“I spent three years of my life chasing after a married man. Prior to that, I spent the majority of my life chasing a romanticized version of true love. That is not to say that “true love” does not exist; but it is to say that it does not exist in the context that I thought it did.
“When I thought of true love, I envisioned it in the context of two people who were destined to be together. Though, what I did not realize was that my vision of love was only the surface layer of something that went much deeper—the true love of God. You see, I sought true love with another person rather than setting my sights on the Source of that love within me.
“Consequently, God used my tireless search for love outside of myself as the basis for a resource intended to help me and others find love within. Thus, my book, How to Love Yourself, was based more on Divine inspiration than my human experience. Though I wrote it with good intention, the book reflected the mindset that I desired much more than the mindset that I actually had. Ultimately, I was tasked with practicing what I had been given to preach.
“So here I am, four years later after writing my book on self-love – and chasing after love – with an addendum, featuring what I have learned and am still learning about self-love. These lessons provide deeper insight into what I originally wrote and come with a dash more practicality since they are steeped in my experience of trying and failing to love myself enough.” (Reprinted from the introduction of How To Love Yourself More.)
The following are the titles of the aforementioned lessons – and lesson supplements – that are featured in How To Love Yourself More.
“…But now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” ~Hebrews 12:26-27, NKJV
In the rhythmic words of songstress Carole King, “I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the sky tumbling down (tumbling down)…”
No, I’m not a doomsayer. Nor are these lyrics a declaration of the end of the world, just the end of the world as we knew it. And with our former knowledge of former things coming to an end, we are entering a new world with ‘new’ knowledge about what we thought we knew best–ourselves. Boy, there’s nothing like a pandemic to put yourself in perspective. Sure, the outcry of the outside world is deafening, but it’s actually only an echo of the seismic shifts taking place within our inner worlds.
“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.” ~Hebrews 12:25, NKJV
God’s presence can move mountains. Yet, when speaking with His prophet, Elijah, on a mountain in 1 Kings 19, God is moved with compassion and communicates with him in “a still small voice” (v. 12). You see, Elijah was on the run. And though it appears that he was running from someone else, who he was really running from was himself.
For those who don’t know, Elijah was a bad man–in the best sense of the word. Chapter 18 tells the story of his and God’s glory when Elijah stood toe-to-toe with 450 false prophets and proved the falsity of their false god. And then he executed them.
No doubt, anyone who could face down as many detractors as Elijah had greatness within him. Yet, when faced with a threat by a demon-possessed woman, Elijah – no longer feeling self-possessed – lost sight of his greatness and the God who gave it to him, and “ran for his life…” (1 Kings 19:3). Thus, when God meets him on the mountain and asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13) we encounter a man who is not only physically lost, but who has also lost his sense of self. In essence, Elijah was shaken to his core.
But there’s good news! Elijah’s core is what carried his calling. (Amen, somebody.) So, the shaky circumstances that threatened to do him in actually served him by leading him back to God, who revealed what was in him all along. As a sign of God’s redemptive recollection, He put Elijah back on his anointed assignment and even assigned him an assistant, Elisha, to help ease his load.
Like Elijah, we, too, are shaken by things – e.g. heartbreak, disappointments, pandemics – that seem to threaten our very existence. And yet, our very existence is made secure by what exists in us–our knowledge of who we truly are. While we’ve contained this knowledge since before our conception, the shaky emergence of our new world has re-introduced us to ourselves in a whole new light. Consequently, many of us are meeting the real us, as God intended us, for the first time. So, as we become reacquainted with ourselves, let us also remember that this is really not the end; it’s just the beginning…
If you’re beginning to remember who you truly are and you could use some assistance and/or camaraderie along your journey ‘home,’ then click the links to find and fellowship with us on Facebook and Instagram. It’s a whole new world…for you and me!
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” ~ 1 John 3:1-3, NKJV
If I was Julia Child, I’d give you a recipe for a casserole. If I was my Aunt Von, I’d give you a recipe for sweet potato pie. Maybe. If I was Oprah, I’d give you your own culinary school. But I’m me, and I can only give you what I got. And what I got are ingredients for digesting cereal serial heartbreak, thanks to a dollop of tear-stained experience with a pinch of hard-won wisdom mixed in.
Surrender. Instead of fighting against the tide (that is, the sovereign will of God and the freewill of others), we can choose to give in and give our freewill, attachments, and broken hearts to the One who calms the raging seas within and around us. (Mark 4:39-41)
Divine order. Yes, individuals and incidents break our hearts, yet – in the God scheme of things – this breaking provides breakthrough to better versions of ourselves, living our best lives. (Romans 8:26-31)
Forgiveness. We can accept who and what hurt us as ‘human’ when we acknowledge that no matter how hurtful humans can be, we are ultimately loved and cared for by a superhuman God a.k.a. Papa. (Genesis 50:15-21)
Faith. Faith is trusting God to heal our hearts His way, i.e. attached to Him, rather than desiring Him to heal our hearts our way, i.e. attached to someone else. (John 15:1-8)
No, my ingredients list is not extensive, but it is exhaustive and, for that matter, exhausting–especially when I try to shake and bake – and manipulate – in my own strength. Further, it’s a hard meal to swallow when we get what we want and we’re still hungry because, aside from what we wanted, what we needed was God all along and all alone.
Thus, the heartbreak.
In order for God to position Himself as *Steffany Gretzinger voice* the King of our hearts, our stubborn attachments to others forces Him to forcibly remove whoever we put in His royal place. However, when we make God “BAE” and put Him before anyone else, then He will make us whole and put everything else in its rightful place in our lives.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” ~Matthew 6:33, NKJV
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As I was dreaming up this post, I could hear Parks and Recreation’s Donna and Tom exclaim, from within a luxury retailer dressing room, “Treat yo’ self…to an affirmation!” While I can hear and heed this imaginative advice today, prior to 2013, I couldn’t have imagined it nor did I have any idea what an affirmation was.
That year was a huge turning point in my life. I turned 30. I turned into an author and life coach. And I turned my Christian upbringing on its ear by turning my attention to a trio of celebrated New Thought teachers: Alan Cohen, Doreen Virtue, and Louise Hay.
Well, they weren’t celebrated by me – not at the beginning of that year, anyway – because I really didn’t know who they were. But honey, by year’s end, what I didn’t know was how I had made it that far in life without them.
Alan taught me the essence of God and the metaphysical quintessence of Jesus Christ. Doreen taught me that I wasn’t crazy for believing in signs, angels and other mystical and ‘mythical’ beings. And Louise, well, Louise taught me love.
In the Bible, God the Father and God the Son are noted several times as commanding those who believe to “love your neighbor as you love yourself“. As one who believed church to be a second home – as I was there all the time – I heard this commandment all the time as well.
But that doesn’t mean I followed it, and I didn’t, to be honest. I went to church religiously and was just as spiteful and unforgiving as I wanted to be. I tried to be nice to people and, really, I was – and am – a nice person. Nevertheless, despite my nicest efforts along with those times when I didn’t give a flying effort, there were just some “neighbors” who I believed were just too hard for me to love.
And so, because I couldn’t locate the loophole to this ‘impossible’ command to love, I eventually left the idea of church at the open door in hopes of opening a window to a world where love was always on my side.
What I actually walked into was a brick wall of self-loathing, which was illuminated by my lack of self-love. Enter Louise…
“If you have had experiences in your life that are not comfortable, on some level, they’re mirrors of you. We don’t always like to hear that, but everything in our life is a mirror of us. So if something’s happening out there that’s not comfortable, we have to look inside and say ‘How are we creating it?’ ‘What is it about me or what is it within me that believes that I deserve this experience?’ ‘Cause otherwise, we wouldn’t bring it to us. So, perhaps, I would say a little more loving yourself would help because when you get that flowing, you won’t bring in uncomfortable experiences.”
~Louise Hay on “Receiving Prosperity”
In my errant search for a loophole to Universal love, I stumbled upon the wisdom of Louise Hay and was thrown for a loop. When I finally came to, I saw that the bitterness I felt toward my ‘unloveable’ neighbors was really just a reflection of how bitterly I viewed myself. Moreover, I learned that my lack of love for others was in direct response to a lack of love within me for me.
Well, in the years since first stepping foot into Alan’s, Doreen’s, and Louise’s classrooms, I’ve had plenty of occasions to put this theory to the test. Upon concluding each experiment, I’ve confirmed that while it can be trippy, it’s always true: Only love for ourselves equals love for others, not vice versa.
This consistent result has since resulted in my constant use of affirmations–a domain in which many ‘New Thinkers’ deem Louise its queen. Though I, too, hold Louise in this high regard, I admittedly regard my paraphrased version of Alan’s definition of an affirmation as my favorite:
An affirmation is a statement about yourself that just reminds you of who you are.
In other words, an affirmation isn’t aspirational, it’s actual. Of course, an affirmation that states “I spend money wisely…I always have what I need” can seem a little far-fetched when we seem to have only a little amount of money to spend. But if we can suspend our belief in what we seem to see long enough to really remember that the Source of our abundance is infinite and owns “the cattle on a thousand hills“, then we will really start to see that abundance materialize in our lives. (Amen to that.)
And amen to the teachings of Alan, Doreen, and Louise, which have all had such profound impacts on my life. As good teachers do, their teachings have also taught me to prize the profundity within. So, I bring this post to a close with five of my personal affirmations that I use to remind me of who I am.
1. “I am a Divine sexual being. I fully embrace and express my sexuality in ways that are fully aligned with the Spirit of God. I am free from all sexual guilt and shame. My sexuality is a gift from God, and I love, cherish and enjoy my God-given sexuality. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
2. “I am abundant in all areas of my life. I trust God easily and follow where He leads me. I fully trust God to take care of me, my finances, my material needs and wants. I am rich in love, peace, beauty, and emotional strength. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
3. “I am healed. My mind and my body are at ease. I am free from all distressing thoughts and my body is free from all forms of distress. I love my body and my body loves me back. I love my mind and my mind loves me back. My mind and my body are united as one in love. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
4. “I am whole. I lack nothing. Everything that God says I am, I am. Everything that God has for me is mine. I am a child of the King. Only good is my inheritance. I walk in God’s goodness now and I see it everywhere I go. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
5. “I am pure and as innocent as the day I was born. My purity is not earned, it is already mine. I am light in the darkness. I am warmth in the coldness. I am love in the midst of fear. I am kindred with God. I bless others and receive others’ blessings. And so it is, in Jesus’s name, amen💖”
If you’ve forgotten who you are and you’d like some help in reclaiming your identity, then click the links to find, follow and fellowship with us on Facebook and Instagram. I know your name.💖