For the greater part of this year, I found myself in this rut and a place of being overwhelmed with just life. I’m married, I work full time, I have three kids, a lot of responsibilities inside and outside the home, and I was becoming overwhelmed with it all. There would be weeks that would go by and I wasn’t able to keep my house as clean as I wanted it, or weeks would go by and the laundry was completely out of control. Sometimes I would forget to meal prep for my family of five for the week, much less actually get to the grocery store to get the food needed to meal prep with. I was unhappy with the way I looked after having my third baby. All these things kept festering and it overwhelmed and frustrated me. During that time, I did what I knew to do which was attempt to make small changes here and there to improve these situations, try to get more organized, but also I was getting into the Word to speak some confidence over myself and to remind myself how much he loved me and equipped me during those times. But if I’m allowed to be totally honest and transparent, despite doing those things, I was remaining IN THAT RUT. Can you relate?
One morning I was in my closet where my vanity sits and I was sitting there getting my makeup ready for church, but the whole time I sat there I was super annoyed and began having an actual conversation in my head. Ever do that? Across the vanity area sat two very full and overflowing laundry baskets. I was annoyed and said to myself, “I can’t believe you have been off of work these last two days and you still haven’t found any time to get to that laundry. What a loser!” This is where I’m so thankful for relationship! God spoke to me immediately, almost cutting me off, and very seriously said “I NEED YOU TO LIKE YOU.” I sat there for a second thinking huh???? Then finally I said, “Oookkkkkaayyy” and went on about my business with getting ready. I knew at some point I’d come back to that comment He made, but now wasn’t the time. A few days later my Pastor called and began informing me of our church’s very first Women’s Event called The Exchange along with heart and vision behind it. When she told me that the theme of the conference was “This is Me…Learning to Love Myself,” I laughed and knew this was going right along with what God had told me just a few days prior about liking myself. So I hung up the phone and said “Ok God, I’m ready. I’m ready for you to show me just what you meant the other day when you said ‘I need you to like you.’”
After diving in and praying, the Lord very quickly downloaded to me over the next 48 hours four practical things for me to do to help me get to the place of actually liking myself.
The first thing was Invest in Yourself. He reminded me of how back in February of this year, I had made a fitness commitment to better my health and to get rid of all my baby weight. I had put on an obscene amount of weight with my third daughter and at 40 years old, it just wasn’t melting away like it had in the past. I committed to bettering my body and my food choices and now I am starting to feel completely amazing. I’m not back down to goal, but because of this investment in myself, I’m getting closer and closer as the days pass. I’m not sure what investing in yourself may look like. It may be a health or lifestyle choice. It may be getting rid of soft drinks and exchanging it with water. Perhaps investing in your skin. It may be committing to walk around the neighborhood before work or after work for 30 minutes. Maybe it’s something as simple as setting time aside to read a good book, just you, no interruptions. I really don’t know how it looks for you. But what I have learned through what God was showing me is that it’s important to Him that we commit to doing something that is an investment in ourselves. So be thinking, what could that look like for you?
The second thing He gave me was to ask Him what is it that He likes about you? God said to me, “You’ve never asked Me what I like about you.” I giggled and asked, “Ok, what do You like about me?” He immediately responded and His answer totally cracked me up. There’s something I have never shared with anyone…ever, but I absolutely cannot stand the way I talk. I don’t like to hear myself talk, I don’t want to hear myself recorded. I don’t like how I pronounce certain words. I don’t like how sometimes I’ll be talking fast and my words just get all jumbled up in my brain and I have to stop midsentence and start over. I hate the way my mouth moves when I talk. It’s almost crooked, like my upper jaw is going one way and my lower jaw goes the other and my lips will purse out. I hate it, absolutely hate it and it frustrates me to no end. When I asked God what He liked about me, He immediately gave me an answer and, I kid you not, He was smiling while saying it. He said, “I like the way you talk!” Totally cracked me up. So do it; dare to ask God what it is He likes about you. You might be super surprised at His answer. His answer for me has just helped me to embrace the way I talk, not to worry about it, and use it for His glory.
The third thing He asked me to do was to begin journaling something once a day that I did right that day. Sounds silly, but I did just that. I found a journal at home that I hadn’t opened yet and I put it on my nightstand by my bed. Each night before going to sleep, I’d open that journal and write something in it. Now honestly, the first two or three weeks I started doing this, I would stare at those pages for several minutes before anything would actually come to mind that I did good that day. It’s sad when you think about it. But after a few weeks passed, it got easier and easier to write things down and sometimes there were days where I’d have two or three. God has been showing me visibly through this exercise “HEY! SEE! LOOK AT YOU!!! You’re doing a good job!!!”
The fourth thing is getting intentional about spending every single day with Jesus. This may seem like a no brainer for some, but I’m not talking about the time you spend with him over your five minute daily devotional book, or the daily scripture you read from your tear off devotional that sits on your kitchen counter. I’m talking about time where you sit down and actually communicate with Him, go through the Word together, and listen for Him to speak into your circumstance. Real intimate one-on-one time with your Creator! How can we ever really begin to like ourselves, or love ourselves, if we don’t have a relationship with the One who created us? YOU ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE, HE SOVERIGNLY CREATED EVERY SINGLE PART OF YOU. Psalm 139:17-18 (NIV) says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…” How vast is the sum of them! Or how immeasurable! How expansive! How colossal! How king-sized are your thoughts! Psalm 40:5 says, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us.” When you dive in and have purposeful relationship, you begin to discover what He has to say about you, what His thoughts are about you, His will for you, and how to handle all your circumstances. The only reason I was ever able to hear from the Lord concerning my circumstance I mentioned earlier about being overwhelmed and frustrated, is because I spent time with Him. John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice and I know them.” Isaiah 45:19 says, “I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I couldn’t be found!” He desires to have relationship with you! Be intentional about spending time with Jesus and developing that relationship.
The fifth and final thing I wanted to share came a little after the Lord had downloaded those prior four instructions I just listed, but nonetheless, I believe this part is equally as important on our journey to liking and loving ourselves. Some of us need to change our perspective on how we see God. You see, growing up, I was not raised by my biological father. He and my mom divorced when I was a little girl and I didn’t grow up with any type of relationship with him. In fact, I have some not-so-nice memories of him. He was a very heavy drug user and not a nice man. Growing up that was hard because I was basically mourning that father-daughter relationship. I would envy my friends who had amazing relationships with their dads and, even as an adult, I would do this. When I rededicated my life to Jesus several years ago, the Lord completely set me free of this. I began to experience what a true Father’s love felt like. There actually was a time where I have felt Him squeeze me tight in certain moments. I’m sure all of you can agree with me that growing up as a kid or teenager, when you do something really stupid, you just dread having to tell your parents. Personally for me, I could take whatever punishment they saw fit for whatever stupid thing I had done, but what I couldn’t take was that look of disappointment that they inevitably got on their faces. It was the worst. I knew my mom and stepdad loved me, but that look of disappointment from them was just too much.
Somehow this same image had transferred over into my relationship with God. Those moments I was referring to earlier where I was constantly failing at housework, meal planning, or laundry, even though I know He loves me, I always felt like He was looking at me with a little disappointment on His face too. A small part of me always felt like He was also just as disappointed in me as I was. Anytime I messed up, said the wrong thing, engaged in the wrong conversation, etc., even though I knew God loved me and forgave me, I still felt like I could see Him looking at me with disappointment.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it until He showed me. I came home from work one evening recently just like I would any other evening. I work really long hours so typically I leave my house at 6:15 a.m. and return back at 8:15 p.m. No one is awake when I leave in the morning so when I finally do get home, it’s the first time anyone has seen me. If you have kids, I’m sure you can relate, but when I walk in the door, my girls come running, excited to see me, yelling, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.” I walked in the door like I always do and immediately dropped to the ground so that I was on their level and held my arms stretched wide. They jumped into my arms, one on each side, and I just sat there and squeezed them as hard as I could, smiling because I, too, was so happy to see them. God spoke to me right then in the sweetest, softest voice. He said, “THIS is how I see you.” My eyes filled tears. I just sat there and squeezed my girls a little tighter. You see, He was never looking at me with disappointment. He was never looking down on me. My image was all wrong. He’s been looking at me this whole time with arms wide open, a smile on His face, ready to receive me and love on me. In those moments when I’m frustrated with myself, feel like I’m doing a horrible job, can’t keep up, or I’m just totally overwhelmed, He’s waiting there for me, to accept me and love me unconditionally.
I came across the sweetest scriptures during this time:
Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) says, “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” He loves us with an eternal, never ending, and perpetual, unrelenting, unbroken kind of love.
Zechariah 2:8 (NKJV) says, “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’” You are the apple of His eye!
And Isaiah 43:1-4 (MSG) says, “But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, the One who got you started: ‘Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you!’”
No matter how much you feel like you are failing, no matter if you feel like you are drowning at times, no matter if you are super frustrated with yourself and feeling overwhelmed; remember how much God loves you in those moments. Remember Him standing there with arms wide open. You are loved!