My girls and I were headed out the door when Holly made her declaration:
“I love God. I love Jesus. I love the Holy Spirit. I love Momma. I love Daddy. I love Rebekah. I love Grandma and Grandpa. I love . . .”
She continued naming her relatives, friends, and church family. I still remember watching her and smiling as my sweet six-year-old reeled off the list of people she loved. But what surprised me was how she ended it:
“And I love me!”
All spoken with complete innocence, total freedom, and absolute assurance. Holly truly loved all of the people she named, including herself.
This is the heart of God for every person. Loving others as we love ourselves. Unfortunately, living life results in pain and suffering. Some pain comes at the hands of others, and some suffering comes from our own choices. But no one is exempt.
Some of the hurts are easily healed while others leave scars. Some we bury deep inside, hoping they will go away if we ignore them. Some aren’t healed at all – they become open, festering sores.
Still, we keep living life, thinking everything is fine. Life is fine. I’m fine. Work is fine. I’m fine. School is fine. I’m fine. Fine, fine, fine.
Until one day we realize everything is not fine, and we don’t really like the person we’ve become. As for loving ourselves? Umm, yeah . . . no, don’t think so.
However, the One who is Love said loving ourselves was of utmost importance. So much so He connected it to one of the two greatest mandates – love your neighbor as yourself.
Well, if we’re supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we pretty much can’t stand us, we are not going to walk out loving our neighbor very well. At the same time, loving ourselves in the wrong way can lead to other negative attitudes and behaviors which lead to more pain.
The question then becomes: How do we love ourselves without becoming full of ourselves? The answer to this dilemma is quite simple.
Become full of God! Be filled up with His presence! Be overflowing with His Spirit! Be one with Him! Because when we are full of Him, we are fully assured of His love for us. And only then can we truly love ourselves and our neighbor.
That’s what Holly lived as a six-year-old. A life full of God and fully assured of His love for her. This is the life God offers each of us – it doesn’t get any better than that!
I would love to hear your thoughts, so please share them below.