To my dear sisters in Christ, I wish I had had it in my power…
An important focus of the therapeutic training I received was learning to love oneself well; to be a good companion and supportive ally to ourselves. Being in a peaceful relationship with myself – rather than a judgmental and conflict-ridden relationship – has been liberating and transformational. And it turned out to be an important step in opening more fully to the deeply personal love that our Lord has for me.
If I don’t believe that I am inherently good, that I am worthy of love and belonging, then I will (consciously or unconsciously) put up barriers to receiving love. Even God’s love. Our beliefs about ourselves, about others, about life in general, are shaped by our earliest relationships (mom, dad, other caregivers) and by the experiences we have day in and day out as we grow up. Did I learn through my early life experiences that I am someone worthy of respect? Did I learn that I am a burden, unlovable, always to blame?
When we are little, our tender hearts are wounded in two primary ways:
- By the absence of what we needed for our healthy development and thriving, i.e.: the loving embrace of a father, total acceptance of a parent, someone taking delight in you, being listened to without criticism or judgment, permission to express your emotions.
- By the presence of things that we should never have experienced, i.e.: abuse, dysfunctional patterns in our family of origin, traumas, loss, betrayal, manipulation.
These heart wounds leave their imprint on us, our bodies, minds, spirits and souls. Thanks be to God, our Lord is in the business of healing heart wounds and providing the love we’ve always needed. He knows exactly how to bring healing to the underlying hurts or traumas that have led to our self-rejecting or self-loathing behavior patterns and habits of mind. In His great respect for our free will, He will not force or rush us, yet waits for us to be willing to open our hearts to Him and give our consent to the healing journey He wants to walk with us.
The Litany of Self-Love (below) was shared with me recently (thank you, Tania). The prayer comes from the author’s struggles with loving and caring for herself. She has given us permission to share it in the hopes that it might be a blessing to you. I preface the prayer with a short one of my own. Please reach out if we can support you in this process: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Jesus, as we pray through these lines below, asking for deliverance from any self-rejecting thoughts and behaviors, please reveal to us the root issues, the wounds to our hearts, that have led us to unhealthy views of ourselves. Mary our Mother, keep us wrapped tightly in your mantle of love, comfort and protection. Grant us all the grace and courage we need to open our hearts to Jesus’ healing presence. May we let Him in to the wounded places deep in our being. We believe that His Presence alone will begin to transform our hurts and set our hearts free. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
LITANY OF SELF-LOVE, by Micole Amalu, The Face of Mercy
From the pain of self-hatred, Deliver me, Jesus.
From a negative view of my body and self, Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love for me, Deliver me, Jesus.
From doubting that I was created good, Deliver me, Jesus.
From believing I am a burden, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire to be completely self-reliant, Deliver me, Jesus.
From negative self-talk and internal dialogue, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the demands of perfectionism, Deliver me, Jesus.
From my own unattainable expectations, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the pull to neglect my bodily needs, Deliver me, Jesus.
From excessive ascetic practices that You are not asking of me, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the denial of comforts that would draw me closer to You, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the temptation to harm myself: bodily, emotionally, or spiritually, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the temptation to work without rest, Deliver me, Jesus.
When I doubt Your love for me, Be with me, Jesus.
When I want to hide from Your love, Be with me, Jesus.
When I doubt that You want my good, Be with me, Jesus.
When I despise myself, Be with me, Jesus.
When I engage in intentional self-harm, Be with me, Jesus.
When I cannot escape my own self-criticism, Be with me, Jesus.
When I get disconnected from my own self and lost in dissociation, Be with me, Jesus.
When I numb my pain in unhealthy ways, Be with me, Jesus.
When I avoid healthy self-care, Be with me, Jesus.
When I neglect my own needs, Be with me, Jesus.
That I am your beloved daughter/son, Jesus, I trust in You.
That I was created in Your image and likeness, Jesus, I trust in You.
That You are wildly in love with me, Jesus, I trust in You.
That You desire my good, Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will fulfill my good desires, Jesus, I trust in You.
That I am worthy of care and attention, Jesus, I trust in You!
That I am worthy of rest, Jesus, I trust in You!
That I am worthy of food and nourishment, Jesus, I trust in You!
That I am worthy of the care & love I extend to others, Jesus, I trust in You!
That You want me to will my own good, Jesus, I trust in You!
Created by Micole Amalu, The Face of Mercy: https://www.thefaceofmercy.org