[notice]A monthly column by Vivienne Solomons who is a legal consultant who passionately believes that God wants His people to make a difference right where they are and to stand up for what is true and just. She is also passionate about encouraging young women to walk victoriously with God and she is engaged in a challenging faith journey as a parent of a child with special needs.[/notice]
It is February and St Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Retail stores have been decorated, with their shelves stocked in anticipation; and digital and print media are advertising and promoting a wide array of gifts to give to those we love. February also happens to be my birthday month, which is when, traditionally, I reflect on my life and set personal goals for the year ahead. This year, I have committed to being more intentional in all my relationships.
Consequently, I have been pondering Jesus’ words: ’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 is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself …’ . More specifically, the command to love others as we love ourselves. The implication here is that we can and should love ourselves. The corollary, of course, is that we cannot love others if we are unable to love ourselves. It goes without saying that this type of self-love is not corrupt and motivated by selfishness; it is rather concerned with the welfare of our own souls and bodies so that we can be all that we were created to be and do all that we were created to do.
So I had to ask myself if I do indeed love myself in the way that the Lord refers to here. My immediate response was, “yes, of course!”. But when I dare to delve deeper, the truth is a little different. Many times we fail to love ourselves because of what we have done or what happened to us in the past. We also live in a world where there are constant reminders of how we fall short of an imaginary, often arbitrary, standard … and where to ‘get ahead’ it is deemed necessary to do as everyone else does, even if it means our conscience keeps us awake at night!
Thoughts on loving oneself
So what does ‘loving myself’ look like? Here are some of my initial thoughts:
- I have to acknowledge my need for God and intentionally cultivate an intimate relationship with Him on a daily basis, through prayer and the reading of the Word. God’s love is unconditional and it is only in spending time in His Word that I will see myself the way He sees me rather than through the lens of my own imperfections.
- As a believer, I need to be quick to ‘own up’ to my mistakes, and to ask God for His forgiveness. Sometimes, this may mean that I will also have to ask others for their forgiveness — for what I have done, or failed to do. Then I will be free to go about my daily life unencumbered.
- I cannot be afraid to reveal who I truly am to the world. This can be difficult, I know and I may risk rejection. But if I am to be comfortable with who others are, I first need to be comfortable with who I am.
- I have to surround myself with those who accept me as I am but love me enough to call out the best in me; those who will not only speak the truth in love where necessary but also be there for me in my hour of need.
It is then that I will be able to freely love others and help them right where they are without expecting something in return; in spite of my limited knowledge and understanding of who they are and where they come from. February is the month of love — there is no better time to start than now!