Do you love yourself?
I remember a time in my life, in my early teens, when I was eager to feel a sense of belonging. I remember how easily I allowed the opinions of others to overshadow the voice of God in my heart, especially during my freshman year of high-school. As I grew into an adult, I began a slow process of self-abandonment. I stopped drawing. I stopped writing poetry. I stopped believing that I was a good person. I believed that I was unworthy to dream about a better world. I felt unequipped to talk about God aloud in the company of anyone. I thought I was destined to become a person with just as cynical a perspective as the perspective of many who surrounded me.
For many years, I believed that self-love was incompatible with Christianity. I believed that a good Christian put others first, even at the expense of their own basic needs, hopes and dreams. I thought living my Christian faith meant that I had to think, speak and act in a way that was incongruous to the loving spirit I was certain that God had imparted within me. In early adulthood, I felt a lingering sense of guilt, unworthiness and inadequacy whenever I thought about where my life was headed.
It wasn’t until my early thirties when I discovered the meaning of self-love. When I did, everything changed.
One friend explained self-love as speaking from the heart. When I took the time to reconnect with my heart, and allowed my heart to guide me, life became simpler. My spending habits changed because I no longer wanted to dress to impress others. My relationships improved because I stopped looking for validation from friends or family. I became more comfortable with speaking my truth, and as a result, I felt more connected with people were supportive forces in my life.
In Christian terms, self-love is speaking from the place where the voice of Christ lives in each of us. Self-love is fully compatible with the practice of Christian faith. Self-love is an essential component of authentic Christian living.
In the Gospel this week, Jesus tells the disciples that he will send the Spirit of truth to remain with them when he returns to the Father, and continues to explain what can be expected when the disciples receive the Spirit of truth:
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”
In light of today’s Gospel, who does the Spirit say that you are?
As Christians, one of our first lessons in faith is to love God and to love our neighbor. Christ remains in us, and we remain in Christ. As all of the above is true, the fullness of self-love is the ability to think, speak and act as a creation who dwells in God, and in whom God dwells. You are worthy. You are loving. You are deeply loved.