I believe there is only one God. God and His ways are sometimes a mystery but there is one thing I know for certain. I know that I am not Him. Knowing this, why do I sometimes insert myself into His place? Why do I sometimes try to handle His business for Him? Why do I every so often, try to snatch the reins?
Once I am certain of God's instructions, I can't be afraid to act on them.
It took me longer than I'd like to admit to recognize and accept God's vision for me. As a flawed human being, I still experience times when my faith in that vision is tested because it's taking too long for my vision to blossom into full fruition. I trust God through and through. However, there are times when I am unsure if I am playing my part in receiving His blessings. I sometimes wrestle with when I should do more and when I should wait. I struggle with trusting myself to get it right.
We are encouraged in the Bible that through God, we have the power and authority to conquer and overcome. We are told that we have been blessed with love, power, and a sound mind and that we were not given the spirit of fear. Those and many other teachings illustrate to me that it is vital that I do my part. Once I am certain of God's instructions, I can't be afraid to act on them.
I've never been one to sit around and wait for things to happen. I work extremely hard and I am thoroughly dedicated to my goals. I go the extra mile. I take the extra steps and I put forth the extra effort. I sometimes push myself past the point of exhaustion leaving myself overwhelmed and anxious. I get so worked up about whether I'm working hard enough to accomplish certain goals, that I lose the joy of laboring for God.
I become my own worst enemy with my ceaseless self-doubt.
When what you're striving for so unrelentingly still feels far away, it is very human and very easy to start questioning yourself. I am constantly asking myself if I've done enough. Have I done absolutely everything in my power? Am I experiencing slow, if any results because I neglected some aspect of God's guidance? Is this really what God planned for me or did I only convince myself that I was aligned with Him? I become my own worst enemy with my ceaseless self-doubt.
On the other hand, we are also assured in the Bible that we should wait on the Lord. It is made clear that He and He alone is God. I know that to be true. There is nothing anyone can tell me to disbelieve God. I've learned that once I've done all in my power that can be done, that I should wait on Him.
Unfortunately, I've learned this the hard way. There were many times when I acted prematurely against my own interests because I needed to make something happen. I needed to see some movement or progress. I impatiently required tangible proof that my efforts were leading me in the desired direction. Many of those times, in my rash decision making, I made a mess of things.
So here I am, looking at two sides of the same coin. On one side, I am to wait patiently for God's answers. On the other, I'm supposed to do it myself with what God has already given me. How do I avoid acting too fast when I should be waiting? How do I not just sit there waiting when there is something more I could do? What do I do? How do I avoid sleepless nights brought on by my mind's constant circling of these questions?
I don't need to know the specifics of God's every reasoning.
The answer for me is keeping close to God. I am in constant communication with Him. Sometimes, I even verify that I'm properly connected even if there is nothing particular I need or want at the moment. I conduct a proverbial mic check to ensure our line is still open and secure.
I make time for God in the morning and in the evening each day; nothing else, no TV, no music, no phone, no one else, just me and Him. I also talk to Him throughout the day. I am not embarrassed to say it, to call myself needy but when it comes to God, I admit that I am always in need of His guidance and closeness. So when life questions arise, the lines of communication are already open and I receive His message easier and clearer than those times when I would pray to Him only when I needed something.
Actively seeking so much closeness to God may seem intense to some but life is intense. Life comes at you fast and I have a God who is able and willing to help me address my concerns and handle my problems. There are many reasons why we should sometimes wait and other times, we should act.
I don't need to know the specifics of God's every reasoning. I don't require certainty on my future outcomes. What I do need is to know that God is with me and leading me in the right direction. I need to know I can call on Him at any time for His comfort and support and to answer any of those wait or don't wait questions. Those needs and every other need of my life, God has mercifully and lovingly met.
Loving yourself, that's a breeze, right? Why would you not love yourself? How could you not? Love is not just a pretty word. It is something that we must prioritize and put forth the energy to do. We have to actively love on ourselves. Loving yourself is more than just saying it.
Sometimes I get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, I forget about the act of self-love. I often find myself so bogged down in the routine of work, house cleaning, car maintenance, health care, and a list of other concerns, that I neglect me. While doing all these things are necessary, I have to remember that loving myself is the most essential. I do myself no favors when I ignore my own need for self-love.
How can we be examples of love towards one another if we don't love ourselves?
God wants us to love ourselves. After all, God is love. He created us with love in mind. He instructs us to love each other. Why would He not also want you to love yourself? It's not that we should love ourselves in a boasting sense of the word. He just wants us to give that same love to ourselves that we so generously give to others.
It's in the Bible plenty about loving each other. Not being a biblical scholar, I can not say for certain there is even a single verse about self-love. My thoughts about self-love come from my own personal relationship with God. How can we be examples of love towards one another if we don't love ourselves? How can I not love myself if God loves me so much that He sacrificed His own Son for me?
God teaches us to nourish the life He gave us.
If God loves me this much, then yes, I think it is a must that I do as well. What is self-love? How does God prefer that I love myself? Though each person would probably answer these questions differently, there are some points on which most of us would probably agree. I know He desires each of His children to excel in life but at the least, He teaches us to nourish the life He gave us.
He wants me to take care of my physical body so that it will last as long as possible. It is up to me to live as healthy a life as my will power will allow. He has a plan for me on this Earth and I will need my body to carry that plan into fruition. It is my very own personal temple in this world. It pleases God when I nourish it instead of causing its premature breakdown. My body is my responsibility and my soul is the occupant. I am nowhere near the perfect tenant but I can try to be better.
He delights when I take care of myself mentally by surrounding myself with positive and uplifting people while distancing myself from harmful influences and unfit situations. Just as I feed my body nourishing food and drink, it's also necessary that I feed my mind nourishing thoughts. The brain must be worked out just like the body if it's going to function optimally. Everything I put into my brain does not need to exercise it but I do have to make the conscious effort of challenging it to function at its best.
Self-love can no longer be negotiable.
Loving on myself can mean refueling my spirit by spending time with God or even just carving out some me time. Some people try to present God as solely an authoritarian figure and that all He expects from us is mindless obedience. He only wants our obedience because He knows what is and isn't good for us. He wants us to enjoy life in a way that positively enhances it and not in a way that will lead to negative consequences.
While doing everything that life requires, self-love can no longer be negotiable. It is more than just OK. It's something that God desires for each and every one of us. That doesn't mean life will be without hardships. It also doesn't imply that we should neglect the work we are put on Earth to do. It means that regardless of what we are going through and how full our plates are, we must employ healthy ways to continuously nourish, replenish, and love on ourselves. We must love on ourselves so we can enjoy this precious life God gave us.
I grew up in a home where my Papa's rules were the absolute law of the land. Sometimes the only way to get out of the hot seat was to volunteer someone else for it by telling on them. That sounds awful but if you were ever caught on the wrong side of Papa's discipline, then you would know how very necessary it was to try to save your own hide. The man did not play, not at all.
It's not always children who point out the misdeeds of others to hide their own. I had developed a pattern of doing this in my communications with God. I would often point out what I felt others were doing wrong in a subconscious effort not to deal with my own vices.
I was a professional at playing the victim.
I would act as if I had no faults, as if nothing inside me needing fixing. I came to Him thinking that the only help I could use from Him was to get others to believe in a way that benefited me. I wanted others to accept me as I was because I didn't see any need for change within.
It's not that I truly thought I was perfect, it was that I thought my life circumstances had warranted me a free pass. I felt that because of some of my misfortunes, it was alright for me to act any which way. The problem was always the fault of someone else. I was unwilling to accept responsibility and accountability for my actions.
I was a professional at playing the victim. I had it down cold. I thought my victim status allowed me to be beyond reproach. I was unable to accept that some of my negative life circumstances had produced unhealthy traits that I needed to address and overcome. I always had reasons for doing wrong and I couldn't understand why He was unwilling to make others see my point of view.
I acted as if I was the only person dealing with adverse conditions.
I needed God to justify my bad behavior and bad decisions. I hoped he would make others see that some of the destructive things I was doing, I did because I was hurting inside. I definitely at that time did not consider that everyone has been hurt, that others also had sources of pain. I acted as if I was the only person dealing with adverse conditions.
I wanted God to show everyone how wrong they were about me. I had convinced myself that it was others that needed fixing and not me. I felt I had already been through more than my share of hardships; therefore the resulting behaviors and attitudes should be exempt from scrutiny. I was waiting for God to put me on a pedestal. Needless to say, He did not. He doesn't play favorites. That's simply not who He is. In the process of getting close to Him, I had to face my own truths.
Whether we are starting from a place of spiritual deprivation or simply trying to strengthen an already strong spirit, we all have room for improvement. No one now or ever will be perfect except Jesus. We can only be better and if I wanted to become a better person, I had to stop trying to divert blame and attention to others and deal with myself.
It took me a while to peel through the layers of bull that I had been presenting to God.
Once I dropped this victim persona and stopped deflecting, everything started to change. It didn't happen overnight. It took me a while to peel through the layers of bull that I had been presenting to God. It took some effort to get to the reality of what was going on in my heart and mind. I had to sort through all the lies and misrepresentations to reach a place where real communication, intimacy, and trust could begin.
Facing my negative truths was gut-wrenching but knowing God loves me unconditionally provided the strength I required to start taking an inventory. We are all worth the efforts of self-betterment and empowerment. I was only cheating myself by pointing fingers at others who were navigating the same journey. It was time for me to concentrate on my own healing and growth. I am responsible for doing the emotional and spiritual work to become a better person. It is not up to others. It has always been up to me.
I want to help uplift, inspire and empower others and to help leave the world a little better than I found it. I am an author, deep thinker & optimist. I know God is love. I am the author of "Candidreams: I Remember the Beginning" and "Role Reversal: Turn Pain Into Power".
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Featuring original artwork by Ran H.