Cultivating Real Relationships: A 2-Step Path to Self-Love and Spiritual Sight

Cultivating Real Relationships: A 2-Step Path to Self-Love and Spiritual Sight

Have you ever looked into the eyes of someone else and saw your own reflection? Perhaps God designed us like this for a purpose. Oftentimes, we’re so fixated on perceiving with our earthly eyes and ears, that it can be a challenge to see through a person’s outer shell to the soul inside. If we are made in the image of God, then we should not only look at ourselves and one another as God sees us, but we should also see God in all things and people as well. Truly seeing with our spiritual eyes is not a super power— it just takes practice— and it provides a deep insight into love and real relationships with others.  

Self-love boils down to: If you don’t love yourself, you can’t create the life you want because you either don’t believe you’re capable of achieving it, or you don’t believe that you’re worthy and deserving of it. But how do we reach a place of love for ourselves? One direct path is to learn to see ourselves as God sees us by trusting His Word that we are redeemed and worthy. While our modern culture is bursting at the “likes” with self-love tips, sadly, most of them end there. Self-love is only the beginning of discovering our true missions in this life! When we practice seeing our own inner truths and unique beauty through the eyes of our Creator, we can then take that beauty out into the world and cultivate real and loving connections. The goal is to start with self-love, then use our gifts for good!

The difficult thing about “being seen” for who we are is that most of us struggle with wanting this and pushing it away at the same time. It seems that our culture is still new to breaking through the false and damaging stigma that to show vulnerability or humility is to appear weak, when showing ourselves actually takes great courage! Some of us even feel ashamed to be seen, and we use many clever techniques to hide our truths. We want to be loved but have a hard time showing that. We want to be accepted, yet we don’t even accept ourselves. We end up pushing others away when they try to get close. These habits have created a disconnected world filled with fear, division, and isolation due to the belief that we’re “too different to be understood.” By learning how to mirror God’s love for ourselves, we learn how to see others with our spiritual eyes as well. Here are two simple, but effective techniques to practice:


Examine all of your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and separate them into two categories: Love and Not Love.

Determine which parts of your self-talk and core self-beliefs derive from God and are love-based, and which are fear-based, negative and do not serve you. The Bible tells us that fear does not come from God, so fear is not love. Over time, you will strip away all the beliefs about yourself that are not from God, rather from this world or from the enemy, and what remains is true self-love! You will become so skilled at determining which of your thoughts are Godly and which are destructive, that you will be able to observe the things other people say and do and separate them into the same two categories. You will begin to understand if a person’s actions or words are coming from the beautiful heart that God placed within them, or from something negative and dark.

Before finding confidence and self-love through God’s Word that we are all beautiful as He made us, I was afraid to open up to others and show my real self. What was I hiding? A belief that wasn’t even true or real: that I was ugly on the inside, and if I were to “break likable character,” people would somehow immediately see my damage and run for the hills. (Obviously a lie from the enemy, but I sure held on to it like it was truth for a long time, and even warned potential suitors like this… “You think you like me, but you won’t when you see the ‘real me.'”) This destructive belief, along with many others, obviously got thrown out of my life, landing in the “Not Love” category, where I set them on fire with the light that God put in me and watched them burn. But before the bonfire, fear-based beliefs caused all of my relationships to suffer and/or end; my relationship with myself, with those who I longed to be close to, and my relationship with God. But good news! Whether the “broken” things inside of us are inflated due to our own insecurities, or they’re deep-rooted traumas, the Cross has redeemed all of it.

Let the shame and fear of being seen melt away in Jesus’ name. Amen!

For me, I overcame by realizing that if I wanted to experience real connections and even find my soulmate, it had to start with me, so I practiced…


In situations where you would typically glaze over your feelings or avoid “sharing,” test out being you instead!

If a new person is going to be in your life, shouldn’t you feel confident in knowing that they love you for who you are? Well, how can someone love you if you’re misrepresenting the inner by using the outer as a shield to hide? Or how will you know if you’re loved as you are if you create an outer persona who is so easily likable, that everyone is attracted? Over time, by practicing opening up with the right people, you will only attract your tribe and your soulmate by living life as YOU. For me, this felt very foreign in the beginning, like the way it feels to move your mouth and tongue to speak in another language. At times I’d overshare and regret it… or seem awkward because I wasn’t confident yet… or I’d get too emotional, feel foolish and isolate. Be gentle with yourself!

Eventually we work out the kinks and living as our true selves becomes second nature. In fact, confidence stems from inner love. We shouldn’t say, “I don’t care what people think of me,” because it’s not a lack of care… it’s that when we begin to feel confident in ourselves, the opinions of others just don’t affect us as much. For me, it was incredibly freeing to fully embrace all the pieces of myself with love, share my new person, and watch how my candidness inspired others! I even began to cry in front of people if the urge hit me and I never expected to ever be that vulnerable; it honestly felt amazing.

In addition to finding self-love, I also discovered that when I chose to share my feelings or past experiences, the other person felt more comfortable opening up to ME, and then something amazing happened—true connections! These new friendships felt different in such a beautiful way because I realized that deep down, all of us truly want to be seen and loved for who we are, and all of us are “hiding” similar fears and insecurities. We are all unique, yes, and not everyone we meet is going to be a life-long friend, but as Christians, we should always believe in love. God is love, love is the source of life, and the Bible tells us about love in 1 Timothy, Chapter 4:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

In short, it’s a lie from the enemy to turn away from love because it’s a gift from God and should be received with thanksgiving. Also, it’s our honorable responsibility to labor and strive for love, and to spread it as truth. Let’s start with practicing to love ourselves as fiercely as God loves us and be filled with so much passion for it that it overflows onto everyone we meet! If we want to live fruitful lives, rich with community and real connections, our journey only just begins with realizing the beauty of unconditionally loving ourselves as God loves us.

Written by: Michelle TK

A Christmas Story…

As part of my pursuit to embody love and to see myself and others as God sees us, I’d like to share a personal and humbling story with you…

On Christmas day in 2019, I was alone. My family celebrated on the eve, so I woke up on December 25th with no presents to open and no plans. This made me wonder who else was all alone out there with no gifts to open and I felt called to act. What could I do last minute? Since the stores were closed, I decided to go to my local Sheetz and make 4 little gift bundles to wrap up and hand out to those in my city who were in need. A small Christmas gift: muffin, drink, napkin, lip balm, the serenity prayer laminated with tape, and some cash, all wrapped up in pretty, red and green plaid paper. The city was empty, as most people were home celebrating with their families; however, I did pass out all of my gifts to some very grateful people. The last gift was given to a man who humbled me through a small, but impactful interaction…

I saw a man in camouflage pants with a long beard standing at an intersection and holding a sign, so I did a U-turn and went back for him. As my car slowed to approach the red light, something happened that shook my heart— the man looked at me from the SIDE of his eyes without turning his head. It was so sad to experience a moment where another human being seemed so used to feeling forgotten, that the shame of being “nothing” prevented him from even looking at me. It was as if he didn’t feel good enough to make eye contact with me… like being a nobody on the side of the road and begging for help would somehow ruin my day… like his existence was a burden to me. My heart was crushed by this, but once he saw my passenger side window start to go down, he slowly took a few steps toward my car and I was so hoping to make his day.

Instead of being handed some change or a couple dollars, I reached across the seat and out through the window emerged a Christmas gift. He gasped in shock and smiled, but still didn’t look at me; he just stared at the package. I said, “Hi! Don’t judge my bad wrapping!” and sheepishly smiled. (I’m awkward when I’m nervous.) He exhaled a little chuckle and kind of shook his head in disbelief, still staring at the gift in his hands as if he was holding some precious treasure. Then I said, “Well, Merry Christmas!” and he just slightly looked up at me. I smiled into his eyes and wanted him to know, “I see you. You are not forgotten. You are worthy of being acknowledged, cared for and loved.”

Written by: Michelle TK