February 14th observes the ultimate, hyped-up holiday of ‘love.’ My first Valentine’s Day after discovering my husband’s unfaithfulness, he spewed, “Who could love you? No man could possibly ever love you.” On my first Valentine’s Day as a newly-singled mom, lovers sent flowers to coworkers, triggering a flash flood of tears plunging down my cheeks. Alone with no husband, my relentless partner—pain—badgered my heart.
In my search for love, my emotions overrode this principle: Love begins by accepting and loving myself as a forgiven person unconditionally loved by God. We live in a broken world inhabited by broken people with broken hearts. That old saying “hurting people hurt people” is true. But even more true? Hurting people, who hurt others, only hurt themselves the most. And we can only love others as we love ourselves.
Do you love yourself enough to reject the lie that you’re unworthy and unlovable? Many single parents act out, entrapping themselves in a self-abusive undertow of destructive relational substitutes to avoid the inner agony of emptiness and loss. Become your own best friend and spurn those who leave you feeling like a low-value commodity. Love yourself enough to set boundaries with individuals who discount your concerns and favor their selfish interests over what’s best for you and your children. Value yourself enough to let go of people who fail to treat you with respect.
Do you love yourself enough to embrace your core identity? Do you suffer from chameleon confusion—always pleasing and adapting to others? We sacrifice our authentic selves in exchange for who we think others want us to be. Rip off the self-sacrificing mask. Stop belittling yourself and denying legitimate feelings and needs. Ignore the lies that hurting people hurl at you. Walk away from the addictive drama that triggers destructive emotions. Speak up and express your legitimate thoughts and feelings, wants and needs. Embrace who God created you to be—beloved and forgiven.
Do you love yourself enough to find your purpose in life? After investing our identity in a failed relationship, the loss of the relationship and social status leaves us with the desire for security and wanting to belong. Our lust to find a lover distracts us from pursuing purpose. Are you feeling lost and wonder, “Where do I belong?” Allow the confusion and loneliness to motivate you to discover your purpose. What constant, life-giving beat of your heart captivates you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, freeing you to see yourself and others through eyes of grace, compassion, and love?
Do you love yourself enough to embrace forgiveness? Are you tired of scraping together enough self-worth to find the strength to trudge through each day? Do you value yourself enough to relinquish the invisible wounds lingering in the shadows and embrace healing? God regards you as personally worth dying for, and that your life is worth the exchange of His own. Embrace the free gift of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, so that as you learn to love yourself, you can love and comfort others who hurt.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on February 14, 2020.
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