I spent a rare weekend with friends, and I had never felt so loved by a group of girls in my whole life. I’m usually one of those who is slow to trust, but there’s something different about these friends of mine. I only see them once a year, and when I leave them, I feel a little bit more confident in who I am. They all seem to be striving to come closer to the truth about themselves, and truth in Christ is the best thing that ever happened to a woman. When I leave them, my love for them will have always doubled, but one of the greatest, most lasting thing I’ve noticed is that I walk away more tender with myself. I see myself in a new way.
I’ve been thinking about what makes these ladies so special, and the following list on how to be a better friend is what I learned from them. It’s a list I made for myself.
1. When you’re sitting with me and you look down at your own crossed legs and notice the cellulite dimpling every way it can, don’t shift yourself to the side or smooth things out. Sit still. Look down and decide that your skin is beautiful, that I am beautiful, too.
2. When you’re hungry, and everyone else has only had salad and half a cookie, pick up the tongs and dip them deep into the pasta. Go back for the cream sauce. Eat a whole cookie.
3. When you haven’t been able to get out of the bed, and I’m not catching all the red flags you’re waving about the darkness pressing in, pitch a fit if you have to. Do something to shake me by the shoulders. Be straightforward. Say it out loud that you were created to be loved.
4. When you’re rested, you don’t feel so crazy inside. Your unrest can be contagious. Go to bed when you’re sleepy, unless it’s to stay up and watch Duck Dynasty with me. Even then, after a good laugh at Uncle Si, go to bed.
5. Know yourself. Appreciate the rip currents in your life that are personal to you, and then by George, don’t go swimming toward them. Don’t lose yourself to sugar or sex or alcohol or clothes or your kids. On second thought, you can’t really not swim toward your kids. In that case, let God be the rip current. It’s okay to swim there, even if it makes you sound like a walking-talking Sunday-morning devotional.
6. Love your art. Make room for it. Always keep your eyes and ears open for it. Give yourself permission to enjoy what you make. The light in your eyes is brighter that way.
7. Forgive the ones who hurt you. You have no idea how your peace becomes mine.
8. Be uninhibited. Love the kind of music you love. Dance with that crazy dance face of yours that makes me double over laughing. I would never wear the clothes you have on, and I love that. When you stop making appearances your god, you become the most beautiful person in the room. I like your kind of pretty the most.
9. Say thank you. When I nearly keel over dead at how awesome you are, don’t make excuses for the good work God has done in you.
10. Love God. But also? Love yourself. How can you love me if you don’t love yourself?
I know it can sound self-indulgent or self-centereed to talk this way, but I’m not talking about that at all. Sometimes I think we feel guilty when we care for ourselves, when we place value on ourselves as God’s image-bearing child.
I’ve come to believe that the friends who are best for me are the ones who love themselves, too. I’ve been given permission this week to love.
So tell me, what are the ways that you can love yourself better?