A beautiful letter from Elizabeth Gilbert:
My friend Pastor Rob Bell once gave me this beautiful piece of advice, which I will now pass along to you.
He said that whenever he starts to beat himself up for not being good enough at life, he simply writes this word on his hand — STUDENT — and reminds himself to look at that word several times a day, and to meditate upon it.
He said that this one word — STUDENT — is his best defense against self-abuse, shame, perfectionism, failure, and regret. Whenever he fails himself, or falls short of his ideals, or doesn’t know how to handle a complicated situation, he just looks at that word — STUDENT — and then gently allows for self-forgiveness. Because we are all just students, after all.
We are all new at this.
We’ve never been here before — in these bodies, in this lifetime, in this world. We don’t always know how to handle things in the best way. We don’t want to suffer, but we don’t always know how to avoid it. We long for closeness and peace in our relationships, but we haven’t necessarily learned yet how to find it. We want meaning, but lose sight of it. We want revelation and transcendence, but don’t always know how to reach for it.
But we are learning.
We are always in the process of learning — and it’s not fair to expect that people who are in the process of learning should automatically always get things right. Nobody always gets things right during the learning process.
We are merely students, after all, and students — by definition — are not masters. We will be students for as long as we live. We wake up every day and take a deep breath and back go to school in the world all over again. That’s what dedicated students do. Every. Single. Day.
This morning, I felt like I REALLY needed the reminder.
So I got out a sharpie, and wrote the word across on my palm of my right hand — my stronger hand — which I can then lay across my heart throughout the day, with hopes that the message will sink in: “It’s OK. You’re doing your best. You’re still learning.”