Have you ever heard that you need to love yourself before you can love someone else? Have you ever wondered what that means, I mean how do you love yourself? I always thought I understood what this meant. Yet, I could never fully apply it. I like myself, sure. But there’s a lot I’d like to change. I know I often struggle to love myself, whether it is trying to improve my body image or feeling insecure about skills I have or don’t have. I’ve practiced paying attention to the things I say and think about myself, but I never really understood how to see myself lovingly. You know, like in a way that is completely and totally accepting of who I am, flaws and all. At least not until now…..
I woke from my dream. I felt different. Changed. It was a dream but it had a significant and immediate impact on me.
I grabbed my towel and headed downstairs to the shower. I was still mulling it over. Thinking about it like you do when you first wake up and realize it was just a dream.
I was alone walking down a dark hall when I noticed there was a light coming from under a door. It drew me to it. I opened the door to a dimly lit stairway I had never seen before. I began to slowly descend the stairs. I felt scared but compelled to continue.
As I descended, I noticed the walls were clean with a fresh coat of paint. The space was well maintained but it was obviously not a new place. This stairway had been here a very long time. The steps were dark and wooden with scuff marks carved deep by age . They had been re-stained and polyed. As I continued down the stairway it began to seem familiar. The sense that I knew this place was strangely comforting. Where was I? Why couldn’t I remember this place? I’d never seen this hall before, had I?
At the bottom of the stairs was another door. I opened the door and entered the room. It was a child’s room. A little girls room. The walls were painted a soft cream color. There were some cracks in the plaster. The room was very clean. The canopy bed was white with pink trim around the ruffles. There was a small area rug in the middle of the floor.
I had barely noticed the young girl but there she sat in the middle of the room playing. I kneeled down on the floor beside her and she looked up at me. She had grey eyes and dark brown hair. She showed me her doll and told me something make–believe in her sweet childlike voice. I nodded my head not really listening but wanting to understand why I was there. Who was this little girl anyway?
She returned to playing quietly. She appeared unphased by the fact that I was there. She was not alarmed at my presence. In fact she barely acknowledged me any further.
I glanced around the room. It was simple. There was a small white shelving unit with a lamp on it and a few books on the shelves. Although there was nothing special about the room it did seem peculiar in that it was very dated. This room was old. The small area carpet we were sitting on was shaggy and an avocado green.
I returned my gaze to the little girl. As she played I thought about how innocent she was. What a cute little thing. She was probably only 3 or 4 years old. She was so adorable. As I watched her I realized how precious she was. I realized that I adored her, I felt compassion for her. The sudden knowing struck me, I loved her. I would do anything for her. She was so vulnerable and I wondered who would have left her here alone? Where are her parents? I began to grow concerned for her. How long has she been down here? Who’s looking out for her? Who’s taking care of her?
As I was looking around, I noticed sitting there on her bed was my old Raggedy Ann doll, my stuffed frog. I remember that lamp, my lamp. That was MY canopy bed! This was MY room! My room, from when I was a child.
I looked back down at the girl, she had been watching me, she smiled at me as if she had been waiting for me to recognize her. Why hadn’t I recognized her before now? Was her hair lighter now? Her eyes blue? I did recognize her. She was me!
She stared at me for a time and as I sat there looking back my heart pounded.. She went back to playing. I felt overwhelmed, I wanted to cry. I had never seen myself this way before. I had never thought of myself as someone precious, innocent, vulnerable, someone who deserved protection, someone who deserved love. I realized I had left her here. I had locked her in a long time ago. I didn’t let her grow up because I didn’t want her to be hurt. She had been stuck here, infinitely a child. I felt very frightened. My heart was pounding faster now, I was crying. I couldn’t see. I stood up. I couldn’t find the door.
I woke up.
For the first time I began to truly consider the ways in which I thought about myself. I realized we can go through life carrying around beliefs we didn’t know we had. Freedom comes when we recognize those beliefs and compare them to the truth. Letting go of old beliefs gives us the opportunity to gain new perspectives. Sometimes those new perspectives are about ourselves, a new self-perspective. I challenge you to picture yourself as a small child. Can you offer yourself compassion that you couldn’t as an adult? Can you see yourself as someone who is vulnerable, innocent, and valued? Protect yourself. Take care of yourself as you would a small child. Give yourself permission to enjoy life. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
The Bible says in Psalm 139:14, I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well.