This week I’ve been talking about self-love and what it means to truly love yourself.
I think when we hear self-love, it makes us think of self-indulgence or self-idolatry. On the contrary, the second commandment says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we are not loving ourselves, then how can we love our neighbor? How can we fully love others if we can’t love ourselves? I know it’s easier said than done, but if we are not being gentle and kind to ourselves, then we can never truly be loving to others around us.
First and foremost, self-love is lining ourselves up with God’s love: unconditional love. He loves us so much in every deep and dark corner of our lives. I know when I’m not in a good headspace, I don’t want to be around others and I don’t have the capacity for grace or love. Our actions mirror our internal dialogue. If I’m impatient with David or the kids, it’s because I’m frustrated inside with something else.
Second, self-love means embracing the parts of yourself that you like; focusing on the positive. The opposite of self-love is self-hatred. This is a familiar voice that often accuses, condemns, makes you feel guilty, unworthy and often inferior. Many of us fight the negative voice in our head that tells us everything we’re not. It’s cruel and keeps us self-focused.
Take time to recognize our faults and give them to God and ask for help–“These are my weaknesses Lord!”–and then trust that He is helping you. And seriously, give yourself a break. Love the little girl or little boy inside of you that needs a big hug and a good laugh just like you would a child.
I’m a big fan of vision boards and affirmations too. In Habukkuk 2:2 it says, “Then the Lord replied, ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” He goes on to say “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
Sometimes self-love means breaking neurological patterns of self-loathing, complaining, negativity, etc. and retraining yourself to focus on the blessings in your life and to write down the desires of your heart and pray about them. What do you want and what do you want to change?
Third, with self-love comes boundaries. It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to not accomplish everything we want to accomplish. Getting back to self-love is being able to say “I’m sorry, I can’t do that, but I love you.” There are seasons in life where we have to say no and we have to scale back because we have to take care of ourselves. On the other side of that, learning to receive help is a way to love ourselves. We can’t do it all on our own. Be kind to yourself.
We are all on a journey of self-love. I don’t think anyone has complete and total freedom and no one has the answers…except that God’s love is the only way to truly love ourselves. Embrace the parts of yourself that you love. It’s not selfish to love yourself. If your “tank” is empty, you will never be able to love on your neighbors the way God commands us to do.