February came and went – very slowly, I might add – and now March is upon us. With the coming of a new month, is the coming of a new monthly goal: self-love. This topic can seem quite cliche as well as daunting at times. Sometimes it is just easier to love others more than we love the person looking back at us in the mirror (or am I the only one that feels that way?). Regardless, loving yourself is hard, and it is a process for a lot of people – myself included.
For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with perfectionism. I have always pushed myself to strive for perfection in everything that I do whether that was sports, academics, or even being the perfect daughter. No matter how hard I pushed myself, I never felt like I was good enough. Although I would get straight A’s in school, those A’s were never high enough. Although I would score multiple goals in a soccer game, there were always those ones that I missed. Although I tried my hardest, there were always mistakes that I had made along the way. Those mistakes would then become a constant reminder that I was not perfect. And that reminder of imperfection? Well, that just meant I was not enough. In my mind, I was not perfect and that meant I was not worthy of love – not from my friends, not from my family, and absolutely not from myself. I cannot even begin to emphasis how unrealistic this is, but it is what I believed. This trend of negative self-talk and pressure to be perfect continued well into my young adult life, and it is something that I continue to struggle with today (just not as severely).
I remember the first time I got a B (which seems really silly to some, but to me it was the absolutely end of the world). In high school, I got straight A’s, I graduated fourth in my class, I excelled in everything I did, and I never really had to try. I mention this, not to brag, but to give context to the situation, because I was absolutely devestated by that “bad” grade. For me, getting my first B was the loss of my identity as a straight A student, something I was so immensely proud of. From that point on, I felt like I was not worthy of being a college student, I clearly was not smart, and I should just give up. Thankfully, I have patient and loving parents who talked me off the cliff I should have never been on in the first place. I wish I could say that my parents telling me that my B did not define who I was, that I was more than the sum of my mistakes, and that my past did not dictate my future was enough to stop this from happening again. But it was not enough for me to hear the words they were saying, I needed to internalize them. I needed to stop speaking negativity over myself and learn to love myself more. Which I learned, eventually (as in like a couple months ago).
As humans, we all face rejection, failure, hardships, etc., and we often question why this happens to us. If you are anything like me, you blame all the negative things in life on yourself; however, that is no way to live. Living life with guilt, shame and sadness only leaves us feeling unloved, unwanted, and unworthy, but we are called to SO much more than that. We are called to live loved because we are. We are loved by a Heavenly Father who created the Earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars. We are loved by a God who gave His only son that He would die for our sins. We are loved by a God who created us in His image, making us perfect imperfections. There is a God who is madly in love with me and who is madly in love with you, and He changed my life.
Over the past few months, I have started to become more vulnerable and honest with those around me, with God, and with myself. I cannot say it enough – this is a process, and it is hard. There are days that I fall back into my old ways of negative self-talk, but then I am reminded of God’s great love for me. Once I opened my heart more fully to Jesus, I was able to love myself more and see myself the way that He sees me. I am able to walk more confidently in my own skin, to be unapologetically myself, and to love myself more because I live loved.
To be continued…
Ways to live loved this week - Be gentle with yourself. Remember that it is okay to make mistakes, they do not define you. Do not allow your past to define you, let it guide you. Do not push yourself too hard, you are only human. Scripture for living loved - "You shall be blameless before the Lord your God" - Deuteronomy 18:13 (ESV) "This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless" - 2 Samuel 22:33 (ESV) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" - John 3:16 (ESV) "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" - Romans 5:8 (ESV) "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" - Romans 8:37-39 (ESV) "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved" - Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV) "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you" - 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV) "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us" - 1 John 4:16-19 (ESV)