When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Do you see a person that you love, or do you see someone who you despise? Do insults and self-hatred immediately permeate your thoughts. You are not alone. In my own life I have struggled with loving myself, and I have seen it as one of the most common themes for people these days. Measuring up to life’s expectations are extremely hard. You’re not pretty enough, you’re not athletic enough, you don’t have enough money, you’re fat etc…… Our internal world that develops from these external forces, and the dialogue that dwells there, can keep us living in shame, fear and denial, just existing.
Who sets these expectations? Parents, culture, our education system, the business world, media etc. The list goes on and on, but one of the most damaging is religion. Have you ever been taught to love yourself by your church? Loving yourself is missing from most Christian circles. We are taught to love others and love God, but actually discount who we are as a person. I don’t see this in the gospels. I see a man in Jesus who understands that loving and caring for himself is something that must be done. Now there has always been this ideology that you must sacrifice yourself to be a Christian. If that is the first step then I really understand why so many people refuse to follow Christ.
I think the first thing we should teach new Christians is how to receive love, because if you think you are worthless this is harder than being crucified. There are so many people who feel they are “just not good enough” or “don’t matter”. These are the wounds and assaults that come to us when we are young, and we hold onto them like they are a possession. Call it lack of secure attachment, sins of the father or whatever psychological and theological reference you choose, but the bottom line is most people don’t know love. This is the first step in becoming a real follower of Christ; learning to love yourself.
How do you love yourself?