Tag Archives: love yourself

“Love thy neighbor”

“And love your neighbor as yourself.”

The first time I actually thought about that verse must have happened sometime in middle school, because I remember thinking, “Huh, I can do better than that.  I don’t love myself, but I love others.  I can love my neighbor better than I love myself.”

I’ve heard quite a few sermons and theories about this particular verse over the years.  Everything from, “Well, it actually means to love yourself as you’d love your neighbor” to “You know, try to love yourself, try to love your neighbor” to “Love God, that’s what really matters”.

I wonder if loving ourselves is a uniquely Western culture problem (where very few people actually love themselves, actually are comfortable in their own skin – everyone just pretends) or if this is an age-old human problem.   I think maybe, if it were a universal problem, perhaps the scriptures would have been worded differently.  Maybe.

Because we pretend we love ourselves.  And sure, we’re selfish, we still take care of Number One before we take care of everyone else.  And if that’s what the scripture means – to take care of everyone else to the same extent that you take care of yourself – as some of my professors think – than it’s an easy scripture.  I mean, no not easy.   Taking care of someone else to the same extent that you take care of yourself, or protecting someone else as much as you protect your own well-being is never “easy”…but it’s rather surface-level if you ask me.

I have come to realize, over the years, that if I don’t “love myself”, than I can’t love others well.  And this gets tricky.  Because, yes, without fully being comfortable with whom I am, without liking my quirks, strengths and weaknesses, I can still be nice to people.  I can still be kind.  But…it is not the same as if I am fully embracing myself.  If I’m not a fan of who I am, I can only be nice or kind or giving or date someone so long before things start blowing up.  Whether I suddenly start showing my judgmental thoughts, or just stop showing up to hang out, or start getting super depressed (this is NOT the only reason for depression, mind you) or dependent on others or any number of super unhealthy things, something awful is going to show up.  Guaranteed.

But even bigger than that is the simple thing that love is generally meant to be reciprocated.  So, if you don’t love the person you are created to be, than how can you allow anyone else to love you (because yes, to some extent you have to allow and accept love from others)?  If you don’t love yourself, you can’t allow someone else’s love for you to really penetrate the depths of you that love is meant to penetrate.

The tricky thing is – that you can’t.  You just can’t love yourself, love the person you are, without God’s help.  Sorry.  It’s just not going to happen.   Only through the knowledge that you are Christ’s kid, and dearly loved by Him, specially created to have the quirks, strengths, weaknesses and passions you do, can you begin to really, truly, embrace the person you are.  And it is only by His strength in this world of brokenness that is trying to get you to believe the lie that you are never good enough and must be constantly doing something else; that you can even begin to accept the amazing being you have been created to be.

So, again, start praying.  Pray that God opens your eyes to see yourself as He sees you – as much as He’ll let you.  If we could see how deeply loved and precious we are in God’s eyes, than I’m pretty sure we’d be able to enjoy and hold close the person God is calling each of us to be.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Image, Relationships, Self / Emotions

Unseen Beauty

13.08.08 - hairbells!

If you know me, you know there are a few subjects I can get, um, let’s go with “passionate” about.  One of them is a woman’s beauty.  Maybe because while growing up I would look around at all the girls my age and wish I was as beautiful as them (I couldn’t be beautiful because of my curvy body that refused to fit into social norms, no matter how little or how healthfully I ate – or  how much I worked out).  I could see the beauty in each and every woman and girl around me, and I longed to be as beautiful as they.
Now, eventually, I have been able to gain a more healthful attitude on this issue, and thanks to God and some persistent, kind, honest friends, I can see my own beauty.  But I still see the beauty in every other woman, and it breaks my heart when they can’t see their own.  Or when they downplay it because they don’t fit into a certain jean size, or their skin has developed wrinkles, or they have freckles, or their hair color isn’t blonde (or brunette or glorious red).  I hate that!
I told one of the girls in my youth group a couple years ago that if I could give my life for the women of the world to see their own beauty and value, I would.  And that’s still true, but I’ve learned something since then.
You aren’t going to truly be able to see your own beauty, if you don’t know how Christ sees you.  It’s confusing and makes no sense, I know, and I’m not completely sure why this is the case, but it is.  And, unfortunately, it’s one of those “constantly work on” things.  It CAN go away if you don’t guard it.  You have to know how much God loves you, treasures you, and how you look through the lens of Jesus in order for you to see your own beauty.  Otherwise there will always be a flaw or someone prettier (thus rendering you not pretty) or aging that will bring your beauty into question in your mind.  That’s just how it is in this cut-throat, beauty-defiling world we live in.
And, as I have been discovering, once you know how God sees you, what He thinks about you, you can learn to love all the bits and pieces of you – the insecure bits, the scared pieces, those things you see as flaws (freckles or snorts or a temper).  And, the amazing thing is, generally, once you learn to love a specific bit of yourself, than that flaw no longer has power over you, and no longer can be used to whisper lies into your ear.
So, want to feel comfortable in your skin?  Want to feel beautiful?  There is absolutely nothing YOU can personally do about it.  So start praying that God, in His timing and His way, will start to show you how He sees you.  And then, that will be all that matters.
And that, Ladies (and Gentlemen) is beautiful.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Image