How many times do we advise ourselves to love ourselves more? In my 20+ years in recovery, how I’ve loved myself has grown and changed. When I got sober, loving myself meant committing to attending my 5:30pm home group so I could connect with the recovery program and the fellowship. At the time, my children didn’t so much agree with me. With a 5:30pm meeting, that meant they stayed at baby-sitting longer and dinner was later.

Over the years, I loved myself more by setting boundaries, making better choices, finding my voice and learning to say “no.” It is an ongoing process that consistently takes me to new depths. Recently, I attended a retreat for women who had all experienced trauma. We talked a lot about God’s healing love, but some of the women in the group, also still felt deep guilt and shame about what they had been through.

Shame is a place where God’s love and self-love can’t flourish. Shame keeps us trapped in dark pits, under the weight of false beliefs, blame and victimization. Shame skews the way we see and feel about ourselves. What if there was another inroad to cultivating self love?

BELOVED – def. 1. To hold one dear. 2. We humans are dear to God. 3. “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (God to Jesus in Matthew 3:17).

Something being dear to me means it is precious, requires gentle treatment, I give my full attention and brings me such joy – to not have what is beloved in my life would be an absolute black hole and to treat anything beloved harshly or cruel would break my heart.

I can easily name those I hold dear: my Nana (RIP), my niece/nephew and my best-friend’s children Alma and Ewan. My friend Gene, the lady at the end of the street and my dog, Stewie. My fellowship, my program, the NA’s who meet at my church and my Thursday night “squad.” The reality is that it often feels easier to give out to others than it does to give to myself.

Thinking of myself as “held dear” helps me to hold a sense of preciousness for myself, which affects my choices toward myself. Can we begin to cultivate within ourselves and for ourselves a posture of belovedness? Can you see yourself as precious, be gentle towards yourself, give yourself full attention and find what brings you joy? One way I’m doing this is to intentionally slow life down, take a few moments to breathe and check in with my body. What small step or change could you make today that would help you hold yourself as your own beloved?

I am still practicing everyday at loving myself, but I’m getting better at it.

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