The best day of my life was the day I made the conscious decision to love myself.
As a teenager, it seemed that a bout of self-loathing was a rite of passage. There were countless musicians that made a living off of the poetic angst of the teen years. I had by no means a terribly difficult childhood, but wallowing in the supposed misery of life became somehow instinctual around age 14. Spending time in front of the mirror was painful and getting dressed was a chore because no fabric was black enough and no eyeliner smoky enough to convey my dark and twisted soul.
Moving out of my teen years, I naively assumed this phase would pass naturally, and I would glide into adulthood like the graceful swan leaving the ugly duckling in the dust. No such transformation occurred. I continued to hate and doubt and belittle myself, but by this point, I was adding in feelings of guilt and shame for how I couldn’t seem to love myself.
Around age 22, I was struck with a profound metaphor for my struggles with insecurity and self-hatred. In His creation of me, God made my mind a pristine living room with white fabric furniture. Somehow, I had left my front door open, and Satan came tramping in with muddy boots and filthy clothes and proceeded to lounge about on all of my furniture, leaving stains everywhere he touched. I didn’t recognize my white living room anymore because it had become so blackened. This realization and image forced me to learn how to properly shut the door, put up a few deadbolts, and bar Satan’s access to my living room – my mind. God gave me the strength to grab a metaphorical bottle of Clorox and begin the attempt to scrub clean the filth of Satan’s once all-consuming presence. Once I started to dissect the lies I’d been telling myself, I could see the white fabric again.
This was by no means an overnight transformation. But I began to spend more time in front of the mirror, and I picked apart my appearance for everything I could love about it. Some days, it’s not easy to love hormonal breakouts. It’s not easy to love the weight I haven’t yet lost from having children. But I speak love to myself anyway. As I look internally, it’s not easy to love the part of me that is lazy and envious and quick to anger. But I began to recognize those as other areas where Satan had been granted access and needed to be served with an eviction notice.
It’s been a few years, and loving myself is a more instinctual response now. It’s become easier to compliment myself and recognize all the parts of me that are made in the image of God. Ironically, the years I spent hating myself were the vainest and most self-absorbed years of my life, because I never stopped thinking about me and making everything about me. Now, I am able to take a backseat to the glory of God because I’m not fighting against love. Every desire I have for self-improvement comes from a place of self-care and the aspiration for health and wholeness, instead of being driven by hatred and disappointment.
I say that it was a conscious decision to love myself because it was one that did not come naturally. To this day, Satan will still knock at the door, or try to sneak through the letterbox unnoticed, and I have to take time to prayerfully check the deadbolts and protect my fortress. The best day of my life was the day I made the conscious decision to love myself, as my Father loved me first.