Loving others is important, but so is loving yourself through practicing self-acceptance. How can you work toward this?
Read that verse out loud. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”! Now read it again, and again, and again, and again. How many times do we say to ourselves, “I’m not good enough,” “I need to be better,” “I’m not pretty, handsome, fit, smart, put together, etc., etc..,etc.?” Why is it that we can say, listen to, and believe the negative comments about ourselves all day long but it’s so hard to remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, who thinks we are amazing? We can blame social media or popular culture, but what is at the root of it all?
When we say these negative things about ourselves, we deny God’s love for us and in turn, our love for ourselves. But as Christians, we are called to rely on God’s truth. In Philippians 1:6, Paul reminds us of this truth which is “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”. We have to love who we are because God loves us. And loving who we are means practicing self-acceptance. What is self-acceptance? Self-acceptance involves unconditionally accepting oneself in all capacities, including our flaws and our strengths. When we practice self-acceptance, we recognize and fully accept our limitations. Sounds great, but how do we get there?
First: We thank God for making us from scratch with God’s divine hand. We recognize that God knows every hair on our head and every cell in our body and created us for a purpose beyond our comprehension.
Second: We name our flaws. Seems counterproductive to name one’s flaws out loud but stay with me. In order to fully accept oneself, one has to admit to being a flawed, scarred, imperfect individual. When we list our weaknesses, we assess which ones we can improve and which ones are just a part of who we are. I know that I cannot change the fact that I am short, unfortunately I never even made it to five feet. There’s no need for me to waste time lamenting that. But I can work on my patience (or lack of) with my three teenagers at home – and I’m trying every day! I have to accept that this is a work in progress and while I may not be the perfect parent, I’m a pretty good version of the parent that I am.
Third: We identify our strengths. Everyone has strengths and we should pay more attention to them. By doing this we can work on making our good qualities even better, discern how we use our strengths to help others and use what God gave us to glorify God’s kingdom. Plus it just feels good to recognize yourself and your accomplishments!
Fourth: We change our inner monologue. Change the voices in your head! Catch those negative thoughts and words about yourself and throw them out the window. Replace them with positive, affirming thoughts and prayer. Once we learn to be kind to ourselves, give ourselves grace and accept our imperfections, we are well on our way to self-acceptance.
So this February, as you take the time to tell the others in your life that you love them, my hope is that you will tell yourself the same. God wants us to fully accept God’s creation in us. We are called not only to love others, but to love ourselves fully, completely and unconditionally.