Over the weekend, my mentee (I have a mentee, y’all! And I should probably just call her by name from now on: Erica) referred to me as “wise.” It was undeniably flattering, but definitely a first for me. Me? Wise? I’ve never been wise. I’ve always been a hot mess, you know? Being a walking disaster carrying heavy suitcases of failure has always been kind of my thing. (Check out my biceps!) To me, being “wise” just doesn’t seem plausible! (Why can’t “being a hot mess” be a fruit of the spirit?) If you ask me, I’m not so much “wise” as I am a good actress. I’ve gotten really good at stealing wisdom from people who are actually wise and playing it off like it is my own.
Since the jig is up and you all now know I’m far from wise (albeit JACKED from constantly lugging around failure baggage) I’m not even going to pretend I came up with today’s tip. I fully disclose that I stole it from someone definitely “wise”: my good friend/mentor/pastor Eric.
TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP — CREATE A “BAD DAY” FILE.
We all have bad days — days we feel inadequate, unattractive, unloved, worthless. I’m no stranger to these days. And these days span all “bad” feelings. Some bad days are bad because I can’t look at myself in the mirror without gagging. Some bad days are so because I don’t feel valued in my work. Some bad days suck because my husband or a friend of mine is angry with me. Whatever the reason the day is bad, all I want to do is to crawl into bed with the lights off, listen to “Everybody Hurts,” and sob noisily until I pass out.
The (obvious) problem with that desire, though, is that most of my bad days aren’t on Saturdays when I have little to no responsibility. Nine times out of ten, my spirit chooses to be crushed on days I’m expected to be somewhere and do something. (For instance, Mondays and Thursdays, for some reason, tend to be prone to turning “bad.” Not sure what’s so bad about those days, but it’s dreadfully inconvenient, as those days typically fall during the work week.)
Since I can’t hole up in my room for an all out sulk fest, I turn to my Bad Day File, something Eric encouraged me to create. A bad day file, by definition, is a file of things (letters, pictures, emails, etc.) you look at when you’re sad that remind you that you are valued. In your file could be a collection of anything — for example, here are some items in my bad day file (or, BDF, if you will):
- An email from Jon Acuff about my blog. (Holy crap, did this really happen? Yes. Yes it did. Thanks, BDF!)
- The email from Erica asking me to be her mentor.
- A random note from a friend telling me they prayed for me at the start of their day.
- A list of recommended reading from my husband (in file because it reminds me that not only am I a reader but I married one, too. Darn it, that’s cool.)
- Thank you cards from pastors.
- Stickers sent to me after my surgery by an old (but GREAT) friend Cameron.
I encourage you to start collecting things to put in your BDF. Letters. Pictures. Emails. Text messages. Anything that, when you were first exposed to it, gave you that fluttery feeling in your gut that signifies love. Technology helps, too. You can create a digital BDF as well as a tangible one. (I’ve got a “Bad Day File” Label in my Google inbox that allows for easy filing.)
Once you’ve collected at least one item to be filed, you’re prepared for your next bad day. The next day you’re feeling down, refer to that file. Read through every word. Pore over every picture. Let the memories of the first time you saw those items flood your spirit, leaving no room for the negative feelings.
The thing about the BDF is that everything within it will be true. The negative things you think on a bad day are false. You are always worthy of love, whether you “think” you are or not. By re-reading expressions of love from your community, you allow yourself to be loved. At first, by the folks you’ve collected in your file. And at last, by yourself.