Friday, January 29, 2010

Learning to Better Love Ourselves

Many people do not love themselves as fully as they could. Sometimes we care for others better than we care for ourselves. It is easy to neglect our mental or physical well-being as we try to meet job deadlines or complete our endless“to-do” lists. Whether you are lonely, overworked, burned out, ill, experiencing financial or relationship stress, or suffering from chronic pain, self-nurturing can help you resolve your problems and ease your suffering.

So how do we learn to better love and nurture ourselves?

Choose to think loving thoughts about yourself. We will not be able to love ourselves well when our minds are filled with self-defeating thoughts. If you discover you are harboring a negative thought about yourself, replace it with a loving one. Here are some examples:

Enemy: “You are worthless.”

You: “I am a beloved child of the Most High God.”

Enemy: “Nothing you do matters."

You: “I have a great mission to fulfill on earth. God has a wonderful plan for my life.”

Enemy: “You’ll never amount to anything.”

You: “I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I am created in God’s image, and He loves me perfectly and completely.”

You cannot love God, yourself or others too much. Our challenge is really to love them enough. God asks us to love Him with all of our hearts, might, mind, and strength—not just part of ourselves. And, if He commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, if we better love ourselves, we can better love others.

Seek to love God more fully, and He will give you greater love for yourself. We worship a merciful and powerful God who wants to fill our hearts with love. When we find we don’t love ourselves well, if we increase our focus on God’s love, our love for ourselves will increase. If we pray continually to know and understand God’s love for us, He will show us how infinite and eternal His love truly is.

Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we show more compassion and kindness to others than we do to ourselves. Think of the ways you can show kindness to yourself:

• Speak kindly to yourself and about yourself.

• Nourish yourself with healthy foods.

• Get needed sleep and exercise.

• Refuse to compare yourself to others.

• Praise God for the gifts and talents with which He has blessed you.

Give yourself permission to say “no” when you are asked to do things that endanger your peace of mind or your health.

Consider memorizing a verse or two on God’s love for you. Here are a few:

How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7).

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever (Psalm 52:8).

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26).

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Find self-nurturing ways to deal with stress. As we face the challenges of living, we need to find ways to deal with stress in healthy ways. We need to set aside time each day to nurture ourselves and calm our spirits . Here are a few suggestions:

• Learn to breathe slowly and deeply to relax yourself. This decreases pain and tension in wonderful and surprising ways, and, of course, it costs nothing.

• If weather permits, walk in the sun for a few minutes. Find a relaxing place to walk or sit where you can enjoy the beauties of nature.

• Stretch your muscles, take a relaxing bath or shower, or try a new activity.

• Schedule some time each day when you can meditate, read a good book, or listen to inspiring music.

When we treat ourselves with the love that we want from others, we find experience greater peace of mind. As our love for ourselves increases, we feel greater love for God and for other. We experience greater serenity. The world will become a more peaceful place when people everywhere begin to truly love themselves and then radiate that love to others.

Louise Hay writes, “Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.”

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Healing Power of Love

Love is the most healing power in the universe. It can mend broken hearts, heal broken relationships, and bring peace to wounded spirits. In a world filled with contention, stress, and despair, we cannot love God, ourselves, or others too much.

Genuine love is not codependent, demanding, or critical. When we truly love, we forgive quickly, nurture willingly, and serve joyfully. Although love stretches our souls at times, it brings peace and comfort to our hearts.

We can do three simple things to bring loves healing power into our lives.

1. Ask God to fill your heart with love.

Take time to meditate each day. Breathe in God’s love, and breathe out your love for all of God’s creations. Breathe in God’s mercy, and breathe out forgiveness. Breathe in compassion, and breathe out loving kindness.

Please know that asking God to fill you with His love is a powerful request. Be prepared for God to give your some challenging opportunities to learn what unconditional love really feels like. Love will stretch your soul in ways that will test your patience and courage at times.

2. Ask God each morning whom He would have you serve.

He may want you to comfort a child, call a lonely friend, or visit a widow. He may want you to nurture yourself more fully so that you can better serve others. Seek to live so that He can direct you to those whom you can bless with your love.

3. Study the nature of God’s love.

God’s love is patient, kind, forgiving, merciful, long-suffering, gentle, meek, and enduring. His love reaches out to the poor, the sinner, the lonely, the sick, and the forgotten. As we love and serve others, we are truly loving and serving God. This is the miracle of love.

In a world where so many are selfish, greedy, and cruel, love becomes a beacon of hope to those who are hopeless. It offers solace to those who are grieving, comfort to those who mourn, and peace to those who overwhelmed with despair.

Ask God how you can learn to love as He loves. Let Him teach you how to better love yourself and others. Ask whom He would have you serve today.

Then listen. He will guide your paths in gentle and peaceful ways.

© Carol Brown

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Healing Power of Prayer

Nothing can increase one’s peace of mind more effectively than prayer. It can heal broken hearts, help one recover from an illness or addiction, and create peace amid sorrow. Clinical data shows that prayer enhances one’s health. It can lower blood pressure, increase wellness, and decrease one’s chances of suffering a heart attack.

We can prayer anytime anywhere. We can pray while we’re showering, driving, waiting for an appointment, resting, and working. We can pray when we’re tired, worried, happy, or sad. We can pray to thank God, to ask Him for advice, and to seek peace. Prayer soothes troubled minds, calms wounded spirits, and eases worried hearts.

If it is God’s will, dying can be cured through the power of prayer. Evil spirits can be cast out. Relationships can be healed.

Fourteen years ago a two-month old baby lay in an isolette in an intensive care unit at a children’s hospital. He was dying from heart failure. Doctors has tried every procedure possible to save little Carrie’s life, but the baby was slipping away. My husband and I were visiting her family, and they asked my husband to pray for the baby. The nurses were excused, curtains were drawn, and the family, my husband and I gathered to offer a final prayer in behalf of the beautiful baby girl. Ken called down the blessings of heaven on Carrie and then told her that she had the choice to live or to return to her Heavenly Father. Immediately, the baby’s color changed from deathly gray to pink. Her tiny legs and arms started to move. We knew Carrie had chosen life.

Right now I have several dear friends who are dying or who are very ill. To find peace amid this great sorrow, I have turned to prayer for comfort and peace. I pray for these dear people throughout the day, asking God to ease their pain—and mine.

Prayer allows me to connect with the Spirit and to feel my Father’s love for others—and for me. I know he loves my five loved ones who are losing their battle with cancer right now. I know He loves my niece who is in serious trouble with schizophrenia. I know He loves my dear child who faces daunting health challenges, my brother-in-law who is grieving the loss of his wife, and my best friend whose husband just lost his job. I know He is aware of our every grief, pain, heartache, and sorrow.

As we see the suffering through the world, we can ask God to make us an instrument of His peace, to teach us what He would have us do. Perhaps we can pray more fervently for those who are suffering. There may be a reputable charity to which we can donate. Maybe we can donate time to help others in our community. God will teach us what we can do to better serve His children if we ask Him.

Jesus tells us, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

God has great blessings waiting for you and for me. He waits for us to ask. He wants to give us everything that He has. He wants us to live with Him forever. He will show us how to prepare for those blessings. All we need to do is ask.

We worship a God of miracles. Although not all sick or dying are healed, some are. Not all people are blessed with abundance, but God can help us live happily on very little. Some day He will wipe away all of our tears and mend all of our broken hearts. Talk to Him today and ask Him to guide you, to comfort you, to enfold you in the arms of His love.

He will.

“How precious is Your steadfast love, O God! The children of men take refuge and put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”

© Carol Brown

Monday, January 11, 2010

Peaceful Living

Since last year was a particularly difficult one for my family, I am seeking to create a more peace-filled life this year. Although I was coping well with my own health challenges, when one of my children faced significant health struggles, I found it easy to become worried, anxious, and depressed. When I failed to meditate, live in the moment, and express gratitude, I discovered life became very difficult for me.

Here are a few tips that will make this year more peaceful for me and for each of us.

1. Peace is a priceless gift which God gives those who focus on His love and walk in His light. When we center our thinking on a Higher Power rather on worldly worries, we experience greater peace. Reading the Bible or other inspired literature daily can enhance our ability to experience serenity.

2. Choose your friends wisely. Some people are peace-zappers. They live with chaos and contention and want you to experience the same distress. Seek out friends and mentors who walk in peace and learn from their examples. These people do not seek addictive substances or habits to dull their senses but enjoy the everyday beauties of life.

3. Set appropriate boundaries. Don’t try to run faster than you can walk. Turn off your phone when you want to spend quality time with your family. Say “no” nicely when people ask you to overextend yourself or do things that steal your joy. Turn off television programs and music that do not enhance serene living.

4. Seek the Spirit. God wants you to have peace, but you cannot experience it if you lack the Spirit in your life. Paul teaches us that the fruits of the spirit are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Live in such a manner that you invite the Spirit into your life. Wholesome thoughts, literature, entertainment, and music enhance our spirituality and our peace.

5. Live in the moment. As we live in the moment, we do not worry about the future or fret about the past. We experience the present gift of life with gratitude and joy. Mother Teresa said, "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin."

May this be a peace-filled year for you and your loved ones. Hopefully, one--or more--of these ideas will help you experience greater serenity as you face the challenges and joys of everyday living.

© Carol Brown