Leaning into a Life of Love
I think I am officially dubbing myself “The SundayMonday Valentine’s Day writer”. Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday and yes, I answered that in a work questionnaire. Last year, I wrote about the various love types: eros (romantic love between partners), storge (familial love between family members), philia (brotherly love between friends), and agape (unconditional love – which as Christians we know to be the love of God). This year, I wanted to write about self-love. While this may not be a love type that was explicitly classified by the Greeks, I think it’s so important to discuss and think about – and God 100% wants us to practice self-love every day.
In today’s society, self-love is hard. We are flooded with social media and news that depict the myriad accomplishments of others. We are told by society that in order to be happy and to “love ourselves,” we have to do, accomplish, be more. I know I have been guilty of opening up Instagram, scrolling through, and feeling bad about myself. I have thought to myself, “Dang, I’m not _______ enough.” You fill in the blank: pretty, smart, accomplished, strong, etc. We all have that blank, that insecurity, that void.
But we do NOT have to have this void; God made each and every one of us with a unique, particular, beautiful purpose. Even before you were born, God had a plan for just YOU. Psalm 139:13-16 says:
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Wow. These words give me chills. Before we were even born, God knew each of us in and out. From the start, God has had a plan for me and he has had a plan for you. My plan and your plan are different yet both equally important, both equally beautiful. We are each fearfully and wonderfully made.
Let’s also turn to the saints – no two saints had the same salvation path! St. Joan of Arc; St. Monica of Hippo; St. Therese of Lisieux; St. Teresa of Avila. These saints ranged in qualities and talents, family histories, countries of origin, death ages, etc. While true that they each strived to be like Jesus and Mother Mary (rightfully so!), each saint had her own unique path to sainthood. Joan didn’t need to be Monica; Monica didn’t need to be Therese, etc. God valued their utmost desires to love and follow him, and this is why each of these incredible women reached sainthood through a different path.
In my own life, I know my path to sainthood looks different than some of my friends or coworkers. Shortly into my public health career, I became pregnant and gave birth at the age of 25. I practice Natural Family Planning (NFP), so this decision to become pregnant and to give birth to this amazing life was one that I decided with God and my husband. At times, it’s hard not to compare myself to others. I see people my age going on incredible vacations, getting degree after degree, accepting amazing jobs. I’m not going to lie, self-love is hard during these times – especially in a society that tells us we have to do, accomplish, be more. As a parent in the workforce, I feel like I am barely scraping by day-by-day, and I question what God has in store for me. At the end of the day, though, prayer guides me back to self-love. It helps me turn off the noise of the world and to hear God’s voice saying, “Keep it up. You’re doing amazing. This is where YOU are meant to be right NOW.”
This Valentine’s Day season, let’s practice some self-love. Let’s listen to God’s voice and follow our own salvation paths – not the salvation paths of others. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to buy yourself flowers and/or dessert for some good self-lovin’! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
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Raquel was born in Indiana and lived in the Midwest for 22 years. She is an alumna of Saint Louis University, and after getting married the summer after undergrad, journeyed out of the Midwest to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) at Yale University. She now lives in DC with her husband Quintin, son Joseph, and dalmatian Lilo and works as a Member Insights Associate for a healthcare company.