By guest blogger Madeleine Veith ’16
“The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).
One of the hardest things I’ve learned at Providence College is that it is scary to want the good for ourselves, or rather, the very best. That the truth can sometimes hurt, but that it also sets us free. And one of the greatest challenges I am seeing in the Year of Mercy is my fear of pursuing my dreams or loving myself in the way I seek to love others. This Lent, I made the decision to refine practices of self care that I consistently fail in. I am bad at taking care of myself, because I worry that when things are going well, whatever goes wrong will be out of my control. Therefore, if I cause the things that go wrong, they can be calculated, predicted, and controlled. For 40+ days, I decided to follow a very strict diet, one that I committed to in July and have been terrible at adhering to since October. It is intimidating, frustrating, and can feel limiting, but there is power in the control of doing good for myself.
We are made in the image and likeness of God. This has been repeated to me for years now, and it consistently frustrates me. I fall into believing that others are great and that I am terrible, or vice versa. But it is an entirely new world when one recognizes the dignity in our neighbor and in ourselves. Recently, I came up with a rule that if I wouldn’t let friends say certain negative things about themselves, I couldn’t say those things about myself. Learning to love myself, in the good and the bad, is uncharted territory.
I struggle to love myself in the way that I want to love others. I love to serve difficult populations; some of my favorite groups have been inmates, the homeless, refugees, and middle schoolers. It is easy to love the joyful, happy, and faithful, but love necessitates giving and receiving love when it is hard or requires vulnerability. We all need love, but I’ve only just begun to understand that I need to let love in before I can adequately, charitably love anyone else. So this Lent, I’m working on self care, a task that seems intimidating in a culture of less sleep, lots of coffee, and living ‘carefree.’ By no means have I accomplished much, but I am learning what it means to be gentle with myself. But I could never do this alone. I am incorporating prayer into this diet, fasting, whatever you want to call it. The Examen Prayer, which was established by St. Ignatius, gives me the avenue to recognize what I’m grateful for, and what went well and poorly in my day. By the grace of God, it is giving me an opportunity to explore my emotions, the movements of my heart, and to recognize virtues and vices within myself.
I am so far from perfect. I am struggling to love myself, others, and God. But I am learning, ever so slowly, that if I am able to love myself like I love others, I can take on this campus, graduation, and this world with a great Advocate by my side.
By guest blogger Madeleine Veith ’16 “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31). One of the hardest things I’ve learned at Providence College is that it is scary to want the good for ourselves, or rather, the very best. That the […]MORE