You Are Allowed to Say Things Like This
“Wow. You may not be ordained, but you’re doing ministry already.”– Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association(UUA). Watch as Lou Whiting, UUA Summer Seminary 2015 graduate, delivers her “preach-off” sermon at First Universalist Church of Denver.
LOU WHITING: Hello. I am Lou. I am from outside of Chicago. And I attend the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, Illinois.
Two years ago I remember trying to catch a train out to see a friend a couple towns over. Now it was a Sunday and trains only run every two hours on Sundays. And I managed to miss my train not only once, but twice in a row. After the second time, I realized that maybe I should wait out the next two hours at the train station instead of running home again to grab that thing that I forgot again.
I have ADHD. It's what life is like for me. I'm constantly forgetting things and perpetually running late. It's been very frustrating, but this year I've accepted it as a challenge that I'm going to have to face for the rest of my life and not something with a short-term solution.
As is such, a couple weeks ago I started introducing myself to groups and people as, hi, I'm Lou. I have ADHD. I'll probably be late to some of the activities and things that are going on. And I want you to know that I don't mean it as a sign of disrespect, that I care just as much as every other person. These things are just a little bit harder for me.
I know from talking to mainly adults who I've told this to that it comes across as self-centered. And it is. And I am.
To be human is to be self-centered. We give it such a negative connotation. We have this idea of the perfect person as somebody who is completely selfless and incredibly generous. We say people are self-centered-- for example, older generations talking about younger ones. The kids today are so self-centered. Youth say it about each other. Wow, they're so self-centered. All they do is post selfies on the Facebook and the Twitter.
I've heard my friends say this. I've said this. We say it about people who disappoint us. How could you be so self-centered?
But we need to be. We owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves. We need to make sure that our health, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, is in check so we can be the people and live to our fullest when interacting with others in the world.
There's this paradox of guilt that happens. We hold standards for other people that are very high and we don't meet them ourselves. So we feel bad about that. And then we forgive others more easily than we forgive ourselves. And we feel bad about that. And it becomes this perpetuating cycle of guilt. And so in being so focused on the self and how bad we feel, we get upset for others or with others for being self-centered. We forget that we are not the only ones who have just as much going on up here and in here as we have going on out there.
But that's why we have sayings. That's why we have phrases and lessons. That's why we have things like love thy neighbor as thyself. Love thyself as thy neighbor. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Treat yourself as well as you treat everyone else. Everyone has inherent worth and dignity. You have inherent worth and dignity. I have inherent worth and dignity. You're allowed to say things like this. You're allowed to say things like this. Thank you.