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I was 15 years old, frizzy hair, and no idea who I was. Standing in the JC Penney shoe department searching for a pair of sneakers, my heart leapt at the sight of purple Skechers. I loved that they were different, unique. They were quirky – like me. I saw myself in those shoes.

I felt like a misfit and had very few friends, but was just starting to find my way. I gravitated toward others who, like me, marched to their own drum. Budding new friendships and purple shoes marked the beginning of what would be a long journey into self-love.

It’s amazing how vicious we can be to ourselves. I’d beat myself up for what I did, and what I didn’t do; there was no winning. I’d chastise myself for mistakes. I dated the wrong guys. I took the wrong jobs. I played it safe, marrying the nice guy with a good job, despite not having the romantic spark I dreamed of. I ignored my inner voice and together we went on to have two beautiful children. But having a picture perfect family didn’t fix the emptiness I felt in my relationship. Fights began and, ultimately, we divorced.

Deep depression and hellish anxiety followed, trying all manner of things to fix myself and find happiness: church, therapy, graduate school. But none of these filled the gaping hole in my heart, nor did they ease my pain or assuage my fear that I’d never fit in and find love and acceptance.

Years later I met and married the right guy, the one, my cosmic soul mate, my quirky companion, my unique, edgy, purple-shoe-worthy, sparks ablaze passion partner … but we too have had our share of challenges. And during those times I found myself right back in that hellish place of despair, longing for love and acceptance.

It wasn’t until I went within that I was able to feel God’s love and know that I am loved as I am. In my despair, I was able to find my inner voice, a place within that is quiet, loving, peaceful, wise – and always there. I began to realize that I could love and accept myself, as I am, quirky flaws and all. Determined to stay connected to this heaven within, I learned from spiritual teachers and guides about how to deepen my spiritual practice.

What I discovered was the true path to the love and acceptance I’d been looking for my entire life. I found self-love and I have come to understand that we are all worthy of love, as is. Each of us shines our unique light into the world, each walking our own unique path, and each in our own shoes.

Written by: Valentine Lister, owner of Sinners and Saints Unite, LLC sinnersandsaintsunite.com 

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