Over the years, I have seen so many articles about self-love where they talk about loving your body, your face, your external features. As I read all these things, I said to myself why is it that I am perfectly content with my external features but I still don’t seem to love myself. Isn’t that what self-love is?
As I have matured in the word and actually sought God out for myself, not merely reading articles, books or watching sermons (which are all edifying don’t get me wrong,) but going to the source, God himself and his word, I have gotten a deeper understanding of loving yourself. So, here is my self-learned version of self-love.
God has always been a God of the inside out, working from within and so it makes perfect sense that he’d want you to love yourself from the inside out and not the other way around. While I’m not ignoring the real and deep struggles of loving how you look in the mirror, I have found the deeper battles to be what you think of yourself and whether you love who you are on the inside.
I’d be turning 19 in about a months time and I have been thinking deeply about what I learnt during my 18-year-old life. I have learnt a lot about myself and that’s mainly been because I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with myself. Learning certain things about myself has given me the choice of either changing or sticking with it. I must acknowledge that we all have things to change about ourselves; Though God’s grace accepts us just the way we are, it will never leave us the same. There are however some fundamental personality attributes we all have that are the core of who we are and as you’ve probably heard a million times, don’t try to be someone else because everyone else is already taken. This is something I had to realise for myself, that I am who I am, beautifully unique, weirdly different, purposefully designed and specifically positioned. Realising this also made me realise that not everyone is going to like who I am and that’s okay but the important thing is, do I like myself?
Over the years and even more recently, I have lost a lot of relationships/ friendships for various reasons one of which was because of who I am. Whilst there is always room for improvement, I have had to accept that if I have lost these people because of the core of who I am, my personality, my faith, and all that have worked together to make me, then that’s just the way it’s going to be. There was a time where I was very telling of people’s flaws in the hopes to promote myself simply because I wasn’t sure I was good enough and the only way I thought I could get others to like me was to show them how ‘good’ I was compared to others.There are 7.4 billion people in the world, I live between two continents, have been to however many schools I’ve been to, have access to social media and other connecting groups, church e.t.c. There are certainly people I can find in all of those who will accept me just the way that I am. I had to learn to love myself irrespective of whether those around me did. Quit trying to be someone else just so you can fit in, be included, invited or involved. Quit compromising your core beliefs, your very character and your fundamental ideas just so you can be part of a certain friendship group, date a certain boy or girl, appear a certain way. No, no no no, that is not who God called you to be. You were made for more, you are more, fully worthy and deserving. God cannot bless who you pretend to be.
One of the two greatest commandments is to love each other as you love yourself. But how can you love another if you don’t even love yourself? Let me just clarify now, you may be thinking “oh but I love my family, my boyfriend, my friends but not necessarily myself”, the truth is that the love you have for them is not complete if you don’t first love yourself. When you love others without loving yourself, you love only their strengths, only the things they do right, only their perfections, why? Because those are the only things you love about yourself. But, when you love yourself completely, inside out, with all your blemishes, only then are you able to completely love people as they are, without judgement or conditions. The reason we judge one another is because we are judging ourselves, one of the reasons why we hurt one another is because we are not fully loving of ourselves. Ever since I understood this simple fact, I began to love my family more, forgive my friends always, yes always, no matter what they have done and without conditions. I began to judge people less, and though this is all a work in progress I’ve been able to radiate love to all those who surround me.
Loving yourself does not lead to pride, in my opinion, it brings about humility because you know your imperfections and you aren’t scared for others to see them because you accept yourself just the way that you are. When you love yourself, you love your strengths and your weaknesses, you love your flaws and your perfections, your struggles and your insecurities, you love all that have worked together to make you who you are today. When you love yourself, you don’t try to make your voice the loudest in the room, you know that whether or not they listen, your words are important simply because you are important, you do matter. When you love yourself you don’t need a million friends to approve a picture you take before you post it on the gram, you know, comment or no comment, 100 likes or 10 likes, you are beautiful/handsome just the way that you are. When you love yourself, you don’t need a boy to hit you up before you are secure in your femininity or a girl to open her legs for you before you are secure in your masculinity, you are sure of who you are and who God called you to be. So dear reader, please ask your self-today, when the doors are closed, the lights are off, the noise is turned down, what are the voices in your head? Are they negative voices telling you-you're not good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, worthy enough, you can never be A/B or C? or are they voices of reassurance, of acceptance, of love? When all is stripped away and you are all that remains, do you love all that is left?
Here are a few steps to take
Spend time with yourself, it’s unhealthy to spend so much time with people that you’re unable to hear your own voice. Don’t be afraid to be alone with yourself.
Spend time with God. Seek and live out an intimate relationship with him. Let him nurture you and reveal you to yourself.
Identify those negative thoughts you think about yourself and identify the roots of those thoughts i.e I don’t think I am smart because I failed my GCSE’s/A-levels/Uni e.t.c
Embrace your strengths AND weaknesses. You need to realise that both your strengths and your weaknesses make you who you are. You wouldn’t need God’s strength if you had no weakness, In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 God says to us “ My strength is made perfect in your weakness”. However as I pointed out earlier God’s grace never leaves you the same so embracing these weaknesses doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on yourself, it just means that you shouldn’t wait till you’re seemingly ‘perfect’ before you love yourself, you are already perfect in his eyes.
Speak your self-love into existence - do the #IAMCHALLENGE ( s/o to @Tiwalola for this point). I have found that the more I say to myself “I am beautiful”, the more I feel so.
Stop comparing yourself to others, you can’t play the game of comparison without sustaining a multitude of blows to your soul. See my previous post - Comparison Kills Confidence
Before I close this post, I’d love you to say this out loud ( insert your own facts)
I love that I was born a Woman
I love that I was born into the Onafowokan Family and I am the last of four children
I love that I went to all the schools I have gone to
I love that I am going to Warwick University
I love that I made the friends that I made and have the friends that I have
I love that I have been through the struggles that I have been through and I love that I have overcome and am overcoming them
I love that I have loved
I love that I have lost
And the reason I love all these things and much more is because they have all worked together to make me who I am right now and I love who that is.
The greatest battles you can ever fight are the ones within you. The way you fight your internal battles will reflect in the way you handle the external ones. Now that you’ve heard about your identity in Christ, your self-worth and understand what it means to love your self, let's handle life the right way, from the inside out, “guard(ing) our hearts because out of it flows the issues of life”.
And as John says,
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!
1 John 3: 18-21 (MSG)