Have you noticed that most women and some men are always taking care of the needs of others? Matter of fact, if we seriously look at the life habits of these individuals, we find that because they are so focused on others’ needs, they rarely are able to identify their own personal needs. For some, this means that they also are not able to recognize their own emotional levels. Even though this is true for some, it would be to our benefit to recognize that not all caregivers fall into this category.
Have you noticed that there are people who are hesitant to accept compliments from others? Often some traumatic incident in their lives has caused them to develop a low self-esteem, and so they have difficulty accepting the sincerity of kind words and gestures. These incidents are often ones that are emotionally, physically and/or spiritually abusive situations. True for some but not for all.
Have you noticed that there are people who overlook chaotic crises and traumatic happenings in their lives and seem to view the world through rose-colored glasses? They never seem to admit or want you to know that not all might be well in their environment and are in need of assistance from others. They display an aura that they have it all together and everything is perfectly aligned in their lives. True for some but not for all.
How can these individuals be helped to establish and maintain an emotionally, physically, spiritually balanced life? The answer for them is the same answer as it is for everyone. John 3:16-17 as stated in The Message says:
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
“Step 1 — Believe that God loves them (all people including you) and sacrificed his only Son so that each person’s world (life) might be filled with the love of God. God did this for individuals and for each person’s relationships with God and all others.
“Step 2 — Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT).”
Hummmmm? That scripture gives us three things to do, doesn’t it? Love God. Love our neighbor. And a really important one — love ourselves.
Go back and reread the first three paragraphs and you’ll find that love of self is usually missing in the descriptions of the character traits mentioned there.
It is so important that people realize that none of us is perfect. (Romans 3:23 — for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.) Even so — Jesus loves us no matter what, and God offers his forgiveness and grace — freely given.
Loving yourself involves each of us in diligently praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our lives and then letting it do the leading instead of trying to be in control. Loving yourself means that you utilize the God-given means of grace and be constant in attending to the spiritual disciplines offered to us. Loving yourself allows all who do love themselves as beloved children of God to fully love others as yourself.
It is in loving of yourself that you are able to help others, accept sincere compliments from others and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you through the difficult circumstances of life.
Loving yourself is accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and claiming God’s promise of eternal peace and joy. True for some AND true for all!!
The writer is the pastor of Pastoral Care & Visitation at the Sidney First United Methodist Church.
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