You Are Loved

Love requires sacrifice.

We all know this. This line has been engraved in our heads for so long. We know that in our friendships, family, faith, and relationships sacrifices need to be made in order to offer the best versions of ourselves to whoever we are loving. But, the relationship where many people forget the importance of sacrifice is our relationship with ourselves. Self-love is so simple but in some ways, it is the hardest and most difficult love of all.

What is it?

Just as the phrase suggests, it is love for yourself and having “regard for one’s [your] own well being and happiness”. Self-love is a form of affection that only you can give, and the unique recipient is yourself. Not only does true self-love require you to offer it, but it also requires you to accept it, which often, is the most difficult part. It is not just about how you feel about your physical appearance, but it also includes your emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being. Only you know in great detail your own state of being. In knowing yourself inside and out, it allows you to understand how you need to be loved, and gives you the opportunity to fulfil that role.

Its importance

Besides the obvious importance of having a positive mentality of yourself, self love also extends into your other relationships. As the common, but very accurate cliché goes, how can you love others if you find it difficult to love yourself? It is not just your actions that prove your love for someone, but also how you feel and the way it overflows into your actions.

 

For me, the road to self love has been one that is long, treacherous, and one that I continue to travel. For a long time, I had felt as if something within me was missing, as if I was a puzzle and the final piece had been lost in transit. I could not explain the feeling, nor justify it. I just knew that it was there. Eventually, I began trying to show my love for others through serving and volunteering which helped in patching the hole. I took on too much for me to handle, but I dealt with it by sacrificing my own time of rest and studying. I had the mentality that love require sacrifice, so I will sacrifice myself in order to better serve them. Helping others placed a little bandage over this gap, but it only healed me temporarily, and eventually left me with that same feeling of unfulfillment. Around me, people tried to love me unconditionally, but I was spread too thin to be capable of completely giving them the love they deserved. So instead, I would push them away, no matter how close of friends we were. It seemed as if the closer we were, the further I would push them away.

 

One friend in particular never ceased to try to get through to me. They would ask me how I was doing, and I would brush them off with a one word answer of “fine”. They would try to make plans, but to this I would reply with a half-hearted excuse such as “I have to study” or “I have a lot of homework to finish”. It was not as though I did not appreciate all that they were doing for me, and their constant support. No, it was that I did not know how to love them back. They deserved to be around someone who could love the way they should be loved, and I was not that. Eventually, I verbally ended this friendship, and pushed others so far away from me that in the end, I was left on an island by myself, slowly building up fences to prevent others from trespassing and coming near.

 

Isolated, I focused on my commitments, studies, service and volunteer work and kept myself busy so that I would not feel the sting of loneliness. I kept reminding myself that this solidarity was my own decision; it was my attempt to love by doing my friends the favour which was that they no longer had to deal with me in their life. But, ironically in my lonesome, I was met by my own wrath. I zeroed in on every grade, every comment, and every number. My mind would fill with thoughts such as “You got a B, Eleanor, B for bad. You’re a failure.”, “Look that that, you’ve gained a pound, you pig.” or “She said ‘it’s okay’, just okay. You messed up, this is the best you can do and it’s not even good.” These thoughts were constant. They kept me company, they became my toxic friends. And for some reason, unlike my other friends, I did not try to push them away. Maybe it was because I believed the whispers of my new friends, while the encouragement and words of affirmation from my others friends seemed impossible to be true.

The result of my self resentment was, as I mentioned before, pushing people out, and as a result, I hurt them because I did not allow them to love me. My negativity towards myself seeped into my daily routine, ruining a lot of my personal relationships, and affecting my performance at school, in service, and the way I tutored other students.

 

This negativity also made that hole in my heart grow bigger. It grew so big that eventually, there was nothing that I could do that would stretch over the length of the hole in an effort to fix it. So, I allowed the darkness to crawl out of this cave and settle within me, embrace me. I went about my life normally, I continued to do all that I had before, but this time on autopilot.

 

But our God is a stubborn God. He never once gave up on me, even when I had given up on Him, and He showed that through my friends and family. They continued to pursue me, and remind me to take care of myself first, before I worry about anything else. It was through these reminders that I learned that the reason why I could not fill the hole in my heart through loving others was because I did not love myself. I did not take the time to ensure that I was staying healthy, or following my goals, and I certainly was not making sure that I viewed myself in a positive light.

 

Once I recognized this and my need to change, I began making little sacrifices in order to love myself better. I do not mean that I made sacrifices such as money to buy a new wardrobe or something, but rather I sacrificed my strong desire for meticulous control over my life. In doing so, I broke down the fences that once guarded and and opened my heart to allow others to love me. I stepped down from responsibilities in order to give me more time to focus on my growth. And through doing all this, the gap in my heart has slowly started to heal. I now wake up every morning excited to see how the Lord plans to use me today, and life is truly beautiful.

 

It always seems easy to say “I love you” to our friends, family, and the Lord so why is it so difficult for us to say this to ourselves? Think of it this way, how does one treat a life-giving friend? Do they say hateful, or rude words? Do they greet us with a frown? Do they compare us to others? Or are they kind, and lift our spirits? Do they lovingly correct us? Let us strive to treat ourselves as we would a friend, with gentleness, encouragement, and humility. Be your own friend.

 

You are deserving of love, and you are capable of being that same source of love.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7


Eleanor Wong – YCOM Press Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region