Thursday, March 28, 2013

"On Fire": 7 Signs That You Truly Love Yourself

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"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"---Galatians 5:14(NKJV)


Do you sense a bit of a theme right now?

Yeah...it seems that self-love is where the Spirit (John 4:24) has us in this season. That's a part of the reason why the giveaway (which is right under this message) is still up. I'm going to pull it down..."later eventually". There are women who have contacted me to receive one of the necklaces, but honestly, I know there are more who have not had a healthy relationship with a man before and so I'll remove it (and stop purchasing these necklaces) once I feel a...release to do so.

That said, after reading an excerpt of an interview with R&B singer Fantasia earlier this week, I was prompted to pen this checklist. As they were asking her questions regarding her past relationship---one that, if you have followed her journey at all, you know was *severely compromised*---she said something that I found to be quite mature and very healthy: "If I don't love myself, then I can't be in a relationship."

IF I DON'T LOVE MYSELF, THEN I CAN'T BE IN A RELATIONSHIP.

Do you know how much drama could be spared from broken hearts and illicit affairs to STDs and unplanned (and oftentimes unwanted) pregnancies if ALL WOMEN (shoot, all people for that matter) applied that simple "formula" to their lives? So many people go into relationships *needy* for someone to love them, wanting someone else to do what they themselves are ill-equipped to do, when the reality (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message) is that all solid relationships begin with a deep and profound love for God (and according to the Word, which is God, if you love him you are going to *keep his commandments*---John 15:10, John 1:1) *and then* that you love your neighbor (friend, companion) *as you love yourself* (Mark 12:30-31). In other words, if your love for another is not a reflection of the love that you have God and then for yourself, not only are you are being disobedient to your Creator, but you're actually attempting to build a relationship on a very unhealthy foundation.

LOVE FOR GOD, SELF *AND THEN* OTHERS IS THE HEALTHY FOUNDATION FOR A RELATIONSHIP.

So, in the effort to prevent more casualties of women settling for less than they deserve or what God desires for them to have (and not necessarily in that order-James1:14-17), the Holy Spirit and I (Luke 12:12) have created a list consisting of seven signs that you truly do love yourself:

1) God is a top priority. A part of the reason why Exodus 20:3 and I Corinthians 10:14 tells us to leave idolatry alone is because...well, Romans 1 tells us why. When we are in a place where anyone or thing means more to us than God does (and if we're in relationships that compromise God's standards, then it is indeed an idol for us), really strange things tend to happen. We give our hearts and bodies prematurely (I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message). We talk ourselves out of blaring warning signs. We ignore wise counsel and take on that "It's me and him against the world" mentality (Proverbs 10:12). We exchange sleep overs with "him" for intimate time with God (Psalm 46:5). In a nutshell, we find our flesh running the relationship rather than the Spirit  (Galatians 5:16-17) and one of the biggest dangers with that is the flesh has no healthy concept of love. It is extremely lust-driven and lust is rooted in selfishness and manipulation---in saying and doing *whatever needs to be said and done in order to get what it wants*. Even if it means acting like you're in a "love relationship" when really all you're in is a needy situation. When God is your top priority, he gives you a heads up on your dead-end relationship before you even start it.

2) You do not talk yourself out of your standards. One of my favorite quotes of all time is one that I believe I've shared on here before: "Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be." You know, there are a lot of people who will say that you shouldn't have a list of what you want in a man because God may have something else in mind. Well...yes and no. Here's the Spirit-led resolve that I've come to. If your list lines up with God's standards then *you had better keep that list in mind* because it can keep you out of *so much foolishness*. We all know that fornication and adultery brings forth judgment (Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 6:9-10) and so if you're having sex in your relationship, you have talked yourself out of what should be a standard for you. The Word says that we are to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) and so if you're in a relationship with someone who doesn't *worship God*, you have talked yourself out of a standard that you should have for you. Philippians 2:3 tells us not to do anything out of selfishness and I Corinthians 13:5(NCV) tells us that "Love is not selfish" and so if you are in a relationship where the guy always puts what he wants (especially if it's at your spiritual expense) over what you need, you have talked yourself out of a standard that you have set for you. This list can go on and on, but the point is this: If you are in a relationship and you don't have peace about something that is going on within it, *spend some time in the Word* to see what it says. Shoot, just a week spent in Ecclesiastes and Proverbs alone can be *quite enlightening for a sistah*. It's a *wealth* of common sense. As a matter of fact, I so dig how the Message Version of Proverbs 18:12-21 starts off with "I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street." Right. Wisdom and sanity walk hand in hand. Which brings me to the next point.

3) You walk, daily, with three of the gifts that God has given you: power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Oh, and you also don't walk in what he didn't give you: fear. So many women that I talk to have one main thing as the motivating factor in so much that they do: *fear*. They are in the relationship that they're in because they *fear* they will be alone. They work in the career path that they do because they *fear* that they can't live out their dreams. They don't step out and try some new things because they *fear* what everyone else is going to think. God didn't give you a reason to fear. As a matter of fact, I John 4:18 tells us that fear involves torment and that perfect love (which would be God) casts fear out. If you *really believe* (Mark 9:23) that, then you will embrace that God gave you power (the ability to do or act), love (I Corinthians 13:4-8) and a sound (healthy, secure and competent) mind. If you sense that you're lacking in any of these areas---especially the "sound" mind part---there is nothing wrong with seeking some counsel on that. No relationship is healthy when both people are not operating from a "2 Timothy 1:7" place and head and heart space.

4) You watch your mouth. OK, this might seem like I'm referencing gossip, however, I'm sure most of us know that doing that is...problematic (Proverbs 18:21). Actually, I'm going a bit deeper. There is nothing worse than "humble pride". You know the kind: people who *think* they are humble yet they are actually some of the most arrogant and manipulative people around. There is not nearly enough time to break this down but as it relates to their particular point, here's my point. Do you know someone who is given a complement and they respond with some kind of self-deprecating statement? Like you might say "Oh, you look so cute today" and they come back with "I'm so fat. I need to lose weight." And then you say "No you don't, you look great" and then they say "I really need to do something with my hair." Before you notice, you've been talking to them for 10 minutes about how great they are and you haven't even noticed that they "baited you in" to keep flattering them. And not only that, but they haven't even found it in them to affirm you at all. A person who loves themselves one, knows how to receive a compliment (a simple "thank you" will suffice). A person who loves themselves knows that they were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) AND individually crafted (Psalm 33:15) and not by them, but by God who is perfect in all of his ways (Deuteronomy 32:4). Therefore, they know that it is a pure insult to speak down about themselves because it's basically like telling God "When you made me, you messed up a bit over here." I don't know about you, but to me, it doesn't get any more arrogant than that.

5) You can go out by yourself. Women who always need to be around someone are the very individuals who have the full potential for getting on their husband's nerves someday. Why? Because there's a pretty good chance that they will always want to be up under them. My Baba (my mother's husband) said something that was pretty on point a few days ago: "Shellie, when a man is home all of the time, he is either depressed or has nothing to do. We are made to go out and provide. We need the time and space in order to do it." I ran that by another husband in my life and as he nodded his head up and down in agreement as he casually said, "A lot of husbands in the Bible were gone a lot. That's probably why the divorce rate was lower." (LOL) Here's the main point, though. If you can't go to the mall, movies or dinner alone now, that is an indication that somewhere within you, there is a hesitancy to be alone and enjoy your own space and solitude and here's the thing about *that*: Even in a marriage, there are going to be times when you'll need to be by yourself and OK with what---when your husband may be out of town on business (or you're out of town on business) or there's a family emergency and one of you has to tend to it or your husband wants to take a trip with some of his friends. If you are not someone who enjoys your own company *now*, you'll be the main gal who is texting and calling him all day looking for him to "keep you company" and that can make you a really...draining person to be around. I have many spiritual brothers in my world who share a lot of things with me in confidence about their relationships and one thing that comes up a lot is "I wish she would get a life of her own and quit always trying to do everything that I do all of the time." It's not just "boyfriends" who say this, either. A woman who can spend time alone with herself now and enjoys doing so, has a pretty big chance of not being this kind of woman who men complain about.

6) You know your own "love languages" *and* you personally tend to them on a regular basis. If you don't know what your top two love languages are, you can take a test here. For me, they are Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. I don't wait for someone to "love me in this way". I do these things even now. I'm pretty sure that you've noticed that I am a "quote hound" and I have quotes posted up all over my home (and on T-shirts and I keep cards that people dear to me send). As far as physical touch (um, yeah-LOL), I tend to make it a point to pamper myself. I give myself facials and pedicures. I'm getting back into enjoying bubble baths. Tending to my natural hair is a pleasure as I experiment with different products. I make it a point to take myself out to get lip glosses and "smell goods". My bed sheets feel luxurious. Bottom line, I honor my skin by making sure that what touches it honors it too. If your love language is Acts of Service, what do you do for yourself on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? If it's Quality Time, do you have quiet time set aside to watch a movie or read a book? If it's Gifts...shoot, there's absolutely nothing wrong with *budgeting out* money to purchase a new dress or some cute pumps. A woman who loves herself is fluent in her love languages as a single woman so that she can properly "translate" to a man how she feels most (and best) loved once she's in a relationship with him.

7) You are willing to wait on what's *best* rather than what's "good enough". It's a toxic epidemic, how many people I counsel who are in the relational ruts that they are simply because they got into a relationship that they rationalized was "good enough". I mean, I've said it before. The Woman in the Garden of Eden saw the fruit at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to be "good" (Genesis 3:6-7) and we all know how that played out (it killed her-Romans 6:23). Take it from someone who is just starting to really get some "good marks" in this life class. When you really embrace that "Love is patient", when you really trust that what God does can't be added or taken away (Ecclesiastes 3:14), when you truly believe that God can do exceedingly above all that you could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21), then you find yourself loving God, yourself *and* "him" enough to WAIT until the relationship that God has for you is best and right. BEST. AND. RIGHT. And sometimes, it requires quite a bit of time for everything to come together beautifully (Ecclesiastes 3:11). However, when you learn to embrace that you're made up of spirit *and then* flesh (I Corinthians 2:13-15), then you start to embrace life in "spirit time" and so days, weeks and months (flesh time-2 Peter 3:8) don't matter quite as much. You start to see things in spirit time: when things are in God's will (I John 5:14-15). When things will help to fulfill your purpose (Psalm 20:4). When it will make God as happy as it makes you. As I've come to love myself more, I get that I really am a child of the Most High (Psalm 82:6) and a member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9) and that the right man will see me as a "special pearl" in which he is willing to pay a high price (the "tag" is between him and God) in order to have me as his *lifesaver* (Genesis 2:18). And until he does, "single" is exactly what I need to be. However, when you *really love yourself*, that's not a concession prize...it's simply more time to enjoy this season.

So with all of this said, if you see that you have some more self-loving to do, hit a sistah up (missnosipho@gmail.com) and I'll place an order for some more necklaces.

Hmph. Better to have a "love and beloved" necklace as a single woman than a wedding ring that feels more like a heavy weight than a pretty piece of jewelry as a wife.

tmm,

SRW

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