Learning to Love Yourself

Audio version of this post. It is better I think haha. Enjoy!

Learning to love yourself is radical. If you don’t love yourself in a healthy way, you won’t be able to love your neighbor as yourself – authentically. Youre probably good to your neighbor now. (neighbor = is anyone that is not you). This changed things for me.

Are you as kind to yourself as you are to others?

I have not been so kind to myself. I never have been. This is changing by the day and it is a good feeling.

After hitting a rock bottom (for me) earlier this year, I reached up and asked Jesus to pick me up. I knew about Jesus, but I didn’t KNOW Him.

My Dad introduced me to Jesus when I was 12. I heard the Good News many times. I have shared it many times. I didn’t live it. I lived pieces that appealed to me but wasn’t living the core of the Gospel (Love the Lord your God, Love your Neighbor as yourself). I had weighed myself down with so much, in the name of fear and control. I couldn’t handle all of the responsibility I placed. I was also becoming cynical and critical of most everything. I was a problem adding to a bigger problem within our culture. It didn’t feel right, but I wasn’t doing anything to change it.

In my lifetime, I have never seen so much self hatred, pain and ugliness on display.

Have you? When feeding your eyes and ears to all the negativity, it sucks you in. Before you know it, you have become the very thing you hated.

It may not even be obvious to you. You have to be honest with yourself and ask:

● How am I doing?
● How’s my heart?
● Am I living out my purpose?
● Do I even know what my purpose is?

At my low point, these questions overwhelmed me. I hadn’t take time to reflect for too long. I was in constant rush and go mode. As I began to examine myself, I knew I was lost again. I’d become a lone wolf. In reality, I was a lone sheep. Sputtering along, letting fear guide my decisions, and fumbling all over myself. In my state of being now, I can see Jesus laughing (lovingly of course) at me through these times, while he is walking beside me. He gets a kick out of my “control freak” demeanor. It amuses Him as I carry heavy things and then add more, thinking I can handle it. He’s like, “I see you, haha go ahead, I’ll be here when you’re ready”, shaking his head and smiling at me.

There was a weekend this past April, that made this all crystal clear. I have been the nemesis in my life. I am responsible for where I am today. This is on no one else. I had fallen back into the hurt little kid I’ve carried inside for 50 years. The difference this time, is my heart,head and gut are all aligned.

I have to stop trying to control each aspect of my life.

I’m married, with 4/5 children living at home. I am the sole protector and provider. I want the best for them and live like it is on me to make it happen. This has worn me down. Well-intentioned, maybe even noble, but misguided. I was doing the heavy lifting thinking Jesus was there for moral support. I didn’t understand Him as the helper.

I am learning it’s not my responsibility to do and know everything.

I only have to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. It’s working, things are changing. I am still doing the work I feel necessary to be the best I can for my family, but I no longer worry about the ‘results’. I hand that part over to Jesus, because this is all he asks of us. I am learning about Jesus as a man. I believe He is the Son of Man, as he says. He says He is the way, truth and the life. I choose to believe. His principles are valuable and He wants us close to him, doing things to bring praise to His name.

He says, ‘Follow Me. Seek and you will find. Ask and it will be given to you.’

I’d heard these words a bazillion times in my life. I have been in and out of churches since I can remember. Long stretches in, longer stretches out. I understood the words in my head, however, my heart never was in it. I also felt like a hypocrite sharing the Gospel of Jesus, while I felt I was a mess.

I let religion and people get in the way of the most important element of the Christian faith: Jesus. Jesus needs to be the center, the core. Everything else can get noisy and distract you from the Truth.

Remember Jesus First, Religion after.

If a religious leader, person, or guidelines put the heavy lifting on you, it is time to reprioritize. A good church community is awesome. When rooted in the Gospel, the feel is different. There is no perfect church though. Take it from me, as soon as I walk into one, it is dirty, because I am not perfect. Churches are for the imperfect, thankfully. Jesus came for the sick.

After the April weekend(a religious men’s weekend focused on Jesus Christ), I decided it was time to relearn about Jesus. I hadn’t taken it upon myself to do the research and find out Who Jesus is. I read books, and some bible, and listened to pastors, podcasts, and family/friends. I didn’t approach it from an utterly helpless place like I needed to.

I assumed I accepted Jesus, He is in my heart and I am saved. This was and is true. I wasn’t living in His peace and grace and strength.

I had ignored the signs, the trip-ups, the conflicts, the constant anxiety, and the rush. The problems were the focus and it was up to me to fix everything. I took pride in my ability to be a fighter and want to do the right thing. I was falling all over myself. All the while He has been beside me, carrying me mostly.

I am sharing with you because deep down there is a hole in my heart. I recognize this and admit it. I’ve tried to fill it with every good and bad thing this world has to offer. Nothing has come close to filling it.

He was waiting for me to turn to Him and say, Ok I give up. I surrender. That word surrender, scary.. Yikes… I had no choice.

There were serious things going on in my life and all around me. I knew I couldn’t control any outcomes. The chaos in the world was sucking me in because I was letting it. I was feeding myself everything negative.

You are what you eat. That doesn’t mean just what goes in your mouth. It’s through your eyes and ears too. Feed yourself negativity, you become it. Feed yourself positivity you become it. Neither is sustainable for a healthy life. Pretending to be positive when inside you are miserable, shows. Those that love you will let you know. If you’re like me, I go deaf when I hear this from those loved ones.

Now, I am listening better and my patience is growing.

Learning to love yourself is imperative. It is for you, your family, and everyone you have the ability to encounter. I have not loved myself. I stayed in the hurt, pain, shame, and guilt. For comfort, I’d turn to booze. Booze provided temporary relief, only to make things worse later. Alcohol became a demon that would take my mind to dark places. It kept me as a prisoner of pain. Once the party ended I would be alone with my own thoughts. It was not a healthy place for me. I prayed for God to quench that thirst. He has. It is no longer my go-to pain reliever. We don’t keep it in the house. When we are out I can have one, or two at most and enjoy our time.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not love myself. Confidence evaded me. Never feeling like I ‘fit in’ even as an adult. I had no beacon that I was aiming for, no plan. I am still not much of a planner and never will be. I have ADHD so that is not gonna work for me haha

I am thankful for that weekend in April. It was a new beginning. I continue to strive each waking day, for a new beginning. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow I may not be here. I want to focus on being present. Here now doing the work I was designed to do. It’s these words I share. I have always wanted to help others. I have in different ways, but nothing felt like a good fit. Since deciding to learn about Jesus as the Son of Man, things are changing. My heart is changing. He has been in there since I asked Him to be when I was 12 years old. Instead of focusing on all of the struggles in my heart, I am focused on learning His ways. At 50 I cannot think of anything more important than to plant seeds for Jesus. I want to help grow His Kingdom. He has given me many stories to share glimpses into his promises.

If you are reading this, I encourage you to think a little about yourself and where you are. What about that heart of yours? I have always been interested in the heart. It’s an amazing instrument inside us capable of beautiful and horrible things. If you have any doubts about yourself, believe me, God knows you. He sees you and He is waiting for you to accept His invitation to follow Him.

Jesus doesn’t say “You have to do this before you follow me. You have to change this about yourself before you can follow me.” He just says ‘Follow Me’. In other words, come as you are, you are one of my sheep and I am your Shepard. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am here always and forever.

There is nothing else in the world that promises this. Lots of false prophets and doctrines out there. The lure of religion attracts many. Jesus was a humble carpenter. He was born out of poverty. Coming into the world, naked like the rest of us. He loves His people and wanted to be below everyone so He could serve them through love. The love in your heart comes from God. He wants us to follow Him, to help Him plant seeds and grow His Kingdom.

I feel a draw to share stories of hope and healing, because our world needs it. We all deserve to be restored. Restoration of our mind, bodies and souls. I have spent most of my life reliving the hurt I have dealt to others, hurt I’ve received and traumatic experiences.

This is NOT what He wants for me and you.

He does the changing, we cannot do ourselves. If you Follow Him, you will change. It’s a guarantee. He didn’t come to condemn you in your sins (struggles). He came to save you FROM them. Some of those struggles may never completely vanish. He promises as we follow Him, He helps us with our struggles. He only wants us to be Free in Him.

If you’ve never considered this, and you are intrigued, we can say a simple prayer together:
Dear Jesus, Thank you for your message. I know and accept I am broken inside. Though I have good intentions, I cannot keep up and am not content. I accept your invitation to follow you and ask you to be with me in my heart. I pray that you start showing me who you are, through my life. Amen.

Have a great week!

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