I tried to make light of the holiday and bring some humor to those who feel especially lonely during this time. But the truth is, I really do love Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but there’s something about taking a day each year to remind yourself of why you love the one you love that I think is beautiful.
I’ve been on a seemingly never-ending journey with God as I’m learning how to love the most important person in my life. Me. It’s funny because just when I think I’ve got the whole accepting and loving myself idea down, God takes it to a deeper level. I just met with a pastor at Bethel and at the beginning of our meeting he said, “You don’t believe that God loves you.” I was shocked! I sat dumbfounded and I pondered what exactly he meant. I mean, Christianity 101 is “Jesus loves you and died for your sins.” He continued, “You know in your head that God loves you, but you don’t believe it. You think that God tolerates you but could change his mind at any moment because you only tolerate yourself. If you really believed God loved you, you would have no fear. You’ll never be able to fully love other people until you’re convinced that you’re protected and covered by God’s love.”
It hurt to hear because no one who has just spent the last 3 years in ministry school wants to hear that they don’t have the most basic concept of God down. However, it was true and ever since that meeting, I’ve been on this journey where I’m seeking out God’s heart for me like never before. What is it God loves about me? What does it mean to love myself the way God loves me?
A few days ago, I asked people what they thought it meant to love themselves and what it is about themselves in particular that they love. I loved reading all the responses. Some were inspiring, some challenging, and others were downright adorable.
What does it mean to love yourself?
1. “To love yourself is to accept yourself.” Clarification: I have seen many people in my short career as a therapist. In general, people who do not love themselves do not accept themselves. Why? Because they seek validation through external sources as their only source of self worth.
2. To love yourself is to be in charge of everything and to be able to play video games whenever I want. (Dezman, Age 5)
3. To love yourself is to have all your needs met in Christ Jesus, so you walk in wholeness. If I need something apart from him, then I’m disconnected from love himself.
3. To love yourself is to enjoy your desires and honor them by pursuit. It’s also to share yourself with people out of the enthusiasm and thrill that comes from having discovered something of great value.
4. Loving yourself means keeping the lights on when you get dressed even when you don’t like what you see at the moment. It’s seeing beyond the pimples and freckles, disregarding the cellulite and muffin-top, but instead seeing the woman that God created you to be.
5. I was going to say loving yourself means you’re okay with everything about yourself and wouldn’t change anything. But after thinking about it a little more, I think you can recognize the things about yourself that you don’t like, and still love yourself. It’s when you don’t constantly compare yourself to other people. To know you’re not perfect, but not beating yourself up about it. Basically, it’s seeing yourself how God sees you.
6. I think to love yourself is to see who you are, the good, the bad, the “could be better” and to be okay with it because you know that you’re valuable. Part of loving yourself is to value yourself enough to make good choices and have grace with yourself when you don’t, or can’t, or won’t. I think this comes from living in the love that God has for you. At the end of the day, it’s to know that you’re worth fighting, even dying for! Plus, Jesus thinks you’re adorable. Win!
7. When you love yourself, you eat a lot of apples and oranges so you can grow and be healthy. (Lily, Age 5)
8. You have to be your own best friend. I wish I had been my own best friend as a teenager and young adult. Instead I sought love and acceptance from others and when it isn’t enough, your self-esteem and self-worth is ruined. In growing a relationship with myself I have discovered how STRONG I am. I have become a better friend, more forgiving, more patient, and more honest with myself and others. I have lost weight and stopped taking medications (for stress and anxiety). It has in short, changed my life!
9. To love yourself is to accept your identity at it’s core. To believe what God says about me is true.
10. To love myself is to smile inside. (Camden, Age 6)
11. To love myself means to love who I am. (Anabella, Age 5)
What do you love about yourself?
1. I love my sense of humor. My Schmidt-likeness. – Ted, Age 20
2. I love me because I’m great. -Sarah, Age 6
3. I’m thoroughly enjoying my resolve to go after truth and pay the price to benefit from it. I love my resilience. I love my genuine compassion for people. – Mike, Age 26
4. I don’t know what to say I love about myself because there’s too much stuff to say. I’m a good friend and I like that I like to swim. -Selah, Age 7
5. I love me because I love you. – Lily, Age 3
6. I love how deeply I love and champion people. -Marlene
7. I love my childlike personality and sensitivity and naivety. I love that I have a lot of love to give. -Kainos, Age 27
8. I love that I’m adventurous and willing to take risks. -Carly, Age 26
9. I love myself because I can read my dinosaur book all by myself and because Jesus loves me. -Riston, Age 4
10. I love my heart. It’s big. -Audrey, Age 21
As you can see, loving yourself has many different meanings. But it all comes down to being fully yourself, unapologetically. As I am writing this, I am reminded of one of my last days in treatment at Remuda Ranch. My dietician was walking me through my recovery plan and she said to me, “I want you to pray this prayer, ‘God, show me how you see me, no matter how beautiful it is.'”
I pray that this Valentine’s day, whether you’re with the love of your life, with your friends, or alone watching Netflix, that you will experience the way God sees and loves you and be willing to take the risk to love yourself the same.
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