Carl Sandburg said “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.” He adds, “Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” Jesus said it differently, he said “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60)(NIV). How do we proclaim the Kingdom of God? How do we enter it, realize it, become one with it, be uplifted by it, be glorified by it? We don’t have to wait until the afterlife. In Luke (17:20-21), Jesus says the kingdom of God is in us.
Jesus is saying that we have to love ourselves. But we don’t. Instead, we distract ourselves with other people, places, things – even opportunities so that we don’t have to stare deeply into the face of our own love – a love that is powerful, a love that is infinite, a love that is true, a love that never fails nor forsake us because it is the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God expressing and loving as us.
We cannot live our lives righteously without loving ourselves. We cannot do what we were called to do – without loving ourselves. We cannot be the best that we can be without loving ourselves. When we learn to love who we are, we begin to understand that we live, move and have our being in love, which is what John called “God” (1 John 4:8). There are infinite ways to love ourselves, so 50 ways is by all means the tip of the iceberg – but these 50 ways to love ourselves were prepared in honor of our 50th birthdays.
|1. RE-DISCOVER YOUR TRUE SELF. The first way to love yourself is by re-connecting with the energy of God’s love through your breath. You have to breathe mindfully. Close your eyes and breathe, realizing that in each breath that you take, you awaken to your power. In each breath that you take, you know that you have nothing to fear. Breathe in and re-discover your divine connection with God. Remember that God is breathing you as the greatest gift of love that there is. Breathe in and “do not be anxious about anything, just give your requests to [God]” (Philippians 3:6).2. LISTEN TO LOVE. God is always talking to you; you just need to listen. Take a second right now, and listen. Isaiah said “When you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21). When you really listen, you can hear the Universe saying “I love you – with an everlasting love.”3. SEE LOVE. See with a single eye the love that surrounds you with an aura of compassion, and fills your body temple with wholeness, and goes before you as all-powerful love — to do the work that you were appointed to do. Jesus said “the light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). See nothing but love, and its energy with allow you to witness the fullness of its presence and power.4. AFFIRM LOVE. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1) – and that word, the most powerful expression of God as you is “I AM.” Affirm I AM, which acknowledges the Spirit in you. The “I AM” allows you to raise your vibrations higher instantly in the realization that you are pure God presence expressing as you.5. PRAY INTO YOUR GREATNESS. In the book, God is a Brown Girl Too,you are reminded that “When you stand on the edge of pure possibility, you can use prayer as the impetus to fly.” Nothing is impossible with God. God is always praying you, and when you take the time to pray, it is only so that you remember that the Universe has already aligned with your intention to give you what you want, to manifest the answers that you need, to bless you with the gifts that await you. God knows what you need before you even ask (Matthew 6:32). 6. STRETCH BEYOND DISBELIEF INTO BELIEF. Jesus said “Stretch out your hand” (Matthew 12:13). Stretch beyond hate into love; stretch beyond fear into love; stretch beyond jealously into love – every day when you feel some resistance, some tightness, some anxiety – just allow yourselves to stretch beyond the box that you’re in – with love.
7. MOVE WITH A NEW COURAGE. When you move, you are telling your body that you love it and you allow it to say “I love you” because it becomes fitter and stronger. When you don’t have a regime of moving your body, you believe that you don’t need it anymore and it begins to age and stop working. But when you move, you remain more youthful. Stand up and say “feet I love you, heart I love you, muscles I love you.” As Paul said, “in God I live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28).
8. DRINK LIVING WATER. As much as 70% of your body can be made up of water, so you have to be diligent about loving yourself with what you need. You can take a sip of water and say “water I love you.” But you can also drink the unseen water, the substance of love – living water – and say “love I feel you,” and really feel love filling our bodies, minds and souls. Jesus said “[w]hoever believes in me . . . rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38).
9. EAT THE BREAD OF LIFE. Jesus said “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” The bread of life is manna, the unseen nourishment, the unseen goodness that you are always surrounded by – just waiting for you tap it. So there is no need to overeat. There is enough to feed us and sustain you. You need only eat the foods that love you – not the foods that harm you.
10. EMBRACE A NEW ORDER. When you love yourself, you allow yourself to be open to the divine order of the universe. You realize that God is present in every step that you take, that God is working out every detail for your greatest good; God is penetrating every aspect of your being to work out every single detail for your greatest good.
11. TAKE UP YOUR BED AND WALK. Take up your bed and walk – first, by leaving your past behind (remember, Lot’s wife kept looking back and she turned into a pillar of salt); second, by being fully responsible for your life (no, you cannot wait for some other person or for some other time); third, by refusing to limit yourself (there is no limit on your happiness or success). Rise up and say “I’m gonna get up and take charge.”
13. TRUST THE KINGDOM.
14. LIFT THE WEIGHT. Ernestine “Ernie” Shepherd, at age 75, is a personal trainer, a professional model, a competitive bodybuilder and happier and more fulfilled than she’s ever been in her life. She started working out for the first time in her life at age 56. She has no aches or pains; has 9 to 10% bodyfat — single-digit percentages usually reserved for elite-professional male athletes in their prime! She takes no medications. And she loves her new life’s work and has never been more successful. Say “I will lift and love lifting the weight that makes me healthy.”
15. RELEASE. When you love yourself, you realize that you have no need to hold onto anything or anyone; you can let go of the past – including past acquaintances, situations, obstacles, fears because the Kingdom of God loves you so much, it will help you surrender what you don’t need. Think of one person or one situation you need to release and see yourself sending it love, and letting it go.
16. FORGIVE SEVENTY-TIMES SEVEN. When you love yourself, you realize that you cannot reap the inexhaustible source of the universe if you are blocking the flow of your good with anger, resentment, lack, or unforgiveness. And sometimes you forgive everything and everyone except yourself. So let’s love yourself in this moment by forgiving yourself – 70×77 – for whatever you did – whatever you carried into this room, whatever you are ashamed of. Close your eyes and say “I forgive you.”
17. LAUGH. Laughter is the greatest gift that you can give yourself. Laughter massages your soul with good loving and frees your spirit to experience true joy. Say “I will laugh when it’s time to laugh, and enjoy every moment of it – and most of all I will laugh at myself.”
18. CRY. When you hurt, crying is the best way to release your pain. Tears are a way of telling yourself that whatever emotion you are experiencing, it’s okay. Tears are also a way of expressing joy. Say “I’m gonna cry when I need to.”
19. CELEBRATE. Celebrate who you are – your unique talents and skills, and the love that God has in creating no one else like you. What other people think of you is none of your business. When you’re really loving you, you don’t care. Think of one thing right now – or one reason to celebrate you.
21. REST. Love your life by finding the time that you need to enjoy other places, other people, other things, and to go within for more quality time with the love of your life – you. Take a ME day. (On the 7th day, even God rested.)
22. CREATE. Create with a new power. Second Timothy says in Chapter 1, Verse 7 that “God did not give us a spirit of timidity or fear; but a spirit of power….” God loves us by allowing us to use the creative energy of the universe to heal, bless and uplift through our creative abilities. Honor your creative abilities as your greatest gift.
23. WRITE. Loving ourselves improves when we write to reconnect with the love within. Make a commitment to keep a journal or just notes to remember who you are. If you write on Facebook, you can use that – just cut and paste into a separate document. Write and be led by your writings.
24. HEAL WITH A NEW WHOLENESS. Stop choosing struggle and pain, and you won’t experience it. If it shows up unexpectedly, deny its presence and affirm the power of the “I AM”: I am perfect, whole and complete!
25. START ANEW. Each day and every moment, you have the power to begin anew. Just affirm that you are at a new beginning. Paul said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). Be reborn in the resurrection of God’s power expressing as you.
26. STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED. Studying is love. We study because we love ourselves enough to want to grow in wisdom. Say “I will always be a student of love.”
27. DANCE WITH A NEW FREEDOM. When you dance in the Spirit, you know that if patterns of negativity keep showing up in your life — such as disharmony, loneliness, pain, physical discomfort, financial insecurity, lack, worry, doubt — you can change them. You can wake up from your self-limiting thought and you can experience the ceaseless flow of good — and turn your life around. You can dance! When you dance in the Spirit, you shake the dust off your feet. You bless the people who are not in accord with your greatest good, who do not support you and do Spirit calls you to do. Dancing allows us to love ourselves, without worry, without fear, and without missing a beat. When we dance, we let go and go with the flow.
29. LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR. Take a risk. Do what you only dreamed of but never dared to do. Leap! Say “I will leap because the net will appear.” Love is the net that will catch you. Either the universe will catch you or teach you how to fly.
31. COMPETE ONLY WITH YOURSELF. You are your most fierce competitor and your most formidable adversary. But here’s something you might not know, when you really love you – nothing can defeat you, so you have already won the race. Surrender to the victory that you are. Call forth your extraordinary power. Say “I win the race by loving me.”
32. FIND TIME TO LOVE YOUR BODY. – Find time to love your body. Find time the time that need for your manicure, pedicure, hairdresser and massage. Loving yourself means never ever looking shabby.
33. CLAIM YOUR GOOD. All you have to do is ask, and receive. You can have the car, the spouse, the house, the trip, the joy that you desire – all you to do is claim it. Right now, decide on 1-3 things that you want. And say to yourself – I love me, so I will have [ insert your desire ]. If you want it, claim it. This is simple: you are changing your consciousness so that what you want, claims you.
34. BECOME NO. ONE ON YOUR LIST OF PRIORITIES.
36. GET HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT.
37. SMELL THE ROSES AND THE LAVENDER AND THE ROSEMARY AND WHATEVER ELSE SMELLS DELICIOUS AND SURROUND YOURSELF WITH IT WHENEVER YOU CAN.
38. FIRE YOUR INNER CRITIC. It’s past time to be unconditional in your love. End all conversations that lie about how you do not have it going on: you do – wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you do. You are the bomb. You got the right stuff baby. You got it going on. No one can lose with the stuff you use. Say I fire my inner critic.
39. BE STILL. Being still allows you to be at peace in the love that you are and to re-connect to the power that God is, and to feel the Kingdom expressing as you. Just take a second and be still. As the Psalmist says, “be still and know that I AM God” (Psalm 46:10).
40. BE PATIENT. We cannot love ourselves without patience. Say I will love being in the moment. I am patient.
41. MOVE FORWARD. Move forward into untouched spaces and realize YOU ARE more remarkable than YOU could ever imagine.
42. BE GRATEFUL. Oh, this is truly an energy of love. Gratitude opens you to the realization of unlimited source and supply. Say “I am grateful because I am always blessed,” and watch your blessings multiply.
43. LOOK INSIDE AND SAY I LOVE YOU. We fail to do that; we tell everyone else that we love them, but we don’t love ourselves – no one can love us unless we open the door to their love by loving ourselves. Sometimes I think why are you not there to love me, but I wasn’t there to love myself.
44. SHINE YOUR LIGHT. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus said: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light shine so before men that they may see your good works…” You cannot pick and choose who will benefit from your light. You must be generous enough to share it with everyone. How? By simply doing what I have called you to do. Somewhere, someone told you that you weren’t good enough, but you need to tap into the higher power of your love and shine your light. Say I’m shining my light today!
45. NEVER GIVE UP. The moso is a bamboo plant that grows in China and the far east. After the moso is planted, no visible growth occurs for up to five years – under ideal conditions! But if it gave up, it would never see its full growth and potential. Your struggles are there for a reason; those are the things that ultimately matter; it has nothing to do with the prize at the end. As Og Mandino says, “Never will I allow any day to end with a failure. I WILL NEVER GIVE UP. When others cease their struggle, then mine will begin. I WILL NEVER GIVE UP. I will greet the new sun with confidence that this will be the best day of my life. As long as there is breath in me, that long will I persist. For I know, if I persist long enough — I will succeed.”
46. MOVE OUT OF GOD’S WAY. All you really have to do is lay the groundwork and move out of God’s way. In the Book of Matthew, the 6th Chapter, the 8th Verse, it says that God knows what you have need of before you even ask. The good that you seek is already part of the endless energy of God. The only person standing in the way of that good is you — when you give your power away to people and events and the appearances of stuff. Say “I’m going to move out of God’s way!”
47. PUT YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER. In the 2nd chapter of John, we learn that Jesus found those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business there — and he made a whip of cords. He drove all of them out of the temple, overturned the tables, and screamed “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then, His disciples remembered what the Psalmist said, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” God’s cleansing power goes deep into the veins and the inner parts of you for true confession. Zeal — the pure presence of God — holds you accountable for your stuff — for anything that you do that is inconsistent with Spirit. If your right eye offends you, pluck it out; if your right hand offends you, cut it off. You need to do your own self-inventory and make sure that you are acting with commitment, leadership and integrity. You need to clean out the contradictions that undermine your faith; and you need to remain vigilant to destroy any ousted enemy that tries to sneak back through your thoughts, words or deeds.
48. STOP WORRYING ABOUT SOMEBODY ELSE’S BUSINESS. You can’t worry about what somebody -sposed to be doin.’ That’s too toxic. You have to realize that who you are in the flesh is a compliment to who you are in the Spirit. You have to recognize that you are the good in everything that you experience. As soon as you ask, you begin the process of receiving. The only way that you shut the door — is by not believing. When you give praise and thanks for the manifestation of your good, then you allow it to take shape.
49. REAP WHAT YOU HAVE NOT SOWN. In John 4:38, Jesus told his disciples “the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” You are really above creation’s cause and effect subjugation. If you are centered in God – in love, you will reap without measure the infinite reward of Spirit. God’s desire to express through you is so great that you will even reap more good than you sow. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 9:37 that “the harvest is plenty but the workers are few.” At some point in your lives, you have stopped short of your true potential, but the love of God will give you favor, so that in all things, at all times, you will have what you need. Accept God’s favor.
50. MOVE TO THE END OF YOUR RAINBOW. What people rarely focus on in For Colored Girls is that at the end of the play, where Ntozake Shange says “& for this is for colored girls who have considered suicide/ BUT are moving to the ends of their own rainbows.” In other words, they are not tragically ending life but have come to the realization that they reach the end of their rainbows when they love themselves. Shange says, “i found god in myself, and i loved her fiercely.” The love that you need, you have within. Shange says “my love is too beautiful to have thrown back in my face; my love is too sanctified to have thrown back in my face; my love is too magic to have thrown back in my face; my love is too music to have thrown back in my face.” We relate to love on a human level — based on what we give and receive. But on a spiritual level, love is not giving or receiving — love simply is. We evolve in it. We create out of it. We are reborn in it. We are sanctified by it. We are saved as it. Love is the only salvation that there is. It doesn’t worry about receiving because it is constantly giving. It doesn’t worry about giving because it is always being blessed. There is nothing that it needs or lacks because Love is divine source. See good radiating from you like endless streams of light bouncing off the edge of all possibility. Don’t let your stuff walk off. Claim it. Witness your own love as the ultimate salvation. See prayers swinging from every space in creation. Hear blessings beings harvested in answers declaring this is a new season. Nothing is impossible. Move to the end of your rainbow, and find God again and again.
Rev. Loving is the pastor and founder of SPIRITMUV, a new community of faith.