by Christina Hubbard
I drive by Massage Envy twice a week. Some days I let myself ogle the purple letters and even indulge myself to look at the hours posted in white on the glass. Gosh, how my shoulders ache. That would be so nice.
I’ve ventured in once or twice after getting permission with a birthday gift card. But I’m a power-through, independent woman. I shake my head. Who am I kidding? I don’t need to be touched. I’ll just envy those who can afford such luxuries. I’m fine. I pull away from my parking spot at the chiropractor’s office, two doors down, where I’ve been getting adjusted for four years, almost weekly. Repression at it’s best.
The inner dialogue continues as I pass Starbucks and talk myself out of a skinny mocha. Forget it, honey. You have $100 left in the grocery budget for the next 2 weeks. Remember how many pairs of tennis shoes you’ve had to buy in the past 3 months! You don’t NEED it.
Because I can’t stretch myself to make it all enough, because I can’t do it all perfectly, I treat my heart like an enemy. I tell myself I am certainly not worth it.
The funny thing is I’m really really good at telling other people they are. In my planner, under “Weekly Focus” I have written: “Encourage kids before they leave.” I make sure to thank my husband profusely for picking up a last minute ingredient from the store on his way home, especially when he gets it wrong. I appreciate the effort, not the purchase.
Just the other day, I shared key lime pie and coffee with my friend Alicia in a beautiful museum courtyard. “You’re doing better than you realize,” I encouraged her. “Give yourself a break.”
I want her to know she matters. She loves her family amazingly, 24-7. I also see how she hurts. Like me, she aches for a kind word, some acknowledgement to be seen, heard, and known beyond the shame and self-blame playing on repeat in our heads.
On the outside, many of us are doing what my therapist calls, “hustling for our worth.” Scrambling to do it all for everyone else but never giving ourselves a drop of grace. We give and sacrifice and power-through and never tell a soul we’re desperate for love. We’re aching to be touched.
Maybe you’re like me, you hear people validate your worth. You read it in God’s word, but your great need still follows you around like a lost puppy dog. You push it away. Get lost. You scare me. Go home.
But need has a way of surfacing at the most inopportune times: panic attacks during holiday stress, an hour of weeping at a friend’s off-handed comment.
If only we could say what we need. If only we could believe we are worthy.
Andrew Peterson wrote a beautiful song called “Be Kind To Yourself.” We treat ourselves like our own worst enemies. Why do we fight so hard to be perfect? What if we believed God’s love is not just for others, but for us too?
As we left the museum, I explained to Alicia how my daughter Abby found a painted rock at Chick-fil-a with the words, “U R loved.” Then she commandeered her brother into helping her make forty similar rocks. They gathered stones and painted all day. They hid them around the neighborhood park. I looked up as she handed one to Alicia’s son.
Between museum glass doors, Alicia turned and said, “Your kids are amazing.” She knows how my uncertain heart aches to be touched with assurance. I hugged her. Twice. I need that touch of grace. So very much.
In leiu of massages for all of us, I give you a rock. On it, I write “Be kind to yourself.” Hold it in your hand.
Remember, you are not the enemy. U R loved.
Christina Hubbard is a poet who writes memoir. Her work has appeared at (in)courage and Proverbs 31. A wife and mom to two squirrelly kids, Christina dreams big and believes words can change the world. She spends her days writing her way toward grace and learning to love her messy, adventurous self. She’s the author of Five Ways to Love Like You Mean It. Find her at CreativeandFree.com
Christina created a Spotify playlist for you! Enjoy and happy Valentine’s Day!
This post is part of the Indivisible series. To get more info about the series, guest writers, giveaways, and the free short story, check out the first post here. New posts will be going up each Tuesday and Thursday through February. As they’re added, you’ll be able to read them all here.