Category Archives: Hope

How do you love yourself? Part Three

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.

Prayerful words

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.

How do you love yourself? Part Two

Last time we looked at the most important commandment about loving God, others, and ourselves. In my research, I found little information or commentary about what it means to love ourselves, in the same manner we love others and God.

I loved the people closest to me and served others, including those less fortunate. I loved God. I believed I’d done all those things well. Yet I was tired, empty, and even resentful. How about you? Did you think you were doing things well only to learn that you might have been wrong?

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14 (emphasis added)

I realized that I had it upside down. I thought that loving myself was selfish. There’s a big difference between loving yourself and being selfish. A BIG difference. I was so busy loving God and people that I’d forsaken loving myself. I never put myself on my “to do” list. The more Christian thing to do was to love God and others, right? So, here are some ideas to get you started loving yourself in healthy ways so you may love others and God out of abundance rather than emptiness.

10 Ways to Love Yourself

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Take a nap
  • Soak in a warm bath
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Visit a museum or theater
  • Watch your favorite television show
  • Listen to a CD, all the way through in one sitting
  • Paint your nails or get a manicure or pedicure (maybe a facial, too!)
  • Read a book, without guilt that you could be doing other things

Want to know one of the most recent things I’ve done that felt like loving myself? I threw out the give-away pens and bought the kind of ink pens I love to write with. A small indulgence that makes me smile every time I pick up a pen to write.

Next time I’ll wrap up this series with some final thoughts and a prayer you can pray.

What is one thing you could do to love yourself better?

Check out my Self-Care Pinterest board to spark your own self-care ideas.

From Freeze to Free

Like Queen Elsa in Disney’s animated film, “Frozen” we can “Let it Go.” Fear, that is. And, being frozen.

But, we will need to do more than stomp our feet, wave our hands in the air, and sing a hit tune. It’s time for a real breakthrough to no longer live under the heaviness of traumatic events that have us stuck.

Experiencing fearful events cause us to respond in one of three ways: fight, flight or freeze. Experts say that the “freeze” response is overcome with the help of a professional. With the fight or flight response, the trauma, fear, or painful experience is processed at the time. By freezing, the trauma is internalized and frozen. We can get stuck here.

Flight, Fight, or Freeze

If you’re hiking in the mountains and come face-to-furry face with a grizzly bear, you’d better allow the automatic switch for flight to engage and protect yourself from harm. (To avoid experiencing this fear, hike in groups of three or more. 91% of bear attacks happen to lone hikers.)

If someone tries to steal your bag or your bike, you’ll most likely engage the fight mechanism and hit or chase that person.

If you’ve been abused as a child or adult, betrayed by your spouse, or some other trauma that caused you to freeze, don’t fear the future.

The Future is Yours

It may be tempting to stay stuck in this frozen state. Don’t. The freeze response debilitates us from actually feeling the fear. If we have traumatic experiences that have caused us to freeze, we most likely need to seek professional help to thaw out and move forward.

You can live freely.

Recognize the trauma that caused you to freeze. Talk with someone. Face the fear, process it, and move into a fearless way of life. I’m not suggesting that we forsake caution, or that this process is a quick and easy one, but we can get free from what caused us to freeze.

I know this from experience and I live more freely today than ever (and, yes, I had professional help to get free).

So can you.

Feels Like Redemption

Feels Like Redemption: The Pilgrimage To Health and Healing (My Pilgrimage) is written by Seth Taylor with David Glenn Taylor, his brother. Not only do they share pilgrimage stories of their own, but they encourage readers to take some risks and pursue healing for their inner selves.

Three hours had passed since I first picked up this book. I picked it up and could NOT put it down. Few books hook me like this one.

As a woman, I didn’t really think this book would impact me as deeply as it did. The authors are men and the book seemed like it was written specifically for men who want to break the habit of watching porn. I’m not a man, and I don’t watch porn, yet it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Maybe you’re like me and get stuck over-thinking stuff. So much more productive to take action to get un-stuck from whatever holds us back.

Taylor said, “When we forsake a demand for certainty and satisfaction in our own intellect, we can begin to learn something new.” A helpful insight for those of us who think more than we feel, or more than we do. Although challenging, it’s better to be open to learning new things.

The book stimulates the reader to action. We can think thoughts, and even feel feelings, but without action things don’t change. Taylor’s words, and those of his wife and brother, inspire readers like me to take action. And, when you add Switchfoot lyrics to the mix, well, you can’t go wrong.

I’m glad I picked it up and spent the morning with it. May it feel like redemption to you as it did to me.