Once upon a time, there was a baby, not planned but wanted, loved, and nurtured. She was cared for with tenderness and affection and knew not fear, concern, or worry. She explored her world with natural curiosity and would recollect seeing a shiny doorknob as her first retained visual memory.
Exposed to people and situations outside her family as she leaned into the larger world, she learned she wouldn’t automatically be the “sweetest” or “smartest.” She’d recall walking home alone from kindergarten, crying because a boy claimed her circus drawing—her earliest recollection of being hurt and vulnerable.
Responsibilities with a house full of children could be overwhelming. She learned the heavy price of “people pleasing.” Abused by someone outside the family, like many young girls, it remained untold until another damaged child shared her story. She put up invisible walls and loved herself less but wouldn’t process it until decades later.
Her intelligence and striving to be her best gave her value in her teen years. She caused no trouble and pushed no boundaries, making her, I suppose, easy to love. She had dear friends, was involved in high school activities, went to college (living at home to help raise six younger children), and pushed forward into her dreams of what “life could hold.”
When she became a mother, her world expanded with never-understood devotion. She loved herself again, her heart holding unimaginable wonder, and fiercely protected her daughters, her center—breathing beauty into life. But, too soon, she realized the man she married would break her. Survival required change and a new reality
Being an adult carried joy and sorrow. The world and her responsibilities kept growing. Sometimes she chose to believe in people who, in hindsight, weren’t those she should have put her faith in. Often, she decided she wasn’t “enough;” self-love floundered, hidden behind exhaustion, fear, and pain. She learned life lessons and vowed not to repeat the same mistakes.
She trusted, loved, and got crushed again. At times, she stopped believing in herself—slunk back to the child-damaged years. But, the undying love of her parents, daughters, and friends mended her as the journey continued. She created a new reality, loved her daughters with abandon, built a career, and was independent. She was happy and again fell back in love with herself.
She’d again experience tragedy and sorrow but stood firm in her convictions, sometimes losing stamina but never her love for others. She grieved inroads but celebrated life, sometimes falling in and out of love with herself, depending on how others treated her. Decades later, she wept when she understood that seeing herself through others’ eyes differed from seeing herself through God’s eyes.
The Final Chapter
Surrounded by her children, grandchildren, spouse, and dear friends, she recounted life stories—mostly of laughter and adventure, not pain. She’d laugh at herself and let go of old hurts, pursuing joy like that two-year-old discovering the doorknob. She understood that the essence of life is fully living into it with understanding, love, unbridled joy, and peace. Of course, she allowed herself tears, but mainly she desired to smile and laugh. She didn’t fear leaving the earth because she knew this existence was transitory. And, she said, “I love you,” regularly, a statement of fact reinforcing what her heart felt.
Who is this person? She’s like most people we know. She’s the woman who appears to have it “all together” and the man who looks like he’s falling apart. She’s the teenager raising money to help those struggling and the student bullying another kid. She’s the man lunching with his elderly father and the woman screaming at her child. Like most of us, she’s a conglomeration of all the years, the beauty and the sorrow, the blessedness and the unseemly.
I’ve had to rewrite my own love story throughout life. There were times when I was incredibly hard on myself and those when like that little girl, I only saw my value through the eyes of others; days when I’ve been proud of myself and days when I was just doing the best I could. There have been years when I couldn’t imagine life being any more challenging, and there have been stages when I walked in a place of complete and utter bliss, knowing I am beloved.
While we’re still on this earth, we should choose to love ourselves, believe in the goodness of ourselves, and be our best selves.
What is your life story?
Are there multiple chapters of bliss and joy, or only road bumps of sorrow?
Are you confident in who you are, or do you allow others to create feelings of being “less than?”
If you write your memoir, will it be a story of love?
My prayer for you this week is that—with whatever time you have left in this life—you first love yourself so that you can love others, and they can love you. You are worth that and so much more.
And so it is…..
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