31 January 2007

Thought for the Day, Kinda

On my way to work every morning, I pass several churches. I love to read the messages that churches put out on their signs, everything from doom and gloom ("Repent, the end is near!") to happy little warm fuzzies ("Jesus loves you!"). In fact, we had a game in college where we replaced the word God on those signs with the word Bob which was always funny...One classic that I remember specifically was "A lot of kneeling gets you in good standing with...Bob."

This morning I noticed one that says something along the lines of "Always be content with where you are. Never be content with who you are." At first I was in agreement with that, because a lot of stress and misery in life can be avoided by not constantly longing to be somewhere else. I spent the first few months I was in Montgomery wishing I was ANYWHERE but here, but now I'm actively trying to like it here, see what makes Mo-Town special and fun and a good place to live. Granted, I have no intention of staying here the rest of my life, but while I'm here I might as well make the best of it.

However, the second part of that thought is nagging at me. Again, at first I was in agreement, in that if you are never content with who you are you will always be striving to be a better person. Cue PollyAnna, stage left. How many people in the world who will say "I am not content with myself as I am now" are that way because they want to better themselves, really? I think more often if a person is not happy with who he or she is, that leads him or her to continue thinking negatively about himself or herself. I know that I fall victim to that. "I'm too fat," leads to "I don't have the energy to exercise," plus "I can't afford to buy health food," coupled with "I can always start my yoga tomorrow when I'm in a better mood," leads to me doing nothing but sitting on the couch, watching Doctor Who and feeling sorry for my poor slovenly fat self.

So perhaps the second half should read instead: "Always be content with who you are and strive to make yourself even better." Now, when I start my yoga today and buy my health food on the way home from work, I can be content in the knowledge that I will only spend a few hours on the couch tonight rather than the entire evening...right?


eBeth said...

I totally think that the sign should say 'accept where you are and love yourself no matter who you are.' i think it's so important to be content with who you are - i mean, if you're not your own best friend then how can you be anyone else's?

Nancy E. Dunne said...

I looked again when I ran out to the grocery store at lunch and the sign actually says, "Be content with what you have but never with who you are." Content with what you have is much harder than where you are I think. Might be a whole new blog post!

AmyMB said...

"I totally think that the sign should say 'accept where you are and love yourself no matter who you are."

But what if you're a child molester? Or a wife beater? Should you still love yourself no matter what?

Nancy E. Dunne said...

Interesting question, Amy.

One school of thought (which is prevalent where I work) says that people who become those things, sex offenders, abusers, etc. don't have high self esteem and therefore seek to subjegate others in order to feel better about themselves. Therefore, had they loved themselves in the first place they would not end up in situations where they hurt others or themselves.

I think that "loving yourself" in an appropriate and healthy way is key to making a change if you find yourself in that kind of situation. I'm not saying that those who commit those offenses should go unpunished, don't get me wrong. However, I'm a believer in the worth of all living things and as Polly Anna as it makes me I'm a believer in the redemption of all humans if they seek it out. Currently I work with (as patients)a child molester, a domestic abuser, and I still see them as people of worth who deserve a chance to see if treatment can help them become better people and leave those choices behind.

I suppose that question could be extended to "what if you're a believer in a radical faith masquerading as Islam that plots to blow up something American?" I know it's not the popular answer, but my answer would remain the same. It's just not my place to judge, it's God's, and She will sort it out in Her time. :)

eBeth said...

amy - was about to write a long response to your question, but have decided that my answer is simply 'yes'.

AmyMB said...

A lot of people in this world have low self-esteem and don't molest children or beat their spouses.

I would definitely prefer it if some people didn't necessarily love themselves as-is. I'm not saying they should hate themselves, but seriously, if someone molested your child, wouldn't you rather hear him say, "I hate the part of myself that does this and vow to change it" as opposed to "But I love myself just the way I am no matter what!" ? All the treatment in the world won't work if the person loves everything about themselves and therefore believes nothing needs to change, right?

Granted, this is a worst-case scenario, but not everything fits into neat little "let's all love everyone and ourselves" boxes.

Nancy E. Dunne said...

To me, if you hate some part of yourself you don't view it as something worth working to change. If someone hates the fact that she is a smoker, in my rationale, she is not as motivated to change that as she might be if she loved herself enough not to do that thing that is hurting her body anymore.

Funny, I was talking about this to my sister and when I said "I believe in the inherent worth of all living things as being creations of the Divine and as such are worthy of redemption and love...I guess that makes me a PollyAnna, huh?" she said "No, that makes you a United Methodist."

I agree not everything fits into that box...but I see that as a challenge to work on making the box more inclusive. That's just me. Nancy Elizabeth PollyAnna Allen Lassiter. :)

eBeth said...

man, nancy's hitting the nail on the head so 'rightly' that i have nothing to add!

everyone is worthy of being loved. even people who are less than perfect.

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