As a Christian, I've been taught to love God, love others, and then love myself. (JOY = Jesus, Others, and You, right?)
I agree with that for the most part, especially loving God first.
When it comes to loving others and loving ourselves, I think it can get a little confusing.
Some people have no problem at all loving themselves. They live selfish lives and think little of the people around them.
Some people love others in healthy ways and have a right attitude about themselves.
Other people can turn that around and be hyper-aware of others, constantly trying to serve and please the people around them. They live selfless lives and think very little of themselves.
Oh, I don't mean they don't think about themselves. If they're like me, they're probably thinking way too much about themselves.
What did she think about what I said in that meeting?
I should probably stay late today and finish the cleaning that he was supposed to do.
Why doesn't anyone want to talk to me?
I wonder what I could do to help Harry and Sally get along better?
The thoughts can get worse than that:
I can't do anything right.
They must think I'm so stupid.
I'm so __________. (lazy, dumb, clumsy, fat, ugly, etc.)
People would be better off without me.
When our thought patterns echo with sentiments like these, we get into some very unhealthy places emotionally. We might do many things to help and serve other people, but too often it's coming from a place of desperate need, not a place of real love.
We need to learn to love ourselves as God loves us so that we can serve and love others from a healthy heart.
I've heard Susie Larson talk about how she went through a time when she felt like God was telling her to say, "God, you love me so much" whenever she started to say, "God, I love you so much."
It felt awkward at first, but as she kept repeating that phrase, she began to believe it.
I'm getting better, but I struggle with how I see myself. In fact, I really used to see myself kind of like this whenever I saw myself in a photograph:
Everyone else looked fine, but I would see myself as this ugly stick figure person, usually hiding way in the back of a group.
Like I said, I'm getting better. I think I've trained myself to say, "Hey, I'm kind of cute" when I look at a picture of myself, instead of focusing on what I perceive as faults.
The Bible reminds us over and over again of how much God loves us. We need to believe that and accept ourselves as we are right now. God will keep changing and growing us in the years ahead, but there is no reason for us to punish, criticize, and hate ourselves right now for our mistakes and shortcomings.
We all add something beautiful to the pictures of life. Let's make sure we're loving ourselves so we can really love God and others.
Here I am, surrounded by my beautiful family
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!..." (1 John 3:1 NIV)
Do you have any trouble loving yourself? How can focusing on God help you to love yourself and love others?