Learning to love myself...

I wrote the following in response to another's web-blog, and then realized, I didn't want to lose what I had written.  So am re-posting my reply here. I need it for myself. Sometimes I forget so easily even deep lessons God has taught me...
 In her blog, the writer was talking about how God loves us and how we should look at ourselves in love ("fully-dressed of course") and tell ourselves the same thing as we look in a mirror.
 This was my reply...

I know you said to look at yourself fully clothed- but I wanted to share how God changed me totally - when I looked at myself fully UNDRESSED in a FULL LENGHT mirror at home.

I've fought all my life with self-image (who hasn't among women, right? lol)  And I was sad because my marriage was falling apart, esp. in the bedroom.  I blamed myself - mainly.  Told myself that I wasn't as pretty and sexy as women on TV, movies, and even ones described in books!

One day as I was crying out to the Lord about the state of what was happening physically (or really - not happening) with my husband...I felt a still small voice say, "Holly - do you know how to make love to yourself?"

Well, THAT's a strange question!

The voice continued, "Can you stand to look at yourself absolutely bare and say, 'I am lovely in the LORD's eyes AND mine.'"

Ummm...no.

I'm not sure I believed either statement.

After all I've got cottage cheese thighs,  sagging c-section belly,  double chin - you name it. If it can droop off my body, it will.

"Try," the small voice said.

If a tortious wore clothes, I think he'd get his clothes off faster than me.  I trembled as I took off each part of my garments. After all, one more bare part meant one step closer to seeing myself with eyes wide open.  Could I stand up to my own scrutiny?

At last the deed was done, and there I was in all my glory.

ha.

The voice said, "Do you love you?"

"No."

"Do you love seeing you like this?"

"I said NO."

"If you cannot make love to yourself, Holly - if you cannot stand to see yourself naked - then why do you expect your husband to love what you cannot?"

I stood there stunned.

"You need to love YOU, Holly.  Whether your marriage survives or not - you can only take care of you.  This issue you have with your body is only the symptom of the greater problem.  You don't love yourself.  Not inside - not outside.  No part of you is pleased with what you see or think or feel.  You're always saying, "I can do this better," or "If I would just do ____ then things would be better."

"You need to learn to bare your soul to YOU, Holly.  Bare your heart to YOU. Bare your body in LOVE to YOU.  Otherwise, you cannot obtain the intimacy you crave, no matter how hard you try.  If you cannot come naked and unashamed whether it's a naked heart or a naked soul...in the relationships you love and trust  - intimacy is not going to happen.

So - the first thing you need to do is stand here and say, 'I love myself.'"

"That sounds narcissistic."

"I know it sounds foreign.  Say it anyway.  'I love myself.'"

"I know You love me."

"You know that in your head, Holly.  You need to know it -feel it- from your HEART.  And the only way you're going to get there for both of us is to choose to believe that you are lovely, precious, and beloved in my sight.  Just as you are.  Cottage cheese thighs and all."

That made me smile.  What a goofy God we have.

"Say it.  Say, 'I love myself'.'"

"But I don't believe it."

"Your heart doesn't believe it...yet.  But sometimes it takes repetition from the Knowing in the mind to sink down deep into the heart.  The more you say it, the more it's reality will deepen."

"But aren't I suppose to say, "God loves me...and then, I love..."

"You automatically discredit 'God loves me' right now.  You say it as in "He has to love me. He's God."  You know that I love you.  You tell yourself this often.  But because of your own disbelief in yourself and even in your own loveliness in my eyes- you dismiss every compliment that comes your way.  You reject it by telling yourself that he or she is just being polite.  If you cannot accept the compliments of other flawed fallen humans - you should see how you cower in front of Me  - the absolute Perfection of Love.

You say what you know - the Sunday School\Church answer.  But you reject it out of your heart as soon as you say it.

We need to get to the root of this problem, and the only way to do it is to tackle it at its source.

So say it.  Say, 'I love myself.'

(mumbling) "I love myself."

"Say it again."

"I feel stupid.  OK?"

(Sigh.)

 "I love myself."

"I hope you do this every day.  Not dressed - but undressed.  Love every single part of you - just as you are for that day."

It was the strangest conversation\prayer I've ever had. Certainly not a typical "church dialog" type of prayer!

But I did it.

I stood in front of the mirror each day and mumbled that I loved  myself.

A few weeks later I was saying it a little louder, and a little more confident.

And the strangest things started happening.

I gave myself grace to be human.

I stood up for myself.

I stopped letting others take advantage of me.

I lost weight. And not because I stood in front of the mirror each  morning like this - (although it helped) - but just because I wasn't EATING my depression about myself and my circumstances.  I didn't need that comfort like I used to.

OK - a little comfort.  But just the same, I wasn't eating a huge helping of Comfort.  My portions got smaller...just because.  That alone was weird.

And cool.

I stopped running into bed with the lights completely off.  One time, I didn't even turn OFF the lights.  My husband was shocked.

And pleased.

Really, really pleased.

I opened up my heart to my friends more.  Learned that it's okay being messy me.

I also learned that they assumed that I was a 'goody two shoes' because I didn't share my struggles and troubles with them.  They thought that *I thought* I was good with life and lovin it.  Lord have mercy - it was just the opposite! I had felt alone, isolated and ashamed.

Now with my heart bare before trusted friends, my little cup of acceptance was filling up.

"I love myself."

While life isn't a bed of roses, and I'm still in marriage counseling...I've come a long way from the former me I was four years ago when I gulped down the words, "I love myself."

Now it's:  "God loves me for who I am.  I don't have to do anything to earn His love or anyone else's for that matter.  If someone wants me to do something for them in order to gain their love or approval - that's not love.  That's abuse.  I reject that.  God loves me...and you know what?

I love myself."

Amen.


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Feel free to comment, and God bless you! ~ Holly

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