Father, I pray that we see ourselves the way that You see us. I pray that Your voice is the loudest voice in our lives. I pray that the way that You see us has more influence than the way that the world sees us. Let our identities be completely engulfed in who you say that we are. Tear at the lies that we’ve believed about ourselves. Reveal your mending heart. Forgive us for not seeing ourselves as masterpieces. We are who You say we are. We can do what You say that we can do.
I remember reading an article awhile ago addressed to “The Girl Who Loves too Hard.” (Which there are actually dozens of those blog posts now) At the time of reading it, I remember completely relating to every word that the author had written. I mean, I was one of those girls! I was someone who poured their heart out completely and didn’t receive it in return. I felt like the way I loved people was abnormal, that sometimes I was “too much to handle,” that I was clingy, and that there was something wrong with me. I think as long as I can remember I’ve always been a person who has “loved hard,” but recently I’ve found that (as cute as is sounds, in theory) “loving hard” slowly suffocates the room needed to fully love myself. Although there really is nothing wrong with loving other people, there is a very real problem: We tend to confuse love and validation. We don’t know what love is. The love that we pour out is self-seeking, looking to be reciprocated, and in loving other people, we neglect to love ourselves.
. . . . . . .
In two weeks, I’m coming up on a year of living in a new city, and I remember for the first nine of these twelve months, the biggest struggle between me and God was, “God, I feel like you NEVER defend me! I moved to a new city because YOU told me to, and what is happening? My closest relationships are now at their furthest! People are looking at me like I’m crazy because nothing is making sense, and I’m wondering, did you move me here just to make a fool out of me!?”
(Yeah, I know. I was real reckless in the way I was speaking. -__-)
I remember speaking to a mentor one day about everything that was going on, and she said exactly what Holy Spirit had been saying for weeks, “The problem isn’t everyone else. The problem is you. You don’t love yourself. You say you love you, but Alexis doesn’t really love Alexis. If you loved yourself, you wouldn’t accept some of the things you accept.” For the first time, it clicked that the problem wasn’t that the Lord hadn’t defended me. He was good and faithful! The problem was that I had never defended myself. I’d defended everyone else at the expense of me!
I knew that God called me to a different city, but when opinions came up questioning my decision, I caved to the pressures of other people.
I knew that I’d accurately discerned what God had shown me in tough, challenging moments, but because I was the only person who saw it, I thought, “Surely, something must be wrong with me. Why would God only show me, and no one else?”
I knew the promises that God had laid on my heart, but when the promise was tested, I didn’t want to look stupid, so I just kept quiet, and wavered instead.
The problem is that we place our identity in the validation of others and call it “love.” And some of us have been in so deep, for so long that we actually think that it’s a noble thing to love people like that. It’s not, friend. I know, because I was there. & if we really had to ask ourselves to think about certain situations/relationships/jobs/etc, could we honestly say that we would encourage another friend to stick around if they were walking in our shoes? No.
You know what you deserve? You deserve to hear yourself say, “I deserve better, and I am worthy of love.”
So, how do we let go of the control & insecurity that disguises itself as “loving hard?” Where do we go from here?
We accept God’s love for us, and we accept the way that He sees us. We repent of the lies we’ve believed. We’re made in the image of God, and when we don’t have a right God-image, we don’t have a right self-image. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love,” (1 John 4:18). God is gentle. He knows each of us intimately, and intricately and He doesn’t NEED anything from us. We have to accept that there is a love that is tailored-made for each of us, and we don’t have to perform, or have the best clothes, shoes, makeup, etc. His love is free and freeing.
We forgive ourselves. When we forgive ourselves, it opens the pathway to forgive others, and to allow people be people. For me, I found that one reason I struggled with “loving hard” was that I felt like if they left, it had to be me. I had to do anything I could to keep them and show them that I loved them, but in the end, I realized that it was never them (well, for the most part). I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn to forgive myself for not being my own defender. I had to learn to say to myself, “I deserve respect, and I am worthy of love. So, I may love them, but I’m choosing me.”
We become our biggest cheerleader, and we speak life. “The Bible says, ‘Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph!’ That means He MAKES me win. So, that means I AM VICTORIOUS!” –2 Corinthians 2: 14 [& Donnie McClurkin]. Like love and forgiveness, seeing yourself rightly is a choice. We are not victims, but victors! We are holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4). We are known (Psalm 139 1-18). We are protected (Psalm 91). We are representatives of Christ, Himself! (Matthew 5: 13-14) I’ve learned that it’s great to hear other people say nice things about me, but nothing is as lovely as speaking what my Daddy has already declared to be true about me. I have become so intentional about being my biggest cheerleader, and it’s a choice. I choose to be patient with myself. I choose to be kind. I choose to think good thoughts about myself. I choose to trust myself. I make a decision and I later trust that the decision I made was for my benefit. I hear from God. He trusts me, so I’ll trust me.
We have to learn to keep our cups overflowing to pour into others, and I’ve found that I can only be filled to overflow when I’m looking to the God that fills. If I’m searching to be filled by people, I will never be satisfied. I will always require others to reciprocate the same “hard love” that I pour out. But, when I go to the Father and I’m filled, the love I can pour out onto others is pure with no expectation of what we need in return.
So, friend, you don’t need anyone’s validation. As you learn to love yourself, your need for validation from people slowly fades away. Suddenly, the relationships you always needed to control have little room in your life. The voices of your “mentors” (not to be confused with Godly council) fall in line behind the voice of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, you learn to love and trust yourself, and as you learn to love yourself, it makes it easier to love others because you will naturally set healthy boundaries, and learn to walk out Romans 13: 8, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law,” (Romans 13:8 NLT)