Loving Yourself

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.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”(Mark 12:30 & 31)  How many times have I read, heard or recited that verse – more times, I think, than I could possibly count.   I remember saying it over and over and over AND over again in Sunday School, chanting it with other children.   It wasn’t until a morning in May of this year that the impact of this verse finally gave way to a powerful transformation in my life and I confronted myself with the following question.

“Do I love myself?”  It has been several months since I have had to ask myself this question.  Several months of removing the blanket of fear and self condemnation that for so long covered the fire of love in my soul.  Several months of coaxing and nursing what smoldering coals remained to a roaring flame that I could no longer ignore.  I have been made free, free from those things that would hold me back from deep and lasting communion with God.  I have been made free from my past and because of that freedom I can no longer lay claim to my status as victim.

Loving myself was never on the agenda; in fact, I would suggest that engaging in self-sabotage was more in my nature then love.  When I think of the conversations I would have with myself and others,  it generally had very little to do with love.  I think that,  for the longest time I let my past dictate my future and I regularly lived in a place where being a victim was what I needed to survive.  My past has affected my nature, of that there is no doubt. 

My past is a story that includes struggle, abuse and abandonment.  I can, by right, choose to live there –  choose  those things: abuse, struggle and abandonment to be the roof over my head.  I can choose them to be the air that I breathe and the sustenance I crave.  By right this is mine – this identity of victim.  I recognized however, a long time ago that choosing this identity is unreliable and does not move me out of my past and into my future. 

While I was willing to give up those rights,  I  recently came to the realization that I hadn’t yet filled the hole left behind by the departure of  my normal existence- my identity.  Until very recently, I thought that I needed to search for and uncover those good and positive things that my soul craved.  That search proved to be exhausting and during my relentless pursuance of all things lovely I never felt whole, never felt completely satisfied.  I became tired and parched from aimlessly looking for my true self.

What I did not realize at the time  was that I did not need to look for myself or my nature.  I did not need to secure my identity or my connection to God because I was as the Creator meant me to be.  As a child of God I have all the love I need.  I have been created in an image of love and because of that, love is part of my essence, part of every fibre of my being.  When this truth blindsided me on the morning  of May 15, 2012, I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and wellbeing such as I had never experienced.  It was as if a switch had finally been flipped in my brain.   During the early upheaval of my life, and after the aimless wandering in search for who I knew I could be, I forgot to look up.  I forgot to focus on God and realize that my nature, my courage, my peace was being cradled in the palms of the Holy Spirit.  They were being held in trust, as it were , for the moment when I could accept that I already existed. All that I needed to do was to ask for those things, those parts of me that I felt I lost,  to be returned to me. 

On that morning it became clear to me that if I choose to love myself and treat myself with the respect I deserve, I will by extension choose love with all those I encounter. I will choose to embrace and respect them as the awesome and unique people they were created to be.  I will never read the passage at the beginning of this post with the same detachment.  Instead, it will be a constant reminder of the day that I welcomed back to my spirit, my true nature, my courage, my faith, my peace and my strength.  It will be a reminder that I am as God created me – and that, that is sufficient.  

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