Love your neighbour as yourself.
Did you know that this is one of two commands that Jesus said were the greatest? First to love God and then to love your neighbour as yourself.
This begs the questions - how well, or how much, are you loving yourself? And who is your neighbour?
For me? My neighbour is not just the person that actually lives beside me, who I politely nod at when we happen to be in our driveway at the same time (Gulp. Might have to work on that relationship).
My neighbour is everyone I come in contact with - starting in my household. My husband. My son. Heck, even Cuddles the guinea pig.
Did you get that? Your “neighbour” begins with the people in your household.
And that makes this very, very real.
Because according to this verse I need to love my husband and my son as I love myself. That hasn’t boded well for them in the past. If I’m honest. And I always hope to be honest with y’all.
Because the reality? There has not been a lot of love directed at myself, by myself.
Self-loathing? For sure. Feeling less than? Definitely.
But love? The kind of love I want my son to feel from me?
Not so much.
Can you relate? Can you feel the pain points like I do when that truth sinks in? That the amount of love I have been able to show my family is tied directly to the amount of love I have for myself?
Our capacity to love outwardly shrinks or expands with our capacity to love inwardly.
We have some work to do ladies.
And I know what some of you may be thinking. “But Carla, isn't loving oneself vanity?” or “Carla, you don’t know the horrible things I’ve done. I am completely unlovable.”
I know what you are thinking because I have thought all those things myself. I have believed those things. Especially when it comes to believing that I am unlovable.
But let me remind you - remind my spirit - what God has to say about us.
We are BEAUTIFUL
We are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10), fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), a crown of splendor (Isaiah 62:3) and altogether beautiful (Song of Solomon 4:7)
We are FREE from past SHAME
We are free indeed (John 8:36) and loved as we are (John 15:16)
We are VALUABLE
God chose - chooses - us! (John 15:16) He calls us friend! (John 15:15) And he keeps us from failing in our purpose (Psalm 46:5)
We are created in LOVE with PURPOSE
We are all the beautiful work of the potter (Isaiah 64:8) who formed us, knew us and set us apart as precious (Jeremiah 1:5)
So in beginning to comprehend the TRUTH of who we are - and how loved we are by the creator of all things - it starts to put loving ourselves in a different perspective.
We SHOULD love ourselves. After all, He first loved us.
We SHOULD love ourselves. After all, it enables us to live out one of the greatest commands.
So how do you practically go about doing that? About loving ourselves? About overriding the lies in our head and heart that have taken such deep roots?
Through navigating this terrain myself, I have come up with these 3 core activities that go a long way in helping us develop greater self love - wth the purpose of loving those around us better. More completely.
1. Spend time immersing yourself in TRUTH.
That means getting into the word. Start a Bible study. Pick up a devotional. Discover the amazing truths about who you are in Christ.
2. Intentionally speak LIFE over yourself.
Don’t just be a consumer of truth - be a speaker of truth! Out loud, speak LIFE over yourself in the form of affirmations that will uproot the lies in your head and replace them with a belief system that will enable you to better speak LIFE over others!
3. Treat your body with love.
Yes. This means being mindful of what you put in the body God wonderfully made. Yes. That means moving the body God miraculously molded. That means facing how you might be using food, drink, television to provide distraction and comfort when HE is meant to be all that and more. Remember - he CHOOSES you!
Remember. Self love is not selfish. It’s helping you fulfill one of the greatest commandments the Lord has given us - to love others as we love ourselves.
Want to show great love others? Start with showing great love to yourself.