I’ve got a tender little heart. This I know. I see people and I feel for people and I’m always wishing I had a granola bar in my pocket when I drive by homeless folks standing on the corner.
I am quick to give to YouCaring campaigns and bring my friends flowers. These past few weeks I brought my husband’s team coffee at work. Made a handmade card for a mentor who just released a book and stuck a gift card in the mail for a new momma.
I don’t say this to brag. I just feel like I’m good at these things. At giving gifts. At making others feel seen.
And then I read this.
When it comes to taking care of treating myself, receiving. or extending the same kindnesses to myself, I realized I can often suck at this.
In my head I punish myself, rolling around threats of not-enough money or those flowers on the kitchen table should really be five dollars in my savings account instead. Little treats I give to others. Not often myself. I brush off compliments and say, no, no, you first.
I prefer to be in the background. Anonymous.
It can be scary to be known. Sure, I want to be loved, but what if people don’t love me back?
What if I struggle to love myself too?
Earlier this weekend I found out another dear friend got a job at J.Crew Mercantile. Hmm, I thought, I’ve got some old gift cards burning holes in my stack – cards collecting dust, being saved for a sale or a time when I deserved to spend them.
Enter more punishing thoughts.
He needs pants more than me. I can wait another month. What if there is a better sale later?
“No”, my friend said firmly, “the time is now! Come visit me after work.”
“I deserve it” I tried to convince myself “plus everything is 50% off.”
In I walked, tentatively, into the beautiful shop. Realities of pending bills darting through my lizard brain, scratching and clawing at my ears, slithering you ought to leave.
Keep walking across the wood floor – straight to the sale rack.
My friend greeted me with a smile and open arms. She followed me around the store, making suggestions of new pants to try, a skirt she thought would look good. I asked her to bring me a t-shirt and a size bigger, or two.
I picked out a Spring outfit and felt waited upon and loved. Loved by a friend who kept telling me, ‘no, those pants really do look good’. Who encouraged me into a shop for some self-kindness and attention. Beauty found in feelings of admiration – for myself and the way my feet look in Spring sandals. Beauty in the reminder that it takes a little nudge to love myself and feel seen. That my needs matter too.
I was able to receive the gift of attention when I let myself be taken care of in a dressing room. On a Tuesday evening, in the back of J. Crew, she helped me feel beautiful too.
I can so identify with extending grace and love to those around me but not enough to myself. God’s love and grace for me has helped me to extended more of both to myself as well.