Heavy title for a blog post, huh?
I turned 46 yesterday--which I was dreading (and not just because I'm now officially closer to 50 than 40). This is my first birthday without my dad. I woke up early and looked through my "on this day" on facebook and he was my most consistent birthday-poster. The last few years he posted a pic of me that I absolutely hated and kept trying to figure out how to tell him that. While seeing it yesterday in the memories didn't make me sad that it wouldn't be out there this time, it did make me wish I had him speaking into me again--reading the words he wrote over the years made me cry (I KNOW--that's a shocker since I NEVER cry! Sheesh!).
My dad was always telling me I didn't give myself enough credit. He would tell me to stand tall and not feel like I need to apologize all the time. What's ironic is that I always thought he was critical of me and that I never measured up to what he was hoping I'd be.
Since his death, I've realized those words I heard were not his--they were mine. I know now that he truly DID mean it when he told me I was kind and beautiful and loving. He wasn't just saying it to make me feel better about myself because he was disappointed that I wasn't living up to my potential.
I see this same thing in my daughter. I see her lack of confidence in the amazing-ness of who she is. I feel the defensiveness as she is looking for the words I'm not saying or reading into my actions because she feels like I'm disappointed.
Loving ourselves is hard. I won't get all new-agey on you, but I do feel like we have done a bit a dis-service by insisting we love others first when we don't even know how to do that. Jesus told us to "love others as we love ourselves." It's following that command that has gotten our world into the mess it's in with the hate spewing back and forth. Not the loving others part--the loving them like we love ourselves. Most of us don't love ourselves. We feel shame and fear and grief and disappointment when we look at who we are--not love. If that's how we "love" others, then that's a problem.
I'm not saying we drop everything and only focus on ourselves--that's tipping the scale in the opposite direction. I'm not even saying go out and buy yourself a new outfit or get a pedicure (ways I've tried to show myself that I love me). Simply, what words do you believe-- in your head and in your heart (because we all know, those 2 are often VERY different)? Do you truly know how to love others?
Do you love you?
Because until you do, you won't be able to love others well.