“Love your neighbor as yourself” – (Luke 10:27)
The second great commandment is also about love. But let’s note here that in order to love others, we must first love ourselves. Self-love does not come easy for some people. For example, children who have been the subject of abuse, whether physical or emotional, find it difficult to love themselves even as adults. Social expectations that we become successful or achieve a certain degree of wealth or notoriety can make us feel inadequate. Cultural pressures to lose weight, build muscle, and eat right may move us toward a healthier lifestyle, and who can argue with that? But these same pressures can also make us feel like failures if we don’t make noticeable improvements.
Loving ourselves means showing grace and kindness to ourselves regardless of our progress or even our regression. God loves us for who we are, that is, we are God’s children. If God loves us in this way, who are we to disagree. This does not mean that we pass up opportunities to improve ourselves or fail to be diligent about our spiritual progress, but it does mean that we refuse to accept worldly measures for self-worth. There is great peace in receiving the unconditional love of God. When we learn to love ourselves unconditionally, we are better prepared to love our neighbor the same way.
Lord, I know that there is much room for improvement in my life. Thank you for loving me as I am. Teach me to love myself with the same measure of grace and kindness with which you love me.