Fall is the season of pumpkins, multihued leaves and paradox.
The paradox is this: How can a time of the year so closely associated with loss — rivers shrink back, trees shrivel and the sky goes from shout-it-out blue to a dusky brownish-gray or bone-white — be a season of such joyous, riotous color as the trees shed their green?
How can the season of ecological death be so filled with such a rich palette of color?
This season of paradox has led me to examine a deep paradox in my life. I was recently challenged through a book, The Core Issue, to truly love myself. Several times in the Bible, Christians are challenged to “love your neighbor as yourself.” My favorite passage is Galatians 5:14 – “The entire law is summed up in a single commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Think of the multitude of rules and laws that the Jewish people were required to follow and all that was replaced by five simple words!
However, the paradox in my mind is: Do I really love myself? I have to admit, I don’t love myself deeply enough. I don’t always revel in the way God created me. I chide myself for my imperfections and the parts of me that I am still working on. This leads me down a path to self-loathing, rather than down the path of truly loving myself.
You see, Christ could have said, “Love your neighbor.” He didn’t have to add the part about loving ourselves. But He did to let us in on a huge truth of life – that we can only love our neighbors to the extent that we love ourselves.
This is something that I suspect many struggle with. How can you love yourself without being vain, selfish and arrogant? Where’s the spirituality in loving yourself? I’m learning that it is impossible to extend love to those around us unless we first confidently love the person that God made us to be. You can’t give away what you yourself don’t possess.
So, if I am harsh and judgmental with myself, how can I expect myself to be loving and kind towards others? If I don’t see myself as a valuable person, how can I appreciate the value in others? I need healing for my brokenness in this area; with God’s help, I am taking steps in that direction.
In order to fall in love with yourself, you must first receive and accept God’s incredible love for you. Make it okay to fall head over heels in love with yourself. And then once you do, as freely as God gave His love to you, go and give that love to someone else.