Learn to love yourself

This editorial column by Dusty Takle previously appeared in the print edition of The GRIP.

Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

I think most of us look at this passage as two parts – love God and love your neighbor. It’s easy to miss the third part – as yourself. To love your neighbor as yourself, you must first love yourself. The general thought, and correct thought, of this means that as we free ourselves from self-judgment, we also free others from it.

As we embrace who we truly are, the divine nature of God expressed in a human being, we embrace others as the same. All of this is true and good, but the other part of loving ourselves comes from self-care.

So often, we sacrifice our own self-care by doing what we think is the good work of taking care of others. While it is certainly a good and necessary work, it cannot be without nurturing our own spirit, soul and body.

I recently shared with a group four ways to nurture ourselves, thus, four ways we can better love ourselves. I hope these practical applications will help you be kinder to yourself, too.

Meditate, get quiet and listen.

A while back, I wrote about creating mental space. The deliberate practice of quieting our minds from to-do lists, obligations, worries, and other mind-fillers allows us to create space to listen to God’s voice within us. It literally unlocks the power of our imagination and inspires creativity. It energizes and gives life to the creative part of your being. It tunes you in to your intuition which is your spirit being, and the more in tune you become with your spirit, the better decisions you will make in life.

Do things that inspire you.

Maybe that thing is going for a run. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite music or going to a concert. It might be a hobby that brings you joy. Perhaps you need to find that thing. Find it. Make space for it. Whatever inspires you will strengthen you, and it will fuel you, just like getting quiet fans your flames.

Get adequate rest.

Generations of doctrine and preaching have somehow disconnected the body from the soul. We allow our identity to get wrapped up in what we do – what we produce – instead of who we are. One of the most spiritual things you can do is rest. Your body needs rest; your mind needs rest; and your soul needs rest. When God rested on the seventh day, it wasn’t because He was tired; it was to celebrate and observe His finished work. If you never rest, you fail to see and enjoy the fruits of what you’ve already done.

Set healthy boundaries.

Sometimes you must disconnect from something that is draining you, so you can connect something that will sustain you. It may be disconnecting from a negative thought such as fear and connecting to hope. It may be disconnecting from a toxic relationship and connecting to people who breathe life into you. It may be saying no to good things, so you can say yes to better things. Whatever that boundary looks like, don’t be afraid to set it.
This is self-care. As you love and nurture you, you will be able to love and nurture others, and the beautiful part of nourishing others is that as we do it, we also nourish ourselves.

Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

What you keep is all you have. What you give, God multiplies.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Your well-being matters. Your love for you matters, for out of it, the rest of the people in your world are, too, loved well.

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