I have found that as women, we can stand in the way of our own emotional and physical breakthroughs. We can stay stuck in unhealthy seasons of our lives for way too long because we hold on for our expectations to met before we decide to release what we need to let go of. These seasons of holding on brings with it a myriad of side effects including frustration, anxiety, self-sabotage, anger and resentment. It affects our health, damages relationships and forfeits our peace. Instead of finding the freedom we are seeking, we wrap ourselves up in the chains of bondage - not entirely sure how we got there.
For example, we may put contingencies on forgiveness towards ourselves. We may feel that because of what WE have allowed or done to our own body that we have to achieve a specific physical outcome before we will let ourselves off the hook. We say to ourselves, I have to do or achieve this, before I will let go of my disappointment, shame, guilt or hate.
We may withhold forgiveness towards others until we feel they deserve it (based on our expectations) or prove to us that they are worthy of it - all the while, we suffer the dangerous and costly consequences of the burden of unforgiveness, playing victim to our past and someone else's decisions.
We may settle for living in a present reality that feels “less than” while we fantasize about a future where the current struggles and doubts don’t exist and we are fit and strong. Living in a fantasy land binds us to an expectation that is an unattainable illusion because we will never achieve something different until we release ourselves to the beauty of the present and fill ourselves with gratitude for what currently is.
We may berate and hate ourselves until the reflection in the mirror changes. This allows detachment of ourselves from ourselves. But the truth is that the very essence of our healing and breakthrough lies within. If we cut ourselves off from loving and accepting ourselves - breakthrough is not possible and breakdown is inevitable.
Let me elaborate a bit more. When we withhold our love and acceptance of ourselves in our present condition it may be because we believe that somehow this self-loathing represents to ourselves and to others that what is physically manifesting is “not okay” with us. It’s as if we are saying, I can’t love myself as I am or it means that I am okay with how things are. And if I am okay with how things are then I may never change. So the self-loathing becomes a scapegoat that sounds like this, As long as I hate myself, it shows I am not okay with where I am at. However, behind closed doors our behaviors often tell a different story that says it is okay. Behind closed doors we live out our hatred towards ourselves by continuing to do (or not do) the very things that got us in this mess.
We may withhold our love from others until we are the version of ourselves that is acceptable to receive love. So we love others poorly because we can’t give what we don’t have. And because we don’t believe we are worthy to receive love, we hold on to the counterfeits of genuine love and find ourselves over-performing, over-committing and over-indulging.
Do any of these examples align with your current story? Are you holding onto unforgiveness, unmet expectations, disappointment, self-hate, pride, judgement, anger or blame? Or perhaps you are holding onto the past or a future that doesn't exist? What if this holding on is what is holding you back from your breakthrough to a new season?
I often reflect on the messy and beautiful journey I have been on to draw out wisdom and offer encouragement to share with other women. I want to you to know you are not alone with the very real struggle you are currently in. Please know that your doubts and disappointments are part of the path to finding and living a healthy and abundant life along with frustration, confusion and uncertainty. In the right context, these bumps along the road can help us to grow and become a significant source of strength and wisdom. In an unhealthy context, there is a danger that they can become a source of blockage, stunting your progress. I believe one of these ways they become a hindrance is through the vehicle of self-hate.
I get self-hate. I have been there. I know what it feels like to look in the mirror and hate what you see. I know the disappointment of failing to be enough. I know the angst of not measuring up to the standards flaunted all around you. But I also know that the path to health and wholeness cannot be found in the dead-end pit of self-hate. In the pit of self-hate is where we sell our soul to the devil and do things out of desperation for the sake of outward results with no thoughts of the consequences. In the pit of self-hate it’s about surviving, not thriving. Our lives become dark, full of depression, fear, doubt and scarcity. Freedom is not possible. We will be stuck if this if self-hate is our strategy.
Oh, I lived in the pit a lot of years. And here’s the truth. I got out the pit when I decided to exchange the baggage of self-hate for faith, compassion, grace, hope and vulnerability. With these new guides, I found the path to accepting and eventually loving myself. It was not the world’s definition of love, which is clouded by expectations. No, my friends. The love that our soul desires can only be known through the perfect love of the Creator of our innermost being.
Here is some truth I want you to think about this week. As you read this, I want you to allow yourself for a moment to believe that this love exists and it is accessible to you right now. What if you let down your defenses and surrendered to this kind of love? What would be possible that is impossible now?
God loves us exactly how we are, because he created us in HIS OWN IMAGE. He is the potter and we are his clay. He shaped us inside and out. He formed us in our mother’s womb. We are marvelously made. We are not a mistake or an accident. We were made with intention and purpose. He knows us from the inside and out. He knows exactly how we were made, bit by bit, how we are sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, he watched us grow from conception to birth; all the stages of our lives were spread out before him, the days of our lives all prepared before we had even lived one day. His thoughts are beautiful towards us and more than we could count the sand of the sea. He knows what mistakes we were going to make and He loved us anyways. He knew we would fall short, so he sent his only son. He sacrificed perfection for imperfection. He casts our sins as far as the east is from the west. We are made righteous through Jesus. There is nothing we could EVER DO to earn this love and the gift of grace. It is the free gift of love. We may walk away from God, but He will not walk away from us. We are His love story. We are His delight. There is nothing He cannot work for our good when we put our trust and faith in Him. He is our healing. He is our restoration. He is our hope. He is our peace. He is our freedom.
For one week, what if you believed you are loved like what was just described? When you are loved this completely and this unconditionally, perhaps you will make a different decision on how you talk to yourself or what you put in your body. If you are truly who God says you are, what would walking in integrity with that identity look like?
I want to leave you with this beautiful poem/prayer by Hollie Holden. I hope it touches you deep and pushes you forward to take on this challenge with tenacity and excitement. Only amazing things are waiting for you as you walk the path of love, defined by God, applied to yourself and reflected out to others.
Today I asked my body what she needed,
Which is a big deal
Considering my journey of
Not Really Asking That Much
I thought she might need some more water
But as I stood in the shower
Reflecting on her stretch marks,
Her roundness where I would like flatness,
Her softness where I would like firmness,
All those conditioned wishes
That form a bundle of
She whispered very gently:
Could you just love me like this?
Have an amazing week. If you are ready for a free coaching session with me to talk about your own personal health journey - the good, bad and the ugly, click here and let’s get together.