Monday, October 11, 2010

Self-love is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price.

“Love yourself”. I don’t mean to be self-centered, I meant: respect yourself, protect yourself, care for yourself. And do you know what? It’s OK to do that! So many people these days do not love themselves, for a plethora of reasons. But God commands us to love ourselves. It may be subtle and not as direct as His command “Do not murder.” His command for us to love ourselves doesn’t necessarily slap us in the face like that one does, but you see the command ALL OVER the Bible! So, if we don’t murder, or lie, and aren’t adulterers, but don’t love ourselves... We are not following, arguably, the strongest command that God has for our lives.
1.      Leviticus 19:18
“Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself.
2.      Matthew 19:19
Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
3.      Matthew 22:39
A second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’
4.      Mark 12:31
The second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
5.      Luke 10:27
The man answered, ” `You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
6.      Romans 13:9
For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting–and any other commandment–are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
7.      Galatians 5:14
For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
8.      James 2:8
Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord’s royal command found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
People who have been hurt, who have had little or no love in their lives sometimes read the Bible and see only the anger of God, or they see the self-depreciating language and then decide that it was God’s will that they were not loved and that somehow a God of love thinks it’s ok that they were disrespected in their lives. WRONG!
I was speaking with one of my friend’s the other day who has struggled, and is struggling, with the absence of a parent, and the residual hurt, confusion, and anger that comes with that kind of a situation. Speaking with him reminded me of the moment when I realized that my parents were meant to love me – that was their role in my life. Some parents don’t fulfill that role properly, or at all, like in my friend’s situation, but that DOES NOT mean that God thinks it’s okay for anyone to through their life without love!
I began to cry because, while my friend is struggling so much with the idea of self-love, I understood that so much of his and my self-awareness and awareness of God is flawed – I have discovered that He loves me and He wants the best for me… and that my past experiences were not what He had in mind for me. And I so badly wanted to give my friend the hope and peace that comes with that understanding!
So many times, we dwell on the past – what happened, why it happened, how it happened, and we beat ourselves up. We never forgive ourselves, or let anyone else forgive us for that matter. We never clean our slates and move on, because we feel we can’t. We did all these terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things in the past, and we choose to let them define who we are now and who we will be in the future. But WHY?? No one really wants to keep remembering and harping on the crappy things we’ve done, the skeletons in our closets. “The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.”
So many people think that we should love others while quietly disrespecting ourselves.If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.” If we do this, what message would we send to the people around ourselves… that they should disrespect themselves? But I thought we were loving them and building them up... because that’s what God commanded us to do? If you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself.  Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.” 
How can we have love for them if we have no love for ourselves?
“For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5:29
Are you nourishing and carefully protecting and cherishing your own flesh – your body? Paul absolutely expects you to be taking care of yourself. He says “no man” would hate himself. The expectation that Paul has is that we ALREADY nourish ourselves, because then wants us to love and nourish those around us. And the expectation in those 8 verses I quoted at the beginning of this post, is that we already love ourselves (nourish, cherish, protect) because now God wants us to do the same for others.
But some people were not taught by their parents to nourish themselves. Perhaps they suffered some form of abuse (not just from parents or parental figures, but anyone) and no longer value themselves; perhaps some people hate themselves after that kind of experience. Most do. We blame ourselves for the short-comings in our lives, or for nasty situations that occurred. We carry those burdens, so long that are become calloused from those burdens. We get into a place where self-doubt and self-disrespect and self-hatred is common and every day. We accept and expect nothing more. If you’re a past-dweller, and a self-disrespecter, if you’re hurting and broken and, therefore, not completely sold out to yourself, there is still time to grow and heal! Is it too late? Are we too old? Are we too comfortable? Are we too set in our ways? No! Inside of us we might actually be feeling and behaving like lost children, confused and scared, waiting for someone, something. So it’s not too late to grow up into strong men and women of God who have kindness and trust and love for themselves, and then to give to the people around us!
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:28
If we are created in God’s image, and we don’t absolutely 1000% love ourselves for who we are and why we’re here, isn’t this verse saying (in more or less words), that we are then not loving Christ? I’ve always wondered about this because, as a young woman, I have struggled with and have been surrounded by other young woman who struggle with the idea of body image and self-esteem and self-respect. God made us IN HIS IMAGE! How beautiful is that to think about? He made us like Himself. Frankly, I’m flattered; I’m undeserving. But He did it. So, I owe Him nothing less than to love, respect, and cherish myself, because I want Him to know that I do nothing less than love, respect, and cherish Him.
We are God’s children… why would He call us to a place of mediocrity? He doesn’t! Praise Jesus! He calls us to a place where we nourish ourselves, cherish ourselves, and protect ourselves.
If we will love ourselves, if we create in our world an environment of praising, encouraging, understanding, security, approval, acceptance and friendship, if we stop violating the sacredness of our individual self-respect, then it makes sense that as we grow up into our adulthood, that then we will in turn become appreciative, confident, fair, trust-worthy people, with positive, strong self-esteem. And we will be able to find love in OURSELVES and the people around us, and to give love to OURSELVES and the people around us.
So then, in order to love those around us, we must first love ourselves. In order to recover and heal, we must love ourselves.
This is the very first place you can begin to find love: yourself.
When you have begun to respect yourself, have good boundaries for yourself, when you get to know what you enjoy, what you find happiness in, and DO those things – that’s when life get’s a whole lot easier and a whole lot more worth living… and that’s when you can turn to another hurting person and lead that person to heal and life. No, it’s not easy. Yes, it’s a journey. Yes, it will take daily coaching (the God freely provides) and a conscious effort.
God bless you on your journey to being the head and not the tail, to nourishing and protecting yourself!

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