At least it did to me when I was barely double digits and a woman at a church I was uncomfortably visiting with my slumber party pal suggested that I should “love myself.”
Love myself? What in carnation was this nut-job talking about?
I knew how to love pizza and chocolate. I was comfortable loving the Facts or Life and even Ricky Schroeder. But loving myself? That seemed so strange.Was that egotistical? Was it even possible? And what does that even look like? I pictured giving myself a hug and my creepy little fingers wrapping around my own narrow shoulders. It. Seemed. WEIRD. Like Silence of the Lambs weird.
Now I realize my childish view of love was rather dim, silly and shallow. I was clueless. But sometimes I still am. And I am not alone.
I look around and I am swimming in a sea, surrounded by capable & lovely women who are drowning in waves of self-doubt, low self-esteem and even self-loathing. Through comparison, guilt, shame and issues of perfectionism, these beautiful God-made women would claim they loved their husband, kids, parents, pets, coffee and stretch pants before they could even fathom loving themselves.
We are stuck in a “I will love myself WHEN pattern.”
And we are swimming in circles.
I will love myself when I start working out.
I will love myself when I lose these last few pounds.
I will love myself when I stop cursing.
I will love myself when I meet the right guy.
I will love myself when I find a job I am proud of.
I will love myself when I get my house in order.
I will love myself when I become a better parent.
I will love myself when I can get back into those jeans.
I will love myself when I look like her.
I will love myself when I have a child.
I will love myself when?
And we are getting nowhere.
And when the “when” doesn’t come we beat ourselves up. When the “when” does come, we find a new “when.” We raise our standards. Because far be it for us to love ourselves now. Why do that when we can always chase perfection?
But there is no perfection.
I am a size 4 (or so). I work out 4-5 times a week. I have worked out for the better part of three years. But there is always “work” to be done. I want soccer legs, and they are not even close to being in that category. I have cellulite and stretch marks. And shaving my legs is a quarterly event that usually coincides with a birthday or anniversary.
I have read parenting books, marriage books, self-help books and gone to counseling. I pray about, think about and breathe about these things.
My marriage and family will never be perfect.
I self reflect, remain aware, and try to root out my sins and bad habits.
I will never be perfect.
Yet I need to love myself now.
Loving Halo Top ice cream and puppies comes easy. Loving ourselves takes practice.
I might not be an expert on the ways of the world but I consider myself an expert on self doubt, guilt and beating myself up for my mistakes. I am still growing and learning how to be kind to myself, but I can’t stand the idea of all the women around me drowning in the waves of self-loathing, so here is what I know TODAY.
I am beautiful. And it’s okay to say that. My face and/or body are not going to show up on your free panty coupon post card from Victoria Secret (if it does, well hey), but I move my body daily, it serves its purposes, and I am happy to still be in it. It is a gift, at its best and at its worst and I refuse to live in a love/hate relationship with something that carries me through my life so well.
I am lovely. And it’s okay to believe that (even when the proof isn’t right in front of me.) I was made by a GLORIOUS MAKER. And He makes no mistakes. My emotions are mine. They are real and they serve a purpose. I will not deny them or punish myself for feeling them. I will forgive myself when I let my emotions hurt me or hurt others. I am human.
I am lovable. I have never met a person who didn’t have a bad day. Some chicks out there make it look easy. They smile more. They bake more casseroles. They wear lipstick to workout. I don’t have to be like them to be lovable. I can be like me: sarcastic, forgetful, grumpy, thoughtful, thoughtless, rash, patient and funny. I can even laugh at my own jokes, have a bad day, or not cook dinner. And I am still lovable.
I can forgive myself. If anyone deserves grace, it’s me. And it’s you. And we have to be the first to let it go and give our mistakes and sins over to God. We don’t have to carry it with us. We can, but we will regret the heaviness and the pain it will cause us. And we will likely regret the million ways it will hold us back from happiness.
I can let love flow through me. Even if I am mad, hurt, wounded, tired or sad. I can let love flow through me. I don’t have to be angelic, all-consumed with the well-being of others or floating on a cloud wearing a halo of baby’s breath. I can just be me, and let love flow through me to the best of my current ability. And I can be okay with that. Some days love will gush. Other days it will be a slow drip. But by golly, I am a conduit of love.
We can even tell ourselves, “I love me.” And it’s not even weird.
I sat in my sunroom the other day and listened to an extra long instrumental version of Hillsong’s Oceans and just told myself the good stuff I needed to hear. And it was GOOD. And the roof didn’t cave in on me. I was thankful that the FedEx guy didn’t show up during my hippy worship lovefest with my eyes closed whispering sweet nothings to myself, but other than an annoying telemarketer briefly messing up my love flow, all was well.
When you love yourself, you can love others better.
When you aren’t consumed with all of your imperfections, mistakes and self-perceived ugliness, you can actually love other people. You can be happy for them. You can be proud of them. And it won’t hurt you one tiny bit.
I don’t know what’s going on with you. Maybe you stink at managing money. Maybe you like cookies a bit too much (there’s not really a too much, but just roll with it). Maybe you just don’t want to live the life that someone else has picked out for you. But does that mean you can’t go ahead and take the plunge and LOVE YOU? Now?
What’s the worst that could happen? If being hard on yourself isn’t working, maybe being kind to yourself will do the trick. I promise you one thing: once you try self LOVE, self hate will be out the dang door. It serves NO purpose and will never, ever help you reach your goals or your destiny.
I heard this recently, “Even a rat in a maze will change directions when he hits a wall enough times.” Well I ain’t no stinkin’ rat y’all.
So I’m going to back away from the wall, wrap my little fingers around myself, tell myself “You got this. You are lovable. God made you by design”, close my eyes and just meditate on that till the FedEx guy gets here.
And the world will be better for it.
Ryan Gosling called. He said to tell you, “Hey girl, love yourself.”
And who are we to argue with that?