“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” -Song of Solomon 4:7 ESV
“The problem with bars over your heart is that they trap you in as much as they keep others out. Meaning, they hold you captive to your negative thoughts about yourself, while simultaneously not allowing others in to free you of those thoughts!” – Prophetic word from Pablo Lorenzo, Worship Musician
I was talking to a friend about a book by Shawn Bolz, in which he writes, “You will not have authority over one you do not love.” Shawn was speaking about the gift of prophesy, but as I relayed this concept to my friend, I had a revelation of how this applies to us as individuals: In order to have authority over your own body, you must love yourself!
“After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.” –Ephesians 5:29-30 NIV
It’s time to take the bars off of your heart, friend. If you want to experience breakthrough in the area of health, fitness, clean eating, or rest, I believe part of the victory will come through truly loving yourself. This is a Biblical concept we are familiar with, in order to see breakthrough as it relates to other people, so why wouldn’t it apply to ourselves?
I think many of us think we love ourselves, but when it really comes down to it, we are believing the enemy’s lie. The enemy doesn’t want us to love ourselves. He wants to keep us silent and insecure. If we walk in confidence and embrace our identity and authority in Christ, we will be able to fulfill our God-given purpose and destiny!
What is your response when someone gives you a compliment? Do you truly embrace it, or do you minimize it, shift the focus, or disregard the kind word? Next time someone applauds something about you, try pausing, receiving it, allowing it to sink into your spirit, and simply saying, “Thank you.”
Do you compare yourself to others, silently trying to find some quality that is “worse” about the other person so that you feel better about yourself? Do you compete with people in certain areas, so that you can assure yourself you are “good” or “worthy” or “the best” at something? These are indications that you are searching for your value in the world, rather than embracing your identity in Christ.
God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He knew you and the call on your life before you were in your mother’s womb! He doesn’t regard you as any more or any less than anyone else. There is no competition. He loves us all the same, in different ways. He is proud of you, and longing for you to walk with Him. He is drawing you near to His heart. He is speaking to you… will you listen?
‘ Jesus answered, “The most important command is this: ‘Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God, he is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God. Love him with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second most important command is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ These two commands are the most important commands.” –Mark 12:29-31 ICB
“We are so focused on loving our neighbor, that we are forgetting the ‘as!’ – Kris Vallotton, Pastor, Bethel Church
In the church world we live in, we are constantly reminded to be “other” centered, outward focused, seek to save the lost, bind up the broken-hearted, serve our communities, and pour out with overflow. These are all good things… IF… if we are pouring out of overflow. That means you have to be filled first. A bucket that’s empty can’t pour anything out of it. Our buckets need to be so filled that they are bursting at the seams!
This is where the “as” comes in. Jesus said these are the two most important commands! It’s all about love to God. Loving others and loving yourself. You are God’s child. Those good things we do for others? We need to do for ourselves, too. Those kind words, that generosity, that time spent… we need that too. The problem is that we feel guilty. We feel like it’s wrong, we don’t deserve it, or we are unworthy. Well, let me tell you: you are worthy, friend. If you feel tired, run-down, aren’t sleeping, haven’t been spending time alone with God, skipped meals, don’t have time to go to the bathroom, or feel like you have nothing left… you’re empty. It’s time to fill that bucket back up. You have to love yourself enough to take care of you.
“God loves His children too much to abuse them.” -Susan Nystrom, Author
Our first priority is always God, and you should place time with Him at the top of your list. That is the primary source for getting filled, so fight for that time. We have to be counter-cultural. We have to remove the bars from our own hearts. We have to make ourselves a priority. It is not selfish to take a break, eat lunch, or go to the bathroom at work. It is an act of worship to take care of your body. It is right to give Him thanks and praise. It is right to make time to prepare healthy food ahead of time… and take time to eat it. You not only have permission to make exercise a priority, God is blessed by it! Likewise, sleep is essential. Science has proven all of the marvelous reasons for this so I won’t delve into it. (God also wants to speak to us in our dreams!)
If you feel burned out, you may need to take a break from serving, take a vacation, or even take a week off from the gym if your body feels sore from over-training. Pray and ask God to direct your steps. These healthy choices will give us more energy and make us better for our families.
I love when I see parents at the gym with their kids. They are giving them a priceless skill and demonstrating an invaluable foundation: learning to incorporate fitness as a lifestyle. These kids will not face the same challenges some of us face today, because they will have a healthy mindset. They are learning to love their bodies and treat them well!
Another way we can learn to love ourselves goes beyond how we treat our physical and spiritual self. We need to speak loving words.
“Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. Proverbs 18:21 MSG
Our words have the power of life and death. The words we speak actually partner with God’s heart to change things and shift the atmosphere of the Earth- that’s crazy, right?! God loves us that much, that He invites us to collaborate with Him to call things into being! So are you going to be a ‘mouthpiece for God,’ or a voice for the enemy? Don’t criticize yourself. You are insulting God’s creation. I’m quite sure that breaks God’s heart. He says you are perfect in His sight. Take the bars off of your heart, friend. Pray for eyes to see yourself the way God sees you. You are altogether lovely and beautiful. There is no flaw in you! Love who you are. Embrace it. Love your neighbor as yourself. And then start speaking and treating yourself like you love you.
This is my prayer for you. One day at a time. We walk this journey together, friend.
Here’s to your health!
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