Signing Off With Love.


Hi Friends,

I have an announcement to make. I guess the title kind of gave it away.

I am shutting down the blog – or more specifically my creation of “The Self Love Challenge.” I guess technically the website and my corresponding social media pages will still exist, so if anyone does want to read old posts, they can. But as far as my relationship with The Self Love Challenge – I have to say it has come to an end.

It’s been a tough decision, and while I absolutely love writing it and speaking to some of you and knowing that I have made a difference in some of your lives, it is something I have to do for myself. It’s served it’s purpose and I’m grateful for that season of my life, but it’s time for a new season. A new purpose.

I came to the final decision this morning, but God has placed it on my heart to do this for a few weeks now. It’s not because I’ve run out of things to write about or because of the bullying I’ve experieced most recently or because the community wasn’t taking off like I had hoped it would – my decision is based solely on what God wants for my life – and frankly, right now, this is not what my focus should be on.

I think He has a bigger plan for me. I’m not really sure what exactly it is yet, but I trust in it. And I’m learning that part this obedience as a Christ follower means learning how to surrender all parts of our life to Him, which I really haven’t been. So I think that is where my focus should be right now. Surrendering my life completely and trusting that He will lead me to wherever I need to go – whether it be as a writer, a blogger, an artist, a life coach, or something completely different – the first step begins with me choosing to obey His commands.

I know some of this may not make sense to some of you, especially those who do not call themselves Christian. However, it does not need to make sense to you and I really don’t have to explain it. I’m not saying that to be rude, but I guess this is my personal journey and my deeper reasoning for doing this is something that will have to stay between God and I.

I’m also learning that some thing we are not meant to understand the reason behind why He wants us to let certain things go, but we must do it anyway. Of all the times God has asked me to let something go, I’ve always been hesitant. I’ve always thought that I knew better. That I could keep it going on my own. But He always brought me to the point where I needed to make a decision – whether to continue in my own strength or to surrender and do it His way. He’s a very patient God, and He is always patient with me as I continue to defy Him and try to do it on my own. But just like any parent, He waits until His child eventually realizes their need for Him and gives in.

I’ve had to let go of several things in my life that I really did not want to let go of. But God seems to prune us of the things He knows shouldn’t be in our life, because He knows He has something better for us.

So. With all that said, I do want to thank each and every one of you for following my blog, for engaging with me, and for teaching me things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise from this experience.

I know this doesn’t mean that I will quit writing. I will always be writing something. But I think The Self Love Challenge had it’s moment, and now it’s time to move on to the next part of my journey.

I wish you all well. Keep going, friends.

xx

Christina

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The Meaning of Life or What Really Matters.

I came across a Bible verse today that really struck me hard this morning. It wasn’t even the biblical context that really made me question things, but rather in relation to life itself.

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? – Mark 8:36

For those of you who do not believe in God, I’ll translate it into what it meant to me that may relate to you more.

If you gain all the riches of the world, fame, fortune, all sorts of pleasure, any material possession, anything you can basically imagine achieving that is defined as success by the world, but then have nothing truly meaningful in your life like love, family, relationships, any sort of impact on other’s lives, or any kind of desire for creating eternal change, then what is the point of it all?

This made me think. It made me think of the world we live in. How literally everyone is focused on achieving their own instant gratification rather than creating deeper connections or greater impact. We have become such a selfish society. And I am not afraid to say that, even towards myself because we all fall into the same trap. It makes us feel good to fulfill our own desires. It is human instinct to be selfish. And the times we live in now, not only encourage it more so than ever before, but it has become the social norm to be this way, when in generations before, it was not.

Our image has become our God. We worship our image. We do everything we can to create this outward appeal. We go to great lengths, even if it means hurting others who get in the way. We sacrifice our families, our friends, our careers, our relationship. We seek more and more and more, and yet during our life time we have become the most depressed generation.

Why is this? Because we have turned inward. We have forgotten what it’s like to experience real connection. Loving others has become less of a priority and giving to ourselves has raised to the top. It’s not even about self-love, because we don’t even love ourselves. In fact, we hate ourselves more than ever because we are constantly so focused on outdoing everyone else’s image with our own. But we can never feel like we are enough.

I see how the widening popularity of social media has impacted the way we see our own identity. We base our worth on who “likes” our stuff or who we are friends with or how many followers we have.

It’s not only affecting our lives online, but also offline. Our culture has made it so that it has become so acceptable to overshare our opinions of literally everything that everyone believes that they must conform to what is popular in order to be deemed as a “worthy individual.” It is ruining relationships. Friendships. Careers. Causing identity crisis. Depression. Anxiety. Fear. Jealousy. Rage.   

It is creating so much hatred in the world as well. Look at the recent shootings. We are spreading news and opinions so quickly that people don’t even get a moment to digest it but rather are overwhelmed with the opinions of everyone else in a matter of seconds. Then before you know it, all of this promoting causes them to feel entitled enough to go out and fix the problem themselves – resulting in even more destruction. There is so much animosity. So much judgment. So much entitlement. So many opinions of what is right and wrong. And all it does is create chaos and produce more confusion.

I’m not blaming it all on social media. This isn’t a post about social media at all and how I am advocating against it (I’m not, I know now it can be used for good). It’s rather a post about the way our culture has evolved just in the last 10 years. How much importance it is placing on the wrong things. And as a result, we have lost the true meaning and purpose of life. It was never about us.

What is the meaning and purpose of life?

A friend of mine is doing a project on this very question. I responded to her question, and I wanted to share an expanded version of my response with you. I am not saying that even my own opinion is right, but what I can tell you is that the meaning of life is not to glorify ourselves and create a world of competition, lost identity, and hatred.

The meaning of life. Wow. Such a complicated yet simple question. I think the meaning of life is several things. The first purpose is to love. I believe we were created (by God) to love and to receive love in return. I think love was created for a good reason. It is obviously important because it is truly the basis for every purpose and motivation in life. We do things out of love. We experience things out of love. We pursue things out of love. We create things out of love. We are inspired because of love. Love is the one universal thing that connects us all. It is understood in every language.

It doesn’t even have to be romantic love, it can be any kind of relational connection from strangers to friends to family to significant others. Love is meant to be shared. It is meant to be given freely and received freely. It is not meant to be judged. It is not meant to create competition. It is not meant to spread division. Rather it is used to unite. Anything that is not love is based off fear and fear is what causes disconnection. Fear is what drives our need for competition. Fear is what creates hatred among each other. Fear is what causes entitlement. Fear is what tells us to focus on ourselves and not others. Fear is what kills. Love does none of this. Love is pure. It’s only motivation is for good. Love others. Love ourselves. 

The second purpose of life is to connect. We all learn from each other, whether growing up as children and learning from our parents to learning from our peers. Each of these relationships create a connection. Without connection humans would cease to exist. It is that vital. 

There was a scientific study in the 1950s called the “Monkey Love Experiments” conducted by psychologist Harry Harlow. Through the use of baby monkeys and robots, he conducted a theory to prove how critical it is to have emotional attachment and connection in our lives and when we cease to have this, we literally go insane. In his experiments he separated baby monkeys from their mothers and placed them in two separate groups – one with a surrogate robot mother that was made a plain electronics and wires but had provided nourishment (milk) and a second surrogate robot mother that did not provide nourishment but was covered in soft terry cloth to resemble the comforting presence of a real mother. He found that the monkeys that were placed with the plain robot showed signs of emotional deprivation and depression even though they were adequately nourished. The other monkeys seemed happier and more secure because they were able to form an emotional attachment and connection to the terry cloth covered robot. (Link)


What this proves is our significant need for emotional attachment and connection. Without it, we are empty. Purposeless. It is the same for human beings. Without adequate connections to others, our lives feel meaningless. I believe that one of our deepest human needs is to feel understood and we can only find that understanding when we connect to others. We connect by being vulnerable with each other and once we can break that barrier, we find understanding. We create the emotional attachment. Understanding allows us to feel loved and a sense of belonging.

In today’s world, I feel like we have less of that sense of belonging now more than ever. We are all trying so desperately to connect, and yet we have become so far from it because our attempts are directed in the wrong way. Instead of seeking to understand, we are seeking to compete. Instead of seeking to love, we are seeking to judge. Instead of being vulnerable, we are only revealing ourselves as a carefully put together façade of what we want people to see. Connection cannot blossom through this way of being.

The third and final meaning of life, I believe is to create. And not necessarily to create artwork, although it can be, but in essence to create anything. We can create life by reproduction , children. We can create beauty – through outward expression, through human connection, through love. We can create friendships. We can create whatever it is that inspires us to grow and learn, and most importantly to steer mankind into a worthy direction.

God created creation by creating us. He created love. He created nature. He created the Earth and all of the universe. Creating was His gift to us and we must also follow His lead by creating good things as well. We must create out of love, not out of fear.

This is what I believe the true meaning to life is. To love. To connect. And to create. When we lack these things, our life becomes empty – purposeless. Without love, we are nothing. Without connection we feel isolated and misunderstood. And when we have no creativity, we have no form of outward expression, no motivation to keep us going, so life becomes boring.

Three simple things originally based in love, and yet we have evolved into turning them all into things based on fear. Instead of loving, we now hate. Instead of connecting, we have now become selfish. Instead of creating,  we destroy. 


The self love daily challenge: Let’s work together to originate ourselves back to the true and worthy meanings of life. Let’s love again. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. Let’s connect again. Talk to someone. Understand them. Relate to them. And lastly, let’s inspire each other to create good things. To express ourself in positive, healthy ways. 

xx

Christina Ciro

 

 

 

An Important Lesson in Patience and Trust.

  
Hi lovelies! 

The Lord loves convicting my heart, doesn’t He? Yes, another biblical based post, just because I am learning SO much from God right now in regards to my own life and because I feel it will be so relevant to others, I must share! 

I don’t know what it is, but once you hit your late 20’s, it seems as if everyone you know is either doing one of three things – getting married, having a baby, or living up their life with a successful job/relationship. And with the joyous help of social media, it seems as if all of these exciting life events that are happening to your friends will be broadcasted in your face 24/7. So it becomes a constant reminder that either a) you’re not engaged, b) you’re not married and having a baby, or c) your life pretty much sucks.

 Now, I hate to be a downer, but it’s only natural that as humans we like to compare and compete with everyone else. So my natural tendency is to compare my own life to the lives of everyone else I know and right now, my life doesn’t seem all too exciting. To make matters worse, as any girl I’m sure would relate, being engaged, having a baby or just having a wonderful life in general is a girl’s life goal. Ok, I don’t mean that it’s the only life goal we ever have, because that would be kind of shallow, but these events are all pretty important milestones that us women REALLY look forward too. And because I am ticking closer to 30 as each day goes by, the thought of “what if I never get married” is becoming much more prominent.

So because of all this nonsense and worry, I’ve brought it upon myself to have a mini panic attack after hearing the news of yet another engagement of someone I know and I’ve been stuck in a bit of a slump ever since. I went through the typical (pathetic, non-self-loving) motions – “why me? What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t anyone love me?” for the past week and half. And then today I had enough. I sat down and I prayed. And I had a little conversation with God that went something like this:

“Hey God, yup, it’s me again. OK seriously what’s going on here? Why am I the last one to get married out of everyone? You know I want it so bad. Like I’ve wanted it since I was a little girl. And my dream has always been to be a wife and a mother. So why won’t you just let it happen already? I’m ready now. I’m going to be 27. Can you just make my boyfriend ready to propose already so we can move on with this? I reallllly don’t want to get to 30 and not be married yet, so please spare me that embarrassment ok? Work with me?”
And then God, being the loving Father that He is, said no.

 At first I was upset. I mean it’s normal for any grown 27 year old woman my age to throw a temper tantrum when her Almighty Father says “no” to one of her biggest requests, right? Yeah. I don’t know. But I was seriously upset. I started to even doubt His love for me. I started to doubt whether I was even good enough or beautiful enough or lovable enough for a man to even want me. But then I realized right away that it was all just Satan speaking in my ear. So I started to ask why instead. Why is He saying “no” to me right now?

I began listening to a sermon from The Gathering Oasis Ministry about Christian dating, and even though it was kind of unrelated, the pastor began to speak about something that completely answered my question. He was talking about women just like me who were asking God why He wasn’t bringing them a husband or children or whatever it is that they wanted out of life. He then spoke about how most of the time the reason is because it isn’t in God’s timing yet and because we aren’t trusting God with our desires. The other thing that really stuck out with me, that I know for sure was a message directly from the Holy Spirit was this one line: Patience is a fruit of the spirit. And contentment solves the need to be impatient.

Whoa. That is truth literally hitting you in the gut

God gave me my answer. He wasn’t saying “no” entirely, He was just saying “not yet.” He was trying to explain to me that I was being really impatient and not trusting in His timing for what He wants in my life for me right now. And because I wasn’t trusting Him and being really impatient, it was breeding a lot of discontentment in my life to the point where if I continued this way, it could very easily ruin the wonderful relationship I already had going. He made me aware that I wasn’t enjoying the waiting period – the discovering and learning period of a relationship. He told me that I was being too impatient, that I shouldn’t be in such a hurry to fast forward to marriage because in reality I’m still not ready because He is still working on me.

This hit me pretty hard, and I’ll be honest, it was kind of disappointing to hear that I wasn’t getting what I wanted still, but at the same time, I do feel at peace. I feel like I really do need to trust in His timing and His plan, because He really is the only one who knows best. It made me think that what if I really am not ready for marriage or baby and what if God is saving me from a lot of heartbreak because of my lack of preparation right now. I know He needs to work in me still. I know there is a lot to learn. And I’m sure there is a lot of work that needs to be done on my future husband as well (whoever that may be.) So yeah, it’s kind of disappointing, but it’s also kind of exciting, because I know that if I do trust and be patient and endure like He says, then the result will be something beautiful. I don’t want to rush things and make them a mess.

So here’s my lesson to you all, trust in the Lord and be patient. I know it’s hard to endure that period of waiting, but it will probably be worth it. And in the meantime, learn to be content right now. Find joy in the present moment. Maybe it’s not where you’d like to be, but enjoy it for what it is right now. Find happiness in it. Life is too short to be miserable over waiting for things you want to happen. They will happen when they happen, if they are meant to. I just thought of this metaphor that relates. It’s like fruit. If you force it to ripen before it is ready, it won’t be very sweet. But if you let it ripen on its own, you can guarantee it will be delicious and rewarding. So let the events in your life ripen naturally.

And for all of my married friends or soon to be married friends or friends with babies or even friends with super successful, amazing lives, I’m happy for you. There’s nothing worse than being bitter over someone else’s happiness. So I’m not going to let myself be that person. My time will come too. I just have to keep reminding myself – patience and trust, patience and trust, patience and trust. I think you’ll find that once you begin to let go of holding on tight to the thing you want most, somehow it will end up in your hands anyway when the time is right. 

The Self Love Challenge: 

Have patience with the things in your life you want most. Trust in God’s timing. And allow things to ripen naturally
xx

Christina Ciro

 

 

 

Love Remains. 

  

I’ve been having these thoughts lately about the purpose of life or my life rather because currently I am at a crossroad on which direction to take next concerning my job, as well as other things that are important. And it’s usually when we are facing a major decision or key moment in our lives when we begin to think about our purpose. We ask ourselves how much impact this decision would really make on our lives? How would things change or would they not change much at all? We begin to wonder whether this decision will be something that would affect how we are seen to others. All these important factors come into play when we are making an important decision regarding our life purpose. But in end, I’m starting to realize that our life purpose really isn’t about how successful we were or what things we have acquired or who we are better than. Sure, people may remember some of those things for a while like the time you received an award for your work on a major project that led the company to financial success, but in the end doesn’t all that fade away eventually – in 30,40,50,100 years? Shouldn’t we invest in something more eternal? Something that would impact others more deeply? Like love…

I’m not saying to give up on finding success but what I am saying is to also focus on something that will remain – like love. Love is eternal. And how we loved creates a lasting impact on the lives of others for years. People still remember how the love of Mother Theresa helped impact many lives. Something so small as her acts of kindness created change throughout many generations.

I always wonder when we die and (hopefully) make to heaven if one of the questions God will ask of us is if we loved (others). I’m sure He will ask us this because He was the originator of love in the first place and loved us first so that we would turn around and love others. So I feel like loving others is an extremely important act we must perform otherwise God would have not strained it’s importance of loving others in the Bible as often as He did (John 13:34).

I believe it is so important to do everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). What do I mean by that? When we do everything with the basis of love, we are doing it for the good of others rather than our own selfish ambition. When we are constantly worried about our own gains, we don’t leave room for impacting the lives of other people. If we are only concerned with what we can achieve or how we can get ahead, how satisfying of life do you believe you will have? Wouldn’t you look back and feel kind of empty, because the only life you impacted was your own? But what if you lived a life where you gave love freely to others and committed acts of kindness throughout your life; wouldn’t you look back and feel so full of joy because you left an imprint of love on so many hearts?

I learned something new today – that when we are able to love others, that is the only time we will ever begin to feel true joy. Because instead of focusing inward and seeking our own happiness, which is usually fleeting and temporary, we focus outward instead, and produce a long lasting feeling of joy that comes from loving other people.

Love doesn’t always have to mean romance either. It can be brotherly love, sisterly love, friendship love, coworker love, stranger love, animal love, etc. Love can take on many forms. Love is a form of kindness, so we can show that to just about anyone and anything. Showing love can also mean changing our personality. If usually we are cold and unfriendly or distant from others, we can turn ourselves around, ask God to help change our stone cold hearts, and begin to look at the world and other people in a friendlier light. This way we are protruding out love instead of hate or indifference.

We can show love in the manner that we speak –using gentle tones or encouraging words. We can show love in the way we act –doing something nice for someone else or taking the burden off someone’s shoulders. We can show love by spending time with friends or family or even strangers who could use a new friend. We can show love by helping the poor, giving to the needy, or volunteering our time for a good cause.

Love is the only thing that will truly leave a lasting impact and legacy. People will remember your achievements, but they will remember the way you made them feel a lot longer. I was thinking about this as I began to form my decision. Sure, I want to have a good job someday, something I love doing that would motivate me to create each and every day, but in the end, is that really going to matter? Shouldn’t my focus really be on making an eternal impact of loving others on behalf of Jesus Christ? I’m not saying that I’m going to just quit everything I’m passionate about and focus only on this one eternal goal, but I do want to stop thinking most of the time in terms of what is going to benefit me or bring me more gain, and rather begin to think in terms of how could I help make the world a little bit warmer and make others feel more loved?

I’m starting small. Just writing this blog as often as I can find time. I’m hoping that my words and the things that I learn can help others feel encouraged or loved in a way and possibly impact their lives in a positive way that will trickle down and impact the lives of others they share their thoughts with. God created each of us with a unique gift and I know for me, it has been my gift of writing. I know that He wants me to use this gift to help encourage others and to help show His love to the world. So I’m trying my best to do just that. My goal in my own personal life is also to show more love to the people I care about. I know that because of my introverted personality I tend to be a bit self focused a lot of the time – thinking only about what’s going on in my own life or what I can do to better things for me. I want to step outside of that. It’s going to take a bit of time, but with God’s help, I want to start showing love more to others as well – caring about their days, asking how they are, lending a helping hand, etc.

Life isn’t all about me. It isn’t all about you either. So don’t believe that the world revolves around each of our own personal lives, because it doesn’t. We are in this together. Humans. Humanity. So we have to work together. To share our burdens. To encourage one another. To uplift each other. To give love and to receive it too. Because in the end, one thing remains – love (1 Corinthians 13:13). Everything else you do will eventually be forgotten.

The Self Love Challenge: 

Do everything with love in mind. From the way you walk, talk, work, act, eat, etc. Do it with a basis of love. 

xx

Christina Ciro

 

 

Amazing Grace. 

  
 I know I’m a bit late here with the whole “love” theme, it being February and most recently, Valentine’s day, but here at the Self Love Challenge the theme is “love” all the time. Now it doesn’t always have to be about self love, even though the purpose of this journey is to discover the act of loving  oneself. But I’ve learned that self love contains many different parts. One being, obviously, loving one self. But the other part of self love requires us to love others as well. They work hand in hand and I think that is wonderful. Because if we only loved ourselves, we would be self-centered, and if we only loved others, we would be major people pleasers, which isn’t healthy. So there must be a balance. And balance is always key in everything.

Most recently, God has placed this whole idea of loving others on my heart. Sure, He wants me to love myself to by recognizing my own value and worth, but He’s been making it rather prominent that I haven’t been too in tune with loving other people. I’ve become too self focused. Always thinking about myself – what I feel, what I think, what I should do, how I should be. And while that is great for improving on one self and finding better understanding, it isn’t as helpful for loving other people. So I want to step outside of myself for a moment, or rather a few moments, because I believe it’s important to connect with others and have that gracious attitude that God is seeking me to have.

Having grace or being gracious is a vital quality to possess. I always used to get confused with the definition of what having grace or extending grace actually meant. I always believed that it was a type of forgiveness – mostly attributing to God in the sense that He extends His grace towards us when we mess up. But then I did a little research today, and after listening to a few sermons about it and reading a few different articles online, I’ve come to a better understanding of what it truly means to be gracious.

The basic dictionary definition defines grace as being kind, courteous, or polite. The bible describes grace as God giving us something we do not deserve out of His own kindness. However, through my own research, I have cultivated a definition of grace that I’d like to share. To me being gracious is showing a kindness to all. It is a humble attitude. It is a forgiving attitude. It is a patient attitude. It is extending honor towards others. It is being polite and in tune. It is recognizing that deep down there is goodness in everyone and finding a way to create that level of comfort with others so that their goodness will be able to shine through.

It’s quite a lengthy definition, but I feel it best describes the qualities of what grace exhibits. I must also admit, however, as effortless as the definition may sound when put into the terms I have described, it is definitely not an effortless quality to keep. We must make a DAILY conscious effort to be gracious, because after all it is not human nature to be selfless but rather self focused instead. And being gracious is the complete opposite of selfishness.

How can we be more gracious? This is a lesson I am currently learning, so work with me here. I am also learning that these principles of grace can be used towards others as well towards ourselves. So let’s show a little grace towards ourselves too (self love points!!).

1. We must extend more kindness to others. As simple as that sounds, it’s not. But we must try to be anyway. Instead of judging more, let’s step back and take on a new perspective. Instead of being quick to anger, let’s calm our wrath with a sweet word. Instead of showing hate, let’s show love instead. There are multiple ways we can extend kindness. Kindness can be as easy as just being polite.

2. We can be more patient towards others (and even ourselves). Take a moment to be more patient. Maybe someone isn’t having a great day, and acting a bit critical with you. Don’t take it personal. Extend grace. Allow for them to be human. Be patient with them and show them that patience by extending love and letting them know that it is ok that they are having a bad day or a bad moment. So what if someone is a little slow in your car lane. Be patient. It’s not worth blowing up over petty things all the time. Sometimes a simple act of grace can be the difference between showing love and kindness towards someone and making their day.

3. Be more forgiving. Just as God forgives us when we mess up, extend that same courtesy towards others. I’m not saying excuse their behavior if they’ve wronged you in some way, but I do believe we should try and forgive others for the sole purpose of finding that peace rather than building that bitterness. Plus, we’re all human (I say this again!). We all mess up. Wouldn’t you want someone to extend grace to you if you did something wrong? I also believe that by having a forgiving attitude, it helps build room for growth. Because then you won’t have that weight of shame upon you, and rather you would want to improve and correct whatever wrong you did.

4. Connect more with others. This is the one definition of grace I didn’t quite understand. What does being gracious have to do with connecting to others? It’s really about taking ourselves outside of ourselves by honoring the other person. When we honor another person we become consciously aware of how they are feeling, their needs, and what they are saying to us and then we can connect better with them, creating a comfortable atmosphere of connection.  When we make it a point to pay attention to others, we are showing grace as well as showing the other person appreciation and respect. 

5. Recognizing goodness in everyone. Being gracious means that we recognize that we are all human, that we all mess up, that we all make mistakes. It recognizes that there is an inherent goodness in each of us because God has made us in His image. Grace seeks out what is right before what is wrong. Another part to this can be when we do correct others when they fall short, we do it with love, another form of grace, because we recognize that there is goodness within them.

There you have it. My short little lesson on grace. I’m sure if you do your own research you can find out more about what grace means to you. As for me, I still need practice. I need to learn especially to be more patient with people, especially when they are being critical with me. This is my weakness. I know that when people are stressed or dealing with their own hurt, they can sometimes reveal that in their behavior towards m and I take it personal. However, I want to make a conscious effort now to extend grace rather than firing back with my own wrath. In the end, grace really is an act of love, whether to ourselves or others, because love originally comes from Christ who first loved us and extended His own grace to us. 

The Self Love Challenge: 

So Where do you fall short in the area of grace? Where do you need more practice? Ask yourself these questions. Maybe it’s with someone you love? A coworker? A boss? Yourself? Then consciously practice extending grace. You will begin to notice change from within as well – more patience,  deeper gratitude, growing self love, and genuine connection. 

xx

Christina Ciro

You are Deserving of Love.

“Most of the time when we feel chronically unhappy with our relationships, it is because we are struggling with our own insecurities and fears. Deep down we do not feel worthy of love or happiness, and when we feel like we don’t deserve it, we won’t be able to let it in.”

I read this statement today in a relationship book I am currently reading. It was talking about how most of the time when we are unhappy with our mates, it is usually a reflection of how we are feeling about ourselves – whether that is insecurity or some type of inadequacy or fear. And most of the time when have these unhealthy feelings towards ourselves, it blocks our paths to receiving the love our mates give us. And then we get caught up in an unhealthy cycle of being disappointed in our partners for them not giving us the type of “love” we want, but in reality, it’s our own fault for not believing in the fact that we are deserving of love in the first place.

This theory relates to loving ourselves as well. Most of the time when we feel unable to love ourselves or think kindly towards ourselves, it is because we do not feel like we are deserving of love. We have some sort of insecurity that is holding us back, believing that we are simply not good enough or worthy enough to be loved in the way we desire. Or sometimes the cause can come from a deep-seeded fear. Maybe in our past, we were abandoned or hurt in some significant way, which caused us to create beliefs that we are not deserving of love or that any love we do get, will inevitably hurt us in some form. This prevents us from experiencing love or trusting in its goodness. It also prevents us from loving ourselves and believing that we are deserving of good things.

It is so important to have healthy beliefs about ourselves. We must truly believe that we are worthy, that we are enough, and that we are valuable. We must also seek our value not from others or this world, but from deep within – from God. I listened to a sermon today that stated that the only one who can give true value to something is the Creator of that object. Since God is our Creator, He is the only one who has that right to give us our value, and of course we are more than valuable in His eyes. And yet so many of us do not believe this. We believe that in order to be valuable, we must feel worthy in the eyes of others. They must see that value in us through our looks or our personalities or whatever goods we have as part of who we are, and then they can properly assess how valuable we are as a person. If they give us a good value, then we feel worthy. We feel like we are worthy of their love and of love in general, including our own. If they dismiss us or give us poor value, we feel rejected. We feel as though we are not worthy of any kind of love, including our own.

It took me a long time to figure this out. I always looked to the world or to friends or family or even my job or how many goals I achieved to give me my value. And most of the time, each person gave me a different value, so I was often confused. But of course, it’s human nature to pay attention to the negative first before the positive so I always went with the lowest value that one person gave. Eventually, I believed that this was my true value. That I really wasn’t worth that much and because of this, I had to work extremely hard to raise my value. I had to become better. I had to mold myself into something more worthy or attractive. And even though I tried (and sometimes keep trying), I was never able to succeed to proving that I was more valuable than what others believed. So the belief stuck in my head for many years and it damaged me to the point that it was even difficult to love myself or see my own value. It still is sometimes. I still have to remind myself over and over that I am an amazing person and deserving of love.

I’ve noticed though when I do start to feel insecure or fearful that I am not valuable, I begin to panic. I strive again. I try too hard. I start to seek out wholeness from other people and I place demands on them to fill me up and show me that I am deserving. But this creates the opposite effect. It only creates a deeper unhappiness and discontentment on my part. And then I am not able to receive the love that really are giving me because I am so focused on getting this desired “wholeness” from them, (that is impossible to give to anyone in the first place) that I completely let the love they are already giving me pass me by. It’s so stupid! Isn’t it? And yet we do this over and over and over again.

So I want to change that. I want to be an encourager. I want to prove that everyone is worthy, that we just have to see it for ourselves rather than relying on outside sources to prove it to us. We have to believe that God made us exactly the way He did for a reason and it is because He knew what an amazing creation we were going to be. He tells us that we are more valuable than birds (Matt. 10:31) or that we are precious and honored in his sight (Isaiah 43:4). We must believe that if our own Creator is telling us that we are deserving of His own love. We must be valuable then!

I’m tired of allowing my insecurities and fears over feeling inadequate ruin relationships and friendships and whatever else in my life over and over again. I want to receive the love that I deserve. I want everyone to because we are all deserving of it! Please believe this. I beg you.

I know we will all find more happiness if we can begin to open up those pathways inside of ourselves. If we can begin to believe that we are deserving of good things, then good things will come our way. It’s all about our belief system in the end. So change up those thoughts! Start setting your mind on the right things!

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Trust in your value. Trust that you are worthy of love and finally unblock that path of receiving it.

xx

Christina Ciro

I’m No Super (Wo)man.

   

Tis’ the season of Christmas time. A time of joy and celebration with family and friends – gathering around the Christmas tree, opening gifts, and making memories; sipping hot cocoa and decorating Gingerbread houses. There are so many fun traditions. And while most of these moments bring us happiness, sometimes the holidays can also become quite stressful, bringing with it a heap of anxiety and tension. For some people, the holidays can be quite sad. For others, it could just be that they are so focused on getting the gifts, tree, and dinner menu perfected. Either way, we all can begin to feel the pressure, and honestly, we shouldn’t.

Christmas is a time of worship. A time of rejoicing. A time of celebration. The meaning of Christmas is beyond gifts and holiday parties and Christmas decorations. It is a time when we should focus on what truly matters – spending precious time with our loved ones and celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. But yet, Christmas has become so commercialized and consumer-driven that most of us have forgotten this true meaning of Christmas. And this is why we find ourselves under so much stress every year.

I always remind myself of the true meaning of Christmas, and every year, I find myself in the same boat – worrying about what gifts to give to whom, worrying about putting up the Christmas tree and getting it perfectly decorated, worrying about what I am going to cook for my friends or family, worrying about how I’m going to manage my time between so many different people I want to visit. It’s an endless worry list. And I find myself exhausted. Literally exhausted. And then I begin to question why I even feel this way. I really wonder, “Christina, why are you always so tired around the holidays?” Well DUH! Because you are doing too much and worrying about the wrong things.

We’re not super men and women. We can’t juggle everything all at the same time all the time. Currently, I’ve been pretty stressed out, I have to be honest. And it’s not just because of the holidays, but because of everything happening all at the same time. Sure, I’m worried about creating the perfect Christmas for my little family but I’m also struggling with my own sense of inner peace. I’ve been guilty of worrying again. Creating this anxiety in my mind over my health. I haven’t felt anxious like this in almost a year, so the feeling seems foreign, but not quite. I thought I was beyond these fears. I thought I was “healed.” But maybe you’re never really healed, just like you can never really be perfect. I’m learning that as human beings we’re always going to struggle in some form, but we can’t let it hold us back in fear. We can’t let it consume us to the point where we are just sitting and worrying, letting the object of our worries turn over in our heads continuously until it drives us mad. But yet, I am still guilty of doing it. And I’m sure most of you are too. We know better, and yet we do it anyway. This is what makes us flawed as humans. But it’s ok. Because we don’t have to be strong all the time. That is why we have a savior – to be our strength for us when we are weak.

“9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

I repeat, we are not super men and women. We are not expected to be strong all the time and get everything done all at the same time. And when we do find ourselves striving too much, we become exhausted and wonder why. Because we are simply not capable as much as we push ourselves to be. It’s ok that you don’t get everything done or perfect. It’s ok that you are frightened with fear over something. It’s ok that you don’t have enough strength in you to keep going. You don’t have to be strong, because He is strong for you. That is why God is so great because He cares for us so much that He doesn’t want us to try so hard all the time. He wants us to lean on Him and to ask Him for help. I need to remember this. Too often I try to do things in my own strength, thinking that if I just organize myself a little better or try a little harder or push myself a little further, that I can get it all done, that it will work out ok. But sometimes, I can’t. Most of the time I can’t. And I need to ask for help. I need to rely on Him to give me His strength to push me through. Especially right now. Especially when I am under so much stress and the anxiety and worry from that is consuming my mind.

 We all need to take a break. We need to surrender to His strength. We need to ask for help. We need to admit that we aren’t strong enough to do it on our own. And this is why we were given a savior. Because we are weak. We are WEAK! And that is ok! Because His grace is sufficient and His strength is perfected in our weakness.

Rely on that today. Rely on that to get you through when you feel like you are carry too much weight. Rely on that when you need a breather from your routine. Rely on that when you feel like you just can’t move that much further on your own. I need to remind myself of this today. Christina, you are not strong enough. You never will be. And you need His help.

This is the true meaning of Christmas. Celebrating the birth of our Savior. Our strength in our weakness. 

This is the true meaning of Christmas.
 The Self Love Challenge:

Remember you are not super man or woman. Rely on God’s strength. Ask for help. Remember you are loved enough by Him for Him to give you that privilege.

xx

Christina Ciro