Some people are difficult to love. They’re needy, they get angry quickly, they’re very picky about things, they have a lot of baggage. But, for me, that’s easy. It’s not difficult for me to be a friend to others. It’s loving me that’s the hard part. How can I be as patient and kind with myself as I am with other people?
I think Jesus is slowly teaching me how to love myself the way He loves me. One day, while using language about myself in prayer that the Lord would never speak towards me, a voice burst through my thoughts and said, “WHAT are you doing? WHY are you speaking to my daughter like this?” I immediately started making defensive excuses:
“Well this daughter is so sinful. Don’t you know?”
“Don’t you remember just last week, what I did?”
“Don’t you know that I know better?”
“I am called to be better than my peers because I KNOW better. But I’m not.”
Then I felt ashamed. Did I really just ask the Creator if He knew what I had done? I looked up and saw the Eucharist exposed in front of me, and above that, a painting of the Annunciation. In my shame, I turned my face from Jesus, only to see the 20-foot crucifix on the wall beside my pew. Of course He knew. He knows what I’ve done and what I’ll continue to do, and He still died and makes Himself present for me.
I have such a temper, but Jesus is so good, and so gentle. He lets me vent. “Jesus, I don’t know what to do about this.” And in typical me-fashion, instead of giving Him just a moment to speak into me, I immediately started praying about something different. A friend of mine had asked for prayer. When I pray for my friends, I like to really enter into a time of just reflecting on them as a person, and thanking God for them, and basking in all the things that make them who they are. The reasons why I love them.
During this process, a thought came to me, “Why don’t you just talk about yourself this way?” I literally gagged at the thought. Self-love doesn’t come easy for me. But, I knew it was from the Lord, so I decided to try, for Him.
I took the time to discern the voice I used on myself, versus the voice I use on others. I prayed about where these voices stem from, and what is good and bad about both of them. I looked to Scripture, reading the Psalms, Wisdom, and Song of Songs, looking at the language that God and His beloved use for one another. Then I turned to the Gospels, and saw how Jesus spoke to and cared for His disciples.
It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t. But I’ve realized, there’s no way I can be an open vessel for the Lord to use me to the greatest potential if I don’t even believe myself capable of being used for His goodness. In my head I know that Jesus loves me. But, deep within my soul, I’m still wrestling with what it really means to be a beloved daughter of the Father.
Lord, give me the eyes to see me as you see me, and the heart to love me as you love me!