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  • Writer's pictureJaralyn Roberts

The Privilege in Selflessness

When you commit to deep reflection and growth, there are hard truths that arise that can be hard to admit. The process of asking myself questions and giving myself permission to be brutally honest allows me to see patterns in my behavior and the opportunity to make a choice to change or not to. Taking the time to really know myself and understand the whys behind the emotions that come up sometimes automatically forces me to remember and acknowledge past hurt and trauma that I have held trapped for so long. It also presents me with a fork in the road... To live life going forward as a victim to what I now know about myself or to acknowledge that what I have been through was not my fault and take responsibility for my healing.

I have chosen the latter.

Over the past few months as I have been trying to navigate a path through both personal and collective trauma- I have noticed many of my questions revolve around myself and family. How will I move forward without my brother? How do I feel about the sentencing? Who am I now? How can I avoid contracting Coronavirus and keep my family safe? What does all that is happening mean for me? How can I show up and contribute while still not risking my health or family’s health? How do I prove myself at work? How do I keep sane and safe? Many of my relationships are falling apart... My family is falling apart... My world is falling apart. I am feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and afraid. I am feeling anxious and heartbroken...

Then I asked myself? Am I being selfish? I am thinking about me in relation to all that is going on... Why is my first thought not about other people?

I had an unlock the other day. I was watching a webinar and the talented and outstanding American Classical Vocalist Julia Bullock was talking about the rings of privilege and then she mentioned becoming selfless.

I thought about when an artist is safe and secure in their work and abilities, there comes a point where they no longer have to fight and prove themselves but they can fully invest their energy and their work in the development of others for the sake of art. That artist is no longer trying to show how good they are to gain the respect of others, they can now operate from a space of confidence, safety, and security. And because of that privilege, they can be less worried about self and have more capacity to focus on others. The grand production is no longer about them but about giving others an opportunity and about the beauty and brilliance of the production itself... Not about how great they are.

Safety, security, and confidence of your value and worth is a privilege.

I started to think about how I have been showing up in the different arenas of my life, particularly over the past few months. Trying to prove I am worthy and that I add value to my work, my family, and friendships. Trying to figure out who I am now that new context has been added to my life story. Trying to figure out how to not fall and give into sadness and depression when I know I am blessed and called for a greater purpose. How to not be a “Debbie Downer” to others but still be honest and authentic about where I am on this journey of personal and collective healing. Trying to be honest with my baby girl about all that is happening while trying to protect and preserve her joy and innocence. In this season...

I am just trying to physically, emotionally, and spiritually survive. That is when it hit me:

I am not selfish, I am just not at the point of privilege to be selfless right now.

My focus on self is not a reflection of my lack of care or concern for others or what is happening in this world, and it is also not avoidance. My focus on self is self-preservation. This does not mean that I am not helping others or caring for other people but it does mean that I am spending more of my energy and time on myself. It also means I am not avoiding facing the trauma and work it takes to heal by completely pouring myself into others. It is a radical act of self-care. In partnership with God, I am focused on digging out the lies that I have believed about who I am and planting seeds of truth and love. I am facing hard truths and past experiences in hopes that the work that I am putting in will not only benefit me but will be the stopping point- the conclusion of some generational trauma being passed on.

As I have contemplated what my contribution to the solution is for my community and in the fight of racial justice and gun violence... I believe this is part of it. They say you can't pour from an empty cup. I also say, don't pour from a cup of unhealed trauma... That does not help either. I am finding that sharing my journey is a part of the solution so others can see that they are not alone AND that as we take responsibility for our healing and do the hard work, we are creating a better place of existence. As I go further on this journey toward healing, my capacity to do and focus on others grows.

Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace and invite God into wherever you are and however you are. There is no shame. Moving from survival and self-preservation to selflessness is hard and a whole process I never seen coming but it started with self-reflection, asking questions of myself, prayer, and honoring the truth that came from that.

This is the work of transformation.

Wherever you are on your journey is exactly where you are meant to be. Keep growing and learning and serving and being... Healing is a continuous lifelong process but you choose how far to engage it and your openness to be transformed by it.

Peace & Blessings,

Jaralyn Roberts

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