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I shared in our spiritual companioning group this past Monday a time that I acted in a way that I was ashamed of. Talking on the phone to a GCI rep who just wasn’t getting my problem, I was just plain rude. I had this ego ideal of who I should be—kind, understanding, patient. I’m a pastor! Yet an ego ideal isn’t reality. At times we don’t live up to that ideal. But that voice that scolds and shames, is not the voice of the God that loves us so dearly. It’s the inner critic, a part of the ego.

What is important on the journey of spiritual development, is to let God and to let at least one other person see us as we are, imperfect by the world’s standards, perfect by God’s, no matter if we miss the mark sometimes. To let God love and forgive us opens the way to grace, and this allows us then to love and forgive ourselves—just as we are. Surprisingly, we are then more open to love and forgive others. St. John of the Cross wrote of this spiritual practice as he talked with God:

When you regarded me, Your eyes imprinted your grace in me, In this you loved me again .And thus my eyes merited to also love what you see in me…(Spiritual Canticle, 32)

When we let ourselves share our vulnerabilities with God and another person, relationship deepens. We live then not in our ego’s ideal, but into the love that holds us just as we are.

Try sharing something with God that you would rather keep hidden. See what happens. Try sharing it with another person you trust. Notice what happens to your heart. See if you, like John of the Cross, can “also love what you see in me.”

Pastor Marcia Wakeland is a retired ELCA pastor, a spiritual director and a listening advocate. She is interested in the actual experience of having faith and how that is lived out. She can be reached at for comments or more questions Her ongoing blog of living out spiritual practices is