Many years ago before I knew God, before I realized I would only find a man to marry when I loved myself, I undermined myself, engaged in frequent negative self-talk, and attracted unavailable or critical men who mirrored and validated my low self-worth.
I was smart, had a good job with the television networks, looked pretty darn good and fashionable on the outside, but depression, shame and self-loathing lurked behind well-crafted masks of professionalism and pseudo self-worth.
Constant loneliness, emotional pain, and sadness lurked in my private darkness. I only met my husband after preeminent grace blessed me with a seed of astonishing wisdom that changed my life — I needed to love myself.
Hildegard of Bingen once said, “I tenderly take the blooms of roses and lilies and all of fecundity into my heart by singing praises of all of God’s works, while you pile pain upon pain upon God’s works…joy is the other side of sadness”.
I know so many women and men – many good, God serving people — still crippled by low self-worth, self-loathing, masked by one kind of addiction or another.
Renowned psychologist, Carl Jung, recognized that even those doing good works for the sake of Christ live in a quiet despair, leaving behind neglected and ugly aspects of themselves in the guise of loving others. Jung says:
“What I do unto the least of my breathen, that I do unto Christ, but what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea, the very fiend himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved – what then?”
It’s stands to point out that when Jesus answers the disciples question, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the laws? And Jesus answers, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.‘ No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12:31-39
Love your neighbor as yourself.
That’s profound — the second greatest commandment calls us to love ourselves. In fact, we cannot truly love our neighbors until we first love ourselves.
Once we believe and integrate the astonishing idea that we are made in the image of God, everything ugly about ourselves begins to change shape – self-loathing, self-criticism and shame melt into the fire of agape love where the sparks of self-love form in the womb of God’s love. This is where we discover our most true selves — and we’re awakened to a profound gratefulness for the gift of our lives.
Have you ever felt such a Holy Spirit driven burst of self-love where you want to dance in the street for the very gift your life, where you want to sing praises:
“I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made!” – Psalm 139:14
This self-love is not a boastful, arrogant love of ourselves – for when we are branches on the vine of God’s love, such prideful self-love is impossible. Guided by the winds of grace, Godly based self-love lands us in safe harbors of humility, anchored. Here we surrender all, kneeling at the altar of hope, shedding tears, and receiving a blanket of God’s supernatural compassion and fireworks of blessings. For no darkness can hide in the light of God’s love.
Here we begin the profound journey of being forgiven without cost – for our past mistakes including self-loathing, and the consequent ways we’ve hurt of others.
Agape love heals all.
Like the prodigal son who runs from his beloved father, wasting his inheritance with riotous living, then starving, returns home to his father’s welcoming arms, God welcomes us home.
“While he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” –adorning him with the best robe, and a great feast. Let us eat and celebrate, for my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’ -Luke 20-24
God’s welcoming love brings us new found wisdom, a new life grounded in self-respect and humility where we’re a new person filled with love for ourselves and others.
To acquire wisdom is to love oneself.- Proverbs 19:8
In this divine self love “it’s no longer I who live, but Christ in me”. – Galations 2:20
In The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, author Brennan Manning says “a Christ centric life means to live in the heart of Jesus, to share his tastes and aversions, to have the same interests, affections, attitudes, to be motivated in everything by loving compassion.”
With the mind of Christ, self-loathing can never survive.
In God’s love our disempowered selves rise from lies, as we stand tall as God empowered women and men – lights in the world.
Agape love trumps self-criticism. We learn, with flaws and all – weather it’s nagging concerns about how much we weigh, cellulite, wrinkles, and sagging skin — we can truly love ourselves and treat ourselves with care and kindness.
“For no one has ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it.” – Ephesians 5:29
Grounded in agape love and loving ourselves, we rise unafraid into the wild world world to help others do the same.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us…and there is no fear in love.-” 1 John 4:16-19
With Valentines Day coming soon, I wish YOU a Happy one!
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