Yo what's up people! I know I don't use this blog much anymore but I've got some thoughts to share and feel that this is the best place to dump them. My desire to share this stuff has been spurred on by my own personal happenings, the state of our country/world, and also a holiday that makes many feel lonely, insecure, jealous, etc. that happened to be yesterday.
This is a story of how I've learned and am still learning to love myself. The funny thing is that it happened by learning to forget myself. By focusing intently on God's greatest commandments– 1. Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul 2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40)– I made strides in my battle with insecurity. I'm still selfish as poop and this post is in no way intended to bring glory to myself; I just wanted to share a piece of my story in hopes that it'll help someone out there who is struggling to love him or herself. And also to bring glory to God who brings us freedom!
For years and years I was a big heaping mess of insecurity. Even when my faith became real to me at 16 and I was "made new", I still had very little love for myself. My friends and family loved me so well yet I had the hardest time seeing greatness or any kind of potential in myself. These feelings only escalated when I got to college. Meeting lots of new people and realizing I am way more awkward and introverted than I thought was no fun. Especially when everyone else seemed to be thriving their freshman year (which wasn't true, social media is a monster to the insecure). And on top of that I was supposed to be deciding what career I wanted to pursue but felt very little confidence in myself being able to be successful or make an impact on the world.
loving God bigger
This newfound freedom happened as a result of God opening my eyes to the gift of singleness and in turn learning to be romanced by God. For so long I turned to guys to make me feel like I was worth something and I just didn't wanna do that anymore. It wasn't working and wasn't fair to myself or anyone I sought to be in a relationship with. So I decided to lean in to how God was romancing me everyday and fell more in love with Him and with who I am in Him as a result.
Before this shift, it felt like every time God placed something in front of me that he knew would delight the girl he formed, I looked to my left and right to make sure others were pleased with it too. Or I posted it on my Instagram feed to see how many of my followers thought it deserved a like. I wouldn't let my own creator who knows me so intimately simply romance me because of my concern with fitting in.
As soon as I quit thinking like this, I was able to see God's splendor in the most ordinary, mundane things. Things like work, school, the ministry I serve with, running errands, hanging out with friends, etc became more colorful and life-giving because I was able to see God moving in so many small, beautiful ways. I used to be hesitant to over spiritualize things but it's pretty much impossible to do that when God is the creator of all things and is living and breathing in this world through the Holy Spirit. The more I focus on being romanced by him, the less I dwell on the things I don't like about myself. Sometimes I forget my existence completely because I'm so enthralled by what's in front of me while other times I feel my existence strongly and am romanced by the way God has wired me to feel things deeply.
loving people bigger
People used to terrify me. They still do to an extent when I forget that they're just people too. My social anxiety stemmed from a lack of self confidence in who I was and it hindered me from loving people deeply. I was afraid of get to know people because then they might want to get to know me and who the heck was I?
But the people who made me feel most myself were those most comfortable with themselves. Those who weren't afraid to show up messy and loudly proclaim their quirks. Those who could look at something with a glimmer in their eye and say "this is amazing" even if nobody else thought so. Those who were truly interested in other people's unique passions and interests, even if they were radically different from their own. I'd make mental notes of the people I encountered like this through the years and always remembered them when I thought about who I wanted to be, but never believed I could be that sure of myself.
I starting thinking about how they were able to be so at peace with themselves and realized that they all had something in common: they didn't ever seek to bring attention to themselves or make themselves known. Sure they spoke their mind, but in a respectful and humble manner that was intended to spark interesting conversation. They listened more than they talked. They spoke out the greatness they saw in others and sought to make others feel loved and known. These were people who loved their neighbors in a non discriminatory, radical yet simple way.
My hope is that my journey with learning to love myself will help you in yours. The biggest factor in loving myself was falling more in love with my Creator. But whether you're a Christian or not, I promise you that loving those around you will do wonders for your ability to see greatness in yourself.
So would you join me in loving our neighbors bigger? In not putting people into a box? In being unapologetic about who we are and also inviting those who are different than us to do the same? There is nothing brave about being confident in yourself but making others feel wrong about who they are. I don't ever want to be some who says "hey how about you keep THAT part of yourself hidden." Rather, I want to encourage others to stand in the light and love them for the parts of them that are not like me. We can all play a role in helping each other love ourselves better so let's do it!
|Lyrics from a dope song called "The Honest Truth"|