In this month of love, I’m committing to reading books on friendship and hospitality. One of the books I’m reading is called Rediscovering Friendship: Awakening to the promise and power of women’s friendships.
It’s an empowering and thought-provoking book for me. The author, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel is a feminist theologian from Germany. In the chapter where the quote below is taken from she is writing about how being declared righteous in God’s sight does not reach the level of forgiveness, healing, and trust, including the ability to love oneself. What we truly desire is wholeness and healing.
Below is a confession from a Swedish woman who has come to believe that her primary sin is self-contempt, and she does not see this sin confessed in churches.
Are there not sometimes other sins
to confess than these
which we have talked people into having?
Christ, I confess before you
that I have had no faith in my own potential.
That I have shown contempt for myself and my ability
in thought, word and deed.
I have not loved myself as much as others,
my body, my appearance,
my talents or my way of being myself.
I have let others guide my life.
I have let myself be scorned and mistreated.
I have relied more on the verdict of others
than on my own,
and I have allowed people to be indifferent
and malicious to me,
without telling them to stop.
that I have not developed to the fullest measure of my
that I have been too cowardly
to venture to argue for a just cause;
that I have wounded myself
in order to avoid controversies.
that I have not dared to show
how competent I am,
have not dared to be as competent
as I really can be.
God, our Father and Creator,
Jesus, my Brother and Redeemer,
Spririt, our Mother and Comforter,
forgive me my self-contempt,
raise me up, give me faith in myself
and love of myself.
As I continue to heal physically, I want my sickness to mark me. I want to be a strong advocate for others, but I first must be one for myself. I want to encourage others in their giftings but I first must accept and utilize my own. I want to encourage others to pursue health and healing, but I must pursue these first myself.
When I read this confession, I see me in it. But I also see a bright little glimpse of lessons I learn and keep learning in sickness.
No one can want me well more than myself. And until I desire my healing more than anyone else, I truly cannot help others.
I’ve had to let go of friendships, take care of myself in private, say no to parties and trips, dive into writing when I would rather stay in the comfort of the teaching profession, even when my gifts aren’t acknowledged. I had to advocate for myself and find a doctor who believed me. I had to find friends who believed what I said.
As I read this confession my eyes fill with tears, and yet I’m joyful. I don’t have to be everything to everyone. I just need to be me, and know that I am loved.
What emotions do you feel as you read this confession?
In which lines of the confession do you see yourself clearly?