Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Learning to Love Yourself

How can anyone forget that beautiful song that was sung by Whitney Houston?  The Greatest Love of All.  And boy, she sings it with gusto!

If I fail, if I succeed, at least I lived as I believed.
No matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity.
Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.
I found the greatest love of all inside of me.
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve.
Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.

I am actually coming into this very place.  I am talking about loving the me that no one sees.  The soul of me.  A long but beautiful housecleaning has been happening.  And without realizing it, I have walked into the sunshine and the clean feeling of being free.  Free from the past, free from condemnation, free from others' expectations.  Free to be me.  Free to live, enjoy, love.  Acceptance.

I have known alot of people who just seemed to come by this love naturally.  I always thought "boy, they really think they are all that!"  But deep down, I was envious.  I wanted to love myself.  I wanted to be myself.  I didn't want to fear others rejection.

Those of you who have struggled with thoughts of unworthiness and self-doubt, you know what I am talking about!

Oh, it's easy enough to tell someone they should love themselves.  But to a person full of worth issues, loving oneself sounds very selfish.  What?  Love myself?  It sounds self-centered, stuck-up and conceited.  And I don't know how, anyway.  Is there a button for that?

But truly, the beginning of a full and rich life must start with loving yourself.  And this love begins with God and being forgiven.  We cannot possibly build upon anything less.  When this forgiveness and a relationship with God are followed by an earnest seeking of more knowledge, more growth, more wisdom....the sky is the limit.

Notice I did not say that OTHERS needed to learn and grow.  We must take inventory of our own heart.  We must seek and knock and open, expecting to find exactly what we need to take the next step.  No more, no less.

There have been times when I clung to a phrase, a verse, a song, a poem for weeks until the next piece of encouragement came along.  In 2006, for three weeks all I could say was "Oh, God, help me.  Please help me."  This went on until the answer came.

Then I heard Pastor Joel Osteen say, "Just do the next right thing" and that became my motivation for several months.

In 2008, in frantic desperation for direction, a path, some sort of action plan, I started reading the AA book of 12 steps.

Of course the Bible should be our main source, but I am here to encourage you that God can use anything or anyone to speak to us.  We must be LOOKING for it!

Another time, when I was faced with a difficult decision, one that I did not want to make and was going to cause alot of embarrassment and turmoil, I tossed and turned all night with fear.  The next morning, I went into the other room  and tore off the daily devotional calendar sheet to read:  "Do you not see I am doing a new thing?  Will you not embrace it?"  It felt like music was playing.

A few months ago during my reading of Eat, Pray, Love I often considered Ketut's advice to "Smile with your liver", which is to say, smile from your insides out.  And so I practiced a deep smile from within even when I thought all was lost.  I still have this piece of advice hanging by my desk.

God can use lots of ways to help us when we are in need of emotional support or an answer to face a situation.  But if we don't watch for it, we will pass it by.  It's just like the loose change dropped in the parking lot that we don't stop to pick up.  Comes the time we are flat broke and we may go back to pick up that loose change and find it is gone!

Living a Real Life starts when we decide to Get Real.  Without fear.  Without bondage.  And this life must be sought with your whole heart.  Being real must become part of every decision, every step, every thought, every breath.

Don't let God's tender ways go unnoticed.  Watch for it.  Expect it.  He will help you find your path and to learn to love yourself.  It truly is The Greatest Love of All.

Dear God, Thank you is not enough for all that You have done for me.  You have worked me over good, molding, melting, purging, cleaning, teaching, showing, sharing, loving.....I can see so clearly Your hand in all of my life.  I know I did not have to hit ground zero to find You.  You were there the whole time, calling my name.  Your never-ending love has saved me.  ~Amen.