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?
I love number 8 & 9: ‘I like your kind of pretty the most’ and ‘don’t make excuses for the good work God has done in you.’ We all need to believe this for ourselves and our friends. I think this week I’m gonna work on liking my own kind of pretty, this can be particularly hard at the moment with my post pregnancy body, especially next to my super gorgeous, slim friends! But, you know what, I’m still pretty, I’m now just kind of mommy-pretty and I need to embrace it.
Jessica! This is so right. There’s no way to explain how freeing it is to embrace the kind of pretty that He made us.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
Thank you for a beautiful, get to the heart of it post! I can work on loving the times that I fail because they make me realize, more fully, how much I need to rely on God (apart from Him I can do nothing). As I get older (post 50) I am becoming more and more comfortable in my skin (#8). Thanks for the smile 🙂
Bev, I think you’re right that it gets easier as we get older.
YES….to digging deep in to the pasta and cream sauce and eating a whole cookie? maybe go for broke and eat 2? 🙂
I do believe “age” helps with the list….at least it is so in my life. I am realizing that life is too short to worry about the little things. I want eternity to be my lens. Colossians 3:1-4
Yes! So good Karen.
I really appreciate this. Though I struggle with most of this. I struggle with people as much as I struggle with me. The walls are tall and as long as it took to get them that high – it’s taking even longer to lower them. Someday I hope to have my own version of the (in)courage group.
Thank you for sharing
Thanks for being so honest Tracy. I needed this post as well as to know that there are others trying to dismantle the walls and build bridges.
Amber L says
Tracy & Jayme, right there with you sisters! Friendship, truly trusting and loving people, has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it is because I have had trouble truly loving myself. I too dream of having a group of friends like the (in)courage group! God bless us all!
Tracy, Jayme, and Amber,
That is exactly why I wrote this post. I’m 34, and being around my girlfriends last weekend was just so eye opening. It’s so much easier to trust women who have come to be okay with themselves. All my girlfriends are working hard to better themselves, but at the same time, the grace they had for themselves really bled into how they treated me.
It was just so cool.
I am walking into a new/but very much not place today, and I needed to hear these. I am taking away from this. I am to be myself today. Thank You for sharing!
How was it, Danyalle?
Amber – I love this post. I need to always remember these points. Thanks for sharing!!
Thanks for coming here, Katie!
🙂 Very nice. Thanks for sharing!
Kathy Cheek @ In Quiet Places says
As I began to slip into a train of negative thoughts about myself this morning, I made myself stop and remember so many things that I have to be thankful for and started counting my blessings and soon I was smiling and feeling my heart lift out of those negative thoughts. I think that would count as a way I take care of myself or love myself better.
It really is amazing what kind of healing that gratitude can bring.
Shelly Miller says
That whole bit about feeling more confident after you’ve been around those girlfriends . . .I feel that way when I get to hang out in person with my online friends I talk to daily. Most of which I’ve met through blogging. I’m so thankful for them and for the way they instill courage in me to love myself. So glad you had that weekend. And I get to meet the beautiful Kelly Sauer who took that photo on your blog on Monday. So excited!
Shelly, the only way to really see Kelly is to see her with a camera. That’s where she’s alive, and it’s incredible!
What a wonderful insight. As I anticipate a weekend retreat with some of my most favorite women, I thank you for reminders that focus on openess and honesty. I, too, struggle with trust and I pray that in my determination to create opportunities for all of us to draw closer, that I will keep these in mind. I particularly appreciate “just say THANK YOU” and the reminder to REST.
That’s what a retreat is…withdrawal from the everyday hassle and hussle. Let us all find rest in some big or small way, so that we can release the crazy and make room for Peace.
You said it.
I’m really glad I read this today. Thanks for sharing. <3
Diana Trautwein says
Just lovely, Amber. I’m missing my friends like that just now – time to schedule some kind of get together, I think. Soon.
It’s such an important thing.
Beautiful post, Amber
As I get older, (post 50) I’m getting better at this. I don’t know why I judge my own looks so harshly when I would never do that to another human being! It’s so nice to know Gd sees all of us through a different lens.
Amen and amen! What a sweet, sweet reminder about friendship. Thank you for sharing.
“I like your kind of pretty the most.” I’m learning this in friendship, and it is a very good thing. And also, no one ever has to ask me to “eat the whole cookie” twice:)
The tears started rolling silently down my cheeks by the time I hit #3 and are continuing as I type. Thank you for this. And for the shining hope into places of brokenness and grieving the losses of unraveled friendships. Hope for new friendships. Hope that floats in my heart and can help me with #10.
Really, thank you.
I know these tears, Laura. Friendship can be one of the most painful things. Working on #10 in spite of it all is a HUGE deal.
Kelly @ Love Well says
I’m pretty much a weepy mess here. This is so good, so wise, so funny, so practical. I’m shouting a big AMEN over the whole thing.
Kelly, YOU teach me well, friend.
Shelli Littleton says
Love this! I finally learned to love the skin I’m in! After seeing little brown spots appearing. No more tans for this girl. I’m fair-skinned, and I love it! Maybe I will have a few less brown spots appear over time now. Thanks, sweet girl!
Today I saw a picture of my nose, and I just thought – Man, I love that big ol nose. It’s no small thing to love my big ol nose.
I can love myself better by embracing my tears and emotions, instead of trying to stuff and hide them from me and everyone else. I love real, genuine, emotionally rich girlfriends – so I need to be real too. It’s how people relate to me…by seeing into my heart.
Jen, I’ve been traveling so I haven’t been able to comment until now, but when I read this I shook my head YES! I am done with apologizing for being tender hearted, you know? It helps me to focus more on loving others when I ‘m not so consumed with how others see me and my teariness. The real me is a weepy me. And also the real me is terribly goofy. Funny and teary, I am.
To me this lovely photo tells a wonderful story – I’m thankful for that.
It’s true that we can only be good for others if we’re good to (& with) ourselves…. I learned that a long time ago and I’m feeling so much better since – and it’s also true that not everybody can appreciate this point.
I wish you luck with the ‘making work it’ of your project. You’ll find that you have more strength when you eat the whole cookie 🙂
Big hugs to all of you shining, happy women
I have to say that not eating 6 cookies is what I actually need to be working on to love myself better, but you know, I had to give a shout out to those who aren’t like me. 🙂
Thanks for coming here, Kiki!
Melissa Teets says
I love this post too. I have started feeling better about myself with age as well….but still working on my “inner-self”. I do wish I had the blessing of having such women in my life. I don’t know if it is from moving or the jobs I have held but having girlfriends in my life is not something I have enjoyed much of. Having retired over the past few year that is increasing though and I am truly treasuring each moment I can.
Thanks for the post!
Incredible article, thank you!
Patty Muich says
I learned one just yesterday. I got tired and cranky online and made a comment to someone. It was not mean or nasty but it was not me and I was afraid I may have hurt her feelings. So I went back and sent her a message to say I was sorry. Privately. Then I thought oh sure HIDE. So I went back to the group and apologized where everyone could see it. I let them know that I was wrong and sorry. It was hard to do but boy I felt better. 🙂
Love the post honey!
I had to do this same thing recently. Shoot, that was hard.
Thank you, sweet Patty.
Dawn Camp says
Love you, sweet friend!! You’ve got a big hug coming next week. 🙂
I am so excited! 🙂
Beth Williams says
You hit the nail on the head with this post! It is often times hard for women to love themselves. I find it hard at times to look in a mirror and appreciate what is there. I see a plain-Jane looking person with nothing special. Let one person compliment me and I’m in Heaven.
We, as women, need to appreciate what God has given us. He made us all beautifully in His image and we should cherish that thought!
So true, Beth.
Laura Krämer says
Well said. All of it. Thank you.
Missy @ It's Almost Naptime says
I <3 my friend Amber Haines.
It just struck me (for the first time??) that sometimes we treat friends the way we treat our husbands–with an expectation they can read our minds or at least intuitively know how/why we’re hurting; or how/why they hurt us.
“Do something to shake me….”
Yes, I’m sure that’s a new thought. I suppose it shouldn’t be, but it is.