by Natalie Smith
March 2, 2015
Psalm 23:4 — “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”
For much of my life, I believed that at the center of my being was an unlovable, self-serving and depressed person. That’s how I felt most of the time, so my young self just assumed that that was who I was, nothing I could do to change it. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, individuality was being praised more and more, and I heard the message: “Be yourself!” But what if the self I think I am isn’t someone I want to be?
Many folks know what I’m talking about when I say that just living can be so painful, and as a kid and teenager, I didn’t know how to deal with that. So I began the process of numbing myself with drugs and alcohol, along with food and TV, and by age 14 was drinking almost every day. I kept up appearances by doing well in school and excelling as a musician, learning to perform not only on stage but also in everyday life. As time went on, I grew accustomed to relying on alcohol to bring me happiness, but the depression I experienced spiraled deeper, and the episodes lasted longer.
My spiritual journey has been a winding one. Through it all, I remained open to spirituality, having had many personal experiences with Spirit and the connectivity of all things. Each experience I had led me a little farther out of the depths. True changes in my mental paradigm happened two years ago, when I was going through a yoga teacher training course. We did a LOT of self analysis and group therapy style sessions, and in the midst of it all, I had a revelation: at my core I am a joyful, kind and loving human being, deserving of love and all things good, and if I can get out of my own way and let that shine through, everything will be okay.
At that point, I could begin to accept God’s love and fully understand that God is with me all the time, no matter what. Even in my shadow places, God is unfailingly there, ready to shine the light of love. Even when I feel separated from God, God is there. God is what moves me every moment of my life, and for that I am forever grateful. This is true for each and every one of us, and to honor, love and respect ourselves and each other is to honor, love and respect God.
Prayer: Loving God who moves through each of us, thank you for loving me even when it’s hard for me to love myself. Help me to remain present with my own light and open to the shining light of others. Thank you for the magic and inspiration of our world, for the beauty of our Earth. Amen.