I Belong to Myself

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By Breanna Lowman

I grew up in the church. I grew up in a culture where loving others was prioritized. And loving others became what I wanted to be known for. It was everything to me.

Now it is time to admit that, throughout my life, there has been a girl that I have regularly hated. I have called her names like fat and ugly and stupid. I have thought of her as incompetent and invaluable and incapable. I have seen her as unlovable, undeserving, and unworthy. I have been there to point out her imperfections and weaknesses, to make her feel guilty for what she was or wasn’t doing, and to pressure her into being someone she’s not.

I have been her biggest critic for her whole life and I have been pretty nasty.

Is this surprising for a “good” Christian girl? Maybe. But even more surprising is that for most of my life it seemed the church encouraged me to hate this person, to not think of her or her needs, to bury her dreams and desires or to ignore her altogether.

This girl belongs to me. This girl is me. And this girl has been hated for too long.

Through sermons, books, and individuals, I was repeatedly taught and shown that I was always supposed to come last, always supposed to deny myself, and always supposed to think of others. I was supposed to love others unconditionally, but love myself? No, that was self-centered, wrong; heresy even.

To think of myself or my needs was selfishness. To be proud of myself or my accomplishments was pride. To take care of my body or spend time on physical self-care was vanity. To look beautiful or be confident in my body was a possibility for men to lust after me. To accept and love myself was heresy.

But I belong to myself. And it is time to stand up for myself. It is time to become my own best advocate.

I used to love myself based on how well I loved other people. I was known for finding the gold in people, loving over the top, and never stopping to let those around me know how much they were loved by Jesus and by me. But then I became a mother, and I didn’t have the time or the energy to love others like I had before. And so, my identity disappeared. I didn’t know who I was or what was wrong with me. I hated myself, because my love for myself was wrapped up in how others experienced my love for them.

Nearly two years ago, I had a dream that was more like a vision. I’d just gotten my daughter to sleep and was feeling tired, exhausted, ugly, and unimportant. I laid on the ground, my head on my husband’s shoulder. He prayed for me and as he did, I saw a picture. There was a beautiful girl in a long, flowing, white dress walking on the beach. The waves behind her were crashing and the seagulls above were screeching. The wind was blowing the girl’s long, beautiful, dirty blonde hair as she danced in the sand. She turned toward me, smiling, moving in slow motion. I was overcome with the scene, captivated by the beauty and the peace of the moment.

Then I heard Jesus’s voice as he said, “This is you. See yourself. You are beautiful.”

What!? I didn’t think I’d heard right. How could I have been looking at myself? The picture didn’t leave my mind, and the more I stared at the girl, the more I saw myself. I saw my true self, the me that maybe I could see if the cruel self-talk disappeared. I chose to accept this girl as myself and I felt such peace and love. I felt beautiful down to my core. And I thought, “Wow, sometimes it only takes a moment to change everything you feel about yourself.”

Even after moments like these, my self-condemning thoughts still seem to creep back in. But I want to stand up against them now. Because they change what I do, how I feel, and who I feel that I am.

I, for one, need to start speaking love and kindness to myself. I need to tell myself that I am capable, I am doing my best, I am enough, I am beautiful. I need to be my own advocate because I belong to myself. Whether I believe it in the moment or not, I am valuable and worthy. And so are you.

Around the same time as this dream, Jesus spoke to me, “Your mission is not to love, but to be loved.”

This shook me to the core and along with the vision, was the catalyst for starting me on the past two-year journey of rediscovering who I am and the inherent value I have just being me. Two years of learning to love myself, finding my inner goddess, becoming okay with taking care of myself, and not feeling guilty for prioritizing my kids and family. This has not been an easy journey. I’ve had to fight many past beliefs, like only having value if I give value to someone else by loving or helping them. Or that loving myself is equivalent with self-absorption and selfishness.

I know myself inside and out. I hear my thoughts and listen to my voices. I see myself with all my imperfections and it’s a choice to love myself. To stand up for myself and say, “Yes, I am worthy. Yes, I have value!”

Don’t get me wrong, loving others is still SO important. But I have learned that I love others so much better when I love myself. When my value isn’t derived from others, I can love others freely without expectation. I can love with no need of approval. When I feel value apart from others, I become free to react and give with more grace.

Jesus speaks beauty and love over me. Isn’t it about time I do the same? Jesus says I’m valuable in and of myself. Isn’t it about time I agree?

I’m going to wear what I want, even if I may have thought I couldn’t pull it off. I’m going to be confident in my body, even though I may have thought I didn’t deserve confidence until I lost a certain amount of weight. I’m going to love myself, even though I may have thought it was taboo as a Christian to do so. I’m going to believe that the utterly beautiful, bold and brave, daughter of the King that Jesus sees when he looks at me is who I am and that I have value and worth apart from everything I do or could do or have done. I belong to Jesus first. But I also belong to myself.

I will leave you with a prayer from a book I recently read, Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford:

I wish …

I wish you victory against the cruel inner voice,

To see self-acceptance truly is a choice.

I wish you victory against the worries that fill your mind,

To seek contentment that you shall surely find.

I wish you victory against the tunnel vision that blinds your view,

From the exquisite beauty that radiates from you.

I wish you victory against dark thoughts that invade your sleep,

To instead be filled with peace that you shall forever keep.

And through each victory that comes with each passing day,

A melody will fill your heart, for you my friend, I pray.

Loving messages becoming more and more clear,

Drowning out the haunting voice of inner doubt and fear.

And finally, you will hear it, and life will truly begin,

The victory song of self-acceptance that only comes from within.”

______________________

About Breanna:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am a wannabe artist who glories in the imperfect, a traveler who adores new cultures, a writer who values authenticity, a free spirit once bound by insecurity and performance, and a busybody learning to rest in the simple and mundane. I am a wife to a wonderful and caring husband (Chris), a mother to two beautiful children (Ru and Ryker), and a follower of Jesus, our one true king. Traveling to nine countries and living in China for nearly five years, opened my eyes to the world and showed me more of the true Jesus. I am currently living with my family back in our hometown of Prescott, Arizona waiting for our next adventure.

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