Then they came to Capernaum. While Jesus was at home, he asked the disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?” They were silent. On the road they had argued about who was the greatest. He sat down and called the twelve apostles. He told them, “Whoever wants to be the most important person must take the last place and be a servant to everyone else.” Mark 9:33-35
Okay, in the spirit of the apostles, who had to be vulnerable at some point to make this story known, I confess. I want to be the greatest too. I want to be better than others with my attractiveness, smarts, and competence.
Why? Probably because of my low self esteem. Brene Brown said in her book “Dare Greatly” that narcissists fear being ordinary. I can relate to that. I’m always wanting to do something big. If I live large, it proves I am worthwhile, right? But I also fear chaos. Controlling my environment, being great instead of being a failure, seems so vital.
So I need to work on self esteem. And that is just what my support group has been doing, as we do the “Healing for Damaged Emotions Workbook” together.
We’re learning that we should love ourselves because we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. “Jesus plainly made a proper self-love the basis for a proper love for neighbor.” wrote the author, David Seamands.
Love myself? I don’t know how to do that without feeling conceited.
Hmmm. So I started listing things I like about myself, starting with the way I look. I realized I keep wanting to see myself in terms of flaws — the imperfect teeth, the cellulitey veiny legs. Am I allowed to like my hair, my face, my shape? Can I see the good physical characteristics as God’s creation, something to exalt God and not myself? Because honestly it’s so easy to let them be a source of affirmation.
But all of my physical characteristics are just cells and mechanisms that I am husbanding for God. They aren’t the true me, but the way I use them can reflect the true me, the things I like to do and have the ability to do. My fingers can be creative, play music, or type quickly. My feet can jog or dance. My eyes can twinkle and emote warmth. My voice can harmonize, encourage.
And I realize that the mechanisms behind doing all these things are amazingly complicated. If I write this blog, it isn’t just talent working, it also involves muscles, nerves, bones, the brain. Every time I hit a key, I am reflecting how amazing God is, that he could create something as complex as the human body. The more I think about it, the more it comes to me. The harmony of my soul and my physical being is MARVELOUS! “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps 139:4
Here’s a thought. If we are to love self, then Jesus loved himself when he was on earth. I would think he would hate the physical tent – so messy, so limiting. But he saw it as God’s creation — wonderful and marvelous. Jesus had to have been comfortable with his skin, his appearance. And he had to be happy with his character — his heart to love, his desire to teach, his passion for righteousness.
I love the Phillips translation of Eph 5:28-30 — “The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her. Nobody ever hates or neglects his own body; he feeds and looks after it. And that is what Christ does for his body, the Church.”
Jesus extended his love for himself to enfold us.
And developing self love can makes us want to fold others in, reach out and embrace them, serve them. It increases our reservoirs of warm fuzzies.
How do we develop self love? We can appreciate our God given attributes, as I discussed above. But as I talked with the group, I realized that developing self love involves nurturing yourself, giving yourself permission to do the things you uniquely enjoy. Here are some of the things we came up with:
- Listening to music
- Talking a walk in nature
- Bubble baths
- Writing poetry
- Spending time with loved ones
I’ve been wrestling with something this weekend that has me tied in knots. This morning I went for a prayer jog, and it was so soothing to my soul. I experienced the pastel smears of clouds as the sun rose, the yellow glow of streetlights radiating through the haze, the whistle of birds, the sublime music of hymns on Pandora — all of it washed over me and through me and I felt reborn. All I wanted to do is spend happy time with God, not petition Him with my anxieties.
It’s so important for us to make our time with God something that is special to us, personally. We each connect in different ways. It may be music and nature for me. For you, it may be listening to a rousing sermon. Learn to appreciate what YOU like.
Work on self love. It’s a way we love God.
Working on self love is hard for me, because I have a pattern of self-criticism. If you ask me how God feel towards me I would say it feels like He thinks I should do better, that I’m not doing enough. I need to be doing more, more, more. Meet more people. Keep up with my friends more. Be more effective when I am with people.
In other words, I think I should be GREATER. No wonder I can relate to the disciples.
But I AM enough.
It is enough to commit one act of love. It is enough to be enthralled with gratitude for the beauty of one morning.
The Jewish Talmud says, “He who saves a single life, saves the world entire.” Great acts can be the smallest and humblest of acts.
In closing, I want to list the prayer Seamands encourages his readers to pray. I think it is awesome! I’ve typed it up so I can post it and remember it, and work on building SELF LOVE!
“Lord Jesus, I know you love me. Thank you for making me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have created is precious.
Thank you Father for calling me your child. Knowing this gives me a sense of being honored.
God you declared your value of me when you gave the life of your son, Jesus to redeem me. Thank you for valuing me so highly.
Jesus, you have promised to supply all my needs according to your riches. Today I choose to trust you with every need that I have. Thank you for providing for me so fully.
Lord, even before the foundation of the world You chose to adopt me as your own child. Thank you for having planned for me so carefully.
God, thank you for looking at me in Christ and declaring me accepted and beloved. It is awesome to think that you are delighted in me.”