Thursday, December 11, 2008

Loving Yourself

So, I was inspired to write this today because of a chance conversation with some friends. It went something like this - we always hear, put God first, then family/others, then yourself. But, I have heard it said recently, put God first, then yourself and then family. For Christians, this almost sounds sacriligious, but keep reading...
It stirred me to think about the concept of loving yourself. There are several reasons why I would defend the latter concept. The first is fairly logical. If you REALLY put others first, before yourself, it likely means you will spend yourself to the point of exhaustion trying to bless others - leaving yourself uncared for. How valuable are you really when you haven't showered, slept, eaten properly, etc. - especially showered!!! :0)
Remember the 'golden rule' - do unto others as you would have them do unto you? What is the standard set here by Jesus? It is this - by how YOU want someone else to treat YOU - this is how you learn to treat other people - by YOUR own standard of appropriate treatment for YOURSELF. You literally set the standard of acceptable interaction with others by how you yourself perceive your worth. and want to be treated... Interesting!!!
Secondly, Jesus said to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, AND to love your neighbor as yourself. If you don't know how to love yourself (prioritize caring for yourself), how can you really love someone else? This is the KEY, in my opinion.
Loving yourself is sometimes even more challenging than loving someone else. There is no pedestal - we see ourselves with all of our flaws - sometimes having difficulty forgiving ourselves and accepting ourselves. And don't you find that people who are critical of others are also grossly unhappy with themselves? If we are looking at ourselves without love, we will find it difficult to fulfill the commandment to love our neighbor as ourself.
So how do we get there? How do we come to the place of loving ourselves - so we can really be loving to others???
Jesus gives us a new commandment in John: to love others as He has loved us. It is a new commandment, because the standard up until that point, was what I mentioned earlier - love others as you love yourself. So this new commandment might seem to bypass what I just wrote - loving ourselves. But, I don't think it does, because part of accepting His love means you have to agree with Him. It is like this: first, we have to RECEIVE God's love for us BEFORE we can truly give it away! You know the old saying - you can't give what you don't have?!?! We have to sit still long enough to hear His wonderful, still, small voice whispering to our souls "I love you - I'm not looking at your flaws - when I see you, I see the perfection of My Son, Jesus - You are My beloved child..." Secondly, we really have to agree with His thoughts in order to RECEIVE what He says about us. Are we beloved? Are we worthy through His Son? Are we perfect and desireable in His eyes?
When we grasp His love for us and His perspective about us, then we can truly love ourselves with a right perspective - and in turn - REALLY, TRULY, EFFECTIVELY love others - as He has loved us!
So, no matter which order you put your priorities in (God first, of course!!!), I hope you will agree that you NEED to love yourself and receive the love that God has for you! I hope you are blessed by this blog - be encouraged that you are loved by The Father - and let your self-love and self-talk reflect what He thinks and says!!!