I wrote this Facebook post last Christmas Eve, from Beirut:
The Christmas miracle stood 6 feet away, and I flinched. Just outside the gates of the American University in Beirut, Heidi and I sat at a trendy cafe eating lunch, commenting that the portions were too large. During the meal I heard a soft voice and turned to see a young woman, draped head to heel in black, holding a child and asking me for alms. I flinched, physically. I turned back to Heidi. The woman persisted, leaving and returning a couple times. I couldn’t shake the thought of her. As we called for our check I told Heidi I was going to give her money when we left. Just then the waiter shooed her away. We left the cafe and looked up and down the street for her, but she was gone. The Christmas miracle, the young woman and child in need of a kindness, came near to me. I flinched.
Several friends offered kind comments that I was a good person, but I didn’t post for reassurance. My post was more of a meditation, a reflection, a chance to acknowledge and grow. I made it public on my Facebook page because I am learning to acknowledge my imperfection without feeling less for it. I made it public because I have learned from the honesty of others, so maybe others can get something from mine.
I have spent much of my life flinching at my own flaws. To reflect, to post, is to be unflinching. Unflinching could be understood as rigid or unyielding, but this is the opposite – to be accepting and generous with myself, despite my limitations. To not flinch, but embrace. And to grow, where that’s appropriate.