I am alive and relatively well of body, mind and spirit today because of the grace and truth I’ve come to know through my relationship with Jesus Christ. The forgiveness I know in Christ enables me to practice self-forgiveness each time I “do the very thing I hate” and am not the woman I aspire to be.

For me, the divine compassion expressed in Jesus–suffering with the blind, paralyzed, lepers, widows and other alienated ones of his day–makes it possible for me to work with my brokenness, to relate to the parts of me that I’d rather ignore and suppress. I practice gracious awareness with my shadow side–the blind, deaf, grieving and diseased parts of my psyche–because the life of Christ shows me that the path to abundant life comes not from transcending my weakness and frailty but by relating to it with compassion.

Henri Nouwen writes that the compassion of Christ “transforms our broken human condition from a cause of despair into a source of hope.” Some other wise one (whose name escapes me) has said that the cracks are where the light gets in! The apostle Paul wrote that we have the treasure of the glory of God in cracked vessels to remind us that the power of transformation comes from God, not from us.

I notice that when I blog about my personal struggles, as in my last blog about my misuse and abuse of alcohol, my readers are more apt to comment, send a personal email, or “like” my post on Facebook. That reminds me of Frederick Beuchner’s biography Telling Secrets. After sharing his story of his father’s suicide when he was a boy, he said that telling our stories is important because it makes us more human and more able to relate to one another.

What story from your life do you need to practice telling with gracious awareness instead of shame and disgrace? How might you enter into the dark places in your life with the compassion of Christ?

May we be full of grace and truth. May be compassionate. May we love ourselves as God loves us.