Is it just me, or do you sometimes look in the mirror and fail to see a single thing that you like about yourself? Somehow, all you can think about are the ways in which you don’t seem measure up to the girls on social media. This then turns into an endless list of all of your flaws. And before you know it, you’re trapped in a destructive cycle of self-loathing.
In today’s society, I feel as though it’s easy to put self-love on the back-burner. We get so caught up in the lives of others that without even noticing it, we become accustomed to the background noise of life and forget to listen for His still small voice.
Everyday, I spend hours scrolling through my social media feeds. It doesn’t take long before I find people who are prettier, more talented, wealthier and in better shape than myself. I become so captivated by the way they live their lives that oftentimes, I forget to live my own. Comparing the glorious snapshots that make up their highlight reels, to the mundane ins-and-outs of my own daily life. Slowly losing the ability to be grateful for what I do have.
So, what does the Bible have to say about this?
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “[…]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 neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:28-31
When Jesus is asked about which commandment is the most important, He responds with two.
- Love God
- Love your neighbour as yourself
At first glance I didn’t think much of it, after all Jesus is the physical manifestation of love (1 John 4:16). Though as I continued to meditate on this verse, I realized the depth of what was said. Of what Jesus proclaims is the second most important commandment:
Love your neighbour as yourself.
We are all called to love other people to the same degree that we love ourselves. This then implies that we must first have love for ourselves in order to be able to love others.
God is love and all love comes from God. In order to be able to give love we must first know love. The only way to know love is to know God (1 John 4:7). A good place to start would be to spend time reading your Bible and in prayer. Through scripture, you will gain a better understanding of His nature. And ultimately, as you come to know Him it’s impossible not to love Him. Simply put: if you know God, you love God.
Now here comes the tricky part. As you learn more about God and His character, you’ll inevitably stumble upon passages that describe how intimately involved He is with your own life. You’ll discover how He sees you for who you truly are and loves you unconditionally, covering you with His grace. When you begin to see yourself for the beautiful miracle that you are; formed and fashioned by the hands of the Almighty and knit together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), it’s hard not to stand in awestruck wonder of how truly precious your are in His sight. And as you meditate on that truth you’ll begin to see yourself from His perspective.
When you love God and love yourself, loving others becomes second nature. That’s not to say that it doesn’t get hard sometimes. Let’s be honest, people can be annoying. BUT, when we decide to look past the person and see the mantle that God has placed on their life, extending love to them suddenly becomes a much easier task.
Personally, this is a journey that I’m still walking through. Though as I’m becoming more consistent in reading my Bible, I have learned so many wonderful things about who God is. And as I’ve begun to immerse myself in scripture, I’ve found that my love for Him has grown. When I stand in front of the mirror I no longer see a long list of imperfections (though they surely still exist), but I now see the reflection of the young woman that God formed from dust and breathed life into (Genesis 2:7). I’m beginning to love the reflection of the treasured creation that stares back at me, eventually hoping to recognize it as myself, and I pray that one day the same will be true for you.