1 John 4:11 NIV
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Matthew 22:39. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.
Leviticus 19:18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
Today’s reading was the one from 1st John*. Love one another. I like that one, a lot. I preach on that a lot. I tend to focus primarily on “Love your neighbor” because loving someone else, even someone I don’t like very much, is the easy part. It’s loving myself that’s hard.
I can do “treat others as I want to be treated” pretty easily. But loving myself. . . that’s a whole different story. There are a gazillion reasons I have trouble loving myself. Some result from the PTSD I live with from being a rape survivor and a domestic violence survivor, but I have been fairly successful at using coping mechanisms to improve those particular symptoms. Most, however, are not what some people would consider valid reasons, but have been deeply seated in my self image from childhood.
Thirty years ago my sponsor directed me to write “I love you, Maria” in lipstick on a full length mirror, and say that to myself every day while looking into my own eyes in the mirror. She had me do that for a year and it did help. Some. The next year she had me write “You are worthy of good things” on that mirror. The following year it was “God loves you just the way you are today.”
Knowing that God loves me just as I am today helps so much. That means that God loves me even when I am criticizing myself and listening to those negative voices in my head and having a panic attack (or asthma attack) in situations where I feel unsafe. God loves me on my good days and my bad days, on the days when I accomplish everything I wanted to do and days when I barely managed to dress myself, on the days when I feel really creative and days when I can’t put two words together.
Since God so loves us, we also ought to love ourselves. Even though that might be hard to do.
Loving God, knowing that you love me really helps. Knowing that you love me just as I am on any given day, even though some days I am better than other days - more spiritual, more loving, more focused on you - helps. May I learn to love myself better and more fully, in Jesus’ name. Amen
* this was actually yesterday’s reading, but I found this really hard to write.