In week 51 of our 52 Weeks of Chic we love.
What’s love got to do with it? Everything actually.
We think of love as something we give but the only way to give love is to first love ourselves because we can’t give away what we don’t own.
For years I focused on the first three words of Christ’s command to “. . . ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ . . .” (Mark 12:31) and ignored the last two because deep down I didn’t love me, with my flaws and failures, insecurities and shameful past.
Finally understanding this scripture has dramatically improved my relationship with myself and others.
How can I possibly love others in a genuine, compassionate, grace based, forgiving, merciful way when I don’t love myself like that?
How can we expect others to love us when our own words and actions confirm that we don’t love ourselves?
We criticize our bodies, point out our flaws, call attention to our mistakes and profess our overall disappointment in ourselves then expect others to madly love and respect us.
The success of our relationship with the spouse, friend, co-worker or current significant other will always be determined by the relationship we have with ourselves.
People will always treat us as they see us treating ourselves, believing it to be acceptable and okay.
And, this is where I missed it . . . for years.
I was so focused on trying to win the love of others while neglecting to love me then becoming angry, hurt, confused and resentful when they didn’t.
I could list numerous reasons why “they” should love me but couldn’t come up with a single one as to why I should love myself. Sad, I know.
We’re told to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matt 5:44
But what if I am my own worst enemy and no one is persecuting me as much as I’m persecuting myself with criticisms, harsh words and zero grace?
How we treat others is simply a reflection of how we treat ourselves.
A woman who loves herself thinks, moves, dresses, acts and speaks differently. Her beliefs about herself support her and encourage her, mentally cheering her own as she runs her race with endurance. Heb 12:1
She has firmly established, non-negotiable boundaries and never allows her self worth to be dependent on the approval or opinions of others.
What would our lives look like if we loved ourselves as Paul defines love in 1 Cor 13?
What if we were patient with ourselves, speaking kind words to her when she misses it? What if we became so engrossed in cultivating our own lives we had no time to be jealous of her’s?
What if we defined ourselves by who God says we are instead of the opinions of others? What if we no longer had the need to point out our own shortcomings or anyone else’s and passionately loved ourselves, flaws and all?
What if we stopped the exhaustive ritual of keeping an ongoing mental record of our mistakes as well as the wrongs done to us and just forgive and find rest in His truth?
Now I see why Christ tells us to love others as we love ourselves. Do you?
When we can love ourselves with a love that doesn’t depend on external factors but functions perfectly in spite of them, we can love others the same way.
Never before has the world been in such a need for love and it begins with loving ourselves.
Because to love the difficult family member, the stranger, the prodigal and the lost begins first with loving ourselves. At some point, I have been all of the above and am so thankful for those that loved me through it all.
“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.
When you can love yourself “as is” simply because He first loved you then loving your neighbor becomes an natural extension of that love.
You are “So Loved” today by God.
Will you begin 2021 by so loving yourself?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Heb 12:1