Recently I was challenged by a theme-based magazine to write on the subject of “Loving Yourself.”
Loving myself is a battle I’ve been engaged in since I was a small child.
One reason is that I’ve had people in my life who through demands, perfectionism, and criticism have communicated, “You are unlovable.” I confess that I’ve taken on the role of the wounded wounder and done the same thing at times in relating to others.
What has rescued me from the lie that says, “You are not good enough to be loved by others, and therefore you can’t love yourself,” is God’s love.
A turning point in moving away from self-loathing came on a day years ago when a peson in my life was acting in a hateful way toward me with harsh words and scathing judgments over a minor issue. Once again I was sinking into “Because-a-person-is-acting-in-a-hateful-way-over-my-actions-and-my-inability-to-be-perfect-I-have-no-choice-but-to-hate-myself” thinking.
Then the whisper came.
“Ask Me what I think of you.”
I was fairly young in the Lord, but I knew it was Him speaking.
“OK, God. What do you think of me?”
I can’t remember the exact words that followed, but they were on the theme of “You are beautiful, and your heart is hungry for Me and to do the right thing, and I am delighted.”
How different those words were from the ones I had just heard from a human who had spoken.
The challenge was, Who will you believe?
That day I chose God.
But the battle continues. I can still sink into believing that people who expect perfect are echoing what God requires of me.
The good news that I am believing and receiving more often is the truth that God looks at my heart and not at each little action. If my heart is set on doing right, which it is, God remains delighted with me—even if I blow it with my actions.
God allows mistakes even when it seems people in my life do not. He never stops loving me because His love is not based on what I do but on the generosity of His heart. He does not tally up my mistakes—as others and myself too often do. What He focuses on is how much He loves me, and I can read about it as often as I like in the love letter He wrote to me called the Word of God.
One verse that lifts me up every time I read it is Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of [past sins, or even recall them]; He will exalt over you with singing. AMP
I’m realizing that I have to continue to love myself—by fully receiving God’s love for me—if I want to obey what God has called me to do:
Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39 NIV
It seems that the degree to which I love others is based on how much I’m loving myself. And that’s why others are being unloving toward me. They need to love themselves. Instead of being hateful in return, I want to show them how. I want to convince them of God’s amazing love.
How about you? Do you sometimes have a hard time loving yourself? Try asking God, “What do You think about me?”