We all want it. We want to give it. We want to receive it. We want it to surround us. Sometimes we wait around for love to come and complete us, other times it takes us by surprise. But love—or the lack of it—drives us.
I think to some extent, or at some time in our life, we all battle the false belief that we are not enough; aren't loveable; are worthless; are unworthy; or in some way do not add up to an ideal we—or we think others—perceive we should be.
So how on earth are we all going to love each other when many days our own self-love is in question? How can we give ourselves to another person fully, if we are still trying to figure out who that self is?
I have been down this road many times in my life—battling beliefs that tried to drown out all truths. I remember as a young high school girl thinking that I would truly find who I was when I found the right guy to tell me so. And yet—every time anyone would get close enough I would push him away.
And so it went. I had little trust in men—and little faith in myself. But I still looked for love, and felt I needed it to be whole.
Then one day, there he was. He swept me off my feet and for the first time I let down my guard. He became my sense of worth. Every whisper in my ear was my motivation to be better. Every word he spoke encouraged me to remember how amazing I was.
Our wedding day was sweet. I felt beautiful and worthy. Children born brought even more fulfillment, as he encouraged me as their mother. Every sense of who I wanted to be came from his approval.
For years this newfound feeling of worth was empowering. He believed in me. He saw me. I found great joy in being a wife and a mother. It completed and fulfilled me. Life was busy, and the days were long—but I was living my dreams.
Looking back now, I should have known better than to build my worth on living a dream. I wish I had figured out on my own that I had value and purpose. I wish I would have known that finding it in another person could be life shattering.
A few months after our fifth child was born, that lie found me again. Only this time it was weaved with actual proof that I had not been enough. In a matter of seconds I learned of two bullets that would change me. Two bullets that not only ripped into my husband's chest and forehead—they would sound in my mind for years to come. Those bullets told tales of the lies that were defiling everything I thought I had—they told the secrets I had not known. Those bullets were proof that what I had believed all those years ago was true—I was not enough. Not for my husband, or the other woman and her husband—not for the gun. Nobody.
Tears don't cry out the feeling that you are not enough. They just build it stronger.
I have remarried an amazing man who has helped me heal in so many ways. We have had many ups and downs. We have fought to see each other, but this time has been much harder—knowing how easy it is to lose—giving my whole heart. During the first years of our marriage I longed to feel whole and to give him what I felt he deserved as a husband. I wanted to be the carefree girl who put everything into him and based her happiness on his love—but I couldn't. I didn't know how to love, because I still hated myself and longed for all the sense of worth I thought I had lost when that gun fired.
Well next month it will have been five years. And I have learned a thing or two about those lies. They aren't what is real. I have learned many truths that I work every day to replace them.
We have to love ourselves
Not in an egotistical kind of way, but in an eternal worth kind of way. Finding love for our self is hard. We are our own worst enemies when we believe our own lies. Fear is our constant companion when we are waiting around for the ones who don't come, or don't love us in the ways we think we deserve.
Happiness is a choice
We cannot base our happiness on anything or anyone that we can one day lose. Others can add to our happiness, but cannot be the foundation of our worth. Happiness can be ours even when others are not making good choices or do not see us how we want to be seen; we can even be happy when others are miserable. And that is truth I can finally clearly see. Someday I will perfectly live this truth—but until then I will do my best trying.
Being enough comes from within us as a gift from God
Being enough doesn't come from another person. Changing this lie to a truth can be liberating, but it can only be changed by truths from within. Forgiveness of —not only those who have not been there for you but— yourself. The first step is realizing that it was a lie you had told yourself over and over again ... that it was some else's job to create your happiness.
Connecting ourselves— not to another person to give us that sense of who we are— but to our true self and to God. I wish that came naturally for me. I wish twelve years ago before I said, "I DO!" to a man, I would have first said it to me.
So to all you ladies (and gentlemen) who think that love will solve the voids inside—please don't wait. Love is not something you have to wait around for. It is a gift you will much better be able to give once you know to do it alone. Turn to God for your sense of worth. He will always be there and see you as the perfect creation you are.
Ashlee Birk is the author of The Moments We Stand, the blog and book series of her healing journey after the secret infidelity and murder of her husband in 2011. Graduate of Utah State. Mom of six. Contact themomentswestand.com www.themomentswestand