, “This is such a comforting message. I wish every child, every person, knew how loved and special they are; that they need not be so hard on themselves.” I thought of my daughter and my cousin’s daughters. Taking a little detour from the poem (summer days allow for such excursions), I started looking at baby photos of my little cousins, my daughter….and I stumbled upon a baby picture of myself.
I returned to the poem a third time, this time finally realizing that it is meant for me too. I hear, “Walk slowly. Listen, for God is speaking. You are accompanied. You are known; uniquely created. Be faithful. Trust and it won’t matter how the road may turn. It’s not where you are going, but how. God is with you.”
Perhaps you need to hear this message today too. Here are the words of Desmond Tutu:
Don’t struggle and strive so, my child.
There is no race to complete, no point to prove, no obstacle course to conquer for you to win my love.
I have already given it to you.
I loved you before creation drew its first breath.
I dreamed you as I molded Adam from the mud.
I saw you wet from the womb.
I loved you then.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. ~Psalm 139:13
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Stop racing ahead at your own pace; you will only be exhausted, flamed out and spent before the task is accomplished.
Pace yourself with me, walk alongside me.
Do you think I don’t know the demands of your life?
I see you striving for perfection, craving acceptance.
I see you bending yourself out of shape to conform to the image that you have of me.
Do you imagine that I did not know who you were when I made you, when I knit you together in your mother’s womb?
Do you think I planted you as a fig tree and expected you to bloom roses?
No child, I sowed what I wanted to reap.
Be still and know that I am God! ~Psalm 46:11
You are a child after my own heart.
Seek out your deepest joy and you will find me there.
Find that which makes you perfectly yourself and know that I am at the heart of it.
Do what delights you and you will be working with me, walking with me, finding your life in me.
My precious child, I will call you to account for nothing more than I have asked of you. Just be faithful to the task I have set before you.
Whether you succeed or not is no matter to me.
Live as you hear me speak in you.
Live in the truth you learn from me, then it won’t matter how the road may turn.
The goodness you live will set you free.
I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. ~Psalm 131:2
May you recognize in your life the presence, power and light of your soul.
May you have respect for your individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here.
May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words of false belonging.
May the frames of your belonging be generous enough for your dreams.
May the expectation in others eyes never decide how you are to be.
May you be blessed with good friends and learn to be a good friend yourself.
May you have friends who can see you.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
Respond to the call of your gift and have courage to follow its path.
May your outer dignity mirror the inner dignity of your soul.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May you have the courage to speak for the excluded ones.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.
The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. ~Psalm 23: 1-4
Baby photos: Hadley, Harper (my cousin’s babies), Jessica and me.
We’ve got good genes in our family. All beautiful babies 🙂