It’s easy to find ourselves walking day after day through our lives just doing what needs to be done with an undercurrent of overwhelm, resentment, exhaustion, confusion and apathy. It’s hard to get out of the rut when the cycle just repeats over and over and over again. It’s hard to find time or energy to love ourselves when we are being pulled in a million directions. But, we all agree that should be loving to ourselves, right? And although it seems like a simple request, most of us would admit the thoughts we think, the words we speak and the things we do to ourselves or don’t do for ourselves are anything but loving.
It’s important to define what “being loving to yourself” means because the world’s definition tells us to spend some money on ourselves to look better - get our hair done, get a manicure or pedicure, buy ourselves some new clothes or start a diet or workout regimen to lose some weight. Those things are nice, but it doesn’t make us love ourselves more - it just looks to the outside world like we love ourselves more. The world tells us to spend more time on ourselves - so take a bath, curl up in bed and read a book, go get a massage or go away on a girls weekend. But spending time with ourselves isn’t loving if we still loathe what we see in the mirror or if we struggle to be alone with our own negative and self-condemning thoughts.
Loving ourselves has to be rooted in something sustainable and something eternal. Love is truth. They go hand in hand. We can’t pretend that something isn’t as it really is, just to be loving. That isn’t love at all.
- Do you pretend that you are okay, but you really struggle with depression?
- Do you pretend your weight doesn’t bother you, but you silently live in shame, guilt and condemnation?
- Do you pretend you are so happy with your life, but silently hate where you have allowed your health and weight to go?
- Do you pretend to be super confident in an area of your life to compensate for how defeated you feel in another?
- Do you pretend to be super spiritual, but struggle to trust God with the broken places of your life?
Women are notorious for all of these. We pretend SO WELL. We smile. We volunteer. We wake up everyday and get the kids dressed. We go grocery shopping. We run companies. We create a home for our families. But, we still feel inadequate. We still don’t believe that we quite measure up. So, we try to fix something in our external world in an attempt to bring us what we think we are missing, so we can finally feel whole and worthy of love.
- We get fired up to start a diet because losing the weight and buying smaller clothes will be the key to what is missing.
- We get on Amazon and buy those shoes and the cute handbag because we don’t have to worry about gaining or losing weight when we buy shoes and handbags.
- We commit to doing more volunteer work at church because the feeling of being wanted helps to numb the real desire to feel unconditionally loved and fully known.
- We commit to killing ourselves at the gym so we will get a body that will bring us the attention and intimacy we crave from our spouse.
I see you. I know the unspoken pain and struggle.
I was reading Haggai today in the bible and these verses caught my attention:
Now, this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put clothes on, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” Haggai 1:5-6
How true is this? We strive after all these things that we think are the keys to comfort, happiness, success, security and beauty and we discover that we never have enough. And we find we always need more to maintain or sustain the comfort, happiness, validation, love, success, security, etc. It never ends. God tells us to give careful thought to our ways.
7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” Hagaii 1:7-11
Okay, I get that this may seem confusing. But it seemed clear as day to me. This book was written in the old testament and the old testament points to Jesus and the New Testament. In the old testament, people worshiped God in a place (the temple), but in the New Testament, God came to dwell among us in Jesus and within us in the Holy Spirit. We became the temple of God.
We expect much out of our efforts to make our lives better and in our attempts to lose weight and get healthy and therefore love ourselves, yet often our efforts seem to have little return or the results don’t last. God tells us why. Here in this scripture, the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the armies of Babylon. Again God’s house was the symbol of his presence with his people. In 538 B.C. King Cyrus decreed that Jews could return to their beloved city and rebuilt the temple. So they did, but soon they forgot their purpose and lost their priorities. They became more concerned with their own homes (their own needs) than doing God’s will and they suffered because of it.
Amber, what in the world does this have to do with anything? It holds a key to why we struggle to get what we desire and sustain it long-term. It’s why it’s so hard to be loving to ourselves. If our motives are not sourced from the right place, it will never be enough, no matter how much we have or how hard we strive. But when we get our hearts right and go to the right source, our supply is endless.
What is your source? Are you striving in your own strength, your own wisdom and your own power? I bet you are exhausted and frustrated. I bet you have tried dozens of different strategies to fix yourself, but you always end up back in a place of struggle. I bet you have wasted a lot of money, a lot of time and made a lot of mistakes. Yep, that’s how I felt when I lived in my own strength and for my own plans. And I never loved myself in this space. This is how I felt when I was consumed with trying to build my own house, instead of the house of God.
But if your source is God, you don’t have to rely on yourself anymore. You can tap into the power, knowledge and wisdom of God and do things you have never been able to do before on your own. You see, only God can fix your brokenness. Only God can heal the wounds of the past. Only God can redeem and restore what was lost in your childhood or in your marriage. Only God. Only God can break the addiction. Only God can tear down the stronghold of seeking validation and approval in people. Only God can comfort you in a way that replaces your desire for sugar, alcohol, porn, shopping, television, drugs, etc. Only God can show you what it is to love yourself and others because God is love.
But you have to walk in his ways. God needs our partnership. He can’t work out or through what we don’t give him. He tells us that to love him is to obey him. It’s to follow his code of conduct for our life - not the world’s code of conduct where “feelings” and “selfishness” rules. Love becomes soft when it is not strengthened with truth. To love yourself, is to honor the truth of God’s word that tells us that we are His temple. What we put into our temple matters. What we allow into our ears, eyes and mouths matter. Everything we do is either building and beautifying our temple or it is tearing it down and desecrating it.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19
I encourage you to think differently about your health journey. Renew your mind to a new reality where you love yourself through loving the temple God has chosen to reside in - within you. That you ask God, what would it look like to love my temple with food? God, what does it look like to use my body to glorify and honor you rather than seeking validation and attention from the world? What have you created me to do with this body you have fashioned and created just for me and my purpose.
This is where The Healthy Edge journey starts, by rewiring how we think about food, our body and God’s place in our lives. When God is put in his proper place, the transformation begins from the inside-out. If you would like a free coaching session to explore what this transformation could mean for your life, click here to schedule!