I am cringing at this title. It sounds too trendy and secular, the product of a culture that revolves around “me”. Then why did I choose it? And how does self love fit into a Christian’s life when we’re supposed to die to self?
First, I chose the title to retaliate against some self hatred I had going on a few days ago.
I got off to a rough start. My brain was foggy and my body clumsy. While pouring the kids’ cereal, I thought, Let’s not make a giant Fruity Pebbles mess this morning.
Then I elbowed the box off the table. Fruity Pebbles went everywhere. I grabbed the broom and dropped the dust pan. It clattered across the kitchen with about as much noise as possible.
After breakfast I picked up an almost empty cereal bag that I thought was right side up, but it wasn’t… kind of like my brain. Again, more mess that required the broom.
I was already kicking myself by this point. Come on, Holly. What is WRONG with you? Get it together!
After cleaning up breakfast, I walked over to the cabinet to take my medicine. (If you don’t know my story, I take anti-depressants because I’m recovering from postpartum depression.)
Well, Lyla was talking to me as I did this, and I took the wrong pill. I took my night time pill- the one that turns me into a zombie for ten hours. I pretty much go into a coma that even my selected “Coma Music” couldn’t wake me from.
As the pill slid down my throat, I thought, Oh no! That was round! The correct pill was oblong. Then I hollered at the kids, “We need to get in the car NOW!” I knew we had to get to the grocery store FAST before the meds kicked in and turned me into a daytime zombie.
We made it home safely, although I might have walked into a few walls…
In the midst of this chaos that is my mommy life, I read a good little self care article. How did I find time to read? Valid question.
I just skim little bits here and there after popping the kids in their chairs for lunch or when Luke goes down for his nap. It keeps me sane. It engages my brain and gives me something adult-ish to think about during a very kid focused day.
So I was reading this blog I follow called Lovejoybalance. As I was skimming her list of good self care ideas, I saw a lot of them that I liked. That’s a great idea. Oh, and that one would be so helpful, too! I thought.
Then, unprompted, I had this flashback of me in Seattle, deep in the darkness of my depression. I was hating on myself, inwardly loathing everything about me, and I was telling myself that too, with many unkind words.
I never employed any self care tactics. I never asked for a break. I didn’t try to help myself out. I was too exhausted to do anything besides basic survival, and I was in a bad place emotionally.
On this day, I wasn’t in a low spot, but those self deprecating words started to creep back in. Old habits die hard. I realized that to take care of myself, I must first love myself. That precedes any exercise, books, or bubble baths. I’m just talking about the most basic level of self love. Perhaps a better word would be respect.
Do I respect myself enough to fight off the mean thoughts?
Can I forgive myself of the clumsiness and move on?
It was really quite the epiphany. I have hated myself for so long, I thought. That’s when I decided, that for me at least, my first step towards self care is loving myself. Forgiving myself. Giving myself permission to take better care of myself.
Later, after Luke’s nap, we met one of Lyla’s preschool friends at the rec center to swim in the indoor pool. I promise there was at least one whole elementary school worth of kids there. It was pure chaos, but it was a great change of scene for the kids and got out some of their excess energy. After an hour, they were chilled and ready to bounce.
Unfortunately, they didn’t bounce to the locker room. Lyla shuffled along behind me, and Luke kept walking back toward the pool.
I finally picked up my screaming toddler and carried him (like a 50 pound sack of potatoes!) with one arm, while an overflowing bag of towels and swimmies dangled from the left arm. I’m sure we looked like a little hot mess. Thank goodness a sweet lady offered to help, and I accepted.
The kind lady carried my bag to the locker room for me, which freed up both of my arms to tote my giant baby child. At this point, I could have started more of the mean self talk.
I could have said, You look ridiculous. I’m sure everyone thinks you’re the mom who can’t get it together. Make your kids behave!
But I didn’t.
I still had the self love thoughts in the back of my head, and they helped me passively make it to the locker room. I brushed off the embarrassment of the physical struggle with a laid back c’est la vie attitude.
Sometimes it’s good to just shrug our shoulders and move on.
Here’s the thing about my inner self-hate talk:
Christ forgave me of my sins, so I need to accept that. If he died for my lifetime of sins, why can’t I forgive myself of these little misdemeanors?
I need to accept his love. I need to die to self- I need to die to that part of me that wants to condemn me. I need to let it go.
Que Frozen soundtrack.
Just kidding. Que Bible verses!
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another…” Romans 12:1-5
Do you ever beat yourself up?
Do you have any tactics to combat your inner critic?
(If you want to see the inner me unleashed, tehe, head over to my other blog Evening Poetry!)