- The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39)
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” is a pretty radical command -that we think of our love and concern for others in the same way as we regard our love for ourselves.
In this day of wars and conflicts and alienation, loving your neighbor is not a very easy thing to do. . . and those who do usually get vilified by the press and people around them. But, Jesus tells us that this is the second greatest commandment, one we should follow after loving God.
But I think the more radical commandment is in the second part of that verse:
- “as yourself”.
This speaks of the other important – often overlooked type of love—that of self-love.
We all have an innate instinct for self-preservation. We all want to be happy. We all want to live, satisfied with our lives. We all want:
- a place to live
- protection from violence
- meaningful or pleasant activity to fill our days.
- friends to like us and spend time with us.
We want our life to count for something. All this is self-love.
Self-love is the deep longing to minimize pain and increase happiness.
Everyone, without exception, has this human need for love. We spend much of our time waiting to be loved, hoping to be loved, searching and yearning for that special love, wanting someone to give us love and fill us up.
We feel empty and lost without it.
Unfortunately, that’s not usually how life works. You attract to you exactly what you send out into the world, and what you believe you are worthy of. So loving yourself can create love in your life.
No scripture in any holy book states that God created anyone undeserving of love. At the end of creation, you will remember that God said ‘And it was good’. Jesus taught that every person has value to God.
Self-love should naturally grow out of the knowledge that we are all precious to Him.
But how do we love ourselves when the world tells us loving ourselves is selfish – not a good character trait?
- Fall in love with yourself. Think about what makes you ‘You’. Love yourself for all the good that you see and accept your flaws and the fact that you are imperfect. Look in the mirror and fall in
love with the reflection that is You.
- Be honest with yourself about how valuable you believe you are. The way you see yourself and
treat yourself is the same way others will see you and treat you. Do you see yourself as valuable and worthy of love? Do you treat yourself lovingly? And most importantly, do you treat others with love? That’s the first step to feeling better about yourself.
- Think about what you need. What specifically are you lacking? Find the answer and give it to
yourself. No one is more capable of loving you and giving you exactly what you need than you are! When you learn to love yourself, you stop searching for it on the outside and you suddenly begin attracting it to you. You change yourself from a sponge to a magnet!
- FORGIVE yourself if you believe you aren’t worthy of love. No matter what you may have been told as a child or hear now, It SIMPLY IS NOT TRUE. Say to yourself “I forgive myself for believing that I am not worthy of love.” Go look in a mirror and say it out loud to yourself, look yourself right in the eyes and say it like you mean it.
- Start sharing. Share yourself with others. Everybody has something to share. Share your happiness, sadness, and most importantly your life. By sharing, you will start feeling better about yourself and start loving yourself.
- Remember that love is not a feeling, it is a choice! Make the choice to love yourself and the
feeling will come. After all, who deserves it more? The more loving you are to yourself, the more loving you will be able to be to everyone around you. Make a choice to love yourself and everyone who is important in your life
And last, but not least:
- Hug yourself. Don’t worry what others think, it’s about how you feel about you. Try to accept yourself as fully as you can.
Loving yourself is not being self-centered or selfish. We must care for our body, mind, and soul as treasured possessions given by a God who loves us.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, help us to accept ourselves just the way we are. Help us to recognize that we are beloved creatures of your creation and that we deserve to be loved, honored and cherished. Clean our minds of emotional poison and self-judgment so we can live in complete peace and love. Give us the power to love ourselves, our family and friends unconditionally. Today is a new beginning. Help us to start our life over beginning today with the power of self-love.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church, 6 March 2011