The topic of self-love is one that I’m very passionate about. For me, learning to love myself has been a process, one that I’m continually working on and learning about. One that I feel will never be finished, as I’m continually changing and growing and becoming different versions of myself.
In my search for ‘self-love’ (whatever that means—it seems to take on so many definitions from this crazy world) what I’ve realized is that loving yourself doesn’t mean you’re continually striving for perfection, or can only fully care for who you are when you’re whole and complete.
Self-love isn’t waiting until you’re perfect, or building up to perfection before you accept and appreciate who you are. Self-love is loving your mess.
And this is something that I’ve written about over and over and over, continually realizing that I am more than enough, that we all are more than enough, just as we are. But that shouldn’t stop us for pushing to become better or searching for more.
Something that continually challenges me, though, as a woman of faith, is the contradiction I’ve found between self-love and God-love (between loving myself and my body, and loving my God).
In the Christian faith it seems like there’s such negativity surrounding self-love. Many believers push back on it, saying that to be a true Christian is to surrender your body, your being to your Father. To not see yourself as an entity, but as a creation. To not celebrate your human attributes, but your Godly ones—meaning your soul, your spirit—parts of you that transcend the impermanent, that go beyond skin.
I understand the principle behind this. I understand that being a Christian means focusing on God, not on my human body or what the world tells me ‘beauty’ or ‘perfection’ is. I know better than to strive for earthly perfection (and I don’t want earthly perfection) because I know none of that matters.
I know at the end of the day, what matters is not my body, but my soul—my love and passion for faith and the people around me.
But I think it’s so important, as believers and non-believers alike, that we celebrate ourselves, too. That we love our bodies, our brains, our hearts. That we see ourselves not as entities separate from Christ but as creations, destined to love and grow and build and break and reform and share His light with those around us.
I want to push back against the idea that our bodies should not be celebrated if we’re Christians.
In fact, I truly believe the opposite. I think that because God loves us, we should love ourselves.
We should love ourselves whether we’re size zeros or size sixteens, whether we eat that second piece of chocolate cake or opt for the smoothie instead, whether we run an extra mile or spend the afternoon leisurely walking with friends, whether we are tall or short or thin or muscular or athletic or petite or in a bikini or turtleneck sweater.
Regardless of who we are or how we look, He made us in His image—let’s celebrate that we are His creations.
I wrote about this in-depth back in June 2017, but the idea keeps circling back in my mind, especially when I consider some of the things I’ve seen on the internet—women berating other women for their clothing or swimsuit choices, or backlash some believers get for being ‘hypocritical.’ I think about this when I consider the beautiful artwork of my friend Maddie James, who runs the Everyday Beauty page, creating (and celebrating) the nude female body through drawing and painting.
There shouldn’t be a distinction between loving ourselves and loving our God.
Here’s an excerpt from that piece, ‘Loving Your Body And Loving Your God Are Not Mutually Exclusive’:
“I told myself I was beautiful—not perfect—but beautiful all the same. Because being beautiful is not dependent upon the standards of the world or the negative words in my head. Beauty comes from God.
And in my little journey, one thing I’ve realized is that being a Christian and loving your body don’t have to live on opposite ends of the spectrum. You don’t have to choose between being a follower of God and being confident in your own skin.”
And to me, those words still feel so true to my heart.
I don’t think God wants us to choose—whether to love Him or love ourselves. I don’t think it’s really even a competition to begin with. I think that He created us as we are, and so we should celebrate that.
No, we aren’t perfect. No we’re not always going to have it together. Yes, we’re going to be messy. Yes, we’re going to make mistakes and not feel full or whole or secure all the time. But at the end of the day, our bodies—our broken, beautiful bodies—should be celebrated. Because we are of God.