Blending the Blue and Gray
It’s rainy today. I love it. The gray, dreary clouds melting onto the world. I love the color gray in general; I also love blue. My soul loves the opposites that they represent: Dreary. Hopeful. Wonderful. Pleasing to my eyes. I find the colors next to each other as I get dressed for the day. My closet is full of these favorite colors, well-worn pieces that soften with age — like my edges, I hope. A lot of my edges feel dark. Can things feel dark? Probably.
I will scrutinize every detail in the mirror as I get ready for the day, even while wearing the colors that I love, that bring me joy. You see, the voice of image-management has been in my mind since I was a child. Every time I put myself out there in the world, it tries to lure me into spirals of self-doubt, as if the familiar spiral will keep me safe. If someone questions me or judges me, it hurts less if I remember that I questioned and judged myself first.
People started to notice this dark spiral in me and started to call out something different that they saw in me: awareness that I carry the divine image. The first ones were my children, they affected the spiral the most. I saw in their cherub faces that they loved me and forgave me easily when I had hurt their tender feelings. They still do. Cory noticed, and especially on the days of darkness, he called out the good. He reminded me that I was wonderful and wonderfully made. No one in my life shows me the love of my God more than him. My community noticed, and they responded to my melancholy with grace upon grace in the form of repeatedly showing up and not letting me surrender to the dark voices in my spiral of self-doubt.
I started to trust what all of these people noticed in me. This trust and their perseverance made me feel like I could notice myself and not be crushed by what I saw. I started to believe what those around me were trying to show me: that I am lovable.
The fullness of this showed me — in the myriad moments, strung together over time — that all their noticing was really God noticing me. It was God calling out the divine in me. I can trust in what they trusted in all along, that there is good in me, and I matter. On good days in parenting, and even on bad days filled with yelling and failure. It’s not the tangible products of my days that are important in the grand scheme of things; I am valued, even with all my foibles. I do not want to be caught telling my maker that his sacrifice for me was pointless.
Learning to love myself has helped make my edges softer. It blended the blue and the gray, hope and melancholy side-by-side. It energized me to learn that this was okay. It was like I found an expression of myself that had previously not been allowed. I didn’t have to be happy or wishing for the sun all the time. It was okay to like the gray. Today it is easier to ignore the voice of image-management. It’s not gone, but it’s not as demanding as it used to be.
Life is not to be found in the voices of self-doubt. You matter. You can grow and change and love because we are all lovable. And if no one has told you that you are worthy of love, can I be the first to tell you that I see the image of God in you?
Vicky Brown is a spiritual director, rock collector and loves sci-fi and fantasy. As a “4” on the Enneagram she feels all the things, all the time. Just ask her husband, Cory.