I’ve come to an understanding that loving yourself looks very different from pampering yourself and a deep focus on what makes you happy alone. I find that loving yourself has less to do with what makes you happy than what makes you whole. Loving yourself is the process of evolving and growing as a person, which can look like celebrating your God-given identity and deep diving and facing the dark and painful things in your heart that you have yet to explore.
This season, God has been showing me some of the fears I have been holding onto. Fears like rejection, abandonment, inconsistent and unstable relationships (Relationships where people come in and out when most convenient to them). I’m learning that to grasp what loving myself means; I have to understand my value. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a self-assured way. Understanding my value looks like sitting with the pain of the hurt, rejection, abandonment, and inconsistency; and choosing understanding over bitterness. It’s doing the work, getting counseling with a professional therapist specialized in your specific need, and leaning into God to unravel all that needs to be unraveled. It is choosing to let the anger, grief, and pain wash over me and recognizing them for what they are… These are temporary emotions that I have no intention of making permanent fixtures in my life.
I lean into the verse Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” It’s okay to be angry, but what you do with that anger is what matters. I can’t lie; this is a hard one for me. I have experienced so much pain, loss, abuse, and grief. Not allowing those emotions to permeate my soul and overcome me sometimes feels almost impossible. This is such a battle for me that for the past year, I have been battling one of the worst depressions of my life. A depression that brought me to a place where my only natural choice was to be on medication and spend my time checking in with a psychiatrist and a Psychologist to maintain a healthy balance. I have often struggled with depression, but this one is incredibly different. It is a constant battle for my life, joy, peace, and very existence. My turning point recently was when I was in a deep dark wave of depression, imagine total hopelessness, dark, void of anything but overwhelming grief. I imagine it as if I sat in a fetal position in the corner of my room, with no furniture, no lights, just me in total darkness. There’s a knock at the door, a familiar one. A knock that constantly beckons me to follow it into this place of “rest.” A rest that leaves those who I love most in total agony. I sit and travail at the thought of losing myself to the “thing” behind the door. So I sit, and I feel, hopelessly cry, and invite God into this, explaining that I have no strength or hope to continue to resist the knock, but I want to live. I felt a strong sense of reassurance that said, “May your will to live be stronger than your will to die.”.
I have been taking the time to understand that even though, at times, my situation can feel like it’s overcoming me that it is okay to face, heal, be angry, and grieve these experiences and my difficulties with my mental health. Especially reminding myself that doing so is not at all simple and requires a significant amount of effort, self-awareness, and a village of people around me who can help me build a healthy ecosystem. Once I align myself correctly, I find that God empowers me to keep moving forward, even if you’re crawling!
Psalm 30:5 “… weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Though it may not literally come the next day, the joy always comes if you hold on long enough. Choosing to forgive, let go, and choose peace, not only for your soul but because we are all flawed human beings in need of redemption and saving. Bitterness, unforgiveness, shame, and hatred feed the darkness and empower the thing behind the door knocking and beckoning you to abandon your journey, choosing to end it all.
I pray you desire to live a life where your will to blossom is far stronger than your will to wither. I encourage you to lay your pains and worries before God and ask Him to empower you to bloom, even in the harshest conditions.