Friday, November 12, 2010

Loving yourself

What is it about us that makes it so difficult to love ourselves? Is it the teasing in primary school that so often turns into relentless bullying in high school? Is it the years of comparison to friends, popular people and the air brushed perfection we see in magazines? Is it a culture that rewards those who harm themselves in order to achieve success - the workaholics who spend so much time at work that they become their work who having no time for anything else live on a dangerous cocktail of stress/lack of sleep & fall asleep after too much red wine or the fame obsessed stars who torture their bodies with lack of food and too much exercise pumping themselves with botox and who knows what else constantly searching for perfection.. Is it the role models that we parade in front of our children? We tell them you can do anything but we don't even believe it about ourselves.

How do you tell you 13 year old daughter to love her body when you hate your own? How do you show her how to respect herself and not let a boy pressure her into doing something she doesn't feel like doing when you are constantly allowing the world around you to dictate what you do? How do you convince her to love and trust herself when you don't love and trust yourself? And when did you stop loving and trusting yourself?

I was thinking about it this morning trying to work out when I stopped loving myself, stopped trusting myself and why.. I think it was a slow process, something that happened over many years and I think it happened because I let what other people said about me stick, I think it was because I based my opinions of me on other people but why? Why did I do that? Was it because I never fit in at school or because my family was poor and I was raised to believe that I could pull myself out of the cycle of poverty with hard work, with effort or was it the bad boyfriend choices, the ones that took my spirit in their hands, slowing wrapping their fingers around it one finger at a time, softly at first but then getting tighter and tighter until all the love I had for myself was squeezed out and my spirit was left empty and dry and in desperate need of love, of their love.. Was it the hurtful choices I made after those relationships?

I'm sure it was all of those things and many, many more but I'm not even sure that "why" it happened is even the right question to be asking. Shouldn't I be asking myself what now? I guess it's time to start loving and trusting myself. So the most important question is how? How do I love myself and not in the do something nice for myself today way (that is a start but it's not the answer). I guess I'm asking how do I love myself in the silence of my room on a cold night when there is no-one to talk to and nothing to do? How do I love myself in a room full of people when there are one million things to do? How do I love myself in the face of temptation? How do I love myself in the boredom of the ordinary? How do I love myself in the excitement of the extraordinary? How do I cultivate an unmoving core of love deep inside around which I can build my life, a love that will guide my choices and help me to trust what's in my heart?

I'm not sure I have the answer to any of those questions and I'm not sure I ever will but for me it starts by accepting the love of God and of others. Of allowing love into my life, not the love of someone who will use it to manipulate and destroy but the real love you know like the love of my girlfriends, my family, my world, maybe seeing what they see in me to love. Most importantly I think it's important to shift my perception of love and what it means to be worthy of love.

Love is not a prize that is given as a reward for something, it's not a prize for the prettiest/smartest/strongest and it's not a treat used to train someone into behaving like you want them to behave. Love is a gift to be given freely to anyone and everyone, it is not something you earn or work for but something that is your God given right! As I grow in faith and learn more about God and the love he has for the world the more I realise is the biggest reason I have a problem with loving myself is the fact that for the most part I have no idea what love is. If I could change my perception and really grab hold of the fact that I don't earn love, the fact that I simply give and accept it then maybe it would be easier to love.   

So my prayer today is for understanding, understanding of what it means to give and receive love and then once that understanding comes I'd like to practice cultivating it within me xx

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