He so loved the world…

love yourself 2The last few days I’ve been thinking about the concept of love. More specifically, loving myself and others loving themselves. I think it’s pressing on me this week given that today is Easter. The verse from the Bible, “For God so loved the world…” John 3:16, seems particularly significant at this time of the year. What I was thinking about the other day is the idea that God so loved me. God so loved you. And it made me stop for a minute.

Granted, I’ve heard that my whole life and believe it, but I wonder if I ever believed it, believed it in my heart? And why is that? The answer goes a lot deeper. To believe someone, I suppose even God, would love me, I would have to believe that I’m lovable. That doesn’t mean I don’t think people love me, I believe that. But do you ever really think about loving yourself? Knowing others love me is one thing, accepting it is another. Really how can I accept it when I question if I truly love myself.

I wonder if I’m atypical in my thinking? Sometimes we’re told that if we love ourselves we’re prideful, or self-absorbed. Instead, we spend our lives looking for ways to make ourselves better. We work on creating versions of ourselves that we believe meet the expectations of everyone around us. We fight against our true selves. I’ll love myself when…I’m accomplished, I’m the right weight, I’ve really made a difference, fill in the blank. We put it off, holding off unconditional love until we are just right. But will we ever be “just right?”

Probably not. At least not from our perspective. And if we don’t love ourselves unconditionally, how are we going to accept that kind of love from anyone else? From God, from our spouse? Whether or not they put parameters around it, we will. And in doing so we hold ourselves back from experiencing the love that could be ours. I’d even say that it’s a cycle that can undermine our relationships. Shortchanging ourselves of the abundant love that’s there for us, that God intended for us. We dismiss the love others freely give to us because we can’t believe it’s true.

This week during my quiet time, when my mind was supposed to be still, it wasn’t (honestly, it never is), and in wandering, it stumbled over the strongest feeling that I need to lay down what is holding me back from loving myself, just as I am. Honestly, that’s a little scary, the “just as I am,” part. Again though, if I can’t love my authentic self, how can I accept the love others have for me? And so I will. I’ll love myself, just as I am. I invite you the search your heart and honestly love yourself. Bravely examine your heart to determine if you accept love from others, from God. On this Easter day, I believe that we should all look for more love in the world, starting with ourselves and from there, sharing that love with others, just as God intended. I hope I can count you in for taking the journey with me.

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