I used to cringe when I heard the catchphrase “Love yourself!”
It just felt very typical to be in agreement with that saying, and it felt like it was used as an excuse to grant oneself an indulgent amount of liberties. It’s an Instagram post waiting to happen, with the millennial pink background and calligraphy and all.
That was, until, near the end of 2018, when the Lord showed me otherwise.
Truth be told, I have a very tumultuous emotional life. I have a high-stress lifestyle that requires too much coffee and too little sleep. In result, I get sick easily. My hormones are still balancing out from the 6 intense years of pregnancy and breastfeeding. I get tension headaches on the regular. With all that being said, I asked the Lord what it would take to simply make things easier for 2019. I know, it’s not a grand prayer, but it was an honest one.
He said, “Love yourself.”
Upon hearing this, I was initially confused because I’m not one who typically dwells too deeply in self-hatred or crippling insecurities. So, why tell me to love myself?
Perhaps, it was the way I allowed myself no failures… Or, maybe, that I gave myself no allowance for weakness… The thoughts that run through my mind are usually stringent and self-denying…
I was willing to forfeit a restorative night of rest and leisure for the sake of meeting deadlines. I was willing to eat poorly if it meant that I could spend less time in the kitchen and more on my computer to complete work. And when my heart was sad, I would give it no space to grieve. When my soul was empty, I would deem it weak and would refuse to change my pace for the day.
If I saw anyone treat any of my children the way I treated myself, I would be livid.
God wants to be kind to us, because God is love. However, if we are not kind to ourselves, we create a blockage from knowing His kindness on an experiential level.
The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself. But even those who receive love from God may still have difficulty loving others. Truth is, how can our love for God ever translate into love for others if we have absolutely no love for ourselves? That’s often the missing piece to the puzzle.
The misconception with the way people say “love yourself” is that it is an excuse for our selfishness and self-obsession. You need to hate your haters? Love yourself! You overspent on your credit card? Love yourself! You sinned so you walked away from your spiritual accountability? Love yourself!
True love is not without accountability. In fact, true love is sanctifying and purifying. Therefore, it could never produce a lifestyle of sin or pride.
So, I took God’s words to heart.
I began to treat myself with the love that I would expect my friends and family to be treated. I began to take control of the dialogue in my mind. I put an end to the heartless commands to myself, to be stronger, better, faster. In its place, I began giving myself the grace that is due a child of God. Treating myself well translated into the everyday choices I made: to eat well, to sleep adequately, to prioritize my daily to-do list not just ambitiously, but also healthily.
Too many Christians are driven by self-hatred, to the point that their worship is out of fear and their service to others is out of obligation.
That is not God’s will for you.
1 John 4:16 says, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
Anyone who is a carrier of His Presence must also be a carrier of His love. To try to be kind to others while being unkind to oneself would be contradictory.
Yes, you should love yourself, and you should begin right now.
May you allow yourself the grace to rest when you are tired, cry when you are sad, and receive forgiveness when you fail. When you hear that Jesus loves you, may you believe it. When someone says a kind word to you, may you thank them for it. And when you see a flaw on your face or your body, may you realize that you are probably the only person that is bothered by it. When you feel the weight of your past, may you allow yourself to dream for the future.
Let Him love you. Let You love you. Then go out there, and love the world.