One of the first books my therapist gave me to read was "Sealed Orders" by Agnes Sanford. I want to share one of my favorite parts:
"Before we were born each of us talked over with God our special purpose in this world. Our sealed orders are something we agreed to in the context of a loving dialogue with the God who created us. They are not a task we are to complete, but rather our special way of being. . . . Our Greatest Fault and Sealed Orders are two faces of the same coin. Because our faults are simply ways our greatest gifts have become distorted through hurts, one clue to our Sealed Orders will often be what we like least about ourselves. So, if your faults seem more obvious than your Sealed Orders, you can ask yourself two questions: 'What do I like least about myself?' and 'If I felt loved with this fault, how might I imagine myself using the same energy to give and receive love with others? As we receive love into our faults and the hurts underlying them, we are freed to use the same energies driving our faults to carry out our Sealed Orders."
It's been over three years since I first read this, at the time I didn't realize I was co-dependent, but I knew that things weren't right in my life and I didn't know why. I've always been one who wanted to understand what my purpose in life was. I wanted to fulfill my mission with all my heart, but I didn't know what it was. In the beginning if I had answered the above questions I would have said that I didn't like anything about myself. But if I were to pinpoint something it would have been that I gave to those around me everything I had and came away feeling empty, so I gave more hoping to get filled up somehow. I always just felt empty. If I were to answer the second question, it would have been that I just wanted love, I would wait and wait, give and give, hoping to receive love. It is not something I ever asked for or gave to myself.
But now after a few years I understand so much more. My sealed orders are helping people. My greatest fault is helping people. They are "two faces of the same coin." The difference is that through childhood hurts, my sealed orders became my greatest fault, trying to help others and ignoring my hurts. I think now how much more I could have helped others if I had first learned how to heal my hurts by showing love to myself. By ignoring my hurts and hoping they would go away, I only made my greatest fault worse.
After a lot of healing, if I were to answer those two questions today, the answers would be very different, they would be: What do I like least about myself? That I have a hard time loving and giving to myself. If I felt loved with this fault, how might I imagine myself using the same energy to give and receive love with others? I will quit waiting for someone else to love me and show me kindness. I will quit doing things hoping to receive love in return because of what I did. I will be kind to myself and show love to myself and let my heart fill up with love. Then that love will automatically flow to others because my cup will run over, it will flow out of me. As I love myself I know that I will love others without waiting for them to love me back or waiting for them to fill my cup. I will have done it myself. I realize now that my greatest fault, was not loving myself, hoping others would do it for me based on what I did for them. My greatest fault was not realizing that we must "love our neighbors as ourselves" not "love our neighbors not ourselves."
As I give love into my greatest fault, I heal my own hurts and I am now free to help others from a fullness of love that is inside me, a place that is no longer empty. I can now carry out my Sealed Orders to help others, from love, not hurt. I am learning how to turn over the face of the coin from my Greatest Fault to my Sealed Orders. To love with all my heart, not just others, but myself too.