Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jesus loves ME: Learning to love yourself so that you can love others




Nobody likes me...everybody hates me...I guess I'll go eat worms.

I remember the first time I read this book in Elementary school and I so related.
As a young girl I should have not found a connection with this self loathing little boy depicted in, "How to Eat Fried Worms", but I did. I was shy and not very happy with myself even as a child. So fast forward to year 31 of my life and I still can relate to that little boy. I thought one day the self-hate would switch off, but it hasn't. I realized, very slowly, that I had to actually work at it. You see I thought if I just prayed, it would go away. At times that did work. I remember in 11th grade getting on my knees begging God to take away my fear. To make me not shy and guess what He did. He took away my fear, but I did not doing anything after that point and the fear began to creep back in.

Being shy stems from being fearful. It also stems from a lack of self-confidence. I grew up with a lot of rules. A lot of boundaries. I learned to be happy and safe in my little square. Never taking any risks that might upset the safety I felt. Unfortunately, I never took the time to figure out who I was. Never took the time to figure out who I was in Christ, because that was scary to me. I was afraid I would make a mistake. I just went along with what my family believed and mindlessly lived. I was living very unintentionally.

When you are younger and you are shy, it is cute. I was "Sweet Summer". When you are older and shy/fearful you are seen as unapproachable, unloving and not someone most people want to be around. This breeds hate towards others. I thought, well they just need to accept me.People need to realize that I am shy and can't carry on a conversation. That is where I was wrong. I was not engaging people. I was not asking people questions. I didn't think anyone cared about me so, why would I care about anyone else. Sweet Summer....yeah she was long gone. I became Judgmental Summer and Unloving Summer. I was lost in my own mind many times. Without getting too personal(too late) I was falling apart. I am talking presently folks. I am trying to pick up the pieces and put myself back together.

The first step, God revealed to me was that I needed to love myself. At first I was like...this is selfish. But I began to read some sermons on loving yourself and how that turns into loving others. In Matthew, a rich young man asks Jesus, what good things he needed to do to have eternal life. I love Jesus' response: "Why do you ask me about what is good. There is only One who is good. If you want eternal life obey the commandments". One of those commandments is to love your neighbor as yourself. I can't help but picture one of those funny pics with the phrase NAILED IT or the ones that show what you think you look like as opposed to what you really look like. Let me show you a pic, just in case you don't know what I am talking about:
 





I thought I was "nailing it" as depicted in the top pic, when in reality I was totally wrong, looking like a  fool depicted in the bottom pics. What was happening was I was loving others as much as I loved myself...which was not at all.

As a Christian, we can be labeled as judgmental. I would say that was true of myself. I was so lost in being perfect. I could never measure up. I continually failed, because being perfect is only given to ONE, as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 19:17. Each time I failed at living this perfect life I felt worthless. I felt like I failed others. I felt like no one would like me since I sucked at life. Even at 31, after being married for 10 years and having a loving 4 year old(almost 5!!!) I still felt unwanted and depressed.

One day I woke up and was feeling especially unwanted. I felt most of my relationships were failing. I started the blame game and self-loathing. Why would anyone want to be my friend??...I am a mess! But, God stepped in. He is good like that. In my moments of despair He is always there. I have to say never once in my life have I ever felt unloved by God. Not ONCE! He has given me the strength to fight through my fears before. Most people in my life are a little tired of waiting for me to "grow up" but not God He is faithful and His love never waivers.

Through out this whole post...the enemy has told me I am not good enough. Nobody is going to want to read this. You are crazy(that may be a bit true). You are sharing too much. But.........God has given me this life to do great things and I can't be scared. I have to be me. I have to be who God wants me to be. Is this a struggle for you? I know daily I am faced with trying to measure up to others. Instead of measuring up... I want to be proud of others accomplishments. I want to work on my own strengths. Whatever I do, I need to give it my all. So, at the end of the day, even if I do fail, I know that I tried. I recently started working out everyday. Now it is more like 3-4 times a week but that is huge for me. I remember the first workout I did I was so weak, but I gave it all I had and when I was done I literally fell to the floor crying. One because I was in pain, but two because I did it! I accomplished something that I had told myself I couldn't. Believing lies about yourself is dangerous my friends. Living an unintentional life is dangerous. Be confident in who God has made you to be. If you have fears like me, ask God for help. If you truly believe He is God then know that He's got this. Whatever you are struggling with He will be right there along side you. These struggles even make us stronger. This isn't the first time I have had to talk myself out of a dark place. This is the first time I have made plans though and am learning to love myself.

The day after I was having a dark day, I wrote this on my wrist. I don't know if I will ever get a tattoo, but if I do I think having this wonderful reminder is a pretty great idea:


My plans are to get back to a place where I can love myself and love others in return. That my hardened heart would be made tender. I know helping others is where I need to start to focus. Doing selfless acts makes me love myself more..not in a selfish way... but in a way that I am proud to be doing what God has called me to. Getting off Facebook was one of those steps. I know some people really miss me...I feel really blessed, I really do. Many were bummed they wouldn't be able to read my blog posts. Again I was so happy to read that. For me Facebook has so much good, but there were days where I would get so judgmental of people. I began to hate some of my friends and it just wasn't healthy. So, Facebook has to go for a bit. I hope to be in a better place soon. I am so thankful to have a relationship with God and that He has made it very clear what I need to do. Yes, Jesus Loves me and you too!