Yes, it was completely intentional that you read that blog title and immediately follow it up with singing to yourself, “baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more.” While a horribly written sentence, the validity of it is maintained. Then again, that was probably the point, right? If you have no idea what I am referencing, I am torn between feeling both sad for you and envious of you. I am a complex person, but I’m a generous one:
You’re welcome. Also, good luck getting that out of your head.
Now that you have that delightful little diddy playing in the background, let’s continue, shall we? I was reading a blog post the other day by a favorite blogger of mine and she was talking about loving your neighbor. Reading it got me thinking, do we do that enough? Do we really do it at all? Okay, maybe I should change those “we” words to “I.” I know that I am pretty tolerant and accepting (even if I don’t agree with you, I try to give you respect and grace; and dare I say it, love) of people in general, but is that the same as loving?
Out and about in public I look people in the eye and smile with a nod. Every cashier at any store I go to gets greeted by me and I will give them a happy adieu. On the other hand, if that same person (the one I smiled at, or the one I greeted and said a nice adieu to) were driving lower than my standards in front of me, I’m going to be yelling (screaming) at them from in my car. I’d love to say that I make sure my kids aren’t with me, but I don’t. I’d love to say that I don’t have road rage, but I do. That one thing alone doesn’t demonstrate a lack love, but it is an attitude that is not loving.
And that’s sort of my point. We live in this time of shaming and guilt and overdoing and business (I could go on and on and on and……well, you get the point) and we (by we I mean I) internalize it. I don’t know about you, but I am a master internalizer. Really. I could win a medal. If they did that sort of thing. I internalize so well, that I can’t even remember it. A not so handy side effect to that: it takes me quite some time to figure out why I am snapping at people and why I am so angry.
You see, we are called to love our neighbor, that’s completely true, but there is another half to that sentence: love your neighbor as yourself. Ahhhh. That’s the rub. Maybe it’s that I don’t love myself. Maybe it’s more that I don’t know how to love myself. Either way, how can I change my unloving attitude towards people when I can’t even muster up the ability or even desire to love myself? Am I hard on myself? I don’t doubt that. Do I criminalize myself for doing (or not doing) what someone else has done? Sure I do. Do I hold myself to a higher standard than everyone else? Probably. Do I get mad at myself when I don’t meet those standards? Wouldn’t you?
The thing is, in the moment, it’s hard to remember that I’m human. I am a Christian woman, and although Christ doesn’t call me to do any of those things above (and I’m certainly not pressured to do them), I put so much pressure on myself by doing them. Making me really not like myself (let alone love myself) on most days. I’ll snap at people for doing things that I just did, but in the moment, I don’t think about me having done it. Internalizer, party of one. I’m not so much mad at them, but at myself. Again, that’s sort of my point. That’s not loving. I can’t love if I don’t even love myself.
Do you know who you belong to? Do you know who created you? Do you know how much you are cherished and loved? That alone should be enough to love ourselves.
Are you like me? Do you struggle with loving or liking yourself? Do you find fault in every aspect of the mirror’s reflection? Do you struggle internally with attitude, shaming, guilt, etc?
Let me encourage you today.
Go and find a quiet place. Just you and nothing. Sit still on the log (or rock, or concrete, or cloud, or whatever) for as long as it takes; as long as it takes to bring everything to the surface. Every fear, every doubt, every battle, every ounce of loathing you hold for yourself; let it come to the top. Take this time to, for once, not bury it. Deal with it, and while you’re dealing with it, know that you are not alone. As you let those burdens go, there is someone who is taking them. Someone that is taking them up and away. Someone that is, again, wiping your slate clean. Making you new again. Look up and allow yourself to see the King loving on you.
Because you deserve it. You are daughter/son to THE KING. He will take care of you and your needs. Let go and love. Love yourself and love your neighbor. Once you let all that garbage (lies) go, you will finally know how.
And on that note, I am going to go find a quiet space. My space just so happens to be a closet that my kids don’t know about….hopefully…..Oh man, I hope they don’t know about it.
Know this. I love you. I may not fully understand how, but I know that I do.