Yeah, I said it, and I couldn’t care less if you judge me. It was thick, it was inescapable, and it was undeniable. I HATED MYSELF. I could not for the life of me figure out why God made me the way He did. He must have gotten busy for a second and gave the task of creating me to a less wise and less loving heavenly entity because NO ONE would make me the way that I was and really claim to care about me. I was awkward. I never fit it. I had a big nose and what one friend told me were “liver lips”. The boy who I absolutely adored in sixth grade decided that my breast were not big enough so he decided to go with someone with much more to offer him in that arena. It didn’t help that I had alopecia- a fancy word for baldness- and had to wear a wig. THAT was a sure way to get popular in elementary school- NOT in a good way. We were what some would call poor so I never had the latest clothes, shoes or hair styles that everyone else did in middle or high school. The one guy that I swallowed fear long enough to tell I liked him responded, “That’s nice”, and I learned to never expect to be liked just from that one incident.
I didn’t bother anyone- not too much, and I kept up good grades, enough to graduate 4th in my class with a 4.25 GPA after having a baby at the beginning of my senior year (another way to get popular in high school- NOT in a good way). I never knew my father intimately the way every young girl should. He wasn’t the guy in the story books that tells his daughter that she is beautiful, takes her on dates or walks her down the aisle to a man who is beaming with pride waiting at the altar on his beloved bride. Every place I turned seemed to be a reminder that I was not good enough, and you would have thought that life would have hardened my heart and made me cruel and oblivious to the people in the world suffering around me, but it actually did the opposite, and THAT was the reason I hated myself. I WAS TOO NICE. Go ahead and reread that. I hated myself because I was too kind to people, and it caused me a lot of hurt and pain. Seeing the best in people and wanting to help them cost me a lot of lonely nights crying in the dark and begging (I mean literally begging) God to change who I was. I grew frustrated and tired of wondering why I was the way God made me! Why was my kindness taken for granted and seen as a sign on my heart that gave people permission to use me or take advantage of who I was?
Pain inflicted from relationships that I had with other people, who were not emotionally healthy themselves, caused me to doubt myself. Whenever something went wrong in a relationship, the first thing I did was blame myself thinking that it was something that I did or did not do that caused the relationship’s demise. If everything was going right, I began to think that I did not deserve it, and I waited to for the bottom to fall out or something to bad to happen. It was not until my divorce and after going to therapy that I began to “change the tape”. In other words, I began to change the narrative about who I was and what I deserved. I began to really believe that God did NOT make a mistake when He made me the way He did and put the gifts and desires in my heart to help others. I began to rehearse the Word of God that told me that He would never leave me or forsake me and that everything that happens in my life will all work together for my GOOD. Even the “bad” things would all STILL work for my highest good to bring out the best version of who I was created to be. It took time of introspection, prayer, transparency and honesty with MYSELF before I could discover and identify who I was, what narrative was playing in my head and begin the work on the best project that I could ever be entrusted with- MYSELF. I only truly began to love myself when I began to look at myself and see what God saw. It still takes work to mind (regard as important; tend to) my mind (consciousness of thought). Many times we are not aware of WHAT we are thinking or WHY are thinking that way, and it leads to the same mistakes and missteps over and OVER again. Until we become intentional about LEARNING ourselves, it is going to be impossible to live a life where we are LOVING ourselves. We get busy, distracted or distressed and easily forget about spending time alone and cultivating a relationship with ourselves so that we can authentically love ourselves- both the good and bad- and then be able to extend that same genuine, pure love to others.
Now that I know, accept and love who I am, it is impossible to keep me from loving others. Because of the abundance of love that is in my heart, I can let the overflow spill into others’ lives without reservation or regret. I am designed to love. I am created for giving. I am my best and most joyous self when I am walking in what I am created to do- LOVE. So when people tell me that they love my spirit and my energy, I just smile because all I hear is the word LOVE. It feels good to FINALLY be free. Freedom looks good on me, and I bet it will look good on YOU too.