Well, I actually wrote a long blog about what a jerk I am, but I decided to delete it. I'll spare you all the self-deprecation. I've been going through a time these past few weeks where I feel like such a hypocrite and such a massive jerk and whenever I think about who I am (well, not really who I am, but what I'm acting like lately), I end up on the verge of tears. Why do I have such trouble with really loving?
This may sound like self-loathing, but it's not. Generally, I like myself. I guess I'm learning what it's like to really examine myself and hold myself up next to the ultimate check list. How do my actions and attitudes compare to the truth of who God is?
Love is patient. ___
Love is kind. ___
Love does not envy. ___
Love does not boast. ___
Love is not proud. ___
Love is not self-seeking. ___
Love is not easily angered. ___
Love keeps no record of wrongs. ___
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. ___
Love always protects. ___
Love always trusts. ___
Love always hopes. ___
Love always perseveres. ___
Love never fails. ___
I can say that I sometimes show some of the above things, but often I fall so far short that it's embarrassing. The thing that I don't get is why God has such mercy on me. I don't deserve it and I never will. He loves me, though. And by loving me, he shows me all of the above aspects of his character. In a way, it's to prove to me that it can be done. However, if I try to do it, I can't do it alone. I think he wants me to realize how much I need him and how I can't be "good" on my own. Righteousness without his love is "filthy rags".
I am learning to love myself, though. Today, I heard someone give a key to how to learn to start on the process of loving yourself, if that's something you struggle with. Go to the mirror and look into your own eyes. Look past all the physical things you see as flaws and look into your own soul. Realize how beautiful you are, whether you're a man or woman. Realize that you are the only You that there will ever be. Really look at all the amazing gifts inside your heart that are waiting to be given. God spoke to me through that. I get so easily frustrated on the surface and about the surface. I have trouble looking into my own soul and seeing beauty. But God does. He sees beauty because he made me...God looks at his creation and says, "It is good." The old phrase, "God don't make junk" is really true, but how do we make that connection between our heads and our hearts to really, truly believe it?
It's got to be a God thing. Without constantly hearing His truth, it's so easy to fall into the "not-good-enough" trap. Truthfully, NO ONE is good enough and no one ever will be, but he makes us good enough. I can tell when I'm not in my usual habit of just talking to him all day long, like I would any other friend. When I am not in that zone and I lose my connection with the Vine, I fall into being hyper critical of myself and others. I get angered easily. I seem to forget that everyone has value and beauty and life inside them. In those times, I quickly reach the end of my rope. I get impatient and critical with my kids. I get exasperated really fast and I have trouble letting go of wrongs.
The one thing that keeps my chin up and gives me hope, though, is that I'm actually starting to realize when I am heading that direction and I'm learning to head it off at the pass. I don't always catch myself before I go too far, but I'm starting to make that connection sooner and more often than I used to. It's a process. I have to learn to cut myself some slack. I have to learn that his mercies are new every morning and that every day is a new beginning and a divine "do-over"--a chance to make things right.
So I hope that, if you haven't already, you start on the journey of learning to love who you are at your core--at the very center of who God made you to be. It truly does not matter what you look like. There IS beauty inside every human being, even though some have lost sight of it. I believe that if everyone really knew how beautiful they are and how beautiful everyone else is, there would be no selfishness, no critical attitudes, no self-loathing, no bigotry. Someday. I know it won't happen in this lifetime, but someday. Keep your chin up and at least start on your own path. In my opinion, gratitude is the best way to force yourself to see your blessings, so...
I'm grateful for...
An encouraging friend. I have lots of encouraging friends, but sometimes God puts the right words in one of their mouths (or fingers, if they're typing) for just the right time. My friend, Jai, is an incredibly uplifting and encouraging person, and I'm blessed to have met her when I was a kid. The fact that I still get to know her is a wonderful blessing.
Sunsets. Tonight's is beautiful. I can see it from where I'm sitting at "the office" and it helps me to remember that there is beauty above all the mess in the world.
The Office. Not the show, the place. Panera is my "office"...I make use of it as often as I can. Cheap coffee and free Wi-Fi. Can't beat that. It does count as an actual blessing, thank you very much.
Long walks. I took one this morning. The sky was cloudy and gray, but my spirit made a connection with his Spirit and I felt a lot of relief from the crap I've been feeling. I walked it off...like a sprained ankle.
My husband. He's a good guy who puts up with a lot.
My kids. They're good kids who put up with a lot, too. And yet they continue to love me and think I'm the greatest because they don't yet know any better. *sigh* I hope when that day comes where they know better, that they won't be too disappointed in the way I parented them. They're awesome kids with sweet spirits.
People-watching. I love it. It's relaxing and I would do it all day if I could. It gives me a glimpse into the lives of other humans. I love watching their facial expressions, their body language, hearing their laughter and eavesdropping on their conversations. Humans are fascinating. It's a blessing to be able to connect with other random people, even if it's a one-sided connection. It makes a person feel less alone in the world.