The second command that Jesus give’s us as His followers is to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). We are to extend patience, kindness, selflessness and goodness to those closest to us. But how does one do this, when they don’t put these methods of exhibiting love towards themselves? How do you love someone else, if you don’t even know how to love yourself?
The thought that a person can be born a perfect child of God and buy into the lies the devil places in their lives through the media, people close to them and their own thoughts makes me cringe. But it also makes me extremely sad, because I was one of those people. Despite my awesome parents and family that loved me, I spent years growing into a person that didn’t like herself. Because of bullying as a child, choices I’d made as a teen and adult, an abusive relationship and the things I thought, I began to embody what these people told me I was instead of believing the truth that God and my family would tell me. I was told I had nappy hair, was a weirdo (not in a good way), looked like a boy, that I should just keep my mouth shut so that people wouldn’t know how stupid I was, that I could never become a vet because you had to be smart, that I was ugly and would never find another man. There were times I didn’t see the value of me even being here, it was dark. These things stuck with me and it became much easier to dispel the truth and become very comfortable residing in the darkness of the lies.
At the time, I knew some passages in the bible, but had never read the bible for myself. I never really understood what that verse meant, until one day I was arguing with my ex-boyfriend and he stopped and exclaimed that I was just too hard on him, I expected too much! I can remember later on meditating on what he said and realized that I was loving him the way I loved myself, which wasn’t very much. I also was extremely hard on myself and rarely gave myself any slack. If I made a mistake or said something incorrect, I would berate myself for days, maybe even months depending what it was. If I did something wrong, I found myself repeating the lies I was told about how stupid I was and that I should just shut up so people would like me because I was too unintelligent and quirky. I would look in the mirror and would feel unpretty. I rarely gave myself a compliment and if someone did then I took it with a grain of salt. But let someone say something negative, I would internalize it, invite it to live in my head and roll around for days, months or years. I can’t say that I hated myself but the concept of self-love was lost on me.
I began to read self-help books on loving yourself, sought therapy and learned about God’s love for me. The ability to brush off the mean things people said came a little easier and although I am still a highly sensitive person, I tend not to internalize criticisms but continually pray for freedom of people bondage. I began to tell myself that I loved me and believe it, I would look in the mirror and think good things and actually found that I liked my quirky personality because there truly is no one on earth like me! Am I perfect in my resilience and confidence? No, but I’m growing! As I write this, I have tears in my eyes thinking about the years I allowed someone to dull my quirky shine or silence my voice. Since hitting my thirties, I have learned to be patient with myself and to recognize the positive things about myself. I am still hard on myself sometimes, but am so extremely happy with the woman who I’ve become and am becoming and can honestly say that I love myself more each day and pray that it’s exhibited through the love I show others.
God Bless and Shine On!
If you are struggling with loving yourself and feel that you don’t add value to this world and want out, know that you are loved, wanted and needed here! There is no one like you and you are so extremely special. I am praying for you. Please speak with someone you can trust about what you’re going through, you will feel so much better.