By Jena Brooks
The concept of self-love can refer to several different topics: self-awareness, identity, body image, mental health and many more that I have failed to mention. I want to hone in on self-worth. *Disclaimer: I hope both males and females know they can relate to this post, despite the fact males and females tend to interpret and deal with the struggles of self-worth differently.
I do not know what age it is or exactly what prompts us to struggle with the worth of our being. You know, that struggle with the matter of recognizing our dignity and the worth of our existence. Again, I say we but please note I do not wish to assume you have had these struggles, nor do I know the degree to which these struggles have affected your life. I speak on behalf of my personal experience. It’s a concept I believe is worthy of discussion.
For me, that age or moment began about my junior year of high school. To be completely honest I was always a healthy, happy and confident child. My parents raised me to understand I was beautifully and wonderfully made, and up until about sixteen years of age I never struggled to believe it. Sure, there had been times I compared myself to others and developed envy, but it was nothing to the degree to make me question my self-worth.
Back to my junior year: I was discontent with my exterior. My thoughts went something like… Legs: too big. Hair: too thin and too short. Skin: too rough and too acne prone. I know what you’re thinking, oh this sounds like a case of teenage girl. It’s just the effects of media. But this wasn’t the case for me. It wasn’t a struggle solely based on body-image, it was a longing to understand the purpose God had for me. These thoughts were just the roots to something that would grow much greater. Those thoughts planted the seed for a tall and mighty forest of self-doubt. We have all gotten lost in our own forest before.
I decided the way to fix my struggles was to run and workout excessively. To monitor everything I ate. To never leave the house without make-up on. To post the prettiest and happiest moments on my social media. Blah, blah, blah.
This worked for awhile. I lost fifteen pounds, earned a varsity spot on my XC team, had a boy who liked me, and people who were noticing a change in my presence. My exterior was everything I could have hoped for, but I was empty inside. It was never enough. I never felt fulfilled and I feared I would suddenly lose all of this so-called glory and people who admired me, if I lost everything I had become.
I tell you this not for pity or attention, but rather to paint a picture for you.
These past few months have made me realize: last year I was so concerned with receiving love from others, I never took the time to grasp how broken I had become. How temporary my happiness would become due to the fact it was reliant on such a false gratification, and sense of being.
I found out real quick.
Time has taken its course and I have learned a lot. Note it wasn’t the accomplishments, nor the people I gained as friends who made me broken, it was the fact I lost touch with what my worth lied in.
You’re beautiful because you were made in the likeness and image of God. Simple as that.When we strive to know God, we are able to grasp a sense of being within our own being. What’s beautiful is that you have been given a soul, an ability to think, feel and know.
I encourage you to think about what you place your identity in. If it’s in temporary earthly glory, know that it will indeed pass away one day. What will remain is your soul. What kind of condition is yours in?
I am no expert on the steps it takes to love yourself completely. And I am not naive enough to believe it is completely possible to avoid self-doubt, but having a personal relationship with God IS possible. Know that you are worthy. You were not born into the world with the burden of having to earn love. You were born with a soul and your worth is innate. Your identity belongs to God. Not to your accomplishments, not to a single person, not to a number on a scale, etc.
Ask yourself: do you love yourself because of what you’ve earned, or simply because God created you? Now please know, I am not expressing you should walk through life and whatever you accomplish doesn’t matter–how you treat people, what you accomplish, etc. develops character, and that’s important.
But your character is different than your identity. Character is what allows the world to catch a glimpse of your soul, your identity is the glimpse you catch of your own soul and who you were made to be.
When we begin to love ourselves based on the mere fact that we are a child of God, we understand approval from others is nice, but insignificant when acknowledging our innate worth as a human being.
Dive in deeper than the surface level of the world. The surface level of your own soul. Plant the seed of self-love and watch in awe as God reveals to you the beauty in His creation: you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. // Psalm 139:13-15
P.S. You are enough.