In 2010, I first felt His presence. It was a few months after my first real heartbreak, and right after my college best friend (and roommate) packed up her things and dropped out. I was alone. Sad. Hopeless. Everything I had known, left. And there He was, simply there to comfort me. I had no idea what the feeling was at the time, but it was irrefutable – He was among me.
In 2012, I finally decided to pursue Him.
I just completed my first semester of graduate school and was settled back into my hometown. Having been isolated during all of undergrad and battling depression, I figured now was the perfect time to find a church home and consequently, God. So, I did. I sought Him diligently. I joined women's groups and went to church every week – sometimes twice a week. I started learning praise and worship songs and began strengthening my prayer life. I did all I could to get an ounce of the goodness I heard God was handing out. I needed some changes in my life, and I was determined to get them.
The first lesson I learned was about purpose. It came via The Purpose Driven Life, a 40-day devotional style reading written by Rick Warren. The book dissected divine purpose and what it means for our creation here on Earth. I hadn't ever considered what my existence meant, but this book forced me to think critically about it. It helped me identify how my passions and my work can collide to improve the kingdom of God and manifest a life of wholeness and it empowered me to identify the ways in which my journey can be of service to others. It encouraged me to find the silver lining in all that I've gone – and will go – through.
It was the first time I ever realized that God had a use for me.
Prior to this revelation, I questioned my value. I was single, alone, sometimes depressed, and had no idea how or what I would do to leave a legacy. With everyone around me prospering in their relationships, at work, or in their everyday lives, I felt like nothing. Yet, despite being a hot wretched mess, God still had plans for me. Despite being at my lowest of lows, God still loved me unconditionally. And if He could do that, I questioned why I couldn't do it myself.
It was then that I began a different journey. One that wasn't just about experiencing and loving God, but about learning to love myself.
In doing so, there were a few things I considered:
- God doesn't ask me to be anyone else, He simply asks me to be me.
- God will use all my mistakes to my benefit/for good.
- Nothing I do can pull me away from God's love.
These were fundamental truths that I wanted to exercise in my own life, from my own self. So, I did. I began operating in a way that manifested these truths. If God doesn't ask me to be anyone else, why should I try to be anyone else? If my mistakes can be used for good, why must I beat myself up about them? If God is willing to love me through all my mess, why shouldn't I love myself through it?
I set out on a journey to live in a way that aligned with God's love for me.
I turned away from seeking validation from others, and stopped relying on others to determine or defend my worth. Instead, I relied on my Source. The transformation was incredible.
I began reciting God's word of fearlessness and abundance and purpose and majesty and greatness over my life because He believed it for me, so I felt compelled to believe it for myself. The more I learned about God, the more I wanted to love myself the way He loves me. This meant extending more grace and kindness to myself during my most difficult moments, learning to forgive myself for my mistakes, and being more patient with my journey toward self-discovery and growth. It meant being more compassionate and loving and nurturing with myself. Learning how to be intentional about the care I give myself, the decisions I make for myself, and the boundaries (and expectations) I set for myself.
This turned into a consistent act of self-care. Treating myself like God treats me time and time again – with love, adoration, and grace. It certainly wasn't easy at first; I spent many nights wondering if I deserved the love I was attempting to give myself. Wondering if I was crazy for even trying to love myself this hard and unceasingly. But then I thought about God's faithfulness and knew that if He thought I was worthy of His love, then I know I was worthy of self-love.
In 2018, I fell fully in love with me.
It took a lot of shedding layers. A lot of self-discovery. But also, a lot of God.
By learning about God's character, I've been able to exude that character to myself. God has plans for me and loves me unconditionally – and if He could do that, I could too. I learned to love me (and see me) as He does — valuable, lovable, and purposeful – and extend the same grace, compassion, forgiveness, and love He offers me every day.
Featured image by Getty Images