Monday, June 22, 2009

Loving Ourselves

For every narcissist, there are a hundreds of people who do not truly love themselves. Some belittle and berate themselves for things they would not condemn in another. At times some of my close friends--and I--have not loved ourselves well. This attitude can lead to depression, disallusion, or discouragement. It can destroy feelings of self-worth and serenity.

So how do we gain--and maintain--a healthy love for ourselves? How we do learn to love ourselves so that we can find peace amid the sorrows and adversities of life? I would suggest three attitudes are critical.

First, accept the fact that God really does love you. He is love. He loves you when you are good and bad, when you make mistakes and when you don't, when you're strong and weak. He loves you just the way you are at this very moment.

Consider Paul's testimony: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?....For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

If you do not feel God's love in your life right now, ask Him to reveal it to you. Ask Him to help you understand how much He truly loves you. Then spend some quiet moments with Him and allow Him to fill your heart with His infinite love. This may take time. If you are deeply wounded, it may not happen overnight. But with time, you will feel of His love for you--and of His love for all of His creations.

Next, allow God's love to move through you to others. We feel God's love as we allow Him to use us as an instrument of His love. If you are completely exhausted, you may reflect His love by simply smiling at someone. Or praying for a stranger that you pass. Or speaking a kind word. Simple acts can intensify the love that we feel from God.

Finally, allow people to love you. When we're hurting and feeling unloved, it's easy to wrap ourselves in a tight little box and refuse to let others into our lives. Sometimes we need to take time out from unessential activities. We need to take a break and rest. But we also need to allow loving people into our lives. If we don't, we enter into a spiral of isolation and despair.

I had learned these truths for myself when I have felt unworthy of love and believed I could not love myself. I have discovered that we can love God because He first loved us. And as we love Him and feel of His love for us, we find peace amid sorrow. We may feel overwhelmed at times by life's vicissitudes, but we can still trust in one thing: that God love us. And that makes all the difference.

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