As I sit and write this on a shockingly rainy Monday morning from my sofa, I’m staring at the words ‘The Truth About Loving Yourself’ with a pretty blank response.
The Truth About Loving Yourself is that it’s pretty damn hard.
I talk in my book about my daily routine at school. I talk about how it was a constant ‘checking’ of myself in mirrors at every possible opportunity. To ‘love myself’ I had to feel like I looked attractive.
The trouble is that feelings are subjective and temporal. Feelings flutter about and come and go. When we base our love for ourselves upon the feelings we have towards ourselves, we are fighting an uphill battle.
The Truth About Loving Yourself is loving people.
My husband (still weird to say after 5 weeks…) and I watched a movie called “Wonder” last week which “tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters 5th grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2543472/.
It is a beautiful story about the journey of a boy from tolerating, to accepting, to loving himself.
There is some dialogue between Auggie and his mom after his first day at school which I found to be powerful:
Mom: “You are not ugly Auggie”
Auggie: “You have to say that because you’re my mom”
Mom: “Because I’m your mom, it counts the most, because I know you the most”
Firstly, I can’t help but think that God, our creator, knows us the most because he planned, designed and made us. Therefore, he knows us most. Therefore, what he says counts. Therefore, we have to create time to hear from him about who he thinks we are. His words about who he created us to be help us to love who we are.
Secondly, whose lives are we speaking truth into? Who do we know and what gifts, talents, characteristics do we see in them that we love? When do we create time to tell them what they are? Another thing the movie highlights is that we don’t know what battles other people are facing. Simply telling them what we love about them can create an awareness in them which never existed before.
The Truth About Loving Yourself is letting go of yourself.
If I’m honest, I dislike all this language about ‘loving yourself’. Part of me thinks that the worlds obsession with ‘self’ is what leads to the thought that loving ourselves is a destination each person must get to, and get to soon. But it can be unhealthy. We become more self-analytical, downtrodden and isolated if it becomes our life goal.
I like to think that we were designed to BE ourselves and to LOVE other people. 'To be' means to exist, to have being, to live. When we do that, we know and accept who we are which catapults us into freedom to live out our God-given purpose, talents and skills. It means that we aren’t pre-occupied with self, but that we’re encouraged and fired up to live out our passion for others.
So, let’s not get hung up with loving ourselves. It’s not possible every minute, hour, day. What if it’s just an illusion anyway? What if the truth about loving ourselves is actually a lot simpler than it seems: being ourselves and loving other people.