When it’s Time for a Little Self-Love

Have you ever felt struck over the head by a seemingly simple concept? A few years back, when I was beginning to realize I had lost my soul voice, I felt like a whole new reality was opened up to me when I read a verse I’ve known my whole life. In Mark 12:31, Jesus says, “the second (greatest) commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”

img_0602

I was dumbfounded…

What if I don’t really know how to love myself?

What does this verse mean for someone who’s spent more time beating herself up than loving herself? How do you follow Jesus’ words then? How can you turn outward with anything authentic to give someone else, when every time you turn inward you beat down a piece of who you are?

Here are a few things that have helped me move towards loving myself (and ultimately better able to fulfill Jesus’ command of loving my neighbor):

  • Ask God to show you the way. God is WITH you and is all about molding you into His image. He’s not giving up on you or walking away. Ask God to show you how to have a heart of compassion, understanding and love for yourself and your story. Ask Him to give you the ability to forgive yourself for the thing you’re holding yourself hostage over.
  • Would I say it to my daughter? When the Soul Bullies get going (as my friend likes to call the ‘not good enough’ voices), I like to ask myself, “Would I say this to Harper or Kensi or London?” The answer is always a resounding NO! I would be absolutely heart-sick if anyone ever said to my daughters the things I think about myself in my head. Let’s give ourselves a little self-check every so often to see if we are loving ourselves or tuning into the Soul Bullies.
  • Write down the truth. When the Soul Bullies get going, it can be pretty difficult to get them to back down. I like to give myself physical reminders around my house by writing down words or phrases and putting them in prominent places. I have signs around my house, sticky notes on my bathroom mirror, and notecards in my car. Seeing words that pull me towards the truth can save me when I’m being pushed around. Try writing down the things the Bible says about who you are. Two of my favorites are: We are chosen, special, holy, His from 1 Peter 2:9. We are blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed and forgiven from Ephesians 1:3-12 MSG.

img_0601

How can you practice a little self-love today? Do you have other helpful ways you silence the Soul Bullies?

How Did We Get So Small?

You might say most humans do no want to walk toward a mess. We see something difficult, complicated or confusing and we tend to want to head in the opposite direction. That’s one of the reasons I love what my pastor says:

img_0271When we find that we have been making ourselves small – that we’ve been in a cycle of shrinking back from our own life – we must take a look at how we got here.

From my experiences, I believe: before healing can come, we must be willing to hold our painful realities in our hands and process them. There is healing and power that comes from knowing our own story.

Walk toward the mess. Spend some time brainstorming your life story. What moments stand out to you as possible contributors to your smallness or voicelessness? Did you experience anything significantly painful, hurtful or traumatic?

Let me be clear – We are not looking to blame. No, we will not land there. But we need understanding. Let’s be brave and walk towards our own mess and expect God’s great grace to meet us in that very place. For example, you might come up with contributors like:

  • The tumultuous family years where you didn’t feel safe and secure.
  • That awful thing your boyfriend said to you about your body that made you want to disappear.
  • That one time your family member yelled at you and said that really hurtful comment that made you cry yourself to sleep.
  • The teacher who shamed you every time you didn’t know the answer to her questions.
  • That hurtful nickname everyone called you in junior high.
  • All the moving around you did – made it difficult to make and keep friends.
  • The abuse you experienced growing up or in that relationship.

Remember the end goal. We are moving towards gaining our voice back and expanding into our full, truer self. And we are taking these steps in confidence, believing God will meet us here in a huge way – to bring us out of darkness into His light; to give a voice to the voiceless.

Spend 15 minutes this week making your list. Try to be as honest as you can about the moments, things, people who contributed to you being small and voiceless.

***Sometimes we experience things too painful or traumatic to process on our own, and that is totally ok. I am a huge proponent for God-centered therapists. If you think you need support, please connect with your therapist or get in contact with one in your local area.***

Do You Know You Are Wildly Loved?

IMG_7482-2
This past weekend, I had the kids on my own while Jeremy was away on a guy’s (long) golf weekend. I am 34 weeks pregnant which makes me not quite miserable, but definitely not as confidant in my ability to chase after my 2 year old in public (She’s one fast mama-jama and, believe me, we call her “firecracker” for a reason).

Whenever I’ve been away for the night or a weekend in the past, Jeremy has always been incredible about seizing the time with the kids. He isn’t afraid to take them to restaurants, the beach, parks – you name it. He wears them out and they always have a blast. With this in mind, I wanted to make the weekend a fun time for the kids while on my watch. But I could also sense I was carrying some anxiety inside about my growing limitations to keep up with them in certain public settings. I was having a hard time settling my spirit.

Our first 48 hours had been pretty simple. We did the normal school day routines, played games, played outside, read books, watched a movie and cooked together. When Saturday morning rolled around, I didn’t have a plan for what we’d do after we made cinnamon rolls (which were made and eaten by 7:30am, I might add). As I grew increasingly indecisive and semi-anxious about how to spend our day, I almost missed the fact that Harper and Bentley were playing a full-on soccer game in the backyard, while Kensington dribbled a playground ball in the grass nearby. This had actually been going on for much longer than I had realized in all my hand-wringing glory AND they were playing nicely. And every parent knows: don’t ever disrupt your kids when a good thing is going on!

As I stood on our back deck, my yellow coffee cup in hand, I took a deep, grounding breath and made a conscious decision to let myself off the hook of “entertaining” the kids for the rest of the weekend. I was reminded of the beauty that can emerge when we let things happen organically from time to time. I grabbed a warm blanket to wrap myself up in, to save me from the crispness of the coastal morning air. I settled down in my favorite chair on our deck and watched my kids play and laugh together. I felt thankful for invitation and the sense that it was ok to just be.

A few minutes into enjoying my simple view, I remembered I had promised to send Jeremy a picture of my new haircut. I had gotten my hair done two days earlier (the same day Jeremy had flown out of town) and hadn’t worn makeup or done a thing to my hair since. Oh well, I’ll send him a picture anyway. After picking a few selfies, each showing a different angle of my hair, I sent them off to Jeremy. But as I continued to sit watching my kids play soccer on the grass, I felt drawn to keep looking at one particular picture of myself.

In the past, I most definitely used to look at pictures of myself obsessively and unendingly critically. The years when I struggled with my eating disorder were marked by me either obsessing over my looks or, in harsh contrast, not being able to look at pictures of myself at all. I knew this draw to look at my own selfie was not at all similar with my past tendencies. I sensed it to be an invitation from God.

When I looked at myself in the picture, I felt God nudging me to notice myself in all of my simplicity and beauty. I noticed the freckles on my nose my makeup usually tends to mute. I noticed the dazzling blue color of my eyes I usually describe (completely underwhelmed) as “gray-blue”. I noticed the pretty pink in my lips somehow reminding me that I’m alive.

But then I felt God guiding my thoughts towards everything I can’t physically see in the picture. In that very moment I felt Him say:

Audi, take notice of this moment…

You are just BEING.
You are not performing, accomplishing or fulfilling a role. You are not making something to show others. You are not cleaning up or covering up for appearances. You are not chasing after something that is yet to come. You are not reaching out towards something more. You are not adding anything to the beauty I made when I created you. You are just being.

In THIS VERY moment… Do you know you are wildly loved?

I sat in stillness for a long moment, His question echoing deep within me. This, of all questions, is the one I’ve been intentionally seeking to mend and heal my answer to over the past few years. One thing the journey has taught me is that these God encounters are to be honored, held and savored.

Do I know…
When everything seeking/pursuing/striving is stripped away and I am just me…
Just being…
In all of my simplicity and nakedness…
Do I KNOW I am wildly loved?

Then everything in my soul whispered a resolute and confident: Yes.

Putting aside all of life’s demands, roles and expectations… Do you know you are wildly loved?

In the comments, I’d love for you to share with me how you sense God showing you that you are wildly loved.

Remember Who You Are

IMG_3871

Every morning, I drop Harper off at her elementary school and about an hour and a half later, I drop Bentley off at his preschool. When I drop each of them off at school, I have the exact same routine. I get them out of the car and I take a moment to remind them who they are.

I look them in the eyes and I tell them (some variation of this list):

(Harper or Bentley),
You are brave
You are strong
You are a leader
You are kind
You are beautiful
You are smart
You are enough
You are thoughtful
You are loved
You are needed
You have a HUGE heart
You are a mighty world-changer

After our walk from our car to the classroom, I give them a hug and a kiss, I look them in the eye and say, “Remember who you are.” Speaking these deep truths into my kids has become my prayer and my anthem for them – that no matter what others tell them, no matter what this world or this life throws at them, no matter what hurt or doubt they face – that they will remember who they are. Speaking these words to my kids has become habit for me, to the point when my two-year old finished going poo-poo on the potty ALL by herself recently (a HUGE milestone – I am telling you!), she walked out of the bathroom and announced emphatically, “I brave!”

I desire my kids to believe these truths so desperately because I have experienced the devastation of believing the VERY opposite for myself for more than a decade. I believed to my core that I was weak, anything but beautiful, not smart, never enough, loved conditionally, not necessary and didn’t or couldn’t make a difference. You can imagine the depression, anxiety, fear and isolation I experienced as a result.

Truly, by the grace of God, the “truth” I believed about myself for so long has been in the process of being re-written for the past handful of years. At a time when it was difficult for me to speak words of life to myself, my therapist would often ask me, “What would you say to Harper about this?” Instantly, tears would well up in my eyes, as I realized I would NEVER say to Harper the things I had been believing for myself.

Last night in our church service, I was reminded of how important the thoughts we have really are. I was reminded of how our thoughts create the framework of our mind. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” A total re-write of the thoughts of my mind have come through choice and loads of grace. I’ve slowly been learning how to hold compassion for myself instead of contempt, and how God sees me, loves me and to believe who He says that I am.

When we remember who God says that we are, it acts as an anchor for our soul.

Every morning when I remind my kids of who they are, my words serve a dual purpose. They also serve as a reminder of who I am too.

 

Who You Are Becoming

photo-10

This morning I was reminded of something I heard Bob Goff say at a conference last year. He talked about how Jesus sees us for who we are becoming. Not for who we were, not for who we currently are.

He sees us for who He’s making us to be.

This struck a deep cord with me and has stayed with me since. I love this idea of seeing our friends, our spouses, our kids for who they are becoming. What a gift to be able to speak life into the people we love. What refreshment we can offer to others when we encourage their potential rather than harp on what they lack. It reminds me of a quote I came across by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them to become what they are capable of being.”

This stirs a simple, yet, novel twist of perspective: what if we could see ourselves for who we are becoming?

Sometimes it can seem easier to encourage others towards positive transformation. But ourselves? That’s when it can feel like we have to crack stone in order to get to the soft, fertile earth below. Seeing ourselves for all that could possibly bloom from within… This kind of compelling shift in perspective literally makes my eyes well up with tears. To see ourselves so tenderly and graciously is revolutionary, necessary and powerful.

THIS is the exact kind of “practice” I touched on in one of my recent posts. We have the power to practice speaking ourselves into who we are becoming. We have the ability to extend to ourselves the very hand of freedom from negative self-talk and shame.

And all of this is possible because we have a God who set the example long, long ago. We have a God who pours truth into us. We have a God who desires nothing more than for us to experience His freedom.

I love where we see this in the story of Gideon in Judges 6:12, where it says, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior’.” At that time, Gideon was part of the weakest clan in the area and considered the least in his family. Certainly he did not see himself as a mighty warrior…

But God saw him differently. God saw him for who He was going to become.

Even when Gideon couldn’t even catch a glimpse of it for himself, he had the almighty God who believed it for him…

Over the past month, I’ve been making it a practice to get up early to steal a quiet moment of my own. At first it felt as if I was doing very little, but these moments have quickly become some of the most powerful I have experienced in my life.

Each morning, I slide my feet into my slippers and quietly tip toe my way to my favorite chair in our living room. I wrap myself in our coziest, fur blanket. The house is pitch black, for fear of waking up my light sleepers.

And I sit… with my phone open to my “notes” app, ready to write down what I hear.

I sit in total silence. And I wait…

I wait to hear what the Holy Spirit wants to speak to me.

And do you know what I’ve been hearing?

Beautiful, sacred truths about who I am becoming.

photo-8

And ever so slowly I can feel the stone cracking, the lies of old being broken apart. And I am starting to see and smell and touch the soft, fertile earth below. And awakening within me is belief. Small, powerful buds of truth are pushing to the surface and beginning to bloom…

And they’re telling me who I am BECOMING.

What is one thing you are believing yourself to become?

Letter to Me: Hard to Love

IMG_3367

Dear sweet Audi,

I know you think you are hard to love today…

This week, your shortcomings seemed front and center, as if they were the sum of all your worth. The shame and guilt felt real and true.

But let me tell you: they are NOT true.

You expect perfection from yourself… standards way beyond what you expect from anyone else. And when you don’t meet the bar you’ve set, you lash out at yourself. In those moments being kind to yourself feels like you’re feeding yourself a lie.

But what would happen if you eased up on yourself?
What would happen if you allowed yourself to be human?

Maybe you’d be able to breathe just a little bit deeper.
Maybe you’d be able to free up the internal tension you carry within you.
Maybe you’d be able to offer the world a few more smiles.
Maybe you’d be able to begin to see just how lovable you are…

Breath in the truth that you are easy to love, sweet girl. Just as you are. Your realness is what makes you lovable… not your perfection.

Be FOR yourself… be on your own team today.

Always, always tenderly FOR you,

xoxo,

Me

In Living Color

photo-4

Last week I wrote about what it looks and feels like to live our life in faded color, and how it can be easy to offer the world a safe, edited version of ourselves. You’re not alone if you’ve spent much of your life trying to be like someone else, being afraid and living in faded color. Becoming our true self is a lifelong process.

But what would it look like to live in vibrant color now?

We need to extend an invitation to ourself to allow our true self to come out of hiding. This might look like…

  • Speaking up more
  • Performing less
  • Giving yourself permission to be silly in public
  • Laughing till your stomach hurts
  • Saying no more often
  • Saying yes to the longings of your soul
  • Apologizing less for taking up space
  • Claiming the truth you are wanted
  • Trusting your body and letting yourself feel your emotions
  • Learning to not judge your emotions
  • Dreaming more often

It’s risky business to be ourselves. Sometimes it can feel like we’re letting others down by being a more authentic version of ourselves. Sometimes being our true self can feel like we’re being exposed. Even still, the cost is just too high to continue pretending. What I notice about the above list is each of them desperately need some element of freedom in order to do them.

And don’t each one of us in some way or another need to be ushered into sweet freedom?

One of my favorite definitions of freedom is “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”, which corresponds with words like liberty, release and deliverance. I love Galations 5:1 when it says “It was for freedom that Christ set us free”. Jesus’ entire mission was to release us from everything that holds us captive or confines us from shining brightly.

And oh how I need His invitation into Freedom!

Each one of us are offered a holy invitation to live vibrantly, unapologetically, fully who we are. And when we live out of our unique design, we shine more brightly. We reflect a Divine beauty that can only be revealed through us.

But we need to know…

  • We are free from the shame that says we’re not enough
  • We are free from the label someone once put on us
  • We are free from the worthlessness we feel
  • We are free from who we used to be
  • We are free to let go of the past
  • We are free to re-engage in life

William Faulkner once wrote, “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”

I used to get so frustrated with myself when I would realize I had bought into the negative voices telling me I wasn’t good enough. The shame spiral would wind me deep down into a dark place in my mind where there was no hope. Freedom from the lies didn’t seem possible.

But then my therapist introduced me to the idea that healing and freedom are a process. Contrary to the “one step forward, two steps back” viewpoint, she encouraged me to see myself as always growing upward in a spiral motion. We are always growing, but sometimes we bump up against triggers (especially those that tend to be core struggles of ours) and they can cause us to believe we’re not making progress. In those moments, we need our people to remind us of the progress we are making. Our people are the ones who give us the courage to show up, yet again, and continuing practicing. So I’m learning, even though I tend to believe old lies about myself, the most important and powerful thing for me to do is to practice living out the freedom I have in Jesus.

Some important things we can all practice are things like…

  • Telling ourself the truth
  • Forgiving ourself
  • Being kind to ourself
  • Shedding our outer-layer so our true self can shine
  • Tending to our needs

I’ve come to believe we need God’s tender voice pouring into us because He’s the only One who offers us the kind of freedom that has staying power. Recently, I’ve been quieting the noise of the world around me. Doing less of the things that tend to keep me distracted or numb. And it’s been good to sense an inner calm. Calm and quiet often allow me to see more clearly the vibrant colors I was made to paint my life with.

I want to share a little snippet of what God’s holy invitation sounds like to me today:

Sweet child, I created you with purpose. I created you with a role only you can fill. I love you with a love that never fades, never stops. My child, the expanse of heaven rings with joy when you do what I have made you to do.

Just be you.

Through that brave act, I am glorified.

I understand, truly I do, how the world you live in can be cruel, unfair and overwhelming. I experienced every bit of the pain it had to offer. I understand how it might seem safer to coast, hide or just blend in.

But I’ve got you.

Keep your hand in mine and I promise you’ll be dazzled.

I need you fully, right where you are. I need you dancing your dance, creating your art, loving how you love, speaking life the way only you can. I need you to live unabashedly.

I created the very meaning of the word bold.
I created the expanse of what it means to be free.

Be free, sweet child, to be who I made you to be.

What is one way you could invite yourself to live freely today?