Isak Dinesen said “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” In my case, those three were in reverse order.
I found myself, staring at the wide open sea, missing a certain person. I let the sun touch my skin a little bit more, and the salt sting my face from a whole day of snorkelling. My hair was dripping wet, and my dress was damp over my swimwear. The view was vast and beautiful, yet all I wanted was to escape. It was all wrong.
I was all wrong. I wasn’t myself, and I missed the old me terribly. I used to be a strong 22-year old who accepted her flaws, said no to the things that didn’t make her happy and was intensely focused on the important things. I used to be genuinely happy with who I was, who I was with and what I did with my life.
But somewhere along the way, I lost that person. There was a lot going on with my personal life around late January which made me feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and exposed. It was like the world taunted me with a whole new set of flaws that I never even knew about. Suddenly, I felt like I was too much and not enough all at the same time. My planner was filled to the brim, yet the people I love never felt like I was there for them. I was too strong for others, yet I was weak to those who needed me. I was too present and absent at all the wrong occasions.
Day after day, I was bombarded with all these feelings. Soon enough, I started to regress from the world. I started to curl up and hide in my head where I was safe from what the world said, but not from my own cruel thoughts. It didn’t do me any good because I became more anxious everyday. I fell into a vicious cycle of hating myself and the world. I would cry in the middle of the night, and would be tired all day.
My insecurity did not only hurt me. It affected my health and well-being. I had the worst acid reflux. I wasn’t doing well at work. I couldn’t write. I burdened the close people around me with all my emotional baggage that it started affecting my relationships. Everything that used to make me happy weren’t able to get me out of my misery. So, I clung to all the wrong things and looked for validation through unhealthy ways.
It was only then, looking at the sea that March afternoon when I decided it’s time to bring the old me back. The following week, I attended the Sunday afternoon session of The Feast again. I was reluctant, but it seemed like God had a special message for me that week. Bro. Joel preached about pride. He said that pride and low self-worth comes from the fear of unworthiness, and the only solution is to remove that fear. We often ask ourselves, “Kailangan ko ba mamalimos ng pagmamahal?” Well, 1 John 4:18 say, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
In the middle of a dark cinema, I cried and cried. I felt like God was hugging me, reminding me that He loves me, flaws and all. Because He did, who am I to not love myself? The tears were like a detoxification of all the mean things that I said to myself.
Less than a week after that, on Good Friday, my choir mates and I were sweating from the sweltering heat but we had no complaints. In my heart, I knew that I was meant to be there in my parish church to be reminded that love and self-worth will never be found in what the world has to offer. Perfect love is right there at the altar, where an image of Jesus at the cross stood.
Don’t get me wrong, dear. My journey has not yet ended. My heart is far from its old state, but I have realized who I am – I am His. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. So I will not let a small problem, a job, a relationship, an irrelevant comment or anything let me forget again what I am worth. I am more than what others say I am. I am God’s beloved, and so are you. It’s time we start behaving like so.
Join me in my saltwater journey. Maybe, the next time, I stand in front of the sea, I won’t feel so lost. I will be filled with wonder and awe because I know that the same Hands that formed nature are the Hands that made me too.