I’ve always despised the attitude of entitlement. “I deserve to have everything I want simply because I’m alive.” I’ve always been taught to work hard for what you want. I’ve also been taught that it is not nice to step on people to get what you want. But you cannot make others love you.
My mother, an amazing lady, taught me by example that service is a wonderful thing. But I also learned to put myself off… I had no idea that it was because I felt that everyone else was more worthy of love than me. I thought it was because I was showing them love by denying myself. “Give until there’s nothing left.” But God cannot use a dry well.
I took on a lie that if others did not love me, I did not deserve it, anyway. This may have been subconscious, but it has haunted me my entire life. This lie has caused plenty of masochistic, depressive, and even suicidal behavior in my life.
When I discovered The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I was amazed at why I didn’t feel loved, but it didn’t stop me from reverting back to that behavior. Slowly, over years, I began to feel God’s love for me and would thrive on that… but I still had bad days where I would get in relational disagreements and feel unloved… and take it out on myself. I would eventually work through it and depend on God’s love for me again. What was I missing?
Love for myself.
I didn’t think that it was okay to love myself. I mean, “if you’re good enough, others will love you; God loves you no matter what… I’m not supposed to think of myself.” But eventually the resentment and anger would come out and affect everyone around me. I couldn’t figure out the balance until, I realized that it was okay to care about myself. I have been breaking for a few years, now, and have dropped back to the worst I’ve ever been physically because of neglect. I didn’t exercise because everyone else needed me. Now, I’m suffering such muscle-loss that I’m having a hard time walking or feeling healthy; my body is hanging on these loose ligaments and causing more damage. (See Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) At first, I was angry with myself for this…
A wonderful friend of mine told me to put it this way: “If you were watching yourself from the outside, how would you treat yourself?”
I am my first nurse, friend, and caregiver.
So, here is my conclusion: God loves me. Taking care of myself is what God wants for me. Loving myself (as long as it’s not taken to the extreme of thinking I’m better than anyone around me) is loving God in return. I am worthy of love just as much as my children, my husband, my neighbors, my friends, etc. If others don’t love me, I can rest in God’s love for me and believe that it’s okay to take care of me for that reason. I am worthy of love and even if I don’t FEEL it from others, I can act on that knowledge.
This has caused such an amazing change in me, that I’m happy with the way God made me. I am made to move and express myself differently than you. I am made pleasing in His sight and I don’t have the need to change myself to please others around me: I like clothes, colors, or the textures that I like because I like them. (See Dressing Your Truth) I am made to think through things a little deeper and longer than others. I can trust that God will continue to help me grow and love me regardless of all that I got done or how fast I got it done in the day. For this perfectionist, this has been an amazing leap for me.
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