How I Became God's Basking Case

Note from Adrian: This is the second part of a two-part guest post from Aly Lewis in our Living to the Fullest guest post series. Check out part one, "The Unwelcome Elephant," if you missed it yesterday. And don't forget to leave some love for Aly and follow her on her blog and on Twitter!

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And that was the beginning of the basking. The beginning of a life lived to the full.

This basking is just my way of saying that I learned to accept God’s love for me.

The basking started imperceptibly. A few encouraging words here. A short reprieve from guilt there. Cheeseball alert: then I began writing love letters to a skeptic: myself. Things like,


I love you if you work out.
I love you if you don't work out.
I love you if you sweat sweat sweat it out.
I love you if you don't eat enough.
I love you if you eat too much.
I love you if you call mom back.
I love you if you isolate yourself.
I love you if have a productive day at work.
I love you if you sit on Facebook the whole time.
I love you if you're feeling hot.
I love you if you're feeling bored.
I love you if you give to the poor.
I love you if you splurge on a fancy dinner.
I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you.

It sounds cheesy. It sounds silly. But something REAL began to happen in my heart and my mind as I began to bask in these words of love.

In fits and starts, this Love began to come alive not only in my thoughts and reasonings, but in heart and in my life. “I love you” began to come alive.

And as “I love you” came alive, the elephant began to die. I began to tell myself a better story that allowed me to live like I was loved, like I was forgiven. I became vigilant in my basking, leaving no room for the elephant to trumpet his tauntings in my life.

And only after months of keeping the elephant at bay, did I finally begin to believe that maybe there is a loving God. That maybe it was the God of love who made me free, who was there loving me all along.

That maybe He’s the better story.

You may be thinking, “That’s all well and good for you, Aly, but what about your initial prayer asking to love and serve others better?”

Turns out my church friends who told me to bask knew something I didn’t: I can’t love others if I don’t love myself.

If I had followed God’s greatest commandment “To love others as yourself,” what a disaster that would have been (and believe me, it was.) How could I expect to love others if I went around accusing, attacking, and belittling them like I did myself?

In Margaret Feinberg's book, The Sacred Echo, she explains this transforming power of self-love better than I ever could. She says,
"When God echoes I love you, it’s not a slice of information but a feast of transformation. I am invited to experience the fullness of God’s love in my life, heart, and spirit. The holy metamorphosis is designed to ring so genuine and true that others can’t help but notice. When I love you is alive in my heart, I become freer to love others. When I love you is alive in my mind, I become better at expressing that love. When I love you is alive in my life, I become a smidgen closer to being who God has called and created me to be."
Love for myself made me freer to love others, to serve others, to defend the poor, and be a voice for the voiceless.

One of my friends once said “Self-hatred is a social justice issue,” and I couldn’t agree more. How can I believe the poor are worth anything if I don’t believe I am worth anything?

I really do believe this basking, this experience I've had with God's unconditional, unconventional, unfathomable love, has shaped and formed me to love others better.

It turns out the only antidote to the fear, self-doubt, and condemnation that sneaks in to poison our lives like unwelcome elephants is LOVE. Compassion for ourselves. Grace for ourselves. Which bleeds into grace for others, for a hurting world.

This is the backbone of a life lived to the full. A life lived without an unwelcome elephant.

I’m sure it sounds cliché. I mean, it’s the basis of our faith. You were probably looking for the advanced version, not the Life-to-the-fullest-for-dummies. But I’m a dummy when it comes to getting this spiritual life right. And perhaps this is more for me than for you, but sometimes I just need the reminder that I AM LOVED. That the elephant doesn’t win.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

If you want to live a life to the full, taste and see that you are loved. Then slam the door on that greedy little monster’s face, and go (or rather skip) on your merry way, bidding farewell to this unwelcome elephant, unencumbered and free.

Let the basking begin.

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Questions: Were you surprised at how Aly decided to turn into a basking case? What does this look like in your own life? How can loving yourself better (and letting God love you) be a form of social justice?

This guest post was part of a guest post series called "Living to the Fullest." Interested in joining in? I'm still looking for submissions! Just write up a post, or even just an idea, and e-mail it my way!


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