Now that I’ve given you 10 ideas how to love yourself, I’d like to wrap up this series with a personal note and a prayer.
When my kids were young, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My life as I knew it came to a screeching halt. I no longer had the energy or focus to do the things I was used to doing and loving all the people I was serving. I couldn’t even make a trip to the grocery store by myself.
The church urged me to be more connected and involved, which added insult to injury. It multiplied my guilt and weighed heavily on my weary soul and aching body. I felt useless to everyone, including God. I could barely get out of bed.
Maybe you’ve had a similar experience of loss or grief and been struck with the hard reality that no one was there for you. It’s okay to love yourself.
As we love ourselves
“…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18
In Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, we see a hopeful example of loving others as we love ourselves. “‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’; as heartily and sincerely, and as a man would desire to be loved by his neighbour; and do all the good offices to him he would choose to have done to himself by him. This law supposes, that men should love themselves, or otherwise they cannot love their neighbour; not in a sinful way, by indulging themselves in carnal lusts and pleasures; some are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; but in a natural way, so as to be careful of their bodies, families, and estates; and in a spiritual way, so as to be concerned for their souls, and the everlasting happiness of them: and in like manner should men love their neighbours, in things temporal do them all the good they can, and do no injury to their persons or property; and in things spiritual pray for them, instruct them, and advise as they would their own souls, or their nearest and dearest relations.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t receive much love from others during a time when I needed it desperately. I felt cast out by the very people I thought had my back. I’d been busy loving others and when I needed love from others, I heard crickets. I found my hope in God and learned to love myself.
Today, I reflect on these words of Johann Albrecht Bengel:
“He who loves God will love himself in a proper degree without selfishness. God loves me as He does thee; and thee as He does me: therefore I ought to love thee, my neighbour, as myself; and thou me as thyself: for our love to each other ought to correspond to God’s love towards us both.”
May this be your prayer, as it is mine.