I didn’t know that it was possible to love self! It was the late 90’s when Oprah first introduced us to Iyanla Vanzant as the author of her then new book, ‘In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want‘. I was living in London at the time. I had been having one of those on-again, off-again non-commital relationships and I just couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t find someone that wanted to be with just me and make a commitment to me! Everything within myself said, “You are not good enough, pretty enough or even worthy enough, that anybody would want to take such a step with you!” I truly believed this about myself so I tried to change myself to what I thought other people wanted me to be because I thought that there was something seriously wrong with me. This caused me to be anything else but myself and I was miserable! Its no wonder that I couldn’t find love.
When Oprah brought Iyanla to her show, she said that we need to learn to love ourselves. That was the first time I had ever heard anybody say this and this statement stayed with me. As much as it made so much sense to me, I had no idea where or how to start loving myself. Like plenty of people out there who lack self-esteem, I did not like myself very much so the whole concept of learning to love myself was not only alien to me, but also difficult for me to even begin to comprehend.
Over the years as I started building a personal relationship with God, I came to realize that I had been looking for love in all the wrong places. A couple of months ago, it became completely clear to me when I finally fully grasped the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave us. It felt like I was reading them for the first time! In Mark 12:28-31, one of the teachers of the law asks Jesus the most important commandment. I found it key that he asked for one, but Jesus gave him two! The first one is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and the second is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. What finally made sense to me is that it is impossible for us to love the way that God created us to love without loving Him first and then it’s impossible for us to love others without loving ourselves. This is what love is! I realized that I was loving other people the way that I should be loving God (in other wards idolizing them) as well allowing them to treat me so badly and accepting it as love because I didn’t love myself. Loving ourselves begins with loving God and then we are able to give that love within ourselves to others. Nothing and nobody in this entire existence can love us the way that God loves us. Romans 5:6-8 ESV says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I have never heard of anybody that ever gave up their one and only son to die for murderers, rapists, thieves, liars etc. And that is what we all are; sinners! Seeing and understanding the depth of God’s love for us has made me understand what an insult it is to God for us to even allow the words, “I hate myself!” to ever come out of our mouths let alone feel that way about ourselves. In Genesis 1:31 NIV says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” If God says we are good, who are we to hate or not even like ourselves?
I now advise anybody that has this attitude to remember who you are in God! When we build a relationship that is between and only between God and us, it is very easy to feel, understand and accept God’s love for us. This is what we are looking for when we attempt to give it others and obviously set them and ourselves up to fail! This is what has helped me learn to love myself. For the first time in my life, I truly love me and have no wish whatsoever to be anybody else. The love that I now have within myself is easy for me to give to others. God created us to love! Loving self gives us the freedom and joy to love others. Allow yourself to love!
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