As You Love Yourself

He answered: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Luke 10:27 NIV

I have been thinking about this since before I went to bed last night. I have been thinking of how to share this…whether to do an Instagram post or break my Lent fast from Facebook because it seemed so important to share, or whether to simply share it with my girlfriends as I have been doing the last few days. For preservation of anonymity, I decided to do what I do best..write.

After bible study, I had a conversation with a friend that turned to the topic of my singleness. He asked, why don’t I have a boyfriend? My reply was the truth, in that I wanted to detox, release all the baggage of relationships past, release all of the things that have happened to me over the years, be the best me I could be, and do what God asked me to do, but do it for myself. I admitted I wanted to be in a relationship, loved being in one, but I wasn’t ready for it. As I got off the video, I realized that this was something much more than that. Back in 2009 after my transplant, one of the things I asked of God was that He teach me to love others the way He loved me and to love myself that way too. So as He spoke to my heart last night and reminded me of that, I realized that I was loving myself the way God wanted me to love myself by choosing to remain single and celibate until I meet my husband. I was loving myself so that I could love my neighbors as myself. Let’s be real, how can you love other people if you don’t love yourself?

I tried writing this last night before I went to sleep…but delirium and tiredness hit me heavy. As I woke up with this on my mind, it kept coming back to me that it would have been impossible for me to fully love someone, my future husband for example, if I continued to carry around all of the filth and garbage from the past. I realized that I could not give God or him all of me in holding on to what BoBo did to me or mistakes I made. I realized I could not love Marquita and thus I could not love others being who I used to be. Yesterday, I shared with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and undoubtedly the world how I woke up feeling beautiful. I never in my life experienced that feeling…and I didn’t have on any makeup or lip gloss…just a smile and my clothes that are almost two sizes too big in some areas lol. I realized that of all of the things I have gone through in the last 8 months of this Esther purification process (reply if you’d like more details in how God has been transforming me), the greatest lesson has been in loving myself. The products of this journey so far include knowing my worth, being able to be brutally honest with myself about the mistakes I have made, listening to and learning from others, and just embracing me for everything that includes…in essence, loving me.

I think of this scripture and it dawned on me how it is apparent that there is a lack of love in the world, and that the enemy’s attempts at perverting everything God has created are in actuality, working–but I digress because God already has the glory from this. Hate is apparent in every area of our lives, from global interactions to day-to-day driving experiences. People are isolated and cut off from real interactions with others, they flip people off when driving, or in my case, threaten to ride around with a bucket of rocks to beam at people every time they do something I don’t like on the road, lol. But this is not how God intended us to be. I have learned that it is in loving God–submitting, being obedient, and trusting Him, having faith in every single thing He says–that I learned to love me. The things I have done have been unorthodox, even strange (but hey God is extraordinary, if Naaman dipped seven times in the dirty Jordan and was healed of leprosy…then my celibacy and singleness are mere tasks for the greater glory He will soon reveal).

You cannot love yourself walking around in shame. You cannot love yourself walking around dragging generational curses (which, YOU have the authority to condemn and break, Isa 54:17) or by allowing yourself to be oppressed by demonic influences (let’s be real…lust, perversion, whoredoms, addictions, depression, and bondage define the world we live in…and it was only after being delivered from it that I recognized its hold on me, but more about that to come soon). You cannot love yourself ignoring the truth. The truth is, it has been in my obedience and willingness to trust God that I have learned so much. I have lost so much ‘weight’ both literally and spiritually, because I got fed up with not loving myself and going back to why this and why that, why isn’t my life going the way I want it to go. It all started because I loved someone else so much that I wanted to forgive and be a better woman… But there was a greater gift in store for me, because this journey has been so beautiful–I finally love who I see everyday looking back at me, unconditionally. This journey has opened my eyes to seeing the beauty in others, and also in being loving to others even when the old me could give two…craps about even speaking to people. The greatest commandments–to love God and to love others as ourselves–can change the world if practiced. It is my hope that in my sharing this process, and eventually the whole of it with you all, that you will go against the norm, against society’s demands of assimilation, and be the agent of change in your sphere of influence. I am sure your journey to true self-love–how can you love yourself if you don’t love God–and love of others will be different from my own…but stop resisting it and just be! Love your neighbors as you love yourself…love yourself today!

"I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another." John 13:34 HCSB


Going Against the Status Quo: Radical Obedience

Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, "Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean." 2 Kings 5:10 HCSB

God has been having me do a whole lot lately, to stretch myself and to rid me of attitudes, behaviors, and unnecessary things that have hindered my journey. One thing in particular has been an increase in having difficult conversations. If you know me, I typically avoid conversations I do not want to have. I felt like if I ignored a thing long enough it would simply go away. Sadly, I realize now that it is a product of the things that happened to me growing up–I ignored, or rather, refused to acknowledge, some ugly truths until some other stimulus forced it to emerge from the cauldron. It is like boiling anything under pressure. Once the pressure builds to a high enough level, that thing is bound to boil over, and for me, it was not always pretty when it came out–but I digress, because when is the truth ever pretty?

One of my prayers has been for boldness. God in His awesomeness forced my hand with the first situation, because I had no intention of paying this thing a second thought. But God had the situation come to me, and when I got off the phone, I felt the press on my heart to say something more. I ignored it, so I woke up the next day with the words to say on my mind. All day that following day I procrastinated, but I prayed for the courage to have the conversation. Then alas after a strange series of events that following morning, now day 3, I couldn’t fight myself anymore and had the conversation. To my surprise it went well, even after what felt like haggling to finally say what God instructed me to say. So since then, I have been presented with other situations to question myself while doing something out of my comfort zone…and all have left me asking God, why do You have ME doing this?

To that, there is no obvious answer. Whether it is having a difficult conversation, swallowing a pill of your being wrong and admitting it, arguing your view, following some strange course to be healed or ignoring the need to stand up for yourself, the purpose behind all of these situations is to teach us obedience. Nowadays we live in a world where obedience is a foreign language, albeit unrecognizable for most. We have media telling us to cry mutiny against our leadership and encouraging the proliferation of violence among our children and we also have cartoons teaching children to lie and be disobedient. Radical obedience seems to be unfounded; as I thought about this earlier, I was reminded of Naaman, in 2 Kings 5, the Syrian general who was also a leper. He heard of in Samaria through one of the servants and his ability to heal him. Upon arrival, Naaman offered Elisha money to be healed. Instead, Elisha sent one of his servants to tell Naaman to wash in the Jordan 7 times. This sounds like a pretty ridiculous thing to do to Naaman, (and me also) so he got angry–and replied that there were better rivers that he could have done the same thing in. How many times have you asked God for a thing and He gave you a reply like, go apologize or give that woman $20, or something absurd in your rational, human mind?

It was not until his servants rephrased it, thus shedding light on the situation, that Naaman actually considered the solution. After washing himself those 7 times, his skin was as a child’s skin and he was clean. I do not know what God’s entire purpose was in those things I experienced, I know teaching me boldness for sure and I assume building my confidence in Him, but I also gained the understanding of why we need to be obedient. You never know if your doing that radical thing God has been pressing on your heart is the key to your breakthrough, so why not at least try? In this process, I have encountered those less than willing to hear what I had to say, but I know that my reward is in doing what I was instructed to do. And the more you are obedient, God will entrust you with more and greater tasks…consider it an honor!

For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Matthew 25:29 HCSB