Disclaimer: I am neither a psychologist nor a trained counselor. I have no professional expertise in this subject. (That has never been an impediment to my having an opinion on a matter. Just sayin...) But I have some lines I'd like to pen in hopes that others will embrace what I confidently believe is true. Read on.
"Learn to love yourself" has become adamantly popular dogma. This advice is dispensed as the cure for all sorts of ills - burnout, insecurity, wrong choices, deception, even addictions. Experts and not-so-experts prescribe this sweet-tasting medicine freely and confidently, assuring the afflicted one that loving oneself is learned behavior and that once they master this art, their problems will dissipate.
I want to conduct an intervention! This counsel is not only not a harmless placebo; it is actually toxic! The problem is not that we don't love ourselves - we do! We love ourselves so much that we want to spare ourselves any pain or discomfort. We want someone or something to fix us so that we are happy and satisified and comfortable. We do love ourselves - I promise we do. Nearly everything we do has a root that can be traced back to the tree of "self". Very little of our behavior is truly done with thought of only pleasing another person.(But oh, how easily deceived we are into thinking we are only thinking of others!) Even "selfless" acts for others are often done with hopes of some return.....even if it is as small as hoping for affirmation or accolade. We do love ourselves. Really we do. And unfortunately, trying to please ourselves does not achieve the desired result. We might experience some short-lived pleasure but after the buzz of self-indulgence wears off, the affliction that needed repair to begin with, remains. We continue to be insecure or jealous or overcommitted or enslaved to something.
Instead, what we need is to know that we are loved by someone OTHER than ourselves. That's why Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus to KNOW the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:19) He wasn't praying for them to come to Christ - they were already following Him. But he prayed that they - and we - would KNOW that love. "Know" in the Biblical sense means to experience that love, to be intimately acquainted with that love, established..
Think about how different we will be if we KNOW the love of Christ. Joyful. Confident. Secure. Free to love others without thought of gain. Free to grow....free to fail without fear. To know the love of Christ, that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:19.
That is my prayer for my children. And for me. Not to love ourselves (nor to hate ourselves) but to KNOW the love of Christ. So we can be filled. With all the fullness of God.
This post was originally published on October 10, 2012