Love transforms one into what one loves. –Quote from a Facebook post that stuck in my head; author unremembered!
Last week’s post discussed some of the ways we might behave when we believe two lies:
- Love Hurts and if God is Love then God Hurts.
- If God hurts and we are made in His likeness, then we must be hurting and hurtful beings.
The truth of the matter is that God IS love and Love does NOT hurt. Unloving behaviors hurt. Who we are in our core is LOVE, and we are beings capable of great love.
Believing that God hurts leads us to believe that we are all hurtful beings, and we then engage in fear-based, self-protective behavior that is rooted in fear. We begin to avoid the connection, intimacy and love that we’re made for and that we long for. In order to break this cycle, we need to recognize that feeling unfulfilled is more a reaction of fear (natural instinct and conditioning from past unloving encounters) than a choice to love (our true spiritual essence).
Becoming aware of our false beliefs and acknowledging the behaviors we engage in to protect ourselves isn’t always pleasant. It takes a great deal of introspection, self-knowledge, willingness, and time. And let’s not forget COURAGE! In areas of your life where you feel unrest, anxiety, anger, pain, sadness, or unfulfillment, you are very likely participating in fear instead of love. To honestly examine your behaviors – to dig into your beliefs and uncover the causes of your actions – takes a great deal of bravery. So if you are still reading and following these blogs, I want to give you a whole-hearted cheer…a big WHOOP! You are already being brave, so keep going!
As I promised last week, I want to give you a practical, do-able spiritual practice that will transform you into what you will love. Here it is: start and practice loving yourself every day at every moment no matter how you are being or what you are doing. Love yourself and you will transform into something you love!
Self-love is a spiritual practice.
Some of you might be thinking that sounds awfully selfish and self-indulgent. I used to think so, too. And this same reaction occurs in my WHOOP groups when I tell them, “for the next 5 weeks you are going to concentrate on YOU and loving yourself!” We are often taught that loving ourselves is a form of conceit and self-absorption. We might also think that self-love goes against the selflessness that Jesus teaches by his example. But I have learned that loving myself is a form of honoring God, and that it also honors others.
Here are some truths I’ve learned about the link between loving myself and loving others:
- You can’t love others unless you love yourself just as you are at every moment. “Every moment” is the challenging part. I don’t know of anyone who acts perfectly kind, caring and loving all the time. Least of all me! But I’ve found that the root of this thinking is within me: the amount I judge and criticize myself is the amount I judge and criticize others. When I learn to be kinder and gentler with myself—the good and the bad parts—then I can do the same to others. This is how God loves us—He will never remove His love from us no matter what we think, say, feel, or do. Check out how many times the word STEADFAST is associated with God’s love; if we are made in the likeness of God, then we are capable of steadfast love for ourselves and others.
- If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airplane, you’ve heard the oxygen mask instruction, “If you have a small child with you, put your mask on first before helping them.” WHY? Because if you are struggling to breath, start to panic, or pass out how can you help another. If you can’t love and take care of you, how are you ever going to love and give care (being selfless) to another!
- To honor, love and know WHO YOU ARE is how you learn to honor, love, and appreciate who someone else is. The more loving and compassionate you can be toward yourself, the more you can extend love and compassion to others. When you can forgive yourself for your selfish, controlling or unkind ways, you will be able do to that for others. That is love!
- Self-love is believing and practicing the truth about our relationship with God. The extent to which we understand and experience God’s love is the extent to which we can love ourselves and others. Self love is living out the truth – through our thoughts, deeds, and actions – that there is no separation between us and God. God is in us and we are in God. Therefore, the same kind of love that He gives us, we can give to ourselves and others. We become mirrors—we are to reflect God’s love and we can reflect that love right back to our self and others.
- Did Jesus show self-love? I would have to say YES! He lived the ultimate Whole Hearted Life. He totally got God! He knew who he was in and as God. He was conscious of his “being” and “doing”. He honored what to do for himself to stay true and connected to who he was and his purpose. He extended love and compassion. He fulfilled his purpose! If he had had one ounce of fear or doubt, I’d hate to think of where we’d be or what we’d be doing. Have you read the end of Exodus or Leviticus lately? It will make your head spin with all the proper procedures and sacrifices! I’m so glad Jesus’ new command to us was to love—love your neighbor as you yourself are loved, love God with all your heart, mind and strength, love others as Jesus has loved us.
God’s love and self-love is a sweet dance between us and God. You can’t seem to have one without the other.
If you love you, you love God.
If you love God, you love you because He is part of WHO YOU ARE.
If you dishonor yourself, you are dishonoring God.
If you dishonor God, you are dishonoring yourself.
If you are not connecting with yourself, then you are not connecting with God.
Love transforms one into what one loves.
The transforming that occurs is God’s love to us, through us and given back to our self. (You might need to read that one a few times to let it sink in!) Practice some self love and see what starts to happen in your life.
- WHAT IS LOVE? WHO IS GOD? These are big questions. Anything you can do to study and learn about love and God will be important to understanding how to love yourself.
- Read the bible. Pick a version that you like! I like The Voice, The New Living Translation, and The Amplified bible. There are lots of great study bibles with commentary that explains more of the history and the concepts presented in the bible.
- Here are a couple books I recommend:
- Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
- Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk
- Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr
- Here is a starter for you. Read what 1 Corinthian 13:4 says about love, and practice it on yourself this week:
- Be patient and kind to yourself.
- Don’t be rude, crude or indecent to yourself…in words or actions!
- Don’t get upset with yourself or keep a list of all the things wrong you did today.
- Love anything and everything that you do this week.
- Trust, hope and endure however you are “being” this week!
- Don’t dismiss yourself this week and any shape or form.
- Remind yourself that you are important and needed by God.
- Make a list of 100 Ways to love yourself. Every good life coach eventually asks their client do this list. WHY? The list sheds light about WHO YOU ARE, what you like and what feeds your soul. It also becomes a resource of what to do when you feel the need for love. Once you write the list, put it into practice right away and notice what starts to transpire in your life. Get your list going by asking these questions:
- What activities do you like to do that make you feel peaceful or more alive?
- What activities do you do that make you feel better about yourself?
- What things do you know from deep down in your heart that if you did them, you’d feel more loved by yourself?
- What things do you wish someone else did for you to show you love?
These can be big and small things. They can cost money or not. They can be actual activities or a way you want to be.
Read more fun books
Take a bath
Listen to music and sing
Drink more water
Brush my teeth
Make my bed in the morning
Have fresh flowers in the house
Don’t go to bed mad
Take family vacations every year
Go on lunch date with girlfriend
Cook a new recipe
Schedule Date nights
Tell the truth in love
Go for a walk
Take an art class
Buy new pajamas
Keep my morning time sacred
Breath before responding when feeling angry
Take responsibility for any behavior I did that might have been hurtful and apologize
Remember to take some healthy snacks in the car so I don’t eat something unhealthy
Encouraging Your Whole Heartedness:
I’d love to hear your heart. Leave me a comment or tell me a few ways you plan to love yourself this week.