Discovering Self-Love, God’s Way
I sat at my desk on a cold morning, trying to decide how much effort I was going to put into being productive during my last few days of employment. I began to doodle on my lavender-colored sticky note. I wrote the word “love.” For no reason at all, I scribbled this word and traced the letters, making the font thicker and bolder. I stopped to admire my artwork when I heard this question, “What is love?”
Of course, I know what love is. I’m a mother for goodness sakes. But I paused and heard it again, “What is love?” Immediately, this picture frame with the scripted words appeared, “Love is patient; love is kind…”
This verse hung in the bathroom of my childhood home for years. I’m almost certain my parents painted around that picture because it never moved. I would read those words over and over in my mind as I sat on the floor painting my toes, trying to memorize it. Over the years, I would see the start of those few words, “Love is patient; love is kind…” and I never felt the need to read on because I KNEW that verse. I had it memorized. Plus, I felt I was living it the best I knew how. But today, I stopped and read that verse with a new, more profound understanding.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
I read the words more judiciously this time, taking in each description of the word love. I didn’t read it over and over again to simply memorize the phrases. This time, I wanted to understand the true message it held. As I read, I acknowledged I was in a dark place. I was being influenced by a corrupt person who was still worthy of love.
You see, for quite some time, I worked for an organization with a supervisor who was labeled by all who worked with or for her, as malevolent. She made a very negative impact on people’s lives. A devoted few endured this treatment for longer than a few months; they became bitter and deleterious. Many would claim they hated who they were when they came into work each day because they simply were not themselves. I was among the few who tried to make the most out of a toxic situation. I too became unfamiliar with myself.
Some days, I had to be someone I hated. I even made excuses for my behavior because I felt I had no choice but to play the game. I was a pawn in a game, and I let it happen, all for the sake of a paycheck every other week. At one point, I even convinced myself that if I continued to play the game, I could easily climb the ladder. Perhaps, I would climb so high I could take her job and make the workplace what it should be; I could turn it all around. I knew as soon as I had that thought, I was at risk of losing myself. But I already felt lost. My heart and actions were not working in harmony, and I couldn’t find peace.
Fast forward, I applied for another job and was thankfully chosen as the top candidate. I quickly told my boss the news that I was interviewing and to expect my resignation. As I waited for my start date, I became even more disheartened. I began to think I would never escape the pit I was in and that this would follow me wherever I went. I started to convince myself that’s how it is in the working world, and I should just accept it. Each day, I would count the hours, the minutes, and the seconds before I could leave and never come back.
God says in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” He made it very clear that His ultimate instruction is to love.
Despite my fleshly desire to loathe my supervisor and call her out by her name, I had to obey God. He gave me a choice, and I decided to love her. I chose not to dishonor her or keep any record of wrongs. I then made a promise to myself to always choose love, with no exceptions. Once I claimed that, all the bitter feelings I had for people who hurt me flooded my mind. I relived the hurt, and the pressure filled my chest. I knew this was bigger than my current situation. I had become bitter. I felt angry. I was broken.
God really peeled back the hardened layers of my heart and revealed the open wounds I thought were just scars. I realized they had actually festered and were working their way to infect my very core. Slowly, I began to work through those moments in my life. One by one, I asked myself why I decided against love. “But choosing love doesn’t erase what happened, God,” I would say to myself. “They were still wrong,” I would remind Him. And He said, “Harboring anger due to the words or actions of others does nothing more than invite bitterness and resentment into your heart. Wallowing in cynicism and self-pity relinquishes your power over your life. It allows the devil to take control over your perception and thus, your actions.”
Like a flood, I had my revelation. I was walking down a path of destruction, going further and further off the beaten path; it was all my doing. I chose this route by merely refusing to love. I was the reason I was so unhappy.
It was hard to admit my transgression when it derived from the misconduct of another. But God came for me and illuminated the way that led me back on a path towards grace. He showed me how to set myself free from the bondage that had inhibited me for so long. He showed me that I could let go of bitterness and resentment by simply embodying one word, love. I not only had to commit to loving others when it wasn’t easy, but I had to love myself too. I needed to show myself enough self-love and respect to reflect on my decisions, thoughts, and emotions. I needed to stop and look in the mirror so I could see what God wanted me to see. And with that, my journey of self-love began.
Whatever the stage of your journey, I hope you will join me on this walk of discovery. I do not have life figured out, and I certainly do not have all the answers, but I do have a desire for a life that is filled with purpose. I yearn to encourage habits that cultivate love within, not only for me but for this community of Dear Purposeful Women. I am looking forward to sharing my life experiences, challenges, and self-love journey in hopes that it will inspire you to love you.
Let’s teach, share, and support each other to self-love by leaving a comment below. I would love to know, what would you do for yourself if you could live a day without any obligations?
Megan Bouchillon | DPW Guest Writer
Megan Bouchillon’s days are full with being a working mom, wife to her best friend and an owner of many plants. She somehow manages to fit her passions into the cracks of her day; which are, writing, podcasting, thrifting, spinning in circles with her son and laughing with her hubby.