During this month of Valentine’s Day, we are reminded that if we are to fully love God, we must love others. We often forget Jesus’ command with this request…”as ourselves.” The more our love and grace for ourselves expands, the more we can love others in the way Christ intended. Here are some untraditional “love songs” to remind us to love ourselves (and others) more.
Flowers by Miley Cyrus
I have had my share of toxic relationships. While I may have not seen it at the time, loving and being happy with myself is more valuable than needing the love and approval of others. For many of us, this is an ongoing struggle and balance, this love for ourselves and the need for external love and validation, and accepting the love of God. This song by Miley Cyrus is a bop. Some of the more poignant lyrics are in the chorus where she refers to “you” as her ex: “I can buy myself flowers/ Write my name in the sand/Talk to myself for hours/ Say things you don’t understand/ I can take myself dancing/ And I can hold my own hand/Yeah, I can love me better than you can.”
Special by Lizzo
This song starts with the lyrics: “Woke up this morning to somebody in a video/Talking about something I posted in a video/If it wasn’t me then would you even get offended?/ Or Is it just because I’m Black and heavy? /Y’all don’t hear me though.” Being BIPOC and in a fat body opens us up to more criticism, backlash, and projection than others face. While Lizzo could take these hurtful incidents and respond with vitriol, she encourages us to love ourselves and to keep going: “In case nobody told you today/You’re special/I’m so glad you’re still with us.” The words, “I’m so glad you’re still with us” is a ministry unto itself for those who struggle with mental illness. Here is a video of Lizzo performing on Saturday Night Live, with the entire stage decked out in my favorite color!
Chosen Family by Rina Sawayama
This is a song by Japanese singer/songwriter Rina Sawayama who sings this with Elton John. For many of us in the LGBTQ community, there’s a need for us to make our own family. One of the reasons I came back to Goshen after living elsewhere was the strong sense of community I found here long ago and have encountered again. This song reminds us that our chosen family is just as important as our biological family. The chorus goes: “We don’t need to be related to relate/We don’t need to share genes or a surname/You are, you are/ My chosen, chosen family/So what if we don’t look the same?/We been going through the same thing/Yeah, you are, you are/My chosen, chosen family.” Another powerful set of lyrics that I believe connects to the Divine are found in the 2nd verse: “Hand me a pen and I’ll rewrite the pain/When you’re ready, we’ll turn the page together.” May we all find this connection to God and to ourselves.
Love Me More by Sam Smith
Sam Smith has had a glow up in the past year. They’ve come out as non-binary, living their authentic life, they’ve rejected diet culture, and have started making peace with their body. Their latest album “Gloria” reflects this. This album starts with the song “Love me more” and the powerful words: “Have you ever felt like being somebody else?/Feeling like the mirror isn’t good for your health?/Every day, I’m tryin’ not to hate myself/But lately, it’s not hurtin’ like it did before/Maybe I am learning how to love me more.” This can be a lesson for all of us to be gentle with ourselves.
Whip My Hair by Willow Smith
Is this whole playlist a bunch of serious, deep songs? By no means! For those moments you throw a dance party for yourself in the kitchen (am I the only one who does this when no one is around?), I suggest “Whip my hair” by Willow Smith. Willow is the daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. Yes, it’s about whipping your hair back and forth while you’re dancing, but it’s also about doing your own thing in the midst of the haters out there who are, in the words of Taylor Swift, “gonna hate.” The song goes: “Don’t let haters keep me off my grind/With my head up, I know I’ll be fine/Keep fighting until I get there/When I’m down and I feel like giving up/I think again.” When Willow whips her braids back and forth in this video, brightly colored paint splashes around a very monotone school. I admit this would be a dream for me, if only that wouldn’t damage my hair.
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