I sat on my kitchen floor, head in hands, my back against a rumbling dishwasher, a street lamp shining through a window lighting the dark night. My children were in bed, lunches made, and homework checked, but I was so tired, tired, tired.
Single motherhood, working full-time, school work, and housework, friend and family commitments —people asked “How do you do it all? You’re so courageous!” And I’d answer, “Easy, you just do, don’t think!” and laugh.
It was easier, I thought, to just keep moving instead of facing the hurt and shame, rejection and sadness, the normal feelings experienced from relationship failures. I strived to show I could do it all. But under all my prideful motivations was a gal who didn’t feel she deserved love unless earned.
Continuing to strive, and do, and look “successful” wasn’t courageous; it was striving to be better, so I felt I deserved the space I occupied.
That evening on the kitchen floor, with tears streaming down my face, something gave within me, like a rubber band breaking, and I sought counselling. It wasn’t easy but I summoned the courage to take that first step to take care of me and face what I’d been avoiding.
It takes courage to seek a help of a counsellor, a paster, or family member.
It takes courage to face hard feelings that you have been avoiding.
It takes courage to let in God’s great love and God’s grace when we don’t feel deserving.
Love of Self – An Act of Courage
The definition of courage includes dealing with something that is difficult, and unpleasant. Facing buried feelings is difficult.
Some ways we bury our feelings are through busyness, over-committing, taking on other people’s problems for our own, controlling behaviours such as perfectionism, and self-medicating with food and alcohol .
What’s interesting is that we can justify the above behaviours as good things meeting our own needs – seeing the behaviours as self-love in our modern world. We justify our busyness as a sign of success; over-committing to prove how much we are valued; showing “perfect” moments on social media for “connecting”; and treating ourselves by indulging in food and those glasses of wine after a hard day.
To determine if there is a good purpose behind our idea of self-love behaviours, we need to ask ourselves what is our motivation. Is our motivation seeking for other’s approval? Or is our motivation to be healthy, physically, mentally, and spiritually, so we grow to love God, and love others as ourselves?
It takes courage to let ourselves be loved when we may not feel worthy. Small steps of self-care is a powerful way to start showing yourself how worthy you are in God’s eyes. It may feel uncomfortable, even unpleasant as most courageous acts do, but you are worth it!
Courageous Steps for Love of Self
One of the first things my counsellor and I discussed, before going deeply into my emotional health, were practical ways of self-care. My self-care needed to come first, so I grew healthier in mind, body, and spirit for strength to deal with the harder things later, the root causes of my low self-esteem and self-love.
Practical ways of self-care:
Taking care of our own bodies sends a self-love message to our body and mind.
Our eating habits can parallel with how we feel. When busy, we grab sugary granola bars on the run instead of eating nutrition meals because it feels indulgent to stop to eat when we’ve got so much to do, others to help, commitments to complete. Some of us indulge in treats and others stop eating (I’m the latter) when emotionally upset.
When Elijah, discouraged and depressed even after two great victories, escaped to a desert, God’s first step was to send an angel directing Elijah to “Get up and eat.” (Kings 1:5) to restore his energy and spirit.
Just like you are worthy of God’s good works, like Elijah, you are worthy of feeding yourself nutrition foods for restoration, healing, and a healthy body and mind. Planning and preparing meals and snacks ahead of time helps to indulge in nutritional foods and stop us from grabbing those fast, sugary snacks.
When we feel physically well, we are able to deal better with all things in life — including our feelings.
Hobbies – Take time out to do what you like
We are all created in God’s image AND God made each of us unique. No one person is the same as the next. He designed us so that everyone has unique genes— the four letter code made of nucleotides that is known as the “blueprint of your body” is unique just to you, an incredible scientific fact when you think how many people are in the world!
We may have been told what we “should” do, or what we “should” like to do. Social media shows us what others are doing and we may think “I should do that.” Or we may question what hobbies we do because we don’t see others doing the same. Or we feel lack talent.
Approach your hobbies with an open-mind, letting yourself enjoy what you love without comparing yourself to others, or judging your progress.
The benefits of learning a new skill include reducing depression and anxiety, and increasing confidence leading to better decisions making for mental health. Learning a new skill may require a social component and social connections also improve our mental health.
When we practice self-care by eating better and taking time for hobbies, we naturally practice the benefits of self-care from learning, too. Cooking new healthy recipes and doing a new hobby requires learning new skills.
Experience Nature Every Day
In Matthew 6:26-27, Jesus instructs us not to worry as worry can damage your health, consume your thoughts, and negatively affect the way you treat others.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6: 26-27 NIV
Do you also notice how Jesus instructs us to “Look at the birds in the air”? Just looking at nature decreases our stress and increases our self-esteem.
“When we have a narrow view that is focused on our individual frustrations, failings, and world pressures we are no longer seeing God’s glory. We’ve set our minds on ourselves rather than the glory of God that is perfect, healing, and awe-striking!” An Awesome Mind
Taking a 10 minute time out in nature for self-care every day is a form of self-love that increases your health, clears your mind of anxious thoughts, and positively influences how you treat others.
Love of Self is Biblical Love
Jesus instructs us in Mark 13:30 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
For the very reason loving others as Jesus commands, is the very reason to practice self-love.
When love of self is motivated by our desire to be our best, so we can be our best for others, we engage in practicing self-care with a pure heart, mind, and soul.
Courage to Accept God’s Unconditional Love
The bible verse Romans 8:38-39 says:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present not the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When we are tired, worn-out, discouraged or fearful, we may not feel loved. Yet, we are never separated from God’s unconditional love. God’s true love is an everlasting love that is always present.
In Matthew 14:25-32, Jesus sees the disciples on the sea, their boat being tossed in the waves from a strong wind. When he goes to them, he says:
“Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
When we look to Jesus Christ, even in the storms of life, God’s word says we can “take courage” that His love is always there for us.
Listen, my friend.
Love of self is courageous, not selfish. The world needs you to be your best.
Self-care demonstrates the kind of love of self that is healthy love, motivating us to be our best.
When we are our best, we encourage (give hope, confidence and support to) others.
You are worthy of love; God’s love is unconditional love.
What step will you take today for self-care, to nurture your mind, heart, and soul?