Self-Love is it instinct, or is it learned?
What image comes to mind when you think of self-love?
The importance of loving yourself is magnified by popular culture in its emphasis that we must learn to do it.
1) Thinking on that emphasis – how would you define self-love?
2) What are your thoughts when you consider it?
3) Does the Bible say that it is in fact learned?
In Mark 12:31 (NLT) we find Jesus saying, “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Jesus spoke these words – that being so, we can conclude without doubt that we to love ourselves. We can also determine that his words were given in the form of a comparison assuming that self-love already exists within a person.
Naturally – we love ourselves.
How do we know this?
We feel sick – we go to the doctor.
We cut ourselves – we clean it up.
Someone criticizes our best work -we hurt because their thoughts about us don’t align with our own.
All instances with actions that identify that in more cases than not we do in fact love ourselves – had we not, we wouldn’t go to the doctor, clean ourselves up, or care what the person thought/said.
But what if…
Maybe you’re sitting there wondering, “If we do already love ourselves — then what’s off with me…my feelings match what culture says – pointing me to feel, I need to learn how”.
That’s the thing – a lot of what pop culture teaches us has to do with these feel good ideas that divert our attention from what is by deflecting it to a place that hurts less, feels pretty – much less ugly then the root that is there – the one no one wants to admit.
Sure, we can follow societies example and throw ourselves into good works, self-help books, etc. and there we can find peace for a moment, but sooner or later the truth is going to creep back up, much the same as weeds pulled from the garden that aren’t initially taken by the root – and there we sit spinning our wheels AGAIN trying AGAIN to figure out, “What is our problem?”
What’s at the root of this one?
Answering this question requires that we go straight to its source with a willingness to be completely honest with our own selves. When we do, we find it has nothing to do with a lack of self-love, self-care or self-esteem – it is actually a problem we have with how God created us – which is something no one wants to hear or admit.
Let’s face it – telling ourselves we need to learn to love ourselves is much easier to say then I don’t like who God made me to be. Not only that, but focusing on trying to learn to love ourselves, puts our focus on self which completely distracts us from following the example Jesus gave us in his consistent acts of selflessness.
Admitting that we are challenging God’s plan or His sovereignty is not something ANY one wants to hear – Ever. But it’s exactly what we are doing when we choose not to accept something about ourselves.
Scripture is very clear – we were knit together in our mother’s womb and there was a plan for our days even before He set them into motion.
When it all boils down to it, what society tells us is a lack of self-love is really a refusal to accept God’s love for us. We were created in HIS image, HE put a plan in motion for our lives.
How do I accept God’s love for me?
We accept God’s love by accepting ourselves. We stop the comparison game – the one we play when we look at ourselves, look at our peers and allow their strengths and our lack thereof to be magnified.
Instead, we must learn to admit our self-labeled flaws and submit them to God.
Let’s stop and consider for a moment some of things we don’t like about ourselves:
Body size, physical attributes, personality, mental capacity, physical abilities, failures, and the list goes on and on…and on…and on.
Some of us could sit all day and list the things we don’t care for about ourselves. But what happens when we pause for a moment and realize that it was God who created you to be of a tiny stature, or a giant of a person, he formed the very nose that sits on your face, and placed within you the mental and physical capacities that you possess. He gave you specific talents chosen for YOU – He did all of this, and He calls it beautiful, and it was given to you as an image of HIM…the God of the universe, you are a reflection of HIM. How amazing is it to think?
So, NO – we don’t need to learn to love ourselves, we already do – what we struggle with however, and need to LEARN is to accept the love of the God who made us – and accept HIS love in the way that He made us.
If you find that you don’t like different aspects of yourself, go to Him about it. Ask for His help in seeing yourself the way HE sees you. Ask that He reveals His purpose for giving you these attributes, and yes, ask Him to help you accept HIS love for you – and when you do, you will find (over time) that inner love you’re searching for. The love that leads you to fulfilling the purpose He has placed in your life which brings the glory to Him which He deserves.
Don’t let this world misguide you with its false ideas, and its numbing the pain for now mindset.
Biblical self-love is this – Being thankful and appreciating who God has made you. It is humility and thankfulness. It is acceptance of Psalm 139: 13 (NLT), “You made all my delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
Things to consider and action for application:
There is a danger that lurks when we allow comparison thoughts to step in. If not careful, doing so can unintentionally send us down a path causing us to choose hide our God given talent. As we find in, ‘The Parable of the Talents,’ (Matthew 25:14-20), we don’t want to do that – we want to live fully the talents God has given us, embrace them using them as He has purposed.
Read Psalms 139, paying particular attention to verses 13-18 – make it personal, a conversation between you and God (lock screens have been created to help you in consuming these words verse by verse).
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me. O God. They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”