love yourself.

Confidence is a funny thing. We haven't found that perfect balance between being arrogant or critical of ourselves and no matter where we find ourselves someone will always tell us to be more of the other. I tend to be overly critical of myself and I think many of those who are accused of being arrogant may fall into this category as well, more than we may think. 

Why am I so critical of myself? Why have I allowed Instagram to define beauty and proceed to rate where I fall on this imaginary scale? Why have I let men tell me who and who not to be? Why have I assumed lack of encouragement from others equates to me not being good enough? And honestly, what all does this look like biblically? I put this question last because unfortunately this tends to be the order of my thought process. 

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." - 1 Peter 2:9

"Love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:39

I have taken these scriptures and applied them to others. I am good at loving others. I want to give and serve until I am fresh out of energy. I am excited to see God's chosen people as I travel the world and especially while I am doing ministry. I find it much easier to get excited about others being God's special possession than it is for me to see myself as God's special possession.

Today God woke me up to remind me to love myself. "Love your neighbor as yourself." Most people quote this scripture assuming people love themselves great so we are to love others just as great. But I think God is also telling us we must first love ourselves before loving others. I can't fully express something I haven't experienced. It's like someone who has never been to Paris, looking at a photo and describing Paris to someone else who has never been. It is incomplete. I need to come back to the understanding of what Christ did for ME on that cross. I need a refreshing of God's calling and purpose on MY life first because from that fullness I can describe the love of Christ with such detail and depth because I know it first hand.

How do we balance loving ourselves in a non-arrogant way? How do I love myself well? Let's reverse the scripture. Love yourself as you love your neighbor. I love others because Christ loves them. I know he saved them and I have grace and mercy toward them because I know that is a godly response to their actions. They are human. They may let me down but I extend forgiveness because Christ asked me to extend forgiveness.

So I must also extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness to myself. Not because I am a great person but because God is a great God and I am his child created in his image just like those I see around me. I can't love others well if I am not healthy - body, mind, and spirit. If I am upset with myself I can take it out on others. If I am frantic or angry with myself I may also be frantic and angry with those around me. 

You should go and love yourself. Take care of yourself in a practical way. Take a yoga class. Exercise. Use essential oils. Meditate. Breathe. Read scripture and funny books. Get godly council. Have grace for yourself. Hold a baby. Pet a puppy. Talk to a therapist. Listen to good music. Change up your diet a bit. Be still. Do nothing for 15 minutes or even 15 seconds. Unfollow those people who get you worked up. Get a massage.

Look in the mirror. Look into your own eyes. Speak the promises of God over yourself. You are lovable and valuable. You are filled with joy, strength, and hope. You are a child of God. You have purpose. You are enough. You are just who you need to be. You are a work in progress that God has already called a masterpiece. 

I want you to know, I am not writing this blog after I have learned this valuable lesson. I am writing this in the midst of this valuable lesson. I am learning today to love myself because yesterday I didn't. 

Rachel Fenimore