Love Yourself First

When I was younger, before all of the stupid stuff with my cartilage happened and I was actually more mobile, I was a dancer. But, even then, 13 year old me realized that there was something different about me than the other dancers, and it was hindering my ability to dance.

I had boobs.

I had a butt.

And, when you’re in a room full of mirrors and no one else has those, it becomes painfully obvious. The older I got in the dance world, the more I realized that I didn’t really have the body for it. And the more I realized that, the more I shrank into my shell, the less I wanted to dance, and the less I liked who I was.

I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin, and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable in a leotard. Not when mine was two sizes bigger than the other girls and I had to wear some supportive bra-ness underneath to keep things in place.

After my disability came to light, and I started to become painfully aware that working out would be a lot harder for me, my appetite stayed the same, but my movement didn’t, and the weight came, and came, and came.

I didn’t like myself. And I certainly didn’t love myself.

When you get into that cycle, where you don’t love you, you let other people say all kinds of horrible things about you and to you. You begin to believe lies, you begin to feel like you aren’t good enough, and you begin to doubt yourself.

For me, the cycle was obvious. The more I’d eat, the bigger I’d get. The bigger I’d get, the more people would talk. The more people would talk, the worse I’d feel. The worse I’d feel, the more I’d eat.

I’m not my goal weight. I’m nowhere near it. I have memories of ways people have made it clear to me that I wasn’t something desirable or pretty. I remember one morning when I was married to my now ex-husband, one of the first mornings of our marriage, the morning after one of the first times he had seen me pretty bare-skinned (I know, this is a family blog, and I know, this is a blog my mother reads, but seriously, it’s important to the story). He got up before me, walked to the store, and bought me a pack of Slimfast.

I was devastated.

He knew what I looked like before we got married. What was underneath a couple of layers of clothing couldn’t have been that much of a shock, could it?

It makes me think of that J.J. Heller song, “What Love Really Means.” I listen to that song about a thousand times on Spotify. There’s this verse that says “Her office is shrinking a little each day. She’s the woman whose husband has run away. She’ll go to the gym after working today, maybe if she was thinner, than he would have stayed. And she says, who will love me for me, not for what I have done or what I will become? Who will love me for me? Because nobody will show me what love, what love really means.”

I’m not saying my ex-husband left me because I was overweight. Not even close.

But I am saying, I know how it feels to ask myself “Who will love me for me?”

In the past week, I’ve been reading, and thinking, and pondering, and staring at the ceiling, and I’m reaffirmed.

God loves me. He loves me overweight. He loves me skinny. He loves me happy with myself and when I’m not happy with myself. He loves me and wraps his arms around me, no matter who I am, no matter what I’ve done, and no matter what I look like.

And because of that, I’m challenged. I believe I need to love my enemies. What I forget sometimes is that I tend to be my own biggest enemy.

If God loves me, I need to love me. If my family loves me, I need to love me. And honestly, I can ask myself a million times why I’m still single, but the biggest answer I’ve found is… because if I don’t love myself, why do I expect anyone else to?

JJ Heller sums it up in the final chorus of her song, showing God’s love for me.

“I will love you for you. Not for what you have done or what you have become. I will love you for you, I will give you the love, the love that you never knew.”

A friend of mine stated it pretty well online this week, saying “Girls try so hard to look so good for those few idiots who make them feel like they aren’t good enough. Most guys will tell you there is nothing sexier than a girl who is confident with herself and natural, doesn’t try to be more than herself.”

I’m going to challenge you, as we head into a weekend, and a lot of us are out and about, running errands, going on dates, spending time enjoying nice weather at the park with families, whatever it is you do on weekends…

 

STOP. Stop overthinking your flaws. Stop worrying about what is wrong with you. Stop feeling like you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not special enough.

I’m telling you right now…

You are.

You’re pretty. You’re special. You’ve got amazing qualities. There are so many reasons people like you. And trust me, people do like you.

Smile. Let your hair down.

Love yourself first.

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3 comments

  1. Unconditional love, it’s what we all want and deserve to experience. God gives us that, if you’re lucky (and I know we are), our families give us that, and our sweet little babies… they think we are beautiful! 🙂

  2. This is a hard subject. In my heart I know God loves me and nothing else matters but in my head it is a different story. Thanks for sharing this and helping us to remember we are special no matter what we look like on the outside.

  3. I think this is something every one has suffered at some point in their lives. I know I have. Thank God for family and friends that let us know they love us. And Jenni you are beautiful and special.

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