In 2018, I was selected as the student speaker for the San Antonio College Distinguished Graduates ceremony. I thought I lost the video of my speech, but I randomly found it today and uploaded it to YouTube. The audio isn’t great, but I hope it will encourage you if you listen to it.
It really messed me up in a good way the other day when I heard that some people try to outsource self-love. Desperately. Holding everyone else accountable for loving them, but not holding themselves accountable for self-love. That hit deep.
The more I think about it, the more important I think it is to prioritize taking care of your business. I mean one of the greatest commandments is love your neighbor as you love yourself. The order of the words seems to kinda put the neighbor first. But really, loving yourself is the first action.
If I treat myself like crap, then it’s no wonder that I will not treat others well. If I don’t value myself, how can I really value another? If I put myself down and don’t have patience with myself, how long can I really be patient with another?
Think of it like a gas tank. Even if I give away everything I have to others in the name of love, eventually I’ll run out. That’s what happened to me. I didn’t even know it until I hit empty. I have been recovering ever since.
Cheerful giver. Giving from a place of abundance. Not putting myself in a place of poverty just to lift another up – like I used to do before. Does God give from a place of abundance or a place of lack?
I think in general the problem is learned helplessness. If you were never encouraged or were even actively discouraged from loving yourself, and you had to survive on the crumbs of affection that were given to you by others, or crumbs you had to earn through performance – then is it no wonder that it never even occurs to you that you have the ability to love yourself period – much less when others don’t.
How and where do you start when you’ve never done a thing before? I am learning to start wherever the pain rears up. You get that moment of looking outside of yourself. Upset about someone not being there for you in some way. Or unhappy with yourself. And you start there. Acknowledge the disappointment. But then ask yourself what YOU want to do about it. Keep crying and complaining about it for how long? You can do that. Or you can make changes. Little by little.
I’ve seen people sit and wait for decades. Sitting in rooms, distracting themselves with various forms of mind-numbing entertainment. Stewing in resentment. In my experience, these are some of the ugliest people. So desperate for control that they push everyone away. Ungrateful. And unwilling to do much of anything, especially if it will require long periods of discomfort, to change their situation.
Do you want to be well? Get up and walk.
Of course it won’t feel that easy. Any muscle that has been atrophied for so long will take a lot of work to get into any shape. But would you rather the alternative?
You can do it.
I asked God for a vision today. For new vision for the future since what I thought would happen crashed dramatically to the ground. No putting the spilled milk back where it came from. Gone. Finished. Unless God performs a miracle; which may not even be best.
I felt like God said to me that there is no grand vision. There is no master plan. There is no perfect path. That this is all about relationship and healing. That I am a co-creator of sorts. That Trinity will work with whatever I give God. So I get to choose.
Which brings up a whole huge litany of thoughts you don’t consider when you are simply looking at rules and figuring out boundaries. Let’s start with: why? Why will I choose what I choose? What am I aiming for? Temporarily pacifying myself? No condemnation, but what if there was more?
This is where it requires less work to sit back and ask for less freedom. To go back to Egypt. What we’ve always known. Just to ease the anxiety of not knowing. Just to have a sense of security. Even if they are bars in a prison cell.
What will you do? What if you can’t mess up so much because very little of what you think is this life matters once you are on the other side? Once this human experience is over? I’m reminded yet again that the only one who was corrected was the one who did nothing out of fear. The others planted seeds and were tangibly rewarded.
In memory and honor of my friend, Dr. Jonathan Almirudis.
Do you have what it takes?
Before Christ was crucified, Peter was in his own strength saying, “I got this.” It is recorded for us how Peter failed. Yet we say, “I’d never be like Peter. Everyone else will, but not me, God.” And then we all fail in our own ways. We don’t trust Him and we take matters into our own hands. Like Adam and Eve?
After they all failed Jesus, Peter and the rest of the guys were hiding and went back to what they knew before their failures. Jesus revealed Himself to them!! He pursued them as they were failing to provide for themselves.
Did He say, “Man guys, if you would have laid down your lives for me, you probably would be having a better time right now.”
He gave them a choice: “Keep doing it your way or listen to Me.”
When they listened to Him, they were overwhelmed with goodness and that goodness opened their eyes. Peter ran to Him.
Did Jesus say, “I just died for you after you denied me. The least you could do is cook me some breakfast, Peter”?
Jesus said, “Kids, you are hungry. Take a load off and come eat some fish tacos I made for you.”
Did Jesus then say, “Peter, since you towed the line and showed all these wimps how to do it, I’m going to leave you in charge when I’m gone”?
Did Jesus say, “Peter, since you repented and believed enough after you screwed up, I’m going to put you in charge when I leave so you can show the rest of these hoodlums how to do it when I’m gone”?
In front everyone, to redeem Peter’s original failure (as a picture of Christ redeeming Adam’s original failure?), Jesus said, “Peter, do you have what it takes this time?”
“No, Lord. I have a little but not enough.”
Again: “Peter, do you have what it takes?”
And a third time, “Peter, do you have what it takes?”
“No, Lord. You know I don’t have what it takes.”
Then Jesus says, “Great! Now you are ready! Tell them how much I love you. Tell them how much I love them.”
Just like with Moses: “I got this, Lord”. God says, “Whoa Moses, let me show you some stuff.” And out Moses goes to learn about dirty, stinky sheep in the desert for a few decades.
Then after he’s lost all hope of his dreams being fulfilled, it’s like God shows up and says, “You ready, Moses?”
“Oh, no way, God. Look at me.”
“Exactly! Look at you. Perfect for what I AM doing. I don’t need your strength, Moses.”
God is saying, “I don’t need your strength, Sarah.”
God is saying, “I don’t need your strength, children.”
Just like with the Israelites. Why were Joshua and Caleb praised? THEY KNEW THEIR GOD!!! They didn’t see things through their own efforts.
Just like with Abraham, no? Another picture of Adam and us?
Kinda like, “Ok Abe, I am giving you a promise.”
“Sounds great, Lord.”
Time goes by. All Abe sees is his own inabilities. Sarah says, not unlike Eve, “Well, maybe God really did leave us to figure this out on our own?” So they proceed to make a mess of it.
And what does God do? “That’s it! I can’t stand ya’ll!” ZAP!
More grace. God says like He said to Peter, “I don’t even need your strength of believing, Abraham. I don’t need your strength of faith.”
God gave Abraham the promise of a son BEFORE Abraham believed. Did Abraham’s subsequent acts of unbelief nullify God’s promise?
GOD KNEW!!! Right after He gave the promise, He sealed it using the perfect picture: the old tradition was that if two men made an agreement, then they signified and sealed that agreement by killing an animal and splitting its body in half. Then both men would walk through the middle of the slaughtered animal so as to say, “If I don’t keep my part of this promise then let the same thing be done to me as to this animal.”
But did God let Abraham walk through the middle of the dead animals? NO! There was only a torch to represent God that was sent through the dead animals!! To show that only God was tied to keeping the promise!
And the torch, what a picture: a Light!
And on top of that, God had Abraham setup the slaughtered animals during the day but waited until the darkness in order for The Light to pass through and seal the deal.
Wow! Picture after picture.
Now that is good news!
Want to hear a crazy story?