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How To Love: Yourself | by Anthony Patterson

Take up your bed and walk.

It's 5AM and I haven't been to sleep yet.

Haven't brushed my teeth yet.

But I took a shower.

Got dressed went no where and sat on the couch for hours.

Did some things, accomplished nothing but I made sure to eat.

You see, I don't always accomplish this feat.  Sometimes I don't feel like it.

Sometimes I'm too weak.But most times I push through. I could never really starve myself.

I don't hate myself.

I don't berate myself.

I don't ponder suicide.

I don't live under a rock.

I have meaningful relationships.

I have goals.

I have impact.

So why is it so hard to love myself?

I keep stopping at this point. I can't find the right words. Or any words really.

It's uncomfortable admitting I have a love problem in a culture that idolizes and worships self. I hate the self-indulgent, mirror worship and have tried to run as far away from it as possible. But running away didn’t get me any closer to loving myself.

And it’s not to say I have low physical self-esteem. I’m very comfortable in my own skin.

However, for the most part, I’m uncomfortable taking pictures of myself. Sometimes I don’t even want to be in the group picture either.

“Hello! My name is Anthony and I don’t love myself!” I'd rather admit to a drug problem that I don't have. At least it's something you can grasp or come to understand.

It's hard. So hard that I decided I would rather be seen as a vain, arrogant, narcissist than ever reveal my secret. Most people aren't close enough to see it's a facade. I brag about things I'm unsure of. I project a shadow larger than life. I overcompensate. I run for President of my heart and lose even though there is only one candidate. It's 2020 and my America still isn't great. I hide and bury my gifts and then complain when no one appreciates.

My heart feels like a hallway full of thick spiderwebs. But my legs keep moving. My arms are swinging to knock them down. They keep coming back. I keep inviting them back.

Sometimes, I win and you can see me for who I really am: Passionate, Creative, Caring,

Playful, Silly, Courageous, Compelling...Beautiful.

Beauty rarely comes easy. It’s a struggle. It’s a battle.

I didn’t “wake up like this”.

Things happened. Things didn’t happen. I believed lies. I internalized lies. I became a liar.

"Mostly I lie to myself. Pretending that where I am in life, is who I am in life."

It’s constant work to work on yourself. I’ve dedicated years to it. I’ve missed out on relationships and jobs.

I could have been married three or four times by now. And maybe it would have worked for a few years. But lack of love is a ticking time bomb. How unfair would it be to be in love with someone who doesn’t even love themselves? It’s hard to make someone fall in love with you. It’s impossible to make someone fall in love with themselves. You can support and empower them but they have to believe it in their heart.

I have a great community that really does a lot for me. More than I would ever be comfortable asking. But they can’t wish me well. I have to want to be well.

It reminds me of John 5 when Jesus is at a pool: In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus asks a valid question. This man has likely been in this place for years. Sound familiar? I’m sure other people wondered why he never moved. They probably thought he wasn’t doing anything. They probably mocked him.

But he couldn’t do it himself: The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”

He was at the right place but couldn’t do it himself. He thought he needed to be carried. I feel that. Like I can’t move even though I want to. Jesus has something else in mind for us: Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Amazing. There are moments I’ve felt this too. I start walking but then I get tired again. Lies creep in again. It’s exhausting.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t give up on me. He knows me. He knows the world too. And he wants me to be well:

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

I want to be well too.

So be it.

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