Love is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves

Published 9:17 am Sunday, October 20, 2019

By Candida Sullivan

Columnist

It took me years to be able to smile at her — the woman behind the dust and scars, staring back at me in the mirror. All I could see when I looked in the mirror was my faults and failures. The reflection in the mirror was one of disgust and disapproval. Every day I put myself down. I never looked good enough. I picked myself apart and that made me feel bad about myself.

I did it for years.

My smiles and kind words were reserved for others. I didn’t give them to myself. Because in my eyes, my scars were shameful. I had heard the whispers behind my back and saw the smirks. And I allowed the opinions of others to affect me. Even when the mean people were no longer around, I was mean to myself. Because that’s what I thought I deserved.

Then one day, I stopped and smiled at my reflection. And I saw myself for the first time. Underneath the scars and dust is a soul. The person underneath the scars is loving and kind. I am not my body. So that day I decided to love and accept myself right where I was.

The first few times I smiled into the mirror, it made me feel crazy. But I persisted. The next time, I leaned into the mirror and whispered, “I love and accept you just as you are.” It took a few times of me saying this to myself for me to believe it.

As it turns out, the love and acceptance that I thought I so desperately needed from others, was inside of me. I had it all along. Whatever we love will grow and touch others. It is hard to lose weight and heal our bodies when we don’t like them. We can’t truly serve the Lord and love others if we don’t love ourselves. When we love ourselves, then we will do what is best for ourselves. And the love inside of us will shine outward.

I used to look at the scar wrapped around my arm with disgust, and I tried to always hide it. It is the scar most people comment on. One day my perspective was changed about it when I realized that I could have lost my arm. The band completely surrounded it. But praise God, I got to keep my arm. Now I see my scars as a blessing and I live by grace. I use these hands and feet to serve others and my Lord. When I look in the mirror I smile at my reflection and offer myself love instead of criticism.

Candida Sullivan is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, and certified life coach. Her book, Despite Your Circumstances, won the 2016 CSPA book of the year award. It is her passion to help others learn to overcome their own circumstances. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and children. If you’d like to contact her, please email her at candida@candidasullivan.com.