Been doing a lot of yard work lately and it has given me a lot of time to spend in prayer observing God’s creation down to the finer details. I was watching these ants crawl out of an old plastic shelf my sister tore apart, and it’s interesting that the thing they go back to grab is their eggs. It reminded me of when I was maybe about four and my dad put a log into the fire and there were ants living in it and they came running out carrying eggs, then they’d run back in to get more. My four year old self was impressed at these ants incredible bravery to go back into a burning log just to save eggs. Today though I think there’s a lesson to be learned from these ants. A lesson that the unborn are of great value and worth fighting for. And I could write a whole book on that subject, but I think the real problem lies in seeing their own self worth, because I get it. Why fight for someone to come into the world when we can barely see the worth of our own lives? If you truly want to love others you have to love yourself.
Great you love Jesus, you love others, but if you don’t see your own worth what’s the point. I think we get really good at loving ourselves in the best moments, the moments that are frameable, the ones worthy of applause. But Christ challenges us to something greater, to love ourselves in the moments we wish nobody had to see. Because just like an ant, Jesus would run through flames to come save you even if it was what you would deem as your ugliest moment. And He already did just that. He saw you for exactly who you are, took up His cross, and said “For (your name) it’s worth it.”
Yet here we are hating the very being He created, because we love in such a conditional way. We say I will love myself when I weigh less, or I will love myself when my grades are better, or when I have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or when I quit screwing everything up. But that doesn’t do us any good and it teaches us to be a conditional lover. I will love Jesus more when I am happy, I will love others more when they are more loveable. Our heart shrivels up into this tiny box that nobody can fit inside.
What I find is people who love themselves well, are able to love others unconditionally. Think about those people in your life who never complain about other people, who are not exclusive, but rather inclusive, those are the people who know how to love more fully, those are the kind of people I admire and strive to be like. Those are the people who have realized the hardest person to love is yourself, so if you can love yourself you can love everyone else.
I know it’s easier said then done, but it’s so important.It’s a huge part of why I named my blog dignified. Because my mission is to help others realize their own self worth, and their own dignity. To be honest though I am learning right along side you guys. With each and every blog I find Jesus reaching into the hard parts of my heart and healing them. If my heart was a sidewalk, Jesus would be the one who pulls out every weed down to its roots, and fills in every crack and crevice, and He doesn’t stop until it’s perfect. Even if it means going back to that same spot that weathers away and grows weed over and over again. Why? Because He loves you, and you my friend are worth fighting for. You are worth dying for. I know it’s hard to love yourself, I’m guilty of self loathe at times too. But over the years I’ve learned to celebrate the good and not beat myself up about the bad.
First, in order to love ourselves we have to stop loathing ourselves. We all show signs of self loathe in different ways but it’s important to recognize we are doing it, because the evil one is good at hiding it. For some of us it’s masturbation, others cutting, excessive drinking or smoking, or sometimes its the little things that we just let slide. Like forcing ourselves to go on an unnecessary diet, in our heads telling ourselves we are not wanted, keeping those jeans that are too tight as an unnecessary pressure to be someone we don’t have to be. We should do things for ourselves out of love not hate. Like feed yourself good healthy food because you love yourself, or go on a run because you enjoy the challenge and the dopamine that comes afterwards. To love yourself you have to take time to get to know yourself, and love every bit and part of your being. Now this task may seem daunting and overwhelming, but a good place to start is in the arms of the Father. He is the one who has loved you from the beginning, and He will walk by your side hand in hand, and teach you to love like He does, unconditionally.
As I take time to learn more about myself and grow closer to Jesus I catch myself looking at high school pictures of myself, and wanting to be that skinny again. But hen He looks at me and says “Do you think that’s what’s going to make you happy? I want you to be healthy and happy and that’s not defined by fitting in to size zero jeans.” And He’s right, I’m a lot happier than I was in high school, and to be honest I have a lot healthier habits now than I did in high school, I was just lucky to have a good metabolism then. Thinking about this also reminds me that others are watching the way I love myself. They are hanging on to the words I say, and sometimes I hang on the words they say too.I think we can all relate to that moment someone starts complaining about their physique and we think well dang their beautiful, but if they think they are ugly or fat then what does that make me, and that thought is soooooo toxic. I would say its just as bad as gossiping about others. Instead of depleting someone else’s character your depleting your own and not only does it hurt you, it hurts those around you. So lets break that ugly cycle. Love yourself now, not the ideal self that might never come to be. And don’t put the wait of loving yourself on others because they can’t do it for you.
In life there will be times of suffering, times of joy, and times of just meh, but throughout your whole life you have to deal with yourself, You can escape a lot of things, but you can’t out run your own existence. I’ve been there, I’ve tried and it doesn’t work, because your more than a number on a scale, or a report card, or number of followers, or number of unread text. You are more than that. You can’t drown yourself in self loathe, but you can blur the true beauty of yourself, you can make it a lot harder to see then it needs to be, and that’s why we need Jesus. It’s like Adam and Eve in the garden, they fell, and realized there own nakedness and felt ashamed. And God said “Who told you that you were naked?”. Who told you to hide yourself and to be ashamed of who you are? Who told you to hide? Who told you that you were not good enough?
As these questions start to rise sometimes memories of moments where people have hurt us and fed into that self loathe come up, but God wants to heal that too. We have to love ourselves because if we don’t we are just going to see ourselves like this extra baggage to carry and we are never going to be able to climb that mountain. We were made to carry a cross, not our entire being and an endless pile of self hate. So I’m going to end this with three key ways to love yourself.
#1 Pray, and ask God how He sees you. My spiritual director tells me this all the time, no matter what my dilemma is it always seems to somehow root back to not seeing myself the way the Father sees me. This also helps to keep that gentle balance of not being a narcissist, but also loving ourselves as we should. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta says “When you know how much God is in love with you, you can only live your life radiating that love.”
#2 Do things that show you love yourself. Dress up just for fun, go on a little run, go fishing, hang with some friends, if you’re 21 go get yourself a cold one, or perhaps you’d prefer a slice of cake. Do these things in moderation of course and do it to celebrate you and your little accomplishments. Maybe you just need to celebrate the fact that you made it through a stressful day.
#3 Say these statements out loud right now and as often as needed.
“I ____ am a beloved (Son or Daughter) of the one true king and He Delights in me.”
“I ___ am wonderfully made, and I am loveable.”
“I ____ am not unloved, I was made for love by love”
“I _____ am good and fully loved in the eyes of the Father”