Loving Yourself Matters
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30–31 HCSB)
It was early in the new year when we threw a first-year party for my son Ezra. Metallic streamers and three-dimensional gold stars hung all over the dining room to celebrate. “Twinkle, twinkle little star, he’s grown so much and come so far.”
About twenty friends joined us that morning, and all our kids were running amok around the house. Amid the mayhem right there in the living room, a dear friend shared her pain. The joy of the occasion couldn’t prevent her hurt from breaking through. As we drank coffee, my friend talked about the miscarriage she had experienced earlier that year and how she still cried about it often.
How her husband was tired of her crying.
How she was going to start attending a support group to seek comfort.
How she yearned for another child.
I just stood there, listening, the rest of the party fading away. I grasped for words but none came, so I just hugged her tightly and said that I loved her.
When the party was over and in the days that followed, I thought about my friend. Not only did I think about her circumstances but I thought about how in recent months I had not been the friend that she needed.
In Mark 12:30–31, Jesus shares the two most important commandments—to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
I think we probably remember the “love the Lord” part. And we likely remember the “love your neighbor” part too. But that “as yourself” part—those are the words we forget.
That year, too many responsibilities prevented me from loving myself well. I over-yessed myself and ran on empty.
Consequently, when my friend had a miscarriage, I spoke with her and texted during those first hard weeks, but then I became distracted. Part of why I couldn’t love her to the best of my ability was because I wasn’t loving myself during that season.
Jesus knew that self-care isn’t just about us. Loving ourselves has a positive ripple effect on our families, jobs, communities, and the world.
My prayer for you is that you embrace with renewed commitment Jesus’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. Because in the end, most of us will do just that. And don’t we all want our love to be big and bright?
Lord, I want to love my neighbor as myself, but it’s hard when I struggle with loving myself at all. Give me the grace needed to see myself as worthy of love, care, and compassion. I want my love to be big and bright, to embrace Jesus’s commandment with renewed commitment and a joyful heart. Help me to start with myself and then to love others from that place of love. Amen.
This is an excerpt from Take Heart: 100 Devotions to Seeing God When Life’s Not Okay by (in)courage - a devotional book now available on DaySpring.com. Learn more about this book, or shop other books & devotionals from DaySpring.