In a post earlier this week, I admitted that over the course of my spiritual wanderings with Christ, the toughest truth for me to internalize has been the idea of my inherent worth as an image bearer of God.
Which is the idea of loving our self.
Without that understanding, it made it impossible for me to love my self apart from my performance or what people thought of me.
For most of my relationships, the result was that I needed to get something from others. I may not have thought I was the one in need, it was not my overt or stated goal in a relationship, but that was the reality of the energy flow.
When I did a good deed, I looked forward to the praise. When I performed a task, I longed to hear that I did it well.
The lens through which I viewed my self was almost entirely conditional, being based on my perception of how much people needed me or how essential my role was.
A lack of love for my self caused me to use others.
I had an inability to fully love others because I did not know what it meant to love my self.
To love our self does not mean to build our self up. That is conceit.
To love our self does not mean to always be thinking about our self. That is narcissism.
To love our self does not mean to think we are better than others. That is pride.
Loving our self is about seeing our self in relation to God. Created. Special. Loved.
The fruit of loving our self is that we can authentically love our neighbor. Jesus affirms that our ability to love others is tied to our love for self.
Once we trust that our worth is from God, our identity does not need anything from the other. Authentic love is not self-serving.
In fact, love may have a cost to the self. Jesus’ words in John 13:34 are that “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Jesus’ identity did not need anything from his friends; He knew who He was in the Father. Thus, He was able to give his self – laying down his life – for his friends.
The same is true for us.
Loving our self is connecting to the One who is Love.
Knowing Love so we can be love.
If your performance, affirmation, and comfort were stripped away, would you love your self?