Who Do You Love?
The month of February has begun and with it often comes thoughts about love. I believe that Christianity is a religion about love – most notably, loving God and loving our neighbors. However, I think we’re too quick to forget to extend the same to someone else the Bible calls us to love: ourselves. I think, at times, the biblical command to love ourselves gets lost in the hustle and bustle of a busy life, and I think there are some of us who are comfortable loving God and others, but just don’t know how or don’t take the time to love ourselves.
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest of the commandments, he replied (Mark 12: 29-31-NIV): “The most important one is this “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."
What is self-love? Self-love is an introspective prioritization of self, aiming at a deeper love and acceptance of self. It is a meditative focus on one’s own positive traits. Self-love seeks freedom from negative thoughts about oneself — whether it be guilt or insecurity or even awkwardness. It is seen as the key to the love of others and the love of God, because as long as there is any discontent with self, we are unable to devote ourselves to these.
Loving yourself doesn’t mean you’re self-centered or only thinking about yourself. It’s about taking care of yourself in the best way possible. It means owning your own power and acting from a place of kindness towards yourself. This way, you are ready to love God and others, having revitalized your own spirit.
This is what happens when we love ourselves:
- Renewing our spirits: We let go of negative forces in our lives, like blame, shame, and anger. We replace the space with positive influences, such as ownership, creation, and power.
- Giving ourselves peace: We accept ourselves — including our strengths and weaknesses — unconditionally. We let go of competition and comparing ourselves to others. Therefore, we’ll always be enough.
- Owning our lives: Responsibility for our own actions is a key part of any spiritually mature person's life. With God, we recognize together, that we are the source of all happiness. We are the source of the power to change our futures, careers, relationships, passion, compassion, empathy and authenticity. We have the power to change our own lives.
- Connecting with the world around us: We let go of loneliness and embrace a deeper connection and sense of oneness with the world, people included. We attract accord, peace, spaciousness, and significance in our relationships. The self knows how to love better, and spreads it to other people.
- Letting ourselves grow: Living to our potential: we allow ourselves to show up in the world and live out our purpose. We aren’t afraid to pursue what fulfills us, we let go of keeping ourselves small in this world and allow growth instead. The more we grow, the more we spread love and joy.
- Overflow of our love to others: The more we look at ourselves with love, the more we practice love and acceptance toward those around us
- Embracing our humanity: We understand that we aren’t perfect and we allow ourselves to be human. We accept the mistakes and failures we have, and we invite vulnerability into our lives. We know that we are enough.
- Living courageously: We are no longer ruled by fear, because we know that love is the strongest power of all. When we choose love over fear, we become stress-free beings and improve the overall quality of our lives.
- Living creatively: When we love ourselves, we give birth to creativity, inspiration and openness. We inspire our hearts again to follow what our spirits celebrate.
- Handling stress: When we love ourselves, we become aware of our stressful thoughts and how we react when we think them. We question their truthfulness and we choose to turn them around and invite stillness instead into our lives.
Adapted from Gaia - April 14, 2014
A Prayer for renewing our Love of Self:
Today, Lord, we ask that you help us to accept ourselves just the way we are, without judgement. Help us to accept our mind the way it is, with all our emotions, our hopes and dreams, our personality, our unique way of being. Let the love we have for ourselves be so strong that we never again sabotage our happiness, freedom, and love. From now on, let every action, every reaction, every thought, every emotion, be based on love. Help us, Creator, to increase our self-love until our life is transformed, from fear and drama to love and joy. Let us trust ourselves completely to make the choices we must make. With our self-love, we are no longer afraid to face responsibility in our life, or face any problems, and resolve them as they arise. In your name we pray, Amen!
Jana is the Congregational Care Coordinator at First Presbyterian Church of Sioux Falls. She can be reached at email@example.com.