Monthly Archives: October 2010

Love Yourself

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?

It’s a fact. Despite fall being the harbinger of winter, it still brims with hope and promise, with expectation and excitement.

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.

Seventy Percent

I’m scared.  There are thunderheads forming on the horizon of my life…huge, thick, menacing clouds carrying raging destruction.  Normally, I’m better at weathering the doom of an upcoming storm without the dread I now feel, but the truth is, I’m just plain not up to the fight.

Six weeks ago, I had surgery and in my silly, uneducated mind, I thought by now, I’d be 100%.  Recovery just can’t come soon enough for me, and despite the blessing of seeing progress each and every day, I want to be my old self again – the self that can laugh in the face of thunder.

I place my recovery at about seventy percent and long for the days when I can accomplish tasks without difficulty or pain.  Deep within every cell of my being, I feel the need for rest.  I’d like to hibernate through the winter and catch up with all of you in the spring.  But, I can’t do that, so each day, I push myself to do my best; knowing that I’m not doing everything I could do before surgery.

With or without surgery, life is tough.  There are days when getting out of bed is a monumental struggle. God gave us these bodies knowing that they would feel used up, worn out and broken down.  But He also gave us something else, and that’s His presence, His unique love for us.  The Lord told Jeremiah (1:8) “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”  The Bible is filled with verses that say the same thing, “I am with you.”

Staying joyful in the midst of fear is challenging.  But the plain truth is that I am better at 70% with God than I am at 100% without Him.  With God, I can laugh at the distant thunder, can raise my head in praise as the wind whips up, can sing in the midst of a torrential downpour.  That’s because God is faithful and loving and much more powerful than any storm that comes my way. So even when I cry for hours that I’m not fully recovered, I can still hear the whisper of God, “Don’t be afraid; I am with you.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.”

That’s why there is always joy despite life turning you sideways.  I’ve learned that even though there are things that tumble you end over end, with the awesome God we serve, when you come out the other side, you are precisely where God wants you to be: rescued by Him.