I’ve never seemed to care much about what people think. In fact, there are some who would say I think about others’ opinions too little. But actually, I often care too much.

I care so much about if other people accept me or not, whether they approve of me or not, that I try hard not to. But that doesn’t mean I’m secure in myself. Quite the opposite. And I think that’s the root of the problem—I find difficulty in accepting myself and not letting others’ opinion’s influence me. Just letting God’s thoughts define me.

But when life goes dark, you have to think about it.

Self-criticism can go a long way when used to push yourself to reach a material goal, or do better at work or in a sport. Analyzing your weaknesses and areas where other people seem better than you. But when it comes to emotions, matters of heart, I’m finding that kind of judgment can only ever be damaging.

I’m weak.

I’m worthless and lost.

No one thinks I’m beautiful or strong.

I’m stupid and cowardly for avoiding things that hurt.

I’m weird for not wanting things I should want. For wanting things I can’t have.

I’m wrong for not being able to be happy.

I’m crazy for avoiding things I used to love.

I hate the person I am.

When I’m feeling down, it is so crazy easy to think like this. In a way, it’s my mind’s attempt to get me to feel better, heal myself. But unlike physical problems, the “you’re so weak, try harder, be like everyone else, see what they think of you” motivation strategy doesn’t work. It can’t move my heart a muscle. It actually digs me deeper into whatever hole I’ve curled up inside.

And in fact, it’s nowhere near the way God sees me.

Oddly enough, it’s probably not the way most other people see me either. So I’m trying to accept everything that I am right now, in this day, instead of obsessing over the past or future or trying to “fix” myself. It’s okay to accept the way I feel. As long as I don’t let it take over all my actions, make every decision for me, halt my ability to think. That’s one thing. It shouldn’t immobilize me or stop me from trying things that feel improbable or even impossible. It doesn’t mean I don’t seek hard after truth and challenge the way I see the world. It doesn’t mean I don’t do hard things, right things. I should always do that, but I should do it while not hating myself for how I feel while I do it. And my feelings are not always right… the feelings that say, this is beauty. this is love. this is goodness. this is pain. this is loss. this is longing, those are almost always true. the feelings that say, there is no hope. that dream is not possible. you should be afraid. you are empty and worthless. you should never try, those are almost always wrong. I should accept the fact that I feel those negative things while refuting them with what I do, how I act. That’s so so hard for me. I’m bad at it. But it’s worth it to keep trying to be better at it. But accepting where I’m at—that’s a powerful thing. It’s saying, I’m okay with the way I feel. And the way I live and try to fight for love and truth, regardless of how I feel—well, that’s important too.

No one can take that away from me.

Can tell me to love someone or stop loving someone.

Can tell me to live this way or that way as long as I’m striving to live what is good and true.

Can tell me what’s possible or impossible.

Can tell me whether to be sad or happy. Because I can’t tell myself that either.

As long as I let God define truth and goodness and chase hard after that, no one can define any area of my life for me. And I’m not wrong or sinful for being me.

Being kind to myself, when life is hard, when I’m not happy, when I’m stuck in a waiting I cannot change—that is one of the biggest and hardest things of all.

Here’s to giving it my all, no matter how much I have to give. It is enough.