You are not enough.
The Bible passage says that we should “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). It struck me that this raised the thought of “self-love.” How do I love someone as myself? I don’t know if I really love myself. I am not one who has a lot of self-love are you? I know my faults well. I often condemn myself without much grace for my mistakes. I have many childhood memories, most of messing things up. I often wonder why someone would be my friend. What if that is the key to love? Maybe the answer to all the world’s hate, self-doubt, self-loathing, insecurities, and broken relationships is in better self-love. Maybe or maybe not.
We appear to be addicted to self-care. We constantly search for that one method or special word that will unlock the real me. Today we try meditation. Tomorrow we try essential oils. Today we cut out processed food. Tomorrow we change our hair color. We listen to podcast, read books, follow diet plans, and work the ten steps to self-improvement. We are sure that the answer is inside of us and if we can just tap that inner person with self-love, all will be resolved. After all, we keep hearing, “you are enough.” The popular message today: you already have everything you need inside you to solve your problems.
Despite my negative feelings about myself, the Bible tells a different story. It says I love myself too much. When I really study myself it is true, I love myself excessively. Yes, I struggle with insecurities and self-doubt but it is only because I am constantly thinking of myself and worrying about what others are thinking about me. I live my life focused on what I want, what I dream, and what I value, so I am sure I still care a great deal about myself. I really do love myself.
As with many lies, there is some truth in why we need self-love. God claims us to be precious, loved, valued and significant. That is an important truth to live into daily. However, my own love is not enough for me to be secure and flourish. The truth is that the solution to my feelings is outside of myself. The foundation of my self-love must be the love of God. You are not enough, but God is.
Nothing is as powerful as knowing that despite my human flaws, God showed his love for me by sending Jesus to die for all my sins so I could be forgiven and live in an intimate relationship with him. I am not stuck in an endless cycle of misdeeds, but personal change is possible by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Real change in me isn’t an inward journey but a surrender to the power of God. Sin leads to guilt, shame, and death. Our inward journey only makes me more self-serving and sinful. God’s love gives me life, not for a few moments but for eternity. God’s solution to the problem of hate is not self-love but His holy, powerful, never depleted love. Despite what we are told about self-love, we are never enough, but God is.
The writer is the senior pastor at Sidney First United Methodist Church, Sidney.