I’m really excited about this year.
I want to drink dry, fruity red wine out of big, delicate glasses and toast birthdays and ordinary days alike, always cultivating a heart of celebration.
I want to linger around kitchen tables for hours and hours with my girlfriends, filling our homes with delicious food and memories and hard questions and affirmation.
I want to make lots and lots of meals with my hands, flour getting under my fingernails and the skillet sizzling and my knife moving and the oven humming.
I want to fly on lots of airplanes, looking down in wonder at the world and reflecting on the largeness of our God.
I always want to be in the business of discovering, learning, and growing. Making myself better and stronger and more humble. Leaning closer to the Savior in curiosity and awe.
And in the year ahead – in the best way – I want to take better care of myself. I want to be more kind to me.
The other night, I was gathered with a group of friends around our cozy living room and we were talking about what we learned in 2015. It was a banner year. We made big leaps of faith and prayed bold prayers. We created beautiful artwork and writing work, together and individually. We traveled and moved and reached milestones in our jobs and relationships.
But after everyone had shared, my roommate spoke up and said: “You know, I think the overall theme is that we’re just really hard on ourselves.”
A general “mmhmm” echoed around the room.
Even when we reflect on our milestones and our treasured memories and our accomplishments, we are rarely enough for ourselves. As soon as we share what we’re proud of, we feel the immediate need to apologize or downplay. I know I do.
I did a lot, but I could have done more. I wish I would have been a better friend. I should have taken that job or that trip. I should have seen that mistake coming. I should have learned from that same bad habit I keep backing into.
In the past, I’ve felt like these statements were coming from a place of humility. I didn’t want to boast about my accomplishments, so I tacked “should have” and “could have” and “no big deal” onto the end of them.
But that isn’t humility talking. That’s fear talking. Fear of how I will be perceived, rather than humility in the spotlight.
Here’s what I think. I think that the way I value myself is a direct reflection of how I believe God values me. What I believe about myself is a direct reflection of what I believe about God.
When I see God as a harsh, grey-bearded attorney in the sky who is disappointed in what He sees, I degrade myself and feel the hopeless creep of shame.
But. When I read the Bible and worship with my friends and rest in prayer and play with the four-year-olds in Sunday school, I remember that Jesus’s love and sacrifice for me righteously took care of the just wrath of God, making way for glorious grace. I remember that God is my good, gracious father.
When I know that God’s attitude toward me is kind, adoring, peaceful and gentle, I am thus more graceful and kind with myself. I even start to love myself.
I also think that the way I value myself is exactly how I tend to value others. When I am critical and unforgiving of myself, I am critical and unforgiving of others.
When I look in my own mirror and say: Ugh, I look so tired today. Why can’t I look like a model when I roll out of bed? I then tend to look at the lady next to me in the elevator and say: Wow, she looks tired today. Definitely not a model, that one.
A little harsh, Laura.
Hear this, friends (and I am 100% preaching to myself): The harsh truths we repeat to ourselves are not the truths that matter most.
Sure, I am an imperfect, sometimes unthinking, somewhat reckless person who sometimes spills coffee on her dress pants.
But that doesn’t mean I am not worthy of love. Self-love included.
This is where we have to begin our practice of self-love: Out of the knowledge of our Creator’s love.
As one of my amazing friends said in the car the other day: “The finding of our true selves is not the adding on of more things, but more like stripping the lies and the false beliefs and the things that don’t matter. It’s like gently chipping away at a sculpture to find the true, original, beautiful you that God created from the beginning.”
My Christian celebrity crush, Shauna Niequist, said it like this on the Proverbs31 blog yesterday: “So many of us twist ourselves up in knots trying desperately to be something or someone else. Trying to fulfill some endless list of qualities and capabilities that we think will make us feel loved or safe or happy. That’s an exhausting way to live, and I know because I’ve done it.”
Hear this: You don’t need to add anything to your resume or your wardrobe or your agenda. You don’t need those dress pants or the diploma or the diet to earn the adoration of our Father God. Rather, the pursuit of Him leads you to strip away the roughness and critique and discover the treasure within.
Friends, what if we really believed in the treasure within?
This year, I want to trust that The King is wild for me (Psalm 45:10, The Message).
I want to turn off the tape of self-analysis and instead be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
I want to practice self-love and self care, not as a practice in selfishness, but as a practice in knowing more of my true self. The self that God has known and adored from day one.
I want to trust that the true, important and good change that I desire is happening at God’s perfect pace. Even if I feel like I’m not enough some days, I want to trust in the “enough” that Jesus embodied in his sacrifice for me.
Let’s do this, friends. Let’s cultivate celebration around our tables and in our homes. Let’s get our butts out of bed and go to church, knowing that its always worth it. Let’s get some sleep and study the Bible together and start eating something other than Ramen (again, preaching to myself).
Let’s sit with Him. Let’s ask Him to show us how He truly feels about us. And let’s allow that truth to release us into the knowledge of our treasure in Christ.