I got up this morning and started my day as I do most days – I said, “Good morning,” to Jesus and had a conversation with Him, made my bed and began to get ready for work. As I finished my morning routine of face, hair and make-up, instead of quickly turning from the mirror to finish getting ready, I lingered there to really see the face of the woman staring back at me. I actually took a moment in time to see this woman I often ignore or hurriedly attend to her needs in order to care for someone else’s. I noticed that her eyes were not as dark brown as she had once believed them to be but upon closer inspection, they are actually pecan in color like the syrup. I gazed at hair that is graying, but I also reverenced the wisdom that has come with a price for each strand. I examined small facial moles around my eyes that I inherited from my paternal grandmother, and I observed every fine line, dimple, dark spot and soon-emerging pimple and made the same decision I choose to make every day – to love the woman I see in the looking glass.
If you are like me, I am sure you could in thirty seconds flat identify every item that is “wrong” with your body and tell how you would change it immediately if you could – less flab here, more muscle there, smaller waist, nicer calves, fuller hair and the list could go on. However, the sooner we, as women, learn to love our bodies and the things that we cannot change such as our height, skin color, natural hair color and texture, freckles, the stretch marks we earned from carrying our babies or beauty marks in the oddest of places and embrace the things that make us who we are like our sense of humor, our unique laugh or our sometimes-weird idiosyncrasies like collecting paper dolls (mine), the healthier we become emotionally. This brings freedom in our being able to receive love from others who already love us just as we are.
Most days, if we are honest with ourselves, we tend to concentrate more on glamorizing our outward appearance than we focus on properly dressing our hearts – the core of who we are. Our learning to love ourselves is about more than just cosmetic changes we desire to make on the outside. It is more about wrapping our arms around the women we are on the inside and validating-while-strengthening them from the inside-out. Loving me is about actively redefining negative core beliefs I’ve held for far too long regarding who I am and who I would become and making a decision daily to become who I want to be – Jesus-loving, kind, optimistic, determined, brave, skilled, forgiving, realistic and mature! Loving me is about affirming the woman I behold each day and telling her over and over again that she is beautiful and I love her; that she has value whether she is single, married, divorced or widowed; that she is of great worth whether she has given birth to children or have loved those God placed in her life. Loving me is about not settling for mediocrity in life but believing that I am worth more. Some days will be harder than others to encourage this woman; to love her, as is, but keep doing it because the core of who you are will become stronger and freer to love and accept others as you love and accept yourself. Most importantly, learning to love you, the way God created you and taking His Word as the final authority for your life will be nourishment for your soul. Psalm 139:14a says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” I dare you to repeat this verse after a bad break-up; after a thorough chewing out by your boss in the office or a long night with your teething five-month-old. The next time you’re in a hurry to attend the tyranny of the urgent which is nonstop, don’t forget to take a moment to greet and love on the strong woman whose life is the gift looking back at you.