As a lifelong Christian, so many times I’ve heard
Love your neighbor as yourself
It’s been more of a Jesus cliché than a commandment of Jesus. I heard and said all the buzz words to help me accomplish how to do it:
Pour myself out.
Do Life Together.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
I’m just gonna put it all out there, but I secretly thought,
I don’t love people. I barely like them.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to. I tried to.
Smiles, hugs, Starbucks meet-ups, food donations & hand-outs, nice emails & texts, community groups.
I would pray for God’s help, but I continued to lived under guilt, because I must love myself too much and God too little to struggle with loving others.
Then this good girl went wild. I dared to defy religious tradition and I began to think about myself. I risked God’s wrath and put myself before everyone else.
I was astonished to find a scared and wounded girl who secretly hated herself. I desperately wanted to be free from my inner agony, so I allowed myself to believe I was worthy to be loved. I embraced my brokenness and accepted the darkness within me. I began to let God love me and show me how to love myself.
Here lies the paradox, this sounds like I would become more selfish and more self centered as I focused on loving myself, but in actuality I’ve started to have an overwhelming desire to connect with others at a heart level. Discovering my brokenness and understanding God’s ravished love for me makes it possible for me to love myself AND other people.
You see, I always struggled to love my neighbors, because I didn’t know how to love myself.
The key to loving my neighbor as myself is first I must love myself.